I recently came across a blog post by a writer who I have tremendous respect for. John Scalzi is president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and something of a personal hero. He also despises your requests for guest posts. In March, he wrote this:
Recently my email had been inundated with people who I don't know and have never heard of before (or organizations, which is even worse), asking me if they can write a guest post on some highly obscure but generally commercially-related subject, because they are sure that my audience will just love it, etc. I don't know whether this is a new spammy practice or if some SEO-mad consultant has advised his clients that "guest posts" are the new black, or whatever, but I do know this sudden wave of solicitations is highly annoying.
Meanwhile, in April, State of Search decided to stop accepting guest posts. Why?
Nowadays however the 'link requests' have become less, but my inbox almost can't handle the guest post requests. The link building requests have turned into guest post requests. But they are not any better, or less for that matter.
And most of you are probably already aware that ProBlogger has decided to stop accepting unsolicited guest posts as well.
Of course, we at Northcutt still accept guest posts, as do major brands like Moz, but it's impossible to deny that there has been a recent shift in the industry. Perhaps this was a response to the warnings that Penguin 2.0 was coming. Either way, it's clear the link spammers are now choosing to make guest post requests instead.
And the problem is accelerating.
The fact that big-name bloggers are increasingly telling their audiences that they simply will not accept unsolicited guest posts should be disturbing if this is where most of your links are coming from. As fewer and fewer blogs accept guest posts, we are creating two webs: the ones that accept submissions and the ones that don't.
If your link profile doesn't exist on both webs, Google can easily identify that your "popularity" is artificial.
Guest Posting for Traffic and Natural Links
The future of guest posting has little to do with the single link back to your site. Google is growing increasingly aware of who is responsible for content, and there's no reason to think this won't be used to filter out results propped up by links from a limited number of authors.
It's time to start thinking about guest posts as a chance to grow brand impressions. We can leverage that opportunity to drive referral traffic, and to promote tools and content that naturally attract links of their own.
The most successful sites on the web are powered by tools and communities. Use guest posts to promote tools and communities that will snowball, not to build direct links.
Image credit: Eric Fischer