Over the last two years, Google’s search quality department has focused its efforts on reducing the effectiveness of certain SEO techniques. With automated links and over-optimization now dead in the water, could guest posts – a favorite technique for ‘white hat’ SEOs – be their next major target?


Google’s recent search quality updates have upset many in the SEO industry. After the first Panda update, which hit search engine optimization experts in 2011, most of the SEO industry has switched its methods to avoid the automated link building, low quality on-site content, and other issues that plagued SEO in the last decade.


Today, however, other techniques have rapidly replaced the ‘old school’ methods in their effectiveness. Instead of buying links, many SEOs have taken to building links on blogs and online journals, often under the guise of ‘information outreach’ using guest blog posts.


It’s an obvious SEO tactic, and it could be next on Google’s radar. Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, has hinted that guest posts could be next in line for a search quality penalty in several videos. The Google engineer claims that guest posts that are obviously placed solely for link juice run the risk of attracting a penalty.


Google’s claim is that many webmasters invest in guest posts solely for their SEO benefit, and not for the organic traffic that a good blog post should provide. It’s an easy point to understand, particularly when you consider that many of the posts on Google’s radar are made on websites that receive very little natural traffic.


While Google’s current stance appears to be ‘tread carefully,’ it seems like guest blogging – one of the hottest SEO tactics of 2012 and 2013 – could be next in line, much like automated linking and anchor text over-optimization – for a penalty.