Black hat SEO has given the entire industry a bad name for the last decade, but now finally that’s changing with the increasingly effective crackdown on spam that Google has been enacting over the last year. Due to the increasing risk associated with link spamming, keyword stuffing, and article spinning, SEO related web content has been seeing vast improvements in terms of providing value to internet users as well as businesses employing these services. With these improvements SEO, and guest posting for links specifically, has begun to converge with content marketing, further bolstering this already burgeoning new field.
The largest driving factor in the shift in the SEO industry is the pressure exerted by the world’s most prolific search engine, Google. The company has made it clear that their past, current, and future updates are implemented with a few specific goals in mind. To ensure that search queries return results that are relevant to the queries and to make sure that high-ranking web content is not only relevant but also authoritative and trustworthy. That means finding ways for their search algorithm to ignore link spamming, duplicate content (often spam), keyword stuffing, and links planted in irrelevant or low quality content. While ignoring all of these 100% of the time is extremely difficult they’ve made significant progress in these aims, and the SEO world is being forced to adapt.
The Shift from Quantity to Quality
It’s been true for a long time that a link can be worth more (a lot more) or less depending on where it is on a page, how authoritative that page is, how authoritative and prolific the site is, and how relevant to the site the link is to the page and the site overall. Previously this didn’t matter because if one great link was worth 200 garbage links, but you could easily post 5000 garbage links all over the internet with the same amount (or less) effort, then high quality links were bound to be ignored. Now those garbage links are worth very little or no “link juice” and can even get your site penalized and labeled as a spam site. As a result SEO guest posters have changed their game to work on appearing on major websites and blogs and to work their links into their content high up on the page. In order to get published on a high quality blog with a commercial link in their articles, guest bloggers have had to vastly improve their quality of writing and the way in which the link is inserted in order to make it truly natural and not obviously a commercially motivated link.
The real shift to content marketing occurred when the objective of SEO broadened as a result of this improved writing. If you’re already going to make your link something that people will consider natural, then why not use it to direct people to appropriate landing pages that can lead to direct conversions and sales? Today’s guest posters write not only to drive their clients higher up in the SERPs but to directly drive relevant consumer traffic to their client sites.
Kyle Hurst is an expert in B2C and B2B marketing and SEO. He also works with http://ahha.com/ on B2B search and writes content on marketing and SEO strategies.