Why Google Might Penalize Guest Blogging Sites

Google might penalize guest blogging sites someday, because guest blogging does not have the same goodwill with which it started a few years ago. It has become one of the most popular ways to get back links with targeted keyword rich anchor texts on top blogs… for free!

It has been propagated as one of the best methods for free SEO. However note that Google lays a lot of trust on editorial links from articles, and these links are gaming that trust.

Guest blogging WAS great

Guest blogging started with a bang a few years back and QOT was one of the first few blogs to support guest blogging.  I remember that when we started accepting guest posts few years back,  hundreds of bloggers started posting great content to share their thoughts, interact with our community, post their best writing and get free traffic, a new audience, a new readership, and hundreds of more RSS readers as hundreds of visitors visited their site. It was the best way for small blogs to get exposure to a new audience undoubtedly. QOT emerged as one of the most popular guest blogging blogs on the web!

It was a win-win situation for popular sites which accepted guest posts, because it gives them free content which they could format as per their editorial guidelines. Most good blogs kept strict linking guidelines, such that they were from good sites, with related topics and of limited number. These guest blogging blogs continue to increase dramatically, as free content brought more free search engine traffic and more advertising revenue.

In fact many guest blogging sites started posting more guest posts than their own original content. What started as a new way to gain exposure via blogging and sharing your thoughts on popular blogs and top websites has now become a race to get back links from high PR sites.

Changing Profile of Guest Blogging

Google penalty cardThe whole scenario of guest blogging has changed. The guest bloggers are no longer small-time bloggers who wish to get exposure to their sites for additional traffic.

As the popularity of guest blogging increased across the Internet, more and more people are realising that guest blogging is a free and easy way to get back links to websites. It was better than paying for advertising on top blogs –  a 30 day banner might cost you $500, while an excellent guest post will get you a free back link for life!

A whole new industry has developed around guest blogging. Guest blogging has provided a new business model for freelance writers, copywriters, SEO agencies, Internet marketing firms, and in general people looking for free back links from top websites. Several popular guest blogging communities have evolved which bring together article writers and guest blogging blogs.

The new guest bloggers are professional writers, professional search engine optimising specialists, companies looking for free back links from high PR sites, and are not keen on exposure to writing but only to get high PR back links for free from clean, reputed, authority websites.

Anyone who wants free links from any website which accepts guest posts – simply needs to hire a freelance writer (from sites like Elance, Fiverr), get a few good keyword rich articles with popular titles written for a few dollars, and get them posted on guest blogging websites, which eagerly accept this free content.

Over the years, we found that guest bloggers profile changed completely. Guest bloggers blogged on behalf of their clients (who paid them to get links) and were more keen to get back links of their choice, and do follow links is what they always wanted. Popular blogs continued to implement strict linking policies, but declining / rejecting guest posts was not taken politely as before.

Fighting Google panda penalties, You might recall we had earlier allowed only nofollow links on guest posts (which not many were interested in), and have now not been accepting guest posts for the past few months. I have noticed that several other popular blogs have also stopped accepting guest posts.

Google is Watching

Google pays lot of respect and trust for links in articles. You would remember that Google cracked down on paid text links and paid link paragraphs several years back and penalised several websites who were buying and selling text links. That changed the entire direction of the text link buying and selling industry, and made publishers opt for Google friendly paid text links, by adding nofollow links and JavaScript-based advertising code like Buysellads.

Guest blogging is going the same way. Guest blogging is providing a free way for link buyers to get trusted editorial links on popular websites. Websites accepting guest posts need to be careful about the kind of links they are accepting in the garb of free content. Accepting only nofollow links would probably help deny these links the Google trust vote, but then that is not what most guest bloggers are looking for.

I am sure Google is watching and figuring out ways about how to tackle these guest blogging links and differentiate them from true editorial links. What are your thoughts?

Update: See Matt Cutts video about Google’s view on guestblogging links. In another video he confirms Google will penalize spammy guest blogging activities.

Must Read: Challenges of Guest Blogging in 2013