Some webmasters and SEOs are concerned about Google's recent reports of penalties for websites that publish guest posts. This is not because Google has started to penalize guest posting, but because there are old rules and new best practices that you should be aware of.
Google does not look favorably on guest posting for the purpose of gaining links and has been devaluing them for several years.
In other words, Google has been working hard to ensure that guest posting as a link-building tactic doesn't work anymore.
What are the Current Google Policies on Guest Posting?
Google aims to deliver an excellent search experience, which implies that the information it displays in search results must respond to the search requests it receives. However, when websites pay for backlinks, they typically receive spammy connections that give little or no value to the reader and do not align with Google's goals.
As a result, Google's link policy forbids link buying and selling, excessive link exchanges, and large-scale article marketing or guest blogging campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.
In other words, you should never buy guest posts, post them to large sites with the sole aim of getting a link back to your site, or exchange links with large numbers of websites.
The goal is to constantly prioritize the demands of the end-user and treat link-building as an 'added benefit.'
Similarly, publishers should only accept guest articles and publish backlinks that provide value to their audience, and they should not take payment for publishing pieces and backlinks unless specific conditions are met.
Is Google Penalizing Websites for Guest Posts?
While Google’s link policy has not changed, there are some instances where they will actively penalize sites for guest posting.
You should not use guest posts as a way to get links that you otherwise would not be able to get. Typically, this will be for either a money payment or for guest posting on sites that would not normally link to your site.
If your site is a real estate site that gets a link from another real estate site that you paid for, it's unlikely to be seen as natural. It will be seen as an effort to manipulate rankings.
Google does not want to see this. It is not against the rules per se but will likely result in your site receiving a manual review from Google.
The issue is that you are paying someone to post content on a website that links back to you.
The intent is shady, and the site owner is likely not interested in naturally publishing this type of content.
Google wants to make sure that they are not being manipulated and that the end user is being served the best possible results.
What are Google's New Link Attributes?
The two new link attributes are rel="sponsored" and rel="ugc".
You can use the sponsored attribute to identify which links are advertisements and which are editorial. When a search result includes the sponsored attribute, it is clear that the link is an advertisement.
For example, if you see something like rel="sponsored" href="https://adwords.google.com/adwords" in a search result, it is an advertisement.
The UGC (User Generated Content) attribute is for links that come from user-generated content. This is a valuable signal to Google, and it can help your site rank well if you are publishing content from a UGC site.
Some additional examples of UGC websites include news sites, blogs, and sites where regular people can post content.
For example, if you get a link from a website that lets people submit content, and you submit a link to a website (and it gets accepted and published), then the link will have the UGC attribute, and Google will know that the link is a valuable one.
How to Avoid Google Penalties on Guest Post Articles
1. Post Guest Articles on High-Quality Websites and Blogs
Not all websites are created equal. Some are more popular and have more authority than others.
When you write a guest post for a popular website, you are more likely to send targeted traffic to your site.
With that said, don’t write for a large-scale site simply to get a link. The goal should be to write content that is helpful to the audience.
Find popular sites that you would like to write for on a regular basis.
2. Make Sure Content and Links Are Relevant to Your Landing Page Content
You have to be careful when guest posting.
If your site is about guitar lessons, don’t write a guest post about tips for learning French.
Google will recognize this as keyword stuffing, and the website you are guest posting for may even lose their rankings for it.
Link to your landing page in the body of your article, not your homepage.
This is essential to avoid landing page duplication issues.
3. Use a Variety of Anchor Texts with Long-Tail Keywords
On your landing page, use one or two targeted keywords in your anchor text that connects to your website.
When you write a guest post, use anchor text in your link that is relevant to your article.
You want to be careful not to create keyword-rich anchor text link building when you guest post.
Avoiding over-optimization is key.
4. Write Original, High-Quality Guest Articles that People Will Want To Read
If you have any doubt about whether your content is quality, do not publish it.
Invest time into researching interesting topics and provide new insights.
Be original, provide value, and make it interesting.
5. Make Sure Your Landing Pages are Also of High Quality
Your landing page should be focused on your guest article and be helpful to your audience.
You want people to read your content and keep coming back for more.
Make sure you are using titles and descriptions with relevant keywords. Be original, provide value, and make it interesting. Keep in mind that you are writing for an audience, not for search engines. Writing for search engines has a short-term payoff but can hurt your site over the long term.
6. Use White Hat SEO Techniques as Much as Possible
White hat SEO techniques are rooted in creating content and links that are of value to people.
This is not something that you can do overnight. You have to create a reputation over time by showing Google that your sites are worthy of high rankings.
Creating content that people find interesting is the best white hat SEO technique.
Guest post writing is a blog content tactic that will help you build additional visibility, authority, and trust in your blog content. Just make sure that your guest articles are in line with your brand and are adding value to your audience. That said, guest posting should be about creating content and links that are of value. Paid guest posts may give your numbers a boost temporarily, but ultimately you want quality over quantity. Google can see right through guest posting that is done solely with the purpose of getting a link and result in hefty penalties.
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