When I was at SMX Elite recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a session being run by a member of the Google Webspam Team. He dealt specifically in reconsideration requests and reviewing link profiles for unnatural or spammy links.

There has been a lot of discussions around the web recently about guest blog posts and how they were viewed by the Google Webspam Team and whether they were likely to be de-valued or even worse, result in a penalty. I’ve always viewed guest blog posts as a great way to grow your brand awareness and at the same time, help to build your website’s authority by providing great content to relevant, high quality websites. So I’ve always been of the opinion that this should be considered acceptable by Google.

When I asked the question at the conference, I got the response I was expecting. The Google team member started his response with:

“Rand (from seomoz.org), would you let me write a guest post on your blog?” to which Rand responded, “sure, you’re a great authority in the industry and could add some value to my site”.

The Google representative then proceeded to explain that in their eyes, if you are a representative of a company providing high value content to a legitimate website, then they consider that a great way to grow your business and is not considered a violation of Google’s terms. If you get a link back to your website as a result of this, then that’s considered acceptable.

So what we confirmed is that guest blog posts are considered an acceptable method for growing your business and website authority.

What you must know however is that there is a big difference between high quality guest posts and low quality guest posts as a link building tactic. So here’s a few ways to identify whether the activity you are undertaking is legitimate.

4 Reasons Your Guest Posts Would be Considered Low Quality

1. You Are Using a Paid or Automated Posting Service

Just like when all the really low quality link networks got de-indexed, there have been a few high quality paid blog post services that have been introduced, which utilise real websites but still have an automated, paid post component to them. While it is definitely a better option than the likes of Build My Rank which saw its users receive massive penalties in some cases, any form of paid link placements are against Google’s guidelines. So this type of activity should be avoided in order to ensure you don’t run the risk of receiving a penalty.

2. Your Guest Posts are Paid For and Have “Sponsored Post” Written in Their Title

If your “guest” blog post has “Sponsored Post” in its title, then its likely you’ve paid for it. I’m sure Google can work that one out too!

3. Your Content is Of a Very Low Quality

Finally, the content you have created for your guest posts must be of a high quality and actually provide a benefit to its readers. If you are using an automated posting platform, and sending out posts in broken English with only 150 words of content that has very minimal value, then you are doing low quality link building that won’t do you any favours.

4. You Are Not Posting on Real Websites

Blog networks still exist. Even if they aren’t found through an automated tool or website, low quality website networks still exist and as a website owner, you may even be contacted by someone that owns one. If you are looking at a spreadsheet of 200 websites to buy links from, you’ll find yourself staring straight at a penalty! If you’re looking at a website that still has sample pages attached to it, no images with content and generally looks as though you wouldn’t want to read their content yourself, it’s likely that it is a low quality website set up just to sell links. Work with real site owners that are growing their web presence, have social media followings and generally have an audience that you can write for.