Got news for you: guest blogging is relevant for many more reasons than Google. In fact, that's probably one of the least important reasons to guest post or guest blog these days. Referral traffic that is more qualified than organic search, audience building, reaching new channels that organic search cannot quite tap, and many more non-SEO oriented reasons are why guest blogging will never really die out in the way that other types of linkbuilding have died out.
You have to love the world's biggest scraper and source of 'duplicate content' (all the scraped info from weather, wikipedia, etc in their sidebar these days) making up the rules of what is and isn't allowed. Extremely hypocritical, but the good news is that relying on Google never was necessary, and is becoming less and less so as time goes on.
Isn't that exactly the kind of institutional arrogance that the GP post was highlighting?
OK, some web sites might still be fundamentally dependent on Google. Personally, I'd advise against relying on a business model based primarily on search traffic for a number of reasons, but of course everyone is free to try it if they like.
However, I somehow doubt big name brands like Microsoft or Audi or McDonalds would suffer irrevocable harm if Google disappeared tomorrow. Nor would major sites like Wikipedia or Facebook. Nor would all the popular forum/news aggregator sites, or the popular source sites that repeatedly get linked from them.
Perhaps more telling, I doubt any of the much smaller niche/hobby or family business type sites I know about would suffer greatly if Google vanished tomorrow either. The big G represents only a modest share of the incoming traffic in each case, and moreover the quality of that traffic in terms of engagement and conversions is relatively low compared to most other major sources. They are often beaten on volume by at least one order of magnitude by a single link from an influential blogger in a relevant field who is genuinely suggesting that their readers visit that site, or the equivalent via Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc. And that's before you count the viral effect, which can bump the difference to multiple orders of magnitude. Content is king, as Cutts has often said, but in 2014 good content can be found many ways without any help from Google.
I suspect this issue is symptomatic of a serious and long-term difficulty for Google search: their foundation is still basically the idea that you can judge the worth of a page by how many incoming links it sees. I'm reasonably sure that unless they have some shady deals going on with various popular social media sites, they don't even know about probably 90% of the incoming links to most of those little sites I mentioned, nor about 99% of the links my friends and family share to other people's sites. All they've got left is the public blogs and the assorted SEO tricksters, and that's not where a lot of people share genuine recommendations any more.
Many existing businesses already have awareness built through a variety of channels over a number of years, but if search were to die off some newer sites struggling to build exposure from scratch would struggle harder. That said, as Google keeps lifting the cost barrier to entry & radiates greater risk out to the smaller players perhaps building initially from the perception that Google is perpetually late / behind the curve on new sites, & that one needs exposure elsewhere isn't a bad thing.
"They are often beaten on volume by at least one order of magnitude by a single link from an influential blogger in a relevant field who is genuinely suggesting that their readers visit that site, or the equivalent via Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest, etc. And that's before you count the viral effect"
If they don't have an SEO strategy (or are selling a unique product that people don't know exists until they see it) & just let whatever search traffic happen on its own then sure it is easy for other sources to drive vastly more traffic than search. But if they are focused on commercial keywords, build content around the consumer demands their solutions help solve, and have an SEO strategy then search is typically in the top few referrers in terms of revenue driven.
A lot of the top affiliate links on Twitter or such are for iTunes song sales: low cost, low friction & low commitment purchases. I think I have had maybe a couple Twitter conversions in years, while search has driven orders of magnitude more. But both are channels that are part of the awareness process & when you add them together its more like 2+2=5.
"their foundation is still basically the idea that you can judge the worth of a page by how many incoming links it sees"
I think they fold in more usage data than they let on, but feel little need/incentive to mention that aspect of the algorithm.
"I'm reasonably sure that unless they have some shady deals going on with various popular social media sites, they don't even know about probably 90% of the incoming links to most of those little sites I mentioned"
Did you see the bit about using Google Chrome's data saving caching feature on Android? Chrome desktop also has security features baked into it. And there are boatloads of signed in user accounts tied to both of these. And large chunks of many social sites are crawlable.
"All they've got left is the public blogs and the assorted SEO tricksters, and that's not where a lot of people share genuine recommendations any more."
