What Google's New Guest Post Policy Means for Bloggers

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Google's New Guest Post Policy Means for Bloggers

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Google's New Guest Post Policy & What it means for bloggers


Panic always spreads when word of a new Google algorithm gets round. I have to hand it to them, Google have perfected the task of scaremongering, whether purposefully or not.

When Google released Penguin, it targeted specific practices that many bloggers employ for boosting traffic to their sites.

One of the biggest areas impacted is that of guest posting. There's been a lot of speculation, drama and fear in light of Google's announcement that guest posting is dead. 

As always, I've done my research and in this tutorial I'm going to share with you what Google's new guest policy actually means for bloggers.
Find more blogging tutorials to pin:
What is guest posting?
This may seem like a daft question to ask, but hear me out. A guest post is simply when one blogger invites another blogger, brand, business or PR to share a post on their blog. That post can be anything: text, images,video, a link party. Somewhere in the post, the guest poster will have included a couple of links to their own blog or website.

Usually, this would include a straight title link and a deep, SEO boosting link. For example, if I were submitting a guest post, I would make sure that my blog name Anyonita Nibbles was a link as well as a SEO boosting keyword linking to a recipe or tutorial from this blog.

Chances are, if you've been doing your rounds in the blogosphere, you'll have come across dozens of guest posts. You may have even have welcomed them yourself. According to Google, the quality of guest posting has changed dramatically over the years and now "it's become a more and more spammy practice". (Matt Cutts on guest posting) As a result, Google's cracking the whip on guest posting in 2014.

The type of guest posts to avoid
Every now and then, I get a dodgy email from someone I don't know asking if they can write an article for Anyonita Nibbles. You know the sort? Some random PR or blogger stumbles across your blog or notices the traffic your blog gets or the number of followers on your social media accounts and suddenly they've got dollar signs for eyes and see your site as an easy target for boosting their own traffic.

It's these types of people that have ruined guest posting. It's these types of guest posts that you should avoid. You'll need to use your judgment, as always, but here are a few things you should do when you receive an unsolicited guest post inquiry:
  1. Determine what they are expecting to gain. Do they want to submit a poorly written article full of links to their own website?
  2. Check them out. Visit their website and have a good luck around. Are they an established website? Do they have a steady stream of activity--blog posts and comments from readers?
  3. Stalk them on social media and see what kind of influence they have. Do they have a large following on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter? Are they on G+?
  4. Is the article relevant to your site?
Let's look at some answers to those questions:
  1. Ultimately, it's your decision, but I'd avoid publishing poorly written articles. First off, that article will reflect on you and your website and it could damage your reputation. Excessive link dropping in articles almost always gets flagged by Google and good antivirus programs and it could result in your site being listed as one that promotes itself through spam tactics. No bueno. 
  2. If their website was just published in the last month or so, I'd advise not working with them in this capacity. It's important for bloggers to establish themselves as a quality authority on their topic before other bloggers should back them or invite them into their own blogs. You can tell a site's quality by the conversations that occur on their social media or blog posts. Usually good communication between a blogger and her readers would highlight whether a site is of quality or not.
  3. Every blogger isn't going to start out with hundreds of followers on social media and that's fine. But I'd think twice about working with a blogger who only has 3 or 4 likes. It's not about being rude and not helping one another out, but a blogger would need to show willing first. Bloggers should work hard to grow their followers and to secure this following before reaching out to established bloggers for a leg up. If you don't promote yourself, why should I bother promoting you?
  4. You'd be surprised the number of times I get approached by potential guest posters who want to share things that aren't even relevant to my blog. Anyonita Nibbles is primarily a food blog with regular blogging tutorials. I probably don't have much use for posting things about cheap airlines, computer deals or knitting. No matter how interested I am in a particular topic, I have to use discretion. If I wouldn't post about it for free, I shouldn't be willing to post about it to make a fast buck.
In the interest of full disclosure and clarity, here are some actual emails I have received that I have rejected. I know many of you are new to blogging and haven't been approached by potential spammers yet. You might find this helpful:


This email came from a repeat-performer. About every other month, I get the same email from her, informing me that she's interested in a text link.When I inquire about the link, she always says that she can't confirm what link she'd like to place. Instead, she wants to know if I'm interested. I've always disregarded her as being a spammer and since I don't make a policy of peppering posts with paid links, I've declined. Repeatedly.


