SEO | Guest Bloggers, Are they Safe?

Image depicting a guest bloggerSEO WARNING: Do you get unsolicited requests from people you have never met asking if they can write guest posts for you?

Be careful because they may have an ulterior motive which could get your website banished from the Google Index and search results.

Black-Hat link marketing agencies are more prevalent than you think and are adept at disguising who they are and what their real intentions are!

Some guest bloggers do more harm than good, either by design or by accident.

Don’t panic just yet! Most guest bloggers are known to you, are trusted by you and their content adds great value to your website or blog. However I want you to consider three scenarios where guest bloggers actually do more harm than good, some by design and some by accident.

Lets call them the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Ugly Guest Blogger

The Black-Hat guest Blogger is the Ugly (metaphorically speaking) blogger who has an ulterior motive right from the start. They often introduce themselves to unsuspecting website owners and bloggers by saying something like: “I really like your blog, I’d love to write a guest post for you”

These “Guest Bloggers” are doing one of two things.
Example 1:. Trying to secure a “followed” back-link which passes PageRank from your website to theirs, in order to improve their own PageRank and social authority.

In this example the copy will be quite good and seem relevant to your website context. They will only ever write one post for you and they may even offer to pay you for for posting the copy on your website.

Example 2:. They are actively working on behalf of clients to whom they sell back-link services. They charge their clients for back-links and then they write a post on your website into which they will strategically place a text link to their clients website.

In this example the copy will generally be very good and relevant to the context of your website. Again these people may offer to pay you for placing content on your website or blog. Every article they place will have at least one paragraph which text-links to their clients website for A: Direct web-advertising, hoping that people will click through and buy the products or services, and B. to pass PageRank from your website to their clients website.

In both cases above you have contravened Google’s policy on selling back-links and passing PageRank for money which is designed to manipulate PageRank and SERPS positions. If Google catches you doing this you could be removed from their index…

Even if no money has changed hands – Google may assume that it has, and the outcome could be the same, so you need to personally check every link placed on your website or blog to ensure that the link is meaningful and helpful to your readers and does not lead to a dodgy site or obvious advert, sales pitch or spammy landing page. If it does – remove it!

The Bad Guest Blogger

The bad guest blogger is not really a bad person, but they are UN WITTINGLY posing a threat to your website by identifying you as possibly participating in a link-scheme, which again is outlawed by Google.

The “Bad” Guest Blogger writes good, honest content for you over the months and years all of which is relevant to the context of your website, but every time they write a post they put a text link to the home page of their website or eCommerce platform thinking that they’ll get increased PageRank because they are gathering lots of back-links.

Whilst this may have been true in the past; today Google only need a single back-link from one website to another to recognise the link and accept the passing of PageRank. If Google see’s a large quantity of “folow” links from one website to another, they may (sometimes wrongly) assume that you are involved in a link-scheme selling links for reward.

This activity would be particularly dangerous if you and your friend “guest-blogged” for each other passing multiple links between your websites.

Lets say your guest blogger has 20 pages in his or her website, and he or she writes 21 blog posts for you. the first post has a link to their home page and then the other 20 posts link once each to the 20 internal pages of their website. – At this point the guest blogger should put rel=”nofollow” in the links, on all their posts thereafter. This way Google will not recognise the links as a link scheme and both you and the guest blogger will benefit.

The Good Guest Blogger

The good guest blogger is aware of all the above and he or she will use the rel=”nofollow” rule where appropriate. The Good guest blooger writes for you because there is a mutual benefit. The good guest blogger is loved by everyone and is also loved by Google because they add genuinely meaningful content to the web.

Be an SEO purist from here on in…

Here are my top tips for avoiding the Ugly Guest Blogger:

  • If the request to guest blog looks spammy and the grammar is poor – Ignore it – do not reply.
  • If you do reply, ask why they want to be a guest blogger and vet their reply
  • Follow up with a Skype or telephone conversation as part of your vetting procedure
  • Inform the guest blogger that you will need to approve each post
  • When the copy is ready – follow and vet the links
  • Ensure that no two links go to the same page, post or product

If you found this post useful please share it and if you have any questions, please post them below…

Be safe – Happy Blogging – Mick

Connect with Mick Say on Google+

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About Mick Say

Mick Say is an Online Business Development Consultant. Mick's goal is to help UK businesses to develop meaningful online marketing strategies via the development websites and digital marketing resources engineered to inform and sell.


