Matt Cutts’ recent post on his personal blog articulated a devolving pattern of spammy “guest blog” practices. It was a fairly thorough exploration of a common problem of paying for content simply to gain links. While it was a complex argument, and a solid point of view – it was summed up everywhere in four words: “Guest Blogging is Dead” which is not exactly what he said – it was a bit more of a, cautionary tale – ‘be careful who you invite to blog’. Basically Cutts’ point can be boiled down to one salient point; Blogging – and content – cannot just be about SEO. If you look at the forest for the virtual trees you are missing the value for users in the creation of content and the curation of voices.

“[focus on] building value, community, content, and press without worrying too much about Google & SEO. I think that’s the way I’d approach it, too. I’d try to build my brand without SEO and then get SEO as a side benefit of my brand growing. Tactics like social, content, community, branding, video, etc. would be my primary methods. Incidentally, I think that’s what Google wants, too.” –  Rand Fishkin on a recent Reddit AMA.This speaks to a greater tension I observe in the industry between WOM strategy and SEO strategy; who owns metadata?  Is sharing important in itself – or is it an extension of link building? Google, and all search engines are trying to reward user focused content and strategy with more sophisticated algorithms. While it’s a longer play to focus on building a strong voice and a community rather than focusing on keyword heavy content –  Google, and voices like Cutts are telling us to do the right thing, and eventually we will be rewarded for it.

Guest blogging can become part of this community social strategy – focusing on trusted and passionate perspectives is community engagement and fosters a dialogue. Dialogue is a great starting point to long term engagement. However, if short term metrics are important to you, it is worth noting that User generated content is shared 10x more than the average page on your site, and that trusted contributors with an existing following can bring new users into the conversation.

TRUST is the new content capital – especially in long form content about products, goods and business. It’s important to build your trust through partnerships, thought leadership and rich content. Just be careful who you align yourself with, after all, as the Japanese proverb states, “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends” be sure to treat your brand and your site as you would your character.


Rachel Ullstrom
Account Director, Social Technologies