Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, recently predicted that he expects Google to “take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”
Imagine my surprise and concern, since we just launched a national thought-leadership guest-blogging program for a client. But, as I read more about it on Search Engine Land and from Christopher Penn, I realized Google’s “dim view” is actually a GOOD thing for PR pros … at least those of us who are helping our clients create and place high quality guest posts.
As Cutts explained,
“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.”
The key phrase there is “to gain links.” But, guest-blogging as an element in a PR strategy is more than a quick link-bait tactic. It’s about increasing web traffic, establishing thought-leadership and expertise, expanding online footprint, and gaining reader preference and trust through education and shaping opinion. While SEO may (sometimes) be a piece of the puzzle, there are plenty of other benefits from guest-blogging programs. In fact, this Google change won’t really impact those aspects of the PR strategy.
This got me thinking — and leads me to a bigger point. Web platforms like Google and Facebook will continue to tweak their systems to ensure the best content surfaces to the top. After all, that’s the most direct way to keep users coming back (a must to keep advertisers happy). As a result, those who are creating this quality content will benefit. After Facebook changed its algorithm in December, BusinessInsider declared the change threatened the “entire social media marketing industry.” In reality, the change was a disaster for people creating crappy content or trying to game the system.
Similarly, Google’s “dim view” of guest blogging isn’t bad for all PR people. But, it is bad for the people who are trying to game the system to inflate their search engine rankings. As Christopher Penn put it,
The less garbage there is, the less hard our audiences have to work to find the good stuff. A diamond in the mud may be a diamond, but it’s easier to find in a bucket of mud than in a stadium filled with mud. If this puts down a bad content marketing practice that’s become so automated that no humans even need to be involved, then good. Cull the herd, as it were.
So, if you’re creating solid content, keep on keepin’ on. Don’t panic about algorithm adjustments. They’ll actually work in your favor.
Photo credit: Jase Curtis