Supposedly, forcing webmasters to add the “nofollow” link attribute means a loss of “editorial control” for webmasters. So says commentator Tim Capper on this SEJ article:
NOW: having said this, Google needs to be Fair, if they penalise MBG and its users, then they MUST take action against the big boys like Tripadvisor. The link attribute in the widget has to remain “dofollow”, if you change it to “nofollow” then the widget breaks – this is clearly removing the editorial control.
I’m guessing he’s talking about Tripadvisor’s sidebar widget, but here’s the question: If Google MUST take action against a particular website because so-and-so says so, isn’t that taking “editorial control” away from Google? It is by Capper’s logic. In actuality, Google isn’t taking editorial control from anyone. Webmasters can nofollow or dofollow links, but they must understand the risks associated with their decision.
Why Guest Blogging For SEO Is A Loser’s Game
We’ve been playing this game for a long time. Google’s algorithm has always been based on link analysis. It changed the SEO game in 1998. Since then, it’s been a never ending cat and mouse game between the search giant and SEOs who covet high Google rankings.
Every time an SEO figures out how to game Google’s algorithm by linking one way or another, word gets out and everyone is doing it.
- First, it was links of any kind. Webmasters figured out they could link to a site whether they were in the same niche or not and everyone was doing it – for no good reason much of the time. Webmasters were mass linking from one domain to the next and hiding links so they couldn’t be seen. Finally, Google clamped down.
- Keyword stuffing became the norm. And reciprocal linking became a common practice. Google killed both of them.
- Google started paying more attention to anchor text relevance and sectioning the Web into “good” and “bad” link neighborhoods. SEOs figured that out and started targeting specific websites based on PageRank and analysis of those sites’ link portfolios. Soon, Google changed the game again by introducing the “nofollow” link attribute along with Microsoft and Yahoo!
- By this time, article directories and link farms were very popular. Google rolled out changes that targeted these entities. They also addressed paid links.
- SEOs adjusted again and Google responded with the Panda and Farmer updates. They followed that up with more Panda changes over a couple of years and finally hit the Internet hard with Penguin in April 2012. Google continued to pile on Panda and Penguin updates.
- In August 2013, Google announced they would favor in-depth articles and rolled out the Hummingbird update.
You can see a complete history of Google algorithm changes here.
As you can see, no matter how smart SEOs get, when a common practice is adopted by spammers to gain an advantage in search rankings, Google takes action against that practice. It doesn’t matter if all the good guys are doing it. It doesn’t matter if Google’s guidelines say it’s okay. If the spammers are doing it and getting high rankings, Google is going to get them, and if they get you in the process, que sera sera.
How “Nofollow” Will Affect Guest Blogging
Quit thinking of links as currency and start treating currency as currency.
Translation: Quit thinking of links as currency and start treating currency as currency.
In other words, quit paying guest posters on your blog with promises of link juice and a back rub and start paying them with hard money.
Blog owners have sold the idea that guest blogging is of mutual benefit. It isn’t, really. When you think about it, if your website is more trafficked than the blog on which you are guest posting, then your content benefits that website more than yours. If the blog on which you are guest posting is more trafficked than your website but the audience has a low affinity ratio (same target audience) to yours, then your content will benefit that blog owner more than you. The only scenario where you’ll come out a clear winner is if the blog on which you guest post has more traffic than you and has a high affinity ratio.
This is even more true since Google is heavily encouraging blog owners to use the “nofollow” attribute in bio links. Websites serious about their reputations are considering that move as I write this.
What will happen to guest blogging when no one will give bloggers a link back to their website? Serious bloggers won’t care. They’ll keep blogging on niche websites where there is a high affinity ratio. Guest bloggers doing it for SEO will suddenly find another way to game Google’s algorithm.
I suspect that many of these spam bloggers will search for an alternative link scheme. Maybe they’ll point their “nofollow” links on high authority websites to a shill website designed solely to attract lots of traffic and is propped up by various kinds of “natural-looking” links and then link to their real website from that shill. Who knows? But the one thing you can be sure of is they won’t be guest blogging unless they’re willing to accept the loss of control over the dofollow bio link.
How To Win Back Editorial Control
There is just one thing for guest bloggers to do: Quit blogging for links and start blogging for traffic or money. You should consider not posting your content on other websites unless you are paid for it directly or do so for the benefit of reaching a lot of traffic with a huge affinity ratio to your own.
Publishers should consider paying their contributors. If you want long blog posts – and this is what a lot of bloggers are asking for these days – you should be willing to pay for it. If you want “high quality” content, you should be willing to pay for it.
How does paying for content with currency benefit the publisher? A lot of ways. Let’s start with these:
- You can be selective – You should be anyway, but if you are paying hard cold cash for content, then you will be absolutely certain that you’re publishing the best content possible, and you don’t have to feel guilty about forcing a “nofollow” link on your contributors.
- You’re in total control – It’s your blog, you set the rules. No one can take that away from you. Not even Google. Just make sure you are not engaged in spammy activity in any way.
- You will think twice – If you are paying for content, you will be double sure you want to publish it before you say yes. In that regard, paying with cash is a safeguard against bad decisions.
- Less likely to be penalized – Google doesn’t like it when people pay for a link. If the guest blogger gives you money and expects you to publish their content, that’s bad. But if you give them money for contributing to your blog, then no one is buying a link. You are buying quality content that will benefit your readers. Links quit being currency and the Web acts more like content production in the real world.
Another benefit to paying for content is that you are more likely to publish guest content less often since you will establish a budget and stick to it. You can then monetize that content any way you see fit as publisher and owner of the content.
Websites Already Paying Guest Bloggers
This is not a new idea. There are websites already paying guest contributors right now. Some of them are big brands, but not all of them. Even solo bloggers are beginning to pay their contributors. Here are a few websites who pay guest contributors.
- Make a Living Writing
- Your Online Biz
- Leaving Work Behind
- Career Addict
- Write Naked
- Smiles For All
- Kevin Muldoon
- Tuts Plus
- Austin Briggs
And there are a ton more!
To find guest blogging gigs in your niche that pay, just Google “your niche” + “paid guest blogging” and see what you find. Substitute “your niche” for the name of your niche.
It’s time for publishers to quit being cheap and quit promising guest posters links in exchange for their “high quality” content. If you want high quality content on your blog, try paying for it. You get to set the price.