The Risks of Guest Blogging for Dental SEO
Why you need to know if your SEO team uses guest blogs
Back in 2016 I wrote a blog covering the concepts of “white hat”, “grey hat” and “black hat” SEO and their potential impact on dentist’s websites.
Today we’ll recap on that and in particular how one key aspect known as “guest blogging” is presenting an increasing risk for dental websites in the context of over-zealous SEO and Google penalties.
Let’s begin with a quick refresher of the various terms:
White hat SEO – this is where only techniques which comply with Google’s web publishing guidelines are used. For example, generating high-quality content for you own website or blog which attracts 3rd-party links naturally. Some manually placed links can also be considered to be “white hat” and risk free, for example ensuring that your web link is included in your Google My Business page.
Grey hat SEO – this is where techniques are used which are on the margins of acceptability, at least in Google’s view! So placing links manually in business directories which are not human-reviewed, creating location specific pages on your website, duplicating content to try to deceive search engines, using micro-sites etc.
Black hat SEO – this is full scale disregard of Google’s “rules” and really does risk getting your website banned very quickly. Techniques such as cloaking, buying links, building secret blog networks etc would fall into this category.
Other web optimisation professionals might have slightly different definitions based on their ethics and experiences, but in the context of what Google looks at when determining if your site gets banned; those mentioned above certainly aren’t far off.
Get on the wrong side of Google with too much grey hat SEO or any black-hat SEO, and you’ll be in line for getting your site demoted or worse, banned completely. Sometimes it can take Google several months to find non-compliant techniques but they tend to catch up eventually. How far you push is up to you, but you do need to understand the risks or at least be sure that your SEO agency does. Remember that a site penalised in this way can be extremely hard to recover and the business lost as a result, huge.
Guest blogging – what is it and why is it risky?
One of the techniques that spans grey and black hat SEO is guest blogging. This came into being a number of years ago and has gained popularity with SEOs who don’t mind taking risks with their client’s websites. It comes in two main forms. The first one is where you pay a website which accepts guest blog posts to include a blog you provide. Within that blog content you include a link or links back to your own website.
The second form of guest blogging is slightly less dangerous but still highly questionable and this is where the accepting site doesn’t charge for your blog content but then attempts to monetise it, for example by adding advertising.
Both of these methods can easily fall foul of Google’s quality checks and the result can be severely detrimental for your own website. Where you pay to add a blog to someone else’s website you are essentially paying for a link and this is completely outside of Google’s guidelines. Where your content is included elsewhere but you don’t have to pay, please consider the quality of the website where your blog will appear. In the vast majority of cases these types of website are very poor quality and the very fact that they are accepting random content for the purpose of link-building, will tend to bring them under Google’s spotlight. Being part of a “poor web neighbourhood” like this is not recommended.
Is your SEO agency using guest blogging?
There are several UK based SEO companies using guest blogging to try to promote their dental clients websites in Google. You can see this simply by tracking the links which point back to the target site.
What typically happens is that links placed in guest blogs like this give the target site a useful boost in the ranking results. However, over time and as Google aggregates more information, the quality of the site comes into question up to the point where the site gets demoted or even completely banned. So you can get away with it for a period of time, but it will likely catch up with you in the end.
My guidance would be to ask your SEO company if they are using guest blogging so at least you can understand the risk if they are. My general guidance would be to avoid this type of practice altogether and use more sustainable, white-hat methods.
We’ve discussed guest blogging in the context of SEO and how its use is very risky. We’ve also seen that it is a technique becoming increasingly popular for dental SEO and widespread in the UK search engine optimisation industry. Given the risk involved and just how damaging a Google website penalty can be, I recommend steering well clear.
Do you need more advice on SEO techniques to dramatically improve your Google rankings ethically and sustainably? Please call our optimisation team on 01332 672548 for more information.