The fact that those votes are harder to give means they (often) have greater discrimination value. It is easy to say that social signals should replace links, but that would effectively be Google subsidizing competing ad networks. And even if we ignored that the "relevancy" signals in social are also the ad units, outside of those official ads there are third party strategies to ensure social is every bit as gamed as the link graph is.
Just today I saw this
and that reminded me of this from the past
The second part is what I really had in mind there. One of the sites I was thinking of is a textbook example, a start-up for people who have a certain hobby.
The SEO strategy is reasonably effective: the site consistently ranks on the first page of Google for almost all targeted search terms, which is not a bad achievement starting from a page rank of nothing a few months earlier. But it's partly able to do that because no-one in the field has really done anything similar before, so almost no-one actually searches for anything like it either.
In contrast, more specialised and proactive channels, such as advertising in traditional off-line media or targeting ads at people with that particular interest on social networks, attract very favourable comments and numerically they tend to get far better click-through rates, similar levels of engagement, and in some cases a much higher overall conversion rate/lower CAC.
If you only looked at the hits from Google, your first reaction might quite reasonably be that there was no market for this product, but the feedback once people in the target market actually see it paints a different picture.
Again, it's unfortunate, but not surprising.
It is secondary to our strategy. Facebook is the dominant platform in our target demographic.
I would not consider us, even remotely dependent on Google. If Google disappeared tomorrow the effect on our net sales and exposure would probably be less than 1%.
Google is, for many casual users, a lazy way of getting a full URL. Hit Google. Type Hubspot. Click. Hubspot.
> if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop
Guest-blogging as a link gaining technique is dead. If you want it for prestige, referrers, or whatever, keep on keeping on. You may want to nofollow though.
Of course it's not.
Cutts seems to be under the mistaken impression that hyperlinks were invented to provide source data for his employer, and that if his employer now chooses not to pay attention to some of them then the rest of us won't either.
In reality, if there's a link in the guest blog post, people reading that post can follow it. If it's a popular blog and an interesting post on it by the guest author, probably quite a few readers readers will.
Matt knows his audience and doesn't have to spell out everything to the nth degree--when he talks link building it's 100% of the time page rank related.
When they start giving out blanket advice about what people "should" do, particularly when the advice is as self-serving and frankly laughable as it is in this case, I find it increasingly difficult to give them the benefit of the doubt. I suspect they damage their credibility a little more every time any of them speaks or writes this way.
Having a well-trafficked blog of my own, I also receive hundreds of these awful spam emails. But why would I ever take their offer? My blog is respected by my niche because I would never post junk. Niether would the publications I write for. That's why there's still an audience there.
If a site author accepts high quality guest posts, should they no-follow the outbound links? That appears to be the message in your blog post.
I added some paragraphs of clarification to the blog post.
If it helps give you an idea why it's confusing: I get tons of spam comments on my site offering me spam content generation tools, among other spammy offerings.
They're obviously spam. I'm sure some people do fall for these ploys, and it's unfortunate. An appropriate message would be "don't fall for these". An inappropriate message would be "if you're relying on content generation in 2014, stop".
In other words, just because something has spammy elements, doesn't invalidate the practice entirely. What's still unclear about your blog post is this: If someone does legitimate, high quality guest posting, the kind they would do without Google, is this a positive or a negative in Google's eyes, and should links be no-followed the same way you'd do for a high quality affiliate or high quality sponsor.
So why don't they cut out the spammy stuff like keyword links? Or, if the content is really garbage, say "no thanks"? The only reason I can see is if they're terribly desperate for content, in which case they're knowingly degrading their own platform.
There are therapists, landscapers, used car dealers, craftsmen, accountants, etc. All kinds of people are small business owners and have company blogs. Maybe they fumble around their website, but they can tell when the written content of an article on their topic (landscaping, accounting, etc.) is junk.
A tech savvy user is more likely to be familiar with the reasons and risks and ignore poorer quality writing in their evaluation.
Google has no control over a visitor to a highly credible blog trusting you as a source and clicking on a link. Clicking the link shouldn't even be necessary, if you're establishing expertise for yourself and your company.
If your sole reason for guest blogging is Google juice, it's reasonable to rethink that strategy.