A woman trying to pitch a link spam article to a blog
It's a free, high-quality article! Honest!

The case against guest posting

Beware emails offering free posts. The cost might be much higher than you think…

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

This morning, I got one of those emails I get every few days. Somebody insufferably upbeat offering me a guest post for my site. And it’s free! Wow. Free content. I can take the day off, right?

Well, no.

And I’ll explain why. But here’s the email broken down for you…

Subject line: question

Hi, Adam.

Hello! At least you got my name right. That puts you ahead of about 80% of these emails.

I’m offering to write for your blog at no charge.

Well that’s very nice, but it does rather go against the name, doesn’t it? One Man & His Blog. See?

One-time thing, one quality article, post it if you like it. If not, all good again. Would you like to see the topic ideas I had in mind?

Oh, I’m sure that you’re not just promoting a bunch of pre-written articles around, then. Ahem.

But why would she be doing this?

<name redacted>
Link Building Specialist

Ah-ha. So, she’s an SEO specialising in link building to try and boost her clients’ Google ranking. Let’s just have a wee check and see what Google’s guidelines say about link building, shall we?

What Google says about guest posts

First up:

Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site's audience or bring awareness to your cause or company. However, what does violate Google's guidelines on link schemes is when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author's site

And then:

When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google's perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking.

And that’s my, my friends, you will almost never see guest posts on this here site, and certainly never one that comes from an unsolicited source like this.

And you should be very wary of them, too. In fact, more recent information suggests that Google is very good at spotting and ignoring “guest post" links. So why do people bother? A mix of habit, and something they can bill clueless clients for…

SEOthe case against

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.