As a Google software engineer and all-round SEO boffin, Matt Cutts is bit of an authority on search engine optimisation practices; so when he expels any pearls of World Wide Web wisdom people tend to sit up and take note. His recent blog post bemoaning the current fashion for certain, shall we say, less ethical sections of the blogging sphere to abuse linkbacks by using guest blogging as a primary SEO driver set off somewhat of a tizz among website hosts.
Is guest blogging dead?
It startled a few folk out there into regarding backlinking as a dead endeavour. Now, I’m not Matt Cutts, but as much as he attempted to do I’d like to reinforce this isn’t the case entirely. Improving your site’s search engine ranking is about high-quality bloggers collaborating with, and linking to, other authentic content creators. Basically: publish worthy content; link to only genuine sites doing the same; and your page ranking will improve. It’s SEO karma.
I for one am a big believer in karma. Last winter, when some unsavoury soul made off with my brand spanking new Boardman Road Bike from outside a pub in Streatham (I regretted going to Streatham, aside from this incident), I thought my dreams of winning the Tour de France were finished. With no insurance – which was the second of my blunders in this story – I was left to saving up for another one. After a couple of months of clean living, volunteering, and not going to pubs in crime hotspots, a speculative insurance claim came through on my home policy. Long story short: honest living and wholesome charity work (and the good people at NFU Home Insurance) means I’m back on two wheels and fantasising about beating Bradley Wiggins on the Col du Galibier.
Although your hopes for SEO success might be a lot less outlandish than my cycling delusion (Bradley’s in fine form, and I’m back to frequenting South London pubs), the karmic principle still applies. And Google seems to think the same.
The search engine giants, and others, are fighting against bloggers misusing backlinks – an otherwise genuine and effective method of improving rank. So, avoiding underhanded schemes when promoting your site will definitely work to your benefit. Unethical tactics such as over-optimising blogs with unrelated linkbacks or allowing spun articles on your site will do nothing but flag as excellent indicators of poor quality. SEO nowadays is progressively becoming about taking a more considered approach to generating reliable, original, audience-targeted content – quality over quantity.
Content with content
In a nutshell, factors dictating what makes a site rank highly are getting more user-focused as, fundamentally, it’s down to whether or not they’re happy when they visit a site. A major goal is having users feel a sense of satisfaction with what they’ve just encountered: content with the content and a valuable zen that brings them back again. Backlinks are still a good way to demonstrate your site’s reliability and relevance, so long as you’re associating with authoritative resources. These are all signs that having an optimised content marketing strategy in place is even more essential to establishing your site as worthy of Google’s first page of search results.