Guest Blogging: Quality Counts, Google Says

By: | October 30th, 2012
Guest Blogging

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Guest blogging is widely considered as a great way to get more traffic on your website, and a win-win situation for both the host blog and the guest blogger. Guest posts on a blog (supposedly) mean that the host blog gets more fresh content and that the bloggers get backlinks to their website, thereby improving rankings on Google for both.

In the last few years, this has prompted many blog owners to go searching for guest bloggers, and many aspiring writers to go distributing their posts to dozens of websites. This trend has led to many outstanding and valuable posts, but unfortunately, it has also led to some very badly written posts that provide no added value and are written by people with very poor knowledge in the topics they write about. For a while, nobody thought this mattered, because the ultimate goal is to get better ranking on Google, right?


At least, partly wrong. This recent post by Search Engine Journal, Could Guest Posting Be Dead?, presents a video in which Matt Cutts of Google talks about Google’s view of guest blogging, and underlines what Google is looking for in guest post as links, and what kinds of links it may discard, or rather, not count. The bottom line is that guest blogging is a good practice – but only if it’s not taken to extremes. ‘Extremes’ according to Cutts are the following:

  • Posting the same blog post multiple times on every possible website and blog.
  • Preferring quantity (of posts and websites on which they are posted) over quality (of content as well the quality of thewriting itself).
  • Not having any added value, such as original ideas, insights, or a fresh perspective on a certain topic.
  • Being too short (200-400), thereby not providing any depth or thoroughness of research.

The following section of an infographic addressing guest blogging summarizes the general advice given all over the web regarding the writing of guest posts:

Guest blogging guidelines

(Taken from infographics mania)

Do you notice the words ‘quality’, ‘research’, ‘expertise’, ‘relevance’, or ‘originality’ anywhere? Of course not. This is because guest blogging has become so popular and is thought of as such a great way to get links that its original purpose has been forgotten along the way.

How Bad Guest Posts May Be Harming Your Blog

Yes, more guest posts may mean that your blog’s ranking may go up initially. But the question is, do you want to stay on top only for a short while and then have readers gradually abandon your blog as soon as they realize it gives them no valuable or new information? Or do you want to achieve the status of widely-read, high-quality blog that takes care only to include posts that are written by excellent writers who write interesting, well-written, in-depth posts?

Suing your guest blogger

(Comic by Rob Cottingham, taken from blogworld)

Remember this: not only will your readers’ opinion of you change for the worse if your guest blog posts are shallow, uninformative, and badly written, but Google, as Cutts says, will also be “less likely to count these links”. The added effect of possible de-ranking and/or de-indexing on Google, and having people leave your website because the posts are of poor quality will eventually lead to less traffic to your website.

Speaking of traffic, traffic quality, as expressed for example in the duration of time people stay on the post page, and the average bounce rate from this page, also matters. For further discussion of these concepts, you are welcome to refer to our recent post about website traffic. Guest posts on your blog that include many keywords and have dozens of links, draw more traffic, indeed – but what’s the value of this traffic if these people browse the post for a few seconds, decide it’s not worth their while, then leave? Good posts also mean that visitors to the website will stay on it longer, and perhaps check out some more pages on the site, too.

Is your guest blogging really attracting readers?

Now is the time to check whether your guest posts are doing the job. A few useful questions to ask yourself are:

  • What is the guest blogger’s background? Does he or she have enough expertise on the subject and experience in writing?
  • Do you honestly feel that the post is informative, well-written, well-researched, and unique in that it offers an interesting insight or perspective? If you are not sure, pass the post to people whose opinion you value and ask them what they think.
  • Does the post, once published, get good feedback? Bad feedback? If it doesn’t get any feedback at all, that is usually not a good sign.
  • Is the post too short? A post should be at least 400 words in length. No matter how you look at it, very short posts (200-300 words) cannot possibly contain much information, let alone valuable information.
  • Do you see that the traffic (high quality traffic, that is) has increased since you started admitting guest posts on your website? Have sales gone up?

Any thoughts on guest blogging? Share them with us

Do you have experience with guest blogging? Do you agree or disagree with this post? How can you tell if the posts by your guest bloggers are good for your website? How do you look for good guest bloggers?

We would love to hear your opinion on this and learn more about guest blogging, so feel free to comment! Don’t be shy!

Image credit: suerichards

Dafna Ben-Yehoshua Google+

A biologist turned content writer who dances lindy hop for fun. Specializes in multi-tasking and never getting enough sleep. An expert on cats, dark chocolate, and how prevent cats from eating her chocolate.

2 thoughts on “Guest Blogging: Quality Counts, Google Says”

  1. Alex says:

    Great article Dafna!
    So what is your recommended article length? (in words)

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  2. Dafna says:

    Hi Alex, thanks for the feedback!
    I personally believe the minimum length should be 700-800 words. This length allows to explore a subject in depth, as well as provide the writer’s perspective or tips, and on the other hand, is not too long as to exhaust the reader. If the post is about a topic that requires many explanations and examples, then up to 1200-1400 words is acceptable.

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