This email almost seemed legit. I mean, at least the article would have been something to do with cooking! But because I don't post articles on kitchen gadgets, I wasn't prepared to accept. Then, out of curiosity, I had a look at the link she provided. The blog is relatively new but the writing is poor. Even if she had been wanting to swap a recipe, I think I still would have declined based on the newness of her site, the fact that I don't know who she is and the poor quality of her content.

The type of guest posts that is okay
No matter what Google says, I'm pretty confident that guest posting isn't just going to shrivel up and die. Here's why:
  1. Guest posting isn't just about link building. Not always. Guest posting is beneficial for garnering new readers. I've gained hundreds of new readers from sharing recipes on other, trusted blogs. 
  2. Guest posting is helpful for maintaining a blog schedule. Many bloggers use guest posters to fill in when they are going to be on holiday or are off ill. People are always going to go on holiday and they're always going to get ill. Should their blogs suffer because of it? No. The solution? Guest posters.
  3. Guest posting is valuable and important for attracting readers outside of a blogger's niche. Example: I'm not vegan. I quite like eating pretty much anything. Including things with cute faces. But I've noticed that although I have posted vegan recipes (unintentionally) this is an element of my blog that could be enhanced. Instead of embarking on a radical lifestyle change and trying to get up to speed with all of the nuances of veganism, I could simply invite an established vegan blogger to share her knowledge on Anyonita Nibbles.This does two things for me: It opens up my blog to vegans, welcoming their following and support. It also ensures that Anyonita Nibbles is more than a one-trick pony; it provides variety. That type of exposure is what guest posting thrives on.
So, in my opinion, guest posting is here to stay. Still, as this is an area Google is getting strict on, it's helpful to know what type of guest posting is "safe". If you plan on welcoming guest posters, you should:
  1. Invite guest posters that you know or that you know have a sound reputation. I'd stick to inviting the bloggers whose blogs you read. 
  2. Limit the number of links and the number of follow-links in their post. It may sound stingy, but try to keep the links to a minimum of three within the text. One leading directly to their blog, linked to their blog name. And two to other posts or pages on their blog. You could allow as many social media links as you feel comfortable promoting.
  3. Get picky about which links are no-follow and which are do-follow. All of the links don't have to be follow links. When I have guest posters, I usually make the link to their entire blog a no-follow link because blog names don't tend to be keywords in the first place. Then if they have provided two deep links using keywords, I keep one as a follow and make the other no-follow. There's no formula or evidence that this is what Google prefers, it's just how I roll, but I've not had any issues with it.
  4. Be careful with sponsored links. There's much debate about whether it's ethical for people to pay for links with cash or merchandise. Google errs on the side of not doing and they suggest that if someone has paid you for a link, it should be a no-follow link.
  5. Avoid articles from article-writing websites. You know the type, the sites that are filled with articles on everything under the sun, written for the purpose of boosting SEO? These tend to be spammy to start and are best avoided.
  6. Take control over your content. Unless I have invited a blogger to share a recipe or post on my blog, I write 100% of my content. I do not publish content written by companies, brands, PRs or marketers purely because it's important for Anyonita Nibbles to be in my voice. If a company wants an article published for a product review, it is my policy to review the product and write the review myself. What you decide is ultimately up to you.

Oh, so Pinteresting tutorials:

How to Dominate Google Image Search Results Even when your post doesn't make the first page
How to Dominate Google Image Search Results
What Every Blogger Should Know about Copyright Protection
No Follow vs Follow Links
What Google's New Guest Post Policy Means for Bloggers From www.anyonita-nibbles.com

45 comments:

  1. Oh god, that second email - 'do you accept guest post' immmm not if that's how you write I don't! She didn't even get your blog URL right! Shoddy copy and paste work!

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    1. LOL I KNOW! I was hoping someone would pick up on that. I mean, the cheek! Must admit, that email was keeping in standard with her blog, though. And the first lady? After I said no, she sent me ANOTHER email less than 24 hours later with the URL of a completely different blog lol.

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  2. Great tutorial I get tons of spam emails about others writing articles for me or paying me to post a link. They usually back off when I say all links will be no follow, as any puss post should be ::)

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    1. Hahaha yup, that one always works, too! :) Must say, I giggled at your autocorrect changing guest to puss lol. Autocorrect makes likes better, Thanks for tweeting, love!

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  3. Great tutorial I get tons of spam emails about others writing articles for me or paying me to post a link. They usually back off when I say all links will be no follow, as any puss post should be ::)

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  4. So how would you recommend a blogger promote themself before reachimg out to others for help? I'm coming up on my 2nd blog anniversary and am still struggling to find and attract followers. I'm already frustrated, if I can't ask to guest post, I'll really be screwed.

