Matt Cutts: “Stick A Fork In It, Guest Blogging Is Done”

matt cuttsGoogle — and Matt Cutts, in particular — has made a number of statements about guest blogging over the past year as the tactic has grown as a link building tactic.

None of those statements are as clear as the one Cutts wrote today on his personal blog.

Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, says that he’d “expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”

He begins the post with a very clear message:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

After sharing an example of a guest blogging solicitation he received that would violate Google’s quality guidelines, Cutts says guest blogging is dead as a linkbuilding tactic:

So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.

A Quick History Of Google & Guest Blogging Warnings

As I said above, this isn’t the first time Google or Cutts has discussed the risks of guest blogging. It’s just the most clear and definitive statement of all. You can see how Google’s stance toward the tactic has changed over time:

You can plainly see how the messaging has progressed from “better nofollow the links” to “use moderation” to “guest blog spam is getting bad” and now to today’s “stick a fork in it” post.

Google and Cutts have warned on things like this before — consider this warning about content farms that was published about one month before the Panda update rolled out.

The question now becomes: Is Google planning an algorithmic update that would impact guest blogging to coincide with today’s warning?

Postscript: In response to a couple hundred comments on his post, and perhaps to the discussion on social media, Cutts has added some extra information clarifying the intent of his post. He says he’s not referring to “high-quality multi-author blogs” and that he added “for SEO” to the title of his post:

There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/ Jannatul Ferdous Shumi

    If I have some blogs in different blogging platform like blogspot,wordpress, blog etc and I am giving posting there unique and good content, is that ok? Is there any chance here that Google does not like this blogging? Are these posting considered as guest blogging?

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/ Jannatul Ferdous Shumi

    If I have some blogs in different blogging platform like blogspot,wordpress, blog etc and I am giving posting there unique and good content, is that ok? Is there any chance here that Google does not like this blogging? Are these posting considered as guest blogging?

  • http://zennie62blog.com/ Zennie Abraham

    I’m getting sick and tired of this crap from Cutts and Google. I can’t even FIND blogs in search anymore – it’s gone as an option. Google’s trying to kill blogs in favor of its’ suffering old media buddies. This stinks.

  • http://zennie62blog.com/ Zennie Abraham

    I’m getting sick and tired of this crap from Cutts and Google. I can’t even FIND blogs in search anymore – it’s gone as an option. Google’s trying to kill blogs in favor of its’ suffering old media buddies. This stinks.

  • Max

    Would these people contribute here if they won’t get a link back to the company they work for or any other website they want to promote? Most probably not! I was not implying publishing anonymous posts either, a link to any of their social profiles would be natural enough, but no …

  • Max

    Would these people contribute here if they won’t get a link back to the company they work for or any other website they want to promote? Most probably not! I was not implying publishing anonymous posts either, a link to any of their social profiles would be natural enough, but no …

  • Max

    Would these people contribute here if they won’t get a link back to the company they work for or any other website they want to promote? Most probably not! I was not implying publishing anonymous posts either, a link to any of their social profiles would be natural enough, but no …

  • Eminenture

    Appreciated Michael Martinez

  • Nathan Prescott

    You completely missed the point Jon was trying to make Michael. Lets use a simple example: Site A) Is Techcrunch and has James Altucher guest blogging on the weekends. Site B) Is a blog that accepts spammy posts from everyone and their mother. Poor quality writing just for links.

    Both A) and B) fall under the category of engaging in “Guest Blogging” however to anyone remotely intelligent there is an obvious difference in both quality and intent. That is the point Jon was trying to make that flew right over your head. How embarrassing.

    This difference in quality and intent is exactly why proclaiming that “Guest Blogging is dead!” is disingenuous.

  • Bhavuk Khandelwal

    What about the links I built using guest posting? Do i need to remove them or disavow them or make them no-follow?

  • Bhavuk Khandelwal

    take do-follow links from your guest posts

  • Bhavuk Khandelwal

    we can say SEL is actully a blog managed by high authority authors, kind of multi author blog so i don’t think this thing gonna affect SEL or they stop letting people write for them.

  • http://www.nathanielbailey.co.uk/ Nathaniel Bailey

    Having posts in your name is enough for what real contributors want in any niche and the link is a bonus, but if you feel all content published on other sites by people that don’t own the site is only for building links, feel free to stop like Matt Cutts told you!

    But if you know the other values to sharing high quality insight in a niche your very good at or a professional in, by offering guest posts or ‘contributions’ to other leading sites in your niche…

    …Well if you did we wouldn’t be continuing this convo on here, so clearly you fit the first description!

    Might I suggest you take note of the change in the above post of the changes on Matts post noted in the Postscript above “He says he’s not referring to “high-quality multi-author blogs” and that he added “for SEO” to the title of his post”

    Like with all things in seo and marketing, you have to read between the lines and workout what parts of what google says are important, taking an overall view of things like this is not the right approach, its not a case of one size fits all!

  • http://www.thewritingrealm.com/ Alicia Rades

    Mmm…perhaps you’re hanging out on the wrong sites.

  • http://www.thewritingrealm.com/ Alicia Rades

    Mmm…perhaps you’re hanging out on the wrong sites.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    “You completely missed the point Jon was trying to make Michael.”

