Photo courtesy of Owen Brown on Flickr

By Rob Swystun

Okay, okay, everyone just calm down.

Guest blogging isn’t dead, it just had a minor injury when Matt Cutts got a message from a spammer and went on a rant about it being dead.

After Matt published his blog post about guest blogging being kaput, the internet freaked out, vomiting all sorts of hyperbole (as it is wont to do) in an effort to match Matt’s exaggerations about guest blogging being “done”.

And all this from a single spam email from some jerk offering to pay for links from Matt’s blog.

If you step back and look at what Matt is saying, it’s that guest blogging is “done” as a link building exercise. But, the truth is, it never really should have been considered a link building exercise in the first place. Guest blogging should first and foremost be considered a branding exercise, and really, it always should have been seen as such. If you get a link or two out of the deal, great, but that’s not really the point of it. The point is to get your brand name out there and have people see it and associate it with expertise in your field.  And, in fact, Matt actually does say this at the end of his post.

Get savvy

So, what’s the solution to stopping the spammy use of guest blogging?

How about creating savvier blog owners, for one.

In the comments to Matt’s post is this:

I opened up my blog for guest blogging months ago, as I was excited to have people helping out and writing good news articles. I wasn’t aware what I did back then…

After about 5-10 articles, I started to realise that this is just spam and spam. By then, it was sort of too late and I found my site has been linked in lots of sites as a “site that accepts guest postings” a.k.a spammable site

Sad, really. And I thought I could take a break every now and then and let my “readers” write 1 or 2 articles.

Wait, what? It took this guy almost a dozen article before he realized he was getting spammed? Are you kidding me? This is 2014! If you can’t spot a spam message, you probably shouldn’t be doing business on the internet. The majority of spam is written so generically and poorly that it might as well be labelled as spam in the subject line.

Spammers are all about quantity over quality. They don’t research your blog and send a nicely-worded message with your name at the top. They just see that it’s gotten a bit popular and send out one of their pre-written generic messages. Even if your name is right at the top of the blog, a spam message will almost never include it.

Jonathan Payne of MySocialGamePlan wrote a post about the worst ways to pitch a guest blog post. It’s pretty clear that the terrible guest post submissions Jonathan is talking about are from spammers.

The highlights include:

  • messages that are vague and don’t include a description of the proposed guest post
  • messages that aren’t addressed to a specific person
  •  guest post submissions that clearly fall outside of your guest posting guidelines
  • not referencing past writing work or experience
  • making blatant requests for links
  • offering to pay for links (this one is from Matt Cutts’ blog post)

If a message regarding guest posting includes any of those, it’s most certainly a spam message.

If you’re in doubt, you could also do what this intrepid internet user did, as outlined in the comments of Matt’s post:

Just last night I’d been contacted by several individuals wanting to write a guest post on my blog for link exchange. I’ve never had anyone wanting to do this before. I did a Google search of the individual’s name (which was fake by the way) and he came up on a website promoting guest blog tactics out of India with a fake Gravatar. Amazing! Needless to say I’ve always been careful to whom I share my links with from my blog. I’m assuming they start hitting you up for guest blog post when your blog starts to gain a little popularity. At least this is the way it’s been happening to me.

See how easy that is? Spam has gone from ridiculous to laughable over the last 15 years and it doesn’t take a genius to spot nefarious online activity. The fact that spammers are still able to fool anyone is downright shocking.

But they’ll keep doing it. As Cathy Stucker, who runs guest blogging facilitation site BloggerLinkUp said after her service was recently infiltrated by a spammer: “Spammers have been with us since the dawn of the Internet, and they will probably always be with us. They have no morals and no scruples, so they do not act like you and I.”

She’s right. When you opened your first email address, you were probably hit with spam and when you perish and your email address is still live, it will be receiving spam long after you’re gone.

As many have said already, simply declaring guest blogging to be “done” because spammers have gotten involved is disingenuous at best. If Matt and Google really wanted to help get rid of spammers, they could try the education approach by issuing guidelines for sites who accept guest posts (as using common sense doesn’t seem to be working).  To Matt’s credit, he has addressed the guest blogging issue several times via video posts. It’s likely he just tired of addressing the same issue over and over.

As a general rule of thumb for deciphering genuine guest posts, ask yourself if the guest post submission you’ve received is one that you yourself would have sent out to try and get a guest post done. If the answer is no, then your answer to the guest post submission offer should be the same.

 

 

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. […] she was going to run the recipe and link back to our client’s site. That’s what guest blogging is all about, […]

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About Rob Swystun

A former journalist, Rob has been writing professionally since 2006 and now focuses on copy writing, website content, articles, blogging, ghost writing, editing, proofreading and public relations. Currently an Athabasca University student studying for a BA in Communications, Rob holds a Journalism Diploma from Langara College in Vancouver.

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