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    1. You can still do guest posts, but I'd try to guest post on blogs that you read. Maybe ask your readers if there are any bloggers who would be happy to do a guest post swap? There are loads of opportunities like this. For instance, just the other day, i was involved in a Food Blogger Swap Meet where I was paired with another blogger and we swapped posts.
      You could also participate in or host your own link parties. Link parties are great for boosting traffic and finding new followers. Join communities on G+ or Facebook and pin to group boards on Pinterest. Have a giveaway and increase your followers through that. What methods are you trying to boost traffic?

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  5. Thanks for this information. I found you through Create It Thursday and will be pinning this one!

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    1. Hope it was helpful, Meredith! Thank you fro the pin!

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  6. Thanks for the information. I was just hearing about this and have gotten a few of "those" emails. I will pin this in my blogging board. Thanks for sharing. www.mylifeabundant.com

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    1. Yes, those emails can be very popular, can't they? :) Thanks for the pin, Tammy! Always appreciated!

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  7. Anyonita, this is such a very valuable post. Thank you for writing it. I have had some of those people guestpost on my site and it worked out well. However, I will be rethinking this. Would you please come by my Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop and share this? We go live on Tuesday evenings 7pm EST . This week's is live right now. I have no problem with you sharing this BOTH weeks....our fellow bloggers need to read this!
    Blessings,
    Sinea
    Ducks ‘n a Row

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    1. Thanks, Sinea! :) I've shared it this week & I'll share again next week!

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  8. Hi Anyonita! Today I received an email from a woman from a major food corporation who wants to write a guest post on my blog for cooking, entertaining, organization or storage ideas. I do believe I should charge for this but don't know how much? Not even sure I should do it now since I read your post just now.

    What are your thoughts?

    Sandi @ A New York Foodie

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  9. This is where I have a slight problem with this post,

    I am Chronically Ill Blogger and I have tried to find reputable bloggers to fill in my time of illnesses and extreme physical pain, but noone has ever accepted. But I keep trying.

    I am up front with my blog Masquerading Crafter and I let everyone know what is happening in my life when I am able to get out of bed to get on my computer. There for about a year we were so broke I could not afford Internet as both my husband and myself are completely Disabled and unable to work outside the home, however, I have been trying to fill in the time with a plethora of Pinterest pins and even shared a board or two of mine. I was sleeping on the floor because we could not even afford to get us new beds that we desperately needed. Our family dragged their feet thinking that our church was going to help us out but when they finally realized that our church was not going to help us out they bought us two new twin beds, box frame and bed frame and my new eyeglasses.

    All I am trying to do when I ask for a Guest poster is just to try meet and make a new real time and online friend . But so far, I have only found two bloggers that were truly as friendly in real time as they are on their blogs. I have even given them Free Adspace on my Blog. I understand that some bloggers use their blogs to become the person they truly are not in real life. They have two separate personalities. When they can be so mean online to put people into tears with their words. People really need to watch what they say to other people as your mouth really has both life and death in it. As for me, I choose to bless people instead of cursing them.
    I also understand the people I meet are not on the same learning curve as I am, some are higher and some are lower but one thing I do not do (but sometimes I may slip slip if I am really in a lot of high intensity pain) is put people down as many I meet are having just as tough journey through life as I am. But I can still lift someone else's burden just by being nice to them. Because I understand that my burden's are not the other person's fault, that they are just as frustrated as I am.

    I am only in this Blogging business to hopefully make new friends and to learn new things by keeping an Open mind without shutting everyone down when they have asked me for help. That is the way all Bloggers need to be, instead of ignoring an outstretched hand reaching up for help.

    Yes, I do know that there are plenty of spammers out there. All I am saying is that you need to be is a bit more merciful to others who are reaching out to you for that helping hand just like you may have done when you started blogging. Instead of just stamping on their fingers and kicking dirt in their face. Not everyone can be as only Business-like as you are.

    Asking this earnestly with care in my heart for you and wondering if there is something burdening you that I can pray for with you. Are you just having a very bad day today? Because you came across really harsh with this post.

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    1. Hi Karen,
      Thank you for taking the time to leave such a lengthy & detailed response. I hope I can address all of your concerns:
      First off, I'm sorry to hear about the issues surrounding your and your husband's disabilities. I hope that you guys can find some consistent support and help from the people closest to you. It sounds like even if it did take them a little while for the penny to drop, that they were there for you guys. I'm sure that means a lot to you both. :) I hope that they continue to support you guys however is possible for them.

