We know it can be hard to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithm and guidelines, especially when new rules aren’t always formally announced or explained clearly. Often, we look to reputable sources for help on interpreting new policy, including some of the top industry thought leaders such as Moz, Neil Patel, Search Engine Land and SEMRush. But what happens when even the best sources aren’t clear about what can fly under Google’s webmaster guidelines?
Guest Blogging With SEMRush
All-in-one marketing toolkit and industry leader SEMRush actually removed their recently added paid guest blogging services after controversy and scrutiny over Google policy and questions of compliance. Some benefits of this short-lived service included the following:
- Increased quality traffic
- Increased brand awareness
- Time savings and quick turnaround
- Increased domain authority
The most appealing benefit of the guest blogging service was the potential for increased domain authority. A decent domain authority score of at least 50-60 (out of 100) can boost your content’s rankings and Google may prefer your site in their search engine. Guest blogging can be very effective when done right because a link on a related website can send qualified referral traffic to your site and users may stay on the page to learn more. More traffic to your site from these types of quality backlinks can help boost your domain score because Google recognizes the quality content your site has to offer.
Behind the Backlink
The concept of paid backlinks is similar to paid guest blogging, which makes sense that elaborate backlinking schemes are frowned upon in many circles. Google wants to see quality over quantity to give the user the best results, so if too many backlinks are found by Google they may penalize your site based on what they assume are inauthentic or unnatural backlinks. This is to prevent “webspam” and give users a better experience.
This leaves a lot of people wondering why pay-per-click/paid search campaigns are allowed in Google but other paid tactics may not be allowed per their guidelines. Securing quality backlinks and coordinating with guest bloggers is time consuming and therefore can be costly, but if your budget allows for it (and you’re able to tap into a valuable, related audience) why not pursue those avenues?
Backlinking as a whole isn’t banned and guest blogging is still allowed – it’s when third party paid posts come into play that Google may step in. As marketers, we can still coordinate editorial content and work with various verticals to increase exposure for our given industries.
Playing by the Rules
So, what does this mean for us marketers and business owners? It means going around Google just isn’t going to happen. If Google policy can cause a shift in services from a major digital marketing company, then our best bet is to stay informed on changing guidelines and make sure to play by their rules. If you aren’t sure if you used paid guest blogging or excessive backlinking tactics in the past, here’s what you can do:
- Log in to Google Search Console and check for any manual actions. Google will typically notify you of these manual actions via email, but checking manually a few times a month could be helpful
- If you didn’t receive a manual action you’ll need to submit a reconsideration request after removing the paid guest posts or adding nofollow link attributes to the links
- If you did use these types of tactics, be proactive and add nofollow link attributes to the links now in case Google issues penalties later on
Want to know if your site follows Google’s webmaster policy? Curious about your domain authority score and how it matches up to your competition? Or, want to geek out on marketing tactics and debate with us? Contact us today.