It happened again.

Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts told the digital world that another link earning tactic is dead.

Well, that’s at least what most inexperienced SEOs took away from a post Cutts published on January 20, 2014.


In his post, Cutts claims that the very popular tactic of “guest blogging” is essentially useless and that the act of creating and contributing content to third-party websites in an attempt to gain exposure, traffic and links is no longer viable.

Can this really be true? Is Google really waging war on thousands of online businesses that run purely on the relationship they have with third-party content developers?

The short answer…NO!

Cutts often tells the SEO world that popular tactics for growing online visibility through links are dead. Since 2010, the list of “dead” strategies has grown to include:

  • Infographics
  • Keyword-centric content
  • Social shares (Google+)
  • Exchanged linking partnerships

Clearly, these tactics are not “dead” by any means and continue to act as some of the most influential tactics to take when trying to increase visibility, traffic and authority for online brands.

If IT Is Not True, Then Why Did Matt Cutts Say This?

I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company. – Matt Cutts

This is one of the most common questions new specialists and strategists have when it comes to what they read online.

The fact of the matter is Matt Cutts and Google have a responsibility to their clients, the online consumer, to provide an online experience that allows people from all backgrounds to be able to explore whatever they are interested in, in a space that is of the upmost integrity and is completely meaningful to the individual user.

This is obvious when considering Google’s Penguin update that directly addresses link spam, as well as their latest Hummingbird transformation where Google is trying to completely align with and satisfy user intent.

So when Matt Cutts says that a particular method for growing one’s online visibility and authority is dead or that, “…Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice,” what he really means is:

“So there are a ton of SEOs telling their clients to do this and they aren’t even telling them to do it well or the right way. Because you (SEOs) can’t seem to get this right and you are therefore clogging up my work environment (the Internet) with reckless, inaccurate content, I am going to tell people to stop doing this or else.”

How Can This Be Dead If…

At the end of the day, form and strategy do not carry as much consequence as intention and tactic. What this means is that if the intention of a particular strategy is to grow online visibility through the development of intelligent content that is unique and data-driven, then do not worry about being penalized by search engines.

grow online visibility

For example, if you have an Infographic that is unique, rich with accurate data and aligns well with your target audiences’ search demands, then go ahead and publish it. Publishing an Infographic is not the issue; the issue is publishing an Infographic for the sake of publishing one and not taking the time to create content that is in-depth, intelligent and meaningful to the audience in mind.

The main message behind Matt Cutts continuous warnings and claims is that he does not want SEOs overusing particular strategies to the point where they focus on the potential SEO results rather than user engagement metrics.

This is where the FUTURE of SEO comes in, as the best search-marketing consultants are the ones who understand a simple principle:

Search marketing is a service, not a means to an end.

The Best Search Marketing Consultants Know…

SEO specialists that implement strategies and tactics with the sole intention of improving rankings and visibility are doing SEO all wrong.

Strategies such as guest authorship should be addressed with the intention of connecting with a target audience to convey and exchange meaningful information, not as a means to simply get a link returned to the author’s site or social profiles.

By focusing all efforts on understanding what attracts online consumers, keeps them within a particular online environment and gets them interested in sharing their experiences with their social audiences, is exactly what Matt Cutts is looking for when it comes to placing positive value on branded digital properties.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

  1. Great points Jason! However I’m unfortunately not convinced that even high quality, relevant and targeted guest posting will be spared from the upcoming algorithm change indicated by Matt Cutts.

    The logical thing for the webspam team to do would be to create something that targets guest posts with low quality surrounding signals. Such as keyword rich anchor text, off-topic links, sites with a large % of their overall inbound link profile coming from guest posts etc.

    But from reading between the lines I inferred “We’re going to create something that detects guest posts and then devalue all of those links on a net-wide scale”. Hopefully I’m wrong but it’s easier for Google to kill all guest posts value than take the time to actually weed out the spammers from the genuine marketers.

    1. I doubt Google kills all guest blogging links. They may devalue the worth of anchor text from bylines (more likely for some industries than others), but Google has to be discriminate when they’re dealing with a practice like guest blogging that has quite a lot of legitimacy and value to it still. There’s no practicality to throwing the kill switch on the entire practice, in my opinion.

  2. I simply have to say that Matt Cutts is nothing more than a spokesperson/sales person for Google. There are only so many channels to consider using in terms of organics, the strategy on the other hand is another story. I have noticed black and grey hat, spammy tactics used across numerous verticals and markets over the 8 plus years I have been working within the IM industries. It is quite amusing as well as frustrating to see tactics get clipped by Google, then the next algorithm change or two later, those same tactics seem to work again…One example of the latest I have notice- SCHEMA ratings/reviews abuse…this was abused, then dropped off apparently, and now it is back…

    Google does not care about their results, they care more about pushing their profit margins via GoogleAdwords…equating to roughly 90% of Google’s profit margins ….while keeping SEO’s guessing.

    Just my opinion though…

  3. Means nothing, I am SEO since 1999 and for 15 years, Matt Cutts have throw more misleading than useful information. Nobody really knows everything about algorithms, but every program can be tricked somehow. “SEO is dead” – this topic exists since SEO exist, eh well it isn’t dead.

  4. I agree. When someone says something is dead it’s not really dead it seems more so that the people who heard about it and are doing it are spamming it or not doing it right and trying to over use it or not writing quality content just content full of keywords.

  5. The amount of controversy and disagreement regarding guest blogging seems hotter than ever. I’ve never tried it myself, but I’ve always considered it as a potential fallback if any plans fell through. I’m not sure why it’s known as “Spammy”, as ethical marketers avoid spamming as much as possible.

  6. I am sorry to respond so late but I love the dialogue and positive words that have been shared over this concept! The fact of the matter is, guest posts provide a better experience for the online user (Google’s customer). Being able to listen and learn from multiple personalities who are deemed credible through social shares and comments will NEVER be ignored or penalized.

  7. Actually, people admire his words as he is the head of the most trending topic on the net which is the spamming (seo). But still, they can’t actually tolerate some black hat techniques that exist under Penguin Era. I learned some of them in symbianize forum. And it really works.

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