How Traditional Guest Blogging Practices Will Change After Next Major Penguin Update

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The most popular way of building back links right now is guest blogging. Why is it so popular? Simple, it’s so effective at driving up keyword rankings – when it’s done consistently and when those guest posts are published on authoritative domains that are relevant.

It’s been in the back of my mind for some time now, actually since the first iteration of the Google Penguin update, that guest blogging may become a target of Google. I believe that guest blogging will still continue to be effective after the next major Penguin update, however the way in which you build links through guest blogging will change.

This is how I think guest bloggers will be impacted:

Devaluation of Websites

Sites that have the majority of their outbound links pointing at a single website will eventually be tagged with a penalty. Google likes it best when you link to lots of different websites that are authoritative. When you write, find ways to naturally work those types of links into your content.

Websites that do not create pages that have substantial content or that create non-relevant content are going to be tagged with a penalty. If they aren’t tagged with a penalty then at the very least the links within their content won’t pass much authority or weight.

Bloggers who make a habit of regularly publishing non-relevant links and content together will have their blogs significantly devalued.

When you research your list of potential candidate websites to guest blog for, you want to short list those that do not link to low quality websites and that are very relevant to the site you intend to have linked to within the post you will write for them. Don’t be afraid to link out within your guest blog post to other sites which you have no vested interest in but that offer value to the reader or contribute significantly to the content of your post.

Devaluation of Back Links

Using a keyword rich text link in the first paragraph of your guest blog post? Those links will likely carry less weight soon.

Rehashing older previously published content and re-publishing it with embedded links? Those types of links will also not carry as much weight in future. They’ve already lost some value over the past year. This trend will continue.

The links that you acquire within the author bio section of your guest blog posts no longer carry the same weight as they did previously. In future it is possible and likely that those links will offer even less weight and value than they currently do. Google will be a lot more selective about whose links receive more or less weight.

Don’t waste your time with techniques that allow you to easily and quickly acquire links in bunches. Put more emphasis on building value into the content you create. Creating fantastic content will garner links from people that naturally want to link to your content. If that sounds like deja vu to you, that’s because you’ve probably been told this numerous times before.

The Rise of Co-occurrence As a Ranking Factor

Traditional signals that influence rankings: keyword placement, anchor text, links and authority – have long been a staple practice when trying to get a website to rank high. Over the past several years there’s been a trend of citations emerging to improve local rankings and to date I think that we’re witnessing more co-occurrence of words, phrases and links within search queries and textual content having more of an influence in rankings. Anchor text will likely still play an important role and provide signals but soon Google will be looking at links and anchor text in a totally different way.


You can see examples of co-occurrence in play anytime you look through a Google results page for a query and find sites ranking high without the presence of authoritative links, relevant anchor text back links, the search query in the HTML title and a sprinkling of query occurrences in the document body.

In a very brief way it can be explained that co-occurrence is about the presence and frequency of terms that tend to co-occur on the same pages without being hyperlinked. The concept of co-occurrence and the theory behind how it works and how Google may be using it is extensive. More extensive than what we are covering here in this post. Here’s a better and more in-depth explanation of what co-occurrence is.

Your take away from this: Don’t think it always necessary to link back to your website from inside of your guest blog post. Create useful and engaging content that educates readers. You can make a mention of your company without hyperlinking to your company, if it’s appropriate to do so. Rarely is it appropriate to mention your company in a guest blog post outside of the author bio section, unless you’re linking to content that substantially adds knowledge and support to your guest post.

Author Rank

Author rank is Google’s way of seeing where on the web you publish your content. If you stick to a regular schedule of publishing fantastic content then Google will soon begin placing more authority and weight on your content.

Conversely, if you continuously publish low quality fluff and filler content Google will be tracking that too and you’ll find many of the links in those types of content devalued in time, regardless if your content is published on a high authority domain or not. In short, Google won’t just be devaluing websites and links, but also devaluing authors too.

Going forward you need to be very choosy with the content that you publish. If you want to learn how to write good quality content read this post. Personally, when I write a piece of content I’ll often hammer out my thoughts into a document, save it and then come back to it in 24 hours and refine my message. I edit with two criteria in mind:

  1. Does this content make sense from start to finish or does it sound confusing?
  2. Am I providing significant value to the reader or am I about to publish a piece of rubbish?

