In January, Google’s Matt Cutts caused quite a commotion in the world of Search, after publishing a post on his blog titled, The Fall and Decay of Guest Blogging for SEO.

The original title of the blog post was The Fall and Decay of Guest Blogging, which caused more of a stir than Cutts probably bargained for, prompting him to add ‘for SEO’, clarifying that his post was addressing guest blogging for search. The title itself is enough to panic anyone who has been relying on guest blogging as an integral aspect of their link building strategy.

A couple of years ago, offering to write a guest blog post in exchange for a ‘follow’ link from the publishing site was deemed an acceptable practice. It all started off so well; writers and SEO executives would ping off outreach emails, left, right and centre, offering their services, promising to make a valuable contribution to your already-brilliant website. Of course, as a small business owner, you would be delighted, flattered even to see these offers coming through and more often than not, accept their services for the small offering of a link.

Now, the landscape is looking drastically different. In a quote from his aforementioned blog post, Matt Cutts sums the situation up perfectly, saying ‘ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behaviour remains.’

We think that he is right. There has been a steady decline in quality of the content being written and published and it has become glaringly obvious that some people are not using guest blogging as a means to altruistically share fantastic content but as a cheap way to gain quick links.

Does that mean that All Guest Blogging is Extinct?
No. Matt Cutts simply wrote his post, which can be found here as a warning that offering, or featuring , low quality guest blog posts, in exchange for links to manipulate the SERPs is unacceptable and may lead to retribution aka the dreaded Google penalty.

What do I do if I Receive an Email Offering a Guest Post for my Website?
Ask yourself, ‘does this content give real value to the readers? Or ‘do I know this contributor?’ And if the answer is ‘no’, consider whether publishing it is worth the risk, however flattering the accompanying email is about your wonderful site.

So, where is the Search Industry with Guest Blogging now?
Ricemedia recommends approaching any sort of blogger outreach with caution. We approach those we have an authentic relationship with and offer them something of value to their readers. If you are offered a nofollow link in return for great content, don’t despair, there are still benefits to guest blogging, such as: brand exposure, increasing authority with a relevant audience, potential referral traffic and increased reach.

If you are approached with an offer of a guest blog, exercise caution. Make your guidelines regarding the content you accept crystal clear and publish them on your site to help to sort the wheat from the chaff. If a guest author’s sole aim is to gain links, their intentions will become clear and you are well within your rights and it would be sensible , to turn them down.

However, if you know the author or can vouch for their work, by all means, shake things up a little and bring something fresh to your readers. Just don’t forget to ‘nofollow’.