  1. Hi Mick, all great points here and I liked how you included history of guest blogging to where it has come today. I just submitted my very first guest post and it was actually picked up! I’m inspired to be “The Good Guest Blogger” you speak of and am not fully aware of how to do so.

    One thing I’d recommend is having your Guest Posting Guidelines prevalent on your website/blog. Making sure that you answer any questions a potential guest blogger may have before they get in touch with you. This will also help you filter out those ulterior motivated Ugly and Bad Guest bloggers as they will understand how serious you are about the articles you choose.

    • Hi Jacob

      I hope you are well. Thanks for commenting and thanks for your feedback. I have scheduled a post entitled – “How to be a Good Guest Blogger” for next week which will hopefully answer all of your questions.

      Have a great day – Mick

  2. recently many big bloggers have stated that guest blogging just isn’t working as good as before as it attracts very small number of traffic to the main site of the blogger.

    what is your experience?


    • Hi Helmuts – I hope you are well

      The main benefit of guest blogging lies in the building, amplification and projection of the guest bloggers Authority and social presence.

      In the main the “Good” Guest Blogger adds benefit to his/her own digital presence and also that of the website they are blogging for, but there is a big time-cost vs. Time ROI to consider.

      The best Guest Blogging strategy would be to write for several relevant websites/blogs rather than be “house blogger” for one.

      Finally – Since high SERPs ranking is the goal for bloggers and website owners I would suggest a ratio of 1 in 10… IE

      Write 9 posts on your own website and share them far and wide and then 1 for third party resources such as Guest Blogging or high quality article sites.

      Thank you for commenting


  3. I admit that I would have never thought about folks acting so crazy. Really interesting to peek under the covers at the dark side of the web.

    • Hi Harold

      The “black-Hat” community have forced Google and the other search engines to take decisive action to ensure that good quality content rises to the top of the SERPs – The Dark-Side of the web spoils the party for us all because often Google penalises honest website and blog owners who inadvertently contravene rules, regs and guidelines…

      Thanks for commenting – Be safe..


  4. Thanks for this Mick, it’s obviously a hot topic at the moment and your last 2 articles have given me a much better understanding of the issues involved. I do accept guest posts and have always been wary of the motives of the guest so have weeded many of the obvious ones out on the first approach.

    I have added a ‘no follow’ requirement to my guest post guidelines to avoid any confusion in the future.

    • Nice one Tony..

      Your Blog is one of really high quality and therefore you’ll be a target for the black-hat community..

      Really makes me happy when I have been able to help in some small way.

      Speak soon – Mick

  5. For me, unless there is a moderation mechanism, no guest bloggers allowed!

    • Nice one Dave

      That should be everyone’s golden rule today. Also please make sure you vet any links that Guest Bloggers may want to place in their posts.

      Thanks for commenting – Mick

  6. Alicia Taylor says:

    Thank you very much. I had been looking for a guest blogger, but had no idea they could actually do more harm than good.

    • Hi Alicia

      I hasten to add that the majority of Guest bloggers add value – my post is simply a warning to carry out effective vetting procedures..

      Thanks – Mick

  7. Hi Mick, Thanks for such an informative post, I’ve suddenly become the recipient of lots of emails offering to pay me to “advtertise” within guest blog posts on my site, and at first I was tempted to take up these offers. Your article has certainly opened my eyes to the risks involved and I will continue to work only with those who are respected and known within the industry. I am confused as to how Google tells the difference between a professional journalist who is paid by a site to write an article, and an ugly or bad blogger – can you explain the difference? Thanks Karen

    • Hi Karen

      Generally when a marketing agency or an individual working as an affiliate for a link marketing agency contact you with an offer to pay to place an article including a link on your website or blog they will have made hundreds if not thousands of offers to place the same link on on other websites. When Google sees these links they can figure out, by virtue of the nature of the target website and the volume of links to the target website whether or not THEY THINK these are paid links or some other link scheme. Google works in mysterious ways.

      Also they will generally offer unique content, but this is rarely true. They will use the same content or spun content and this is bad for your website and your readers.

      However – if you are sure that the article that they are offering you is 100% genuinely unique content and it is relevant to your website and your readers then inform the link marketer that you will place the post but you will include [rel=”noffolow”] in the text link code.

      When you place “nofollow” on the link you are telling Google not to pass page rank for the link. Be aware however that the marketing agency is not interested in you or your website they are only interested in you passing PageRank from your website to their clients website – so they will withdraw the offer..

      Hope this helps.