Matt Cutts posted a video last week explaining how Google views guest blog posts. He explained that they see two types of guest posts, and how Google reacted to each kind.
The first type are the high quality, insightful posts that people really want on their blogs. These are contributed by bloggers with more experience as a way to share their ideas with a wider audience. They can also be by up-and-coming bloggers, posting on well-known blogs to build their own audience. These bloggers have something unique to say. They are excellent at expressing their ideas and they write posts that people enjoy reading.
The second type of guest blogger does things completely differently. These are the bloggers that contact multiple blogs at a time, offering a ‘unique’ guest post in exchange for a link back to their site. Some may even pay to place their blog post on your site. These bloggers are interested in just one thing–they want a link. They usually aren’t interested in writing an excellent blog post or sharing their viewpoints, and their posts reflect that. They’re mediocre or worse, and no one is jumping to read them.
Google tries to reward the first type of blogger, and usually ignores the second. This is inline with Google’s commitment to quality and user benefit over just playing the SEO game. They want you to guest blog because you have something fantastic to share, not because you want some extra SEO love.
Matt forgot one kind of guest blogger, though. Not everyone who guest blogs falls into those two categories. Sometimes, guest blogging is part of building a community. You find a blogger that really meshes with your style, or who can add something new to what you’re offering, so you agree to exchange posts. You both benefit equally; one blogger isn’t more popular than the other. While this might not greatly benefit your SEO right away, it can improve the number of people reading and sharing your work. This will eventually turn into a better reputation, or a more recognizable brand, which will improve your SEO.
Does guest blogging improve your SEO? It can, but only if you’re focusing more on quality and building relationships and less on improving your SEO. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore the rules of SEO for guest posts; keywords (and how you use them) still matter. Just don’t write them solely for the purpose of improving your SEO.
Have you ever been contacted by a blogger just trying to earn a link back to their site? How did you respond?