Social Media Signals

Most of you will know that the more often your content is shared, voted on and liked socially the better that content may perform in Google. While this has been the case for some time now, some content creators, publishers and website owners have been gaming the system by paying people and organizations to create social shares, votes and likes in mass quantities for their content.

What’s likely to happen after the next major Penguin update rolls out is that Google will probably pay less attention to the volume of social shares and pay more attention to who is sharing that content. If your content is shared socially by a person with a network of 300 or 400 influencers following their social media accounts, that will likely have more weight in Google than if your content were shared by a person with 50,000 to 100,000 bot created social media accounts. If this isn’t the case presently you can bet it will be soon.

It’s also probable that Google will look at your own social media accounts to determine if you are sharing your own guest posts on your own social accounts.

Write content that you wouldn’t mind having your name associated with, content that you’d have no problem sharing on your own social profiles.

Start building relationships with influencers who have a large following on their social profiles. If your content is worth sharing then those relationships you’ve built will come in handy and they may decide to share your content with their followers when you write a great post and ask them to share it.

In Summary

Some of the things that I predicted above may not in fact take place when the next major Penguin update rolls out, however they will likely be a part of Google’s algorithm in the near future.

How many other ways do you think traditional guest blogging practices will need to change after the next major Penguin update rolls out?

Brendon Turner

Brendon Turner

Brendon Turner is a Partner and Director of SEO at, a full service SEO, web development and design company. Brendon also moderates the SEO... Read Full Bio
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  • Alexander Miklin

    Great article, Brendon. I agree with you, social sharing is becoming heavily weighted on Google. The only issue this creates is that people will go from buying links to buying tweets, as seen on BuySellAds, where an advertisier can buy a tweet from a popular Blogger like 9to5 Mac for $350. But I guess there’s always going to be one way or another to purchase authority on Google.

  • Mann

    SEO game is gonna be more complicated when the Penguin 2.0 updates comes, but the principles of SEO remain the same, It is all about building great content and maximize the outreach method that natural attract traffic, links, shares, leads and sales. Content marketing is likely to search all purpose rather than just getting or driving traffic. Content marketing will help us build brand and boost conversion rate.

  • Dale Loflin

    The best way to think about SEO has not changed. Forget about it. Think of your audience or market the same as your own family; Think about their needs, solutions and their LANGUAGE. Then write or video “how to..” everywhere you subscribe or have and account. You will become an authority but that’s not something you can set out to do. Keep a journal of your work each dat, analyze what’s profitable (some things are not profitable, just plan fun, it’s ok!), look at Analytics (Google and Bing) and track the KEYWORDS that brought traffic so you can learn to write more relevant title and tags. Ok, that’s what I know about SEO.

    Now, I want to learn everything I can about guest blogging; That’s why I’m here!

    Very informative well written articles on SEJ.

    • Alexander Miklin

      I agree with Dale. You couldn’t have said it any better!

    • Brendon Turner

      Thanks Dale. I’m glad you enjoyed my article.

  • Dave

    I still don’t belief that Google can read, so the call for “fantastic content” is useless, i can write a spun article and Google would never know, they simply don’t have the computer power to read.

    Spo please stop the “write fantastic content” for seo nonsense, please.



    • Brendon Turner

      Hi Dave,

      I appreciate your passion. You’re thinking about this the wrong way. I’m not suggesting that you create fantastic content for Google. I’m suggesting that you create fantastic content for the visitors who will read that content and in doing so you’ll find that your guest blog post performs better in Google for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the increased engagement time that a visitor spends on the page which your post has been published on.

      Spun content IS entirely useless for humans and you should never write your content for Google, instead your content should be written specifically for your visitor.

  • Subhadip

    @ all the SEO gurus what you guys gonna do when there will be no keywords? i hope you all are aware about the google voice search which is expected to launch soon..?

    • Tom

      Can you explain what you mean by keywords? Even if voice search exists you will still search for keywords but using different method.

      • Subhadip

        perhaps this could explain enjoy

  • Rajni Sudera

    SEO is not more than to generate quality backlinks for the website. After the Google updations and Penguin changes , Content became the king. SEO experts now wants to take backlinks from the content (Guest Post and Articles). Basic things are remain same to take backlinks but strategy will take changes..

  • Matt Law

    Hi Dave,

    This is a great post. As an SEO guy with a marketing agency, I will tell you that this is 100% spot on with what I’m seeing in my rankings, client rankings, The less and more natural a site is for SEO , the higher it ranks. Crazy what happens when you listen to Matt Cutts…