Google’s John Mueller answered a question about paying for guest posts and offers solid advice on the right way to approach paid guest posts that Google is okay with.
Recent History Of Guest Posts
Guest posts, whether paid or unpaid, is an old tactic, a lemon from which any “link juice” had long been squeezed out, down to the rind.
In 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts wrote a blog post telling SEOs to “put a fork in it,” that guest blogging was done.
A few months later Google issued a series of penalties on guest blogging platforms as well as penalizing individuals, including a penalty on the website of an SEO who only published five guest posts.
Nowadays, Google doesn’t hand out penalties like it used to.
It simply stops the links from passing PageRank.
That makes it hard to know if a link is working or not.
So people keep guest posting because the penalty feedback isn’t there.
Google’s John Mueller On Paid Guest Posts
In a Google SEO Office Hours recording, a person related that every site they approach for guest posts requires payment.
They wanted to know if paying for a guest post was against Google’s policy even though the paid guest post was “valuable content.”
This is the question:
“Most websites only offer the option to purchase a “guest post” (to gain a backlink) from them nowadays.
Is this against Google’s guidelines if I’m writing valuable content?.”
John Mueller answered:
“It sounds like you’re already on the right track.
Yes, using guest posts for links is against our spam policies.
In particular, it’s important that these links are qualified in a way that signal that they don’t affect search results.
You can do this with the rel=nofollow or rel=sponsored attributes on links.
It’s fine to use advertising to promote your site, but the links should be blocked as mentioned.”
Paid Guest Posts Are Advertising
An important point that Mueller makes is that paid guest posts are advertising.
He’s right. Paid Guest Posts with links are advertisements as far as Google is concerned.
The importance of this observation is that failure to label advertisements is not only misleading to readers but may also violate laws that prohibit misleading advertisements.
Whether something is legal or not is something one should discuss with a lawyer because the line between what’s legal and illegal can be nuanced.
For reference, one can turn to the United States Government Federal Trade Commission guidelines about Native Advertising which offers guidance on what should be labeled as an advertisement.
Paid Guest Posts Can Be Useful If Correctly Done
Guest posting can be a great form of advertisement as long as the links are properly marked with the nofollow link attributes.
Half the battle of making a website successful is getting their name out there or having their products or services widely known in a positive way.
Paid guest posts are a great (and economical) way to advertise a site but a poor way to build links.
Listen to the Google question and answer at the 4:42 minute mark:
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