Prediction alert! The proliferation of guest blogging has got me thinking about what is this form of link building and content marketing going to look like in 5 years. Guest Blogging or Guest Posting has become the go-to link building tactic for many SEOs. Guest Blogging is often a win-win for the marketer and for the blog. The blog gains valuable, unique content and the marketer gains exposure and usually a link or two. The simplicity of this set-up has pushed guest blogging to the forefront of modern link building. 2013 is definitely going to be the year of the guest blogger, but I am incredibly curious to see how search engines manage this form of link building as it matures and becomes even more popular. In this post, I am going to provide my opinions on what guest blogging is going to look like in five years.
Currently, search engines love guest blogging just as much as marketers and bloggers do. Guest blogging is a genuine way to build links that are organic and on-niche. Search Engines have even implemented tools such as author markup from Google that allows for content producers to claim ownership of their posts that are published on a variety of blogs and sites across the web. Many SEOs feel that Google is going to give more weight to Author Rank over the next few years, so that posts on a variety of blogs may see increased rankings when written by authoritative authors. I tend to agree with this idea because a higher value on Author Rank means that more users will be engaged with Google+. Therefore, as Guest Blogging becomes more prominent the influence of Author Rank is going to increase with it.
5 years from now Guest Blogging will still be relevant and useful (I didn’t want to leave you in suspense any longer!). This post is not a doomsday post about how your favorite link building tactic will be discontinued in the near future. However, my primary opinion is that Guest Blogging is going to become increasingly more concentrated and difficult over time. Right now we are living in the golden age of guest blogging. As more and more marketers leverage this tactic for SEO, search engines will counter by making it harder to spam.
Article Network or Blog?
Search engines will make it harder to develop spam links through guest blogging by becoming more adept at differentiating between a high-quality, editorial blog and an article network disguised as a blog. Guest Blogging is the new article syndication and as it becomes more prevalent search engines will begin to penalize sites for abusing the system and continually publishing poor content. Historically, search engines have weeded out link building tactics that have potential to produce a large volume of well-ranking, low-quality content.
Over Saturation Means Quality Counts
The potential for future over saturation means that the need for great content will continue to increase and mature. Yes, right now great content is important, but this trend is only going to continue. Search engines have slowly gotten better at analyzing the value of content and rewarding good content. As guest blogging becomes more prevalent search engines will be given extra incentive for weeding out those that are only developing content for links. Search engines and searchers want unique and helpful content.
Social shares as a ranking factor is in its infancy, but this will not last for long. The rise of social networks gave search engines a mechanism for judging the value of content from a real-time, human perspective. Right now many believe that social shares on a macro-level will influence your ranking factors and can result in dramatic rankings increases. However, I believe that as search engines familiarity with social signals becomes more sophisticated the ranking effect will take place on a micro-level as well. Right now 10-15 social shares will have little to no effect on your rankings. However, five years from now this will be different. A social share could act as the new back link. It will be interesting to see. Social Sharing will become a major tool in how search engines evaluate the value of a guest post.
No-Follow Author Bios
Right now author bio links are almost as valuable as the in-context links from your post, but this will change. It is relatively easy for a search engine to determine what links are in an author bio and which are not. As guest blogging proliferates the accumulation of manipulated links will rise as well. Most author bios today contain 1-4 links to almost anything an author could want. The blog publishers currently only police the in-context links, where it is much more difficult to place a link back to your site and still get a guest post submission published.
Search engines realize this as well, but right now they are not penalizing it. In the future, if guest blogging becomes increasingly spammy then search engines could potentially place penalties on blogs that allow do-follow author bios with spammy links. This would encourage blog owners to make author bios no-follow. The benefit of this to search engines is that it would force guest bloggers to insert links in their posts, which would be monitored by blog owners and would help moderate the quality of links that are being passed around.
Many guest blogging opportunities today are free. There are some webmasters that charge a nominal fee, but most are simply happy to receive the free content. The value for a webmaster in charging even a nominal fee is that the quality of content that they receive improves dramatically. Spammers are not likely to pay a fee for links. Therefore, as guest blogging matures and the supply increases and the amount of spammers increases webmasters will more frequently request a monetary reimbursement for placing content.
Guest Blogging is still evolving, but it is definitely here to stay! Over the next five years, search engines, blog owners and marketers are going to push the limits and redefine the role that guest posting plays in SEO. In summary, I would argue that guest blogging will see a period of abundance and abuse, which will then be followed by sanctions that define how everyone can benefit from guest blogging and not just the SEOs.