The title of this post may confuse the search engine optimization (SEO) savvy, as the practice of guest posting has little to do with affiliate link programs, except for the fact that both do involve links. While no one would argue that the two are one and the same, there seems to be an epidemic in the blogging world of treating the two as if they are, indeed, similar.

Since the release of Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, guest posting has become a popular way for companies to get backlinks to their websites. They find a blog, write an article, and include a link to their site. This is a legitimate practice because they are providing content in exchange for the link. If done right, they are adding value to the host site in return for the link juice and possible traffic to their own. It is a perfect example of symbiosis.

Unfortunately, many bloggers are starting to view guest posters as parasites. You see, any method of getting links is going to become abused by spammers looking for easy links. This leads to blog owners getting bombarded will ill-worded requests to “post a guest writing in your blogs contents.” Sometimes they get articles rife with spelling and grammatical errors, that don’t even delve into the issues that they claim to be written about.

Guest posting is supposed to offer a form of relief for a blogger. They get a short break and their readers get a change of perspective. No blogger wants to spend hours editing a piece just so it will be slightly less cringe-inducing for their readers. But some people have trouble saying no. So they decide to make stricter regulations. And what better way to discourage low-quality posts than to charge for submissions? After all, a lot of these posts come from companies using it as a marketing strategy. They have the money. If they want advertising space on a blog, they should have to pay for it, right? After all, they pay for affiliate links. Same thing, right?

Affiliate programs are actually quite different. Sites that are in affiliate programs track clicks on links and pay based on number of visits and money made from those visits. The more successful the link, the more money you can make. Google has ways of tracking affiliate links in order to combat abuse. Even so, sites can be over-inundated with affiliate links and can suffer quality-wise because of this. Matt Cutts has said that Google is very effective at tracking affiliate links, but site owners can make the links no-follow as an extra precaution.

“We handle the vast majority of affiliate stuff correctly because if it is a large enough affiliate network we know about it and we handle it on our side. Even though we handle I believe the vast majority of affiliate links appropriately if you are at all worried about it, I would go ahead and just add the nofollow because you might be earning money from that,” Cutts recently said.

Should You Pay For Guest Posts?

So, the major problem with paying for guest posts–and the primary reason that guest posts links are not like affiliate links–is that guest post links are not tracked like affiliate and sponsored links. If you mark the link as no-follow, then sure, there isn’t a big problem with it, but then you lose out on most of the benefit of the post.

Google has a big problem with paying for do-follow links. If they find that a blog is accepting money for links and not designating them as sponsored, no-follow links, then that site is going to be knocked, along with the sites it links to. According to Steve Jones in an article for Dominate, “Google’s policy is that all sponsored links are to be no-followed to prevent link juice from passing, eliminating the SEO benefit. Google has been getting increasingly better at sniffing out these links and handing out penalties when they’re discovered.”

While more and more blogs are jumping on the “charging for guest posts” bandwagon, it is important to remember that if you are providing quality content (which you should be), then you have a bargaining chip. Your writing is worth something, and what you are asking for is a link. It’s not a spammy, irrelevant link; it is a link to your quality site that is relevant to the article, because you make sure that all your writing fits your niche. As long as these statements are true, then you should be on even ground with the blogger, not in a position where you have to jump through hoops. They are benefiting from the arrangement just as much as you are.

Don’t feel pressured to go against Google’s guidelines and pay for do-follow links. There are still quality sites out there that abide by the rules and realize that just because a link is from a company, that does not make it a sponsored or affiliate link–those designations accompany money.


[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]
is a writer, researcher, content developer and serves as an essential team member who also has expertise in client outreach, branding and promotion.

A recent graduate of Concordia University-Portland, where she majored in English, Watkins enjoys writing about a variety of subjects and loves to put a creative spin on even the most technical content. She says she has a love of adventure, “especially those involving books or food.”

She has a steadily growing stack of published articles, which you can find on iMedia, Business2Community and others. You can connect with Watkins on Twitter or Google+. [/author_info] [/author]