SEO companies continue to try and manipulate search engine results… it simply won't stop. Matt Cutts of Google wrote a great post, The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO includes a video on his stand on guest blogging and Matt provides this as his bottom line:
I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.
We recently outed a guest blogger here on Martech Zone. The writer came to us stating she wanted to get more exposure in the marketing industry and hoped to write some in-depth articles for us. We provided her access and she wrote the first post.
I was skeptical. The post had a handful of links within in the content… a few were fairly generic but one was very specific and I was concerned. We were already applying nofollow links to the outbound content, but I still couldn't shake the fact that it wasn't very targeted content… with very targeted links. Two more articles from the author and I had to start doing some investigating.
I reviewed her Twitter profile, Facebook profile, Google+ profile and other articles across the web. Each was fairly sparse… no personal conversations, no friends, and some question as to where she came from or even lived now. She appears to be a fictional character despite her collection of articles online. Of course, I'm not even sure if she is the correct pronoun.
The final straw was that I asked her for a copy of her driver's license. She wrote and stated she wasn't comfortable providing that much private information. I never asked for the private information… she could have covered up her home address and any personal data. I simply wanted proof of identification. With that, I removed all links from her posts and changed her login credentials.
So… from here on out, here's my checklist:
- Formal identification – this blog is my authority online and I need to maintain the exposure, respect and quality in order to keep and grow my following. I'm not going to risk it to some backlinker.
- Contributor Roles – all of our authors will start out by being contributors… meaning they can write content but can not publish it on their own. We'll review and publish their articles until we're comfortable they understand what they're doing.
- Full Disclosure – if there's any paid relationship between us, the content writer, and the resources provided within the post – those relationships will be disclosed to the reader. We don't mind providing content about our sponsors or products and services we're affiliates for… but our audience must know there's a relationship there.
- Nofollow – all links will be nofollowed on guest posts. No exceptions. Your goal should be to reach and get exposure with our extensive audience and following – not backlinking for SEO. Let's keep our priorities straight.
- Verified Images – any visual content will be licensed. If our guest blogger doesn't have a resource, we'll use our stock photo and video resource. I'm not going to get an extortion bill from a stock photo service because a guest blogger grabbed an image from a Google image search.
- Unique Content – we don't syndicate content from other sources. Everything we write is unique. Even when we share infographics, it's accompanied by an article that's unique to our audience.
What other measures do you take to ensure your guest blogging program on your blog is helping and not hurting your online reputation and authority with search and social?