    Well, he was being insulting — I’m sure I got THAT point.

    “[blah blah blah]…This difference in quality and intent is exactly why proclaiming that ‘Guest Blogging is dead!’ is disingenuous.”

    So, YOU have completely missed the point (like Jon).

    SEOs get these really dumb ideas into their heads, they spread the really dumb ideas across the Web like it’s the Gospel, and then when reality pokes holes in the really dumb ideas the SEOs get all upset and try to defend the really dumb ideas by claiming that someone (Google or Matt in this case) “is disingenuous”.

    The only lies in this conversation are those being cooked up by angry people trying to rationalize their bad search marketing practices.

    I’ve been warning people for two years this would come. Others have been complaining about this “SEO tactic” going on four years now.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    Use the 5/95 rule. If 5% of your links are from guest posts, you may be okay. If 95% or more of your links are from guest posts, you may have set yourself up for a nice, big fat penalty.

    If I were a 95-percenter I would let prudence guide my judgement.

    If you’re somewhere in-between those two extremes, prudence may still be your best friend in this game.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    “Mmm…perhaps you’re hanging out on the wrong sites.”

    I’m not one of the people complaining or alarmed by this “put a fork in guest posting” business.

    I’ll continue to stick with the company I keep. That has worked for me in SEO since 1998. Your mileage may vary.

    But I still see plenty of bloggers publishing the wrong kind of guest posts.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    What is it about online marketing that makes so many people disregard common sense in favor of this type of binary “all or nothing” mindset?
    They read “guest blogging is a good way to reach a larger audience” and interpret that as “stop doing infographics (or whatever trendy tactic) and publish lots of guest posts anywhere and everywhere by the hundreds”. Then they wonder why Google has a problem with it.

    Any SEO with a functioning brain should have seen this coming at least a year or two ago. I know people like you and I who live & breathe this type of thing recognized it as soon as guest blogging became the next big thing a few years ago. Most others should have recognized it the first, second, or third time that Matt Cutts advised against using guest blogging for links.

    Now, Matt gets frustrated and issues an uncharacteristically clear warning and the “Google hates small business” crowd who ignored all the warnings from you, me, Google, and Matt’s neighbor’s cat are here complaining about the cruelty of Google’s desire to minimize the amount of crap on the internet and unwillingness to reward it.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’m wondering how this could play out–not just for SEOs and their clients, but also for the bloggers and other site owners who run low-quality guest posts.

    It’s probably easy enough for Google to devalue blog and article links that fit a spammy profile, and to apply a Penguin-like algorithmic penalty to sites that receive large numbers of questionable “guest post” links.

    But what about the sources of those links? If nothing else, wouldn’t a high ratio of shallow “guest posts” with embedded commercial inks raise questions about the quality of the sites that run such posts? Are bloggers and other site owners who take “guest posts” (paid or unpaid) from every Tom, Dick, or Harry running the risk of a giant Panda slap?

  • http://www.jontavarez.com/ Jonathan Tavarez

    Google has and always will be going after “SPAM”. Telling people, including your readers that “guest blogging is dead” and “you’ve predicted this for years” is just guru gibberish and you’re trying to hype the topic up for your own benefit. (Marketing 101, not sure if you’re aware of that even)
    SPAM IS DEAD. NOT GUEST BLOGGING. SPAM HAS BEEN DEAD FOR YEARS. MOVE ALONG CHILDREN.

  • Greg Kristan

    I agree Katherine. For myself I never think about PageRank or anything like that. Just focus on creating a great site with tremendous user ability and you should be all set. All of this other stuff then becomes sort of irrelevant. Just my opinion however

  • http://miklinseo.com/ Miklin SEO

    How in the world would the bots know the difference between genuine guest blogging compared to guest blogging for SEO purposes? Unless the topic is completely unrelated to the brand or website, which is usually not the case with authoritative blogs, then how would Google separate the good from the cheaters? Let’s say you have a blog about gardening and a professional gardener wants to improve visibility and pays to have a guest blog post linking to his domain… How would Google know? This just seems a little to vague.

  • http://www.CheesyCorporateLingo.com/ Patrick Reinhart

    Totally agree. This will inevitably lead to Google sending up another flare to deter spammers from the practice (although let’s face it, it’s not going to work).

    I foresee a tiny flightless bird getting another update soon…

  • Durant Imboden

    I just got two more “guest post” SEO pitches this morning. Either the senders didn’t get Matt’s message or they’re hoping I didn’t!

  • Sharjeel Sunderani Works

    I agree. Matt is pointing towards black hat practices where guest blogging has become a sole way of garnering links on different sites. If you are not spammy, not overwhelming your audience with irrelevant links and are writing valuable articles on quality sites, you have nothing to fear.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ Ehtesham_SKI USA Inc

    Another good initiative taken by Matt to improve Google.
    People are still to overcome from Penguin penalty, another big shocking news for spammers to stop doing guest posting.
    My question is, do you think spammers don’t find the other option to do spam or game search engine?
    And how long will Google gonna keep spammers away from doing such crappy stuff?

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