How to Continue Your Guest Posting Efforts and Not Be Banned by Google
I've long believed that the two fundamental skills any great SEO must have are an understanding of psychology and an understanding of philosophy.
Psychology is necessary in order to communicate well to your market, to understand their desires and pains, and to understand how to present your product as a solution to those desires and pains.
The philosophical aspect of SEO is precisely for understanding how search engines move with their customers, how you move with your customers, and to discern the best ways for you to move with your customers in the space of search engine guidelines and preferences.
When Google and/or Matt Cutts makes an announcement like he did yesterday, where he declares "if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop," you simply can't take what he has said literally. There is simply far too much to read between the lines and far too much to piece together about Google's business model.
This now becomes a philosophical discussion.
Why Google Will Not Penalize All Guest Post Efforts
Their business model (at least in terms of Search) is to provide searchers with the most relevant results for their query, at the top of the search results.
Therefore, Google will not ban you if you host guest posts for others or if you post guest posts on others' sites. If they did, every news organization's website would be banned. Moz, Copyblogger, MarketingLand, all of them...they would be dropped from the index.
But that's not going to happen.
Another priority of Google's is to keep spammy sites out of their index. It's simply easier to kick someone out of your party who keeps disrupting the other guests than it is to continue managing and reprimanding them for each of their individual actions.
How Google Will Handle Guest Post Links; Banning vs. NoFollow
From this perspective, Google has two considerations.
First, they must define a threshold of what must happen for a site to be banned. Put another way, they need to define new guidelines of what is acceptable or not for guest posts. This isn't for the sake of SEOs, rather, for their own algorithms.
The second thing they must decide is how to value links that do come from guest posts. They could, understandably, simply begin saying that any link that is in a guest post (however that is defined) will not have any value passed through it. In essence, they can tweak their algorithm to say "if a link appears on a guest post page, treat it as a no followed link."
Both of these are likely considerations. And, if you're on an extreme edge of either hosting spammy guest posts or publishing your guest posts elsewhere, you may face a penalty. Otherwise, the worst that would happen is that your link simply wouldn't be valued when it comes to ranking that page, or your site, higher than others of otherwise-equal relevance.
Why and How Google Still Needs You to Guest Post
If Time magazine asked you to post on their website, and told you that you could basically write whatever you wanted to write, would you turn down that opportunity?
Of course not.
Does Google want you to turn down that opportunity?
Of course not.
Google relies on publishers - all publishers, not just large publishers - to curate great content. Google curates algorithmically, but publishers curate from a human perspective. Without this mechanism, Google as a search engine would have incredibly useless search results.
How to Guest Post to Get Traffic and Search Rankings
The worst possible scenario that remains a viable option for Google is to automatically treat all links in guest posts as NoFollowed. Even if they do this, your guest posts can still increase your search rankings.
If all guest post links are NoFollowed, you must then seek out opportunities based on exposure, demographics, messaging, and market alignment. In short, you must post not for the direct value of the links in that post, but you must guest post based on the opportunity that the exposure gives you, would then translate into consequential links.
For example, if you post on Moz.com or Copyblogger.com, don't post there for the link value you would get from that site. Post there because that's where your market is, that's how you'll get clicks to your site, and post there because, if everything works out swimmingly, other people will then link to your website or that post from their own content.
Let the exposure get you links.
Don't just chase the link on the post.
Finding the Best Places to Guest Post
So how do you find the best places to guest post? Well, this is a good place to start.