      I think the thing to be a bit conscious of is the motivation behind asking for guest posts. It can sometimes be a bit ... hard to accept an invitation to guest post on a blog that someone doesn't read. Or a blog that is very different from their own. I've had a read through some of your recent posts and I wouldn't feel that I would be a very good guest poster for you because what you blog about and what I blog about are worlds apart. I think the key would be targeting bloggers who blog about what you do and striking up a conversation and friendship with them before asking them to give you their work so you can publish it on your blog. It's kind of like ... if you met someone at the grocery store and after introducing yourself, you immediately asked them if they would pay for your groceries because you're a little short this month. It might come across as being a bit strange and it might make them uncomfortable. Letting someone write a post on your blog is a personal thing--for the person receiving the post and the person writing it. People may not be ready to just offload their work when they don't have a close relationship with the blogger. I'm not saying you have to be best friends, but a mutual rapport would be helpful.

      I don't think there's anything wrong with blogging for friends. :) I've made some very lovely friends through my blog and I love that. I'm a bit upset that you misinterpreted my post to mean that I was going to ignore bloggers asking for help and stamp on their fingers and kick dirt in their face. That's not what I was insinuating at all and that's not what I do. I simply meant that blogging is hard work. I've been blogging for years and it's taken a lot of dedication and consistency to grow my blog and my followers. All bloggers who want followers have to be devoted and have to work hard. If a new blogger isn't willing to put in the effort and time to do this, then, why should I do it for them? Of course, I'm happy to help and offer advice and share the things I did and do that help me boost traffic, but I don't think it's right for me to build up someone else's blog and invest more time in it than they are willing to invest themselves. I don't think this is being rude or ignoring their help. I also don't think that this is being unmerciful as you have pointed out. Like I said, blogging is hard work. If anyone wants a blog and they want to make it a success, then they have to be willing to put in the hard work, whether they have 1 regular and 9,000.

      Not sure what came across as me having a burden or having a very bad day? To be honest, I find it a bit offensive that anyone would jump to that conclusion after I researched and spoke honestly and frankly about what can be a confusing topic. Furthermore, 90% of my post is explaining and elaborating on the policy that Google has imposed. If you find the new policy to be a bit harsh, then your issue is with Google and not me.

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    2. I'm sorry, it was my interpretation of how you used the words you used. I can see where you are coming from though.

      It could also be that it is because you and me come from two very different cultures. Maybe that is why I see your wording as harsh, do you think? I'll give you an example of when I first moved to WA from KS. I got upset because my husband's family kept asking people to do things for them by only using the words Would you and Could you. From where I come from it was always the words Please and Thank You when I would ask someone to do something for me I and my sister-in-law tangled over it until she figured it out, that it was because I was from a different culture than they were.

      Will you forgive me, please





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  10. Great information Anyonita. I have received that kind of mails and only when I was young blogger I accepted a couple of them but then I just didn't feel right so I stopped and rejected politely every mail. I really prefer posting from bloggers I know. I also once in a while publish posts from PostJoint {Sponsored posts}. They usually just provide content and 2 or 3 links the most and I have published only those I liked it a lot like making jewelry of kids activities. I'm really picky about what I publish from others. Even before knowing there was a policy for guest posts I was already picky LOL. Thanks so much for this information. I could use a cuople of tips here!

    XOXO

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    1. When someone else is providing content, I'd just double check that the post is only appearing on YOUR blog. Google could penalize you if you have the exact same post as other bloggers and it looks spammy. Being picky about what you publish certainly makes the most sense! :) It is your blog after all! Glad you found something useful in the post!

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  11. This was very helpful, thanks so much for sharing this! I sometimes find it tough to pick through the spam requests for guest posts and the genuine ones and your examples and criteria for picking good guest posts really helped reinforce what my gut feeling was.

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    1. Caroline, you're right, it can be really tough to pick through the spam requests and the genuine ones some times. I'd certainly suggest doing your homework and really finding out all you can about the person asking you to publish their post. Glad that you found the information helpful; that's what it's all about! :)

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  12. Thanks for the research and post...pinned!

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  13. Great ideas about guest posting, but your infographic is misleading. I came expecting to hear about Google's new policy...but didn't hear how that will impact me as a blogger instead of tips on guest posting.

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  14. Hi Annette,
    Apologies, I assumed that the policy was explicit. Google has said that we shouldn't publish guest posts. That's the policy: don't do it. Unfortunately, Google has been a bit black and white with their policy and hasn't taken the time to address the different types of guest posts. That's what I've done here.That's the "What it means for bloggers" bit. So the policy is: you shouldn't. What it means for bloggers is: you shouldn't if you do it this way (everything listed in the types of guest posts to avoid section) and you should if you do it this way (everything listed in the types of guest posts that are okay section). Hope this clarifies your confusion and explains where I was going with the post.

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  15. I was so excited the first time I received an email stating that a company wanted to work with me, and then I went to their site. Garage Doors....really? I have deleted every spammy looking email since! My policy page even states that I do not accept guest posts, but they don't bother to do any real research do they? ;) Thanks for the info Anyonita!!

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  16. Oh, Lisa! I had to lol at garage doors! Hahaha Sometimes, these companies don't even try to get it right, do they?! I think the two strangest offers I ever received was for a gambling site for a specialist podiatrist! Not sure a post on foot fungus would sit well between two recipes! lol.

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  17. Thanks for this! I've been getting more of the unsolicited guest post requests recently, so it's nice to know how to handle them!

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  18. Great post Anyonita! Thanks so much for sharing it with our Let's Get Real readers. I am proud to be part of the blogging community as I find it to be a truly helpful place. I have read a lot of the panic posts about Google's changes and thought, "So what?". I never guest posted or allowed guest posts for link reasons. I always viewed it as networking. I just want to get in front of as many people as I can in hopes that they fall in love with me and my content. Question for you............I have had a bunch of people reach out to me and I always follow up and ask that they send me a sample of their work. Then they seem to disappear. Any idea what is going on there?

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    1. If they're disappearing when you ask for a sample, I think it could be because they might be producing spam and perhaps realize that you'll not take them on board? That's the only thing that I can think of.

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  19. Great information!! Thanks for sharing at The Weekend Retreat, hope to see you back on Thursday http://mommyondemand.com/

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  20. Thanks for the info. and thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday.

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  21. As always good insightful info about a topic I have been thinking about. Thanks for posting this on foodie friday.

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  22. Does this mean you won't guest post for me? :) just kidding... have a great week. Linda

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    1. Hahaha :) I'd be honored to guest post for you ANY day, Linda!

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  23. Anyonita,
    Thanks for all the new Google + info. Pinned.
    Annamaria

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  24. I love your blogging tips post. But after reading this post I'm wondering what a no follow link is. Thanks!

    Eat Drink & Be Mary

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    1. A no-follow link tells search engines not to attribute the words used for the link with that link. So say you linked to a post on my blog and used the words "blog tutorial'. If it's a follow-link, Google will give me a "point" under the blog tutorial column of my blog. So after I've gotten enough blog tutorial "points" my blog will be indexed as being an authority of blog tutorials and it will show up in search engine results when people Google "blog tutorial". If you make a link as no follow, none of this happens. :) Hope this helps!

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  25. Thanks so much for another great blogging tip post! Have a great week Anyonita:)

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  26. Thanks for all of your blogging posts, Anyonita! I only really started in August, and I've been having to crash course myself along the way. Granted, there were a few "iffy" moments lol. Your tips on blogging, SEO, navigating rules and such have really been a huge help! I do enjoy guest posting on others' blogs, and welcoming the same on mine. Too bad Google doesn't approve! Pinning :-)

    Ashley @ PioneerMomma.com

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    1. Ashley,
      I'm so happy to hear that you've found my posts helpful! That's all I ever want with these tutorials! I'm like you: I LOVe guest posting & I love sharing my posts with other bloggers, too! Sometimes, it's the only way I get to see what other bloggers are up to! Poopoo to Google, is what I say with this one! There's NO WAY they're going to influence people not to guest post! It's a big part of the blogging culture!

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  27. Anyonita, I have difficulty keeping up with Google changes and all the other technical aspects of blogging, so I appreciate your posts. In four years of blogging (Just had my fourth blogiversary!), I've never used any guest posts on my blog, but I have guest posted for two or three other bloggers. Those bloggers are: well established, compatible with mine, ones I read regularly, ones that don't have anything spammy or questionable on their blogs. No money changes hands and there is equal value to both of us: I get exposure to their audience, and they get well-written, original content for their blogs.

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    1. Jean,
      I too have trouble keeping up with all their changes! :) You raised a very good point that Google are missing: it's not necessarily about the money, guest posting has other values that bloggers aren't willing to give up just because Google thinks it can be spammy! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  28. Nice Article

    Doing guest blogging merely for building links is discouraged by Google
    but you can do it to get more exposure and for the promotion of your Brand.

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  29. G'day and some really great hints and tips Anyonita! Thank you! Always very helpful!
    Cheers! Joanne
    http://whatsonthelist.net

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