You may have heard that google has penalised MyBlogGuest (see http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2335246/Google-Penalizes-MyBlogGuest-a-Guest-Blog-Network).
Since last week, the popular guest blogging community can no longer be found on google for branded searches. In fact a google search using site:myblogguest.com would suggest that the site has been completely de-indexed (the jobs.myblogguest subdomain is all that comes up here).
Matt Cutts confirmed in a tweet on the 19th March that they had taken action against a ‘large guest blog network’…
Today we took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging: http://t.co/rc9O82fjfn
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 19, 2014
… and MyBlogGuest founder, Ann Smarty, confirmed the penalty later the same day…
[Official] Even though #myblogguest has been against paying for links (unlike other platforms), @mattcutts team decided to penalize us…
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) March 19, 2014
So, this raises a couple of questions…
- Were google right to penalise My Blog Guest?
- What is the future of guest blogging?
Today I am going to focus on the first question (although I guess the title of this post may be a giveaway) and over the weekend I will write a separate post dealing with the future of guest blogging.
Here are my thoughts.
Were Google Right To Penalise My Blog Guest?
There have been warnings coming out from google for a while now that combatting the abuse of guest blogging as a link building tactic is a top priority for their spam team. Messages from google on the topic were becoming less and cryptic throughout last year and in January 2014 Matt Cutts wrote up a blog post where he out and out told us to stop using it for building links.
Ann Smarty has always been pretty defiant on the subject…
@top5seo come one they just keep saying the same thing all over again
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) January 20, 2014
Which seemed to be fair comment. They had indeed been saying the same thing for a long time and at that point, the rhetoric hadn’t been backed by any sort of meaningful action.
Google however has previous for penalising big players when it is going after a particular aspect of (what it considers) manipulative SEO (link sellers, blog networks etc) and their decision to penalise My Blog Guest sends out a big statement to the SEO community that words are now turning into actions.
So why have google penalised My Blog Guest?
Google’s Problem With My Blog Guest (Probably…)
Interpreting the (often cryptic) messages from google can be a bit of a guessing game and these webmaster central videos from googler John Mueller were the topic of much debate last year, with many SEOs reading them a message saying that bio links from guest posts should now be nofollowed (relevant info starts at 49:56 on first video – more analysis in this searchengineland article).
I discussed this with Ann Smarty at the time in a MyBlogGuest twitter chat (you can read the full transcript here), but here is the crux…
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) July 11, 2013
Ann was right on the anchor text issue of course; too many anchor text links = potential penguin problems and branded links win every time. Of that there can be no argument.
The issue of whether those links should (in google’s opinion) be followed however was not clear, but MyBlogGuest’s policy remained the same – all guest post bio links should/must be followed.
Does this go against google’s guidelines on linking?
Well, there is a key question here…
Is a bio link editorial?
There are arguments for both sides (yes and no). In short, these are the main ones:-
A) A Bio Link Is Not Editorial
You give the link to yourself, therefore it is self linking and a form of manipulation.
B) A Bio Link Is Editorial
The link passes the ‘editorial control’ of the webmaster who has published the post, so it is not self linking, nor manipulative. *
It would appear that google has decided that A is the answer and have chosen to penalise MyBlogGuest, deeming them to be a market place for manipulative links.
* The above assumes of course that the guest post has not been paid for. If it has this would definitely be classed as a paid link and be against google’s guidelines.
To clarify, all My Blog Guest content is free for the publishing site, so this does not apply.
In my opinion, B should be the answer (with certain caveats which I will explain shortly).
A Quick Observation
Before I continue…
Man, don’t you long for the days when a link was just a link instead of an exercise in psychological warfare!?
The Party Line
So google likely penalised MyBlogGuest as they considered they were a network/marketplace which facilitated the placement of manipulative links.
Well… at least that’s what the party line would be. The reality is probably a little more Machiavellian… as I will discuss now.
Were Google Right To Penalise MyBlogGuest?
I summed up my thoughts in this tweet on today’s (27th March) MyBlogGuest twitter chat: –
They wanted a scapegoat / sacrificial lamb to send out a warning and you fitted their agenda. You guys are *not* the problem #myblogguest
— David McSweeney (@top5seo) March 27, 2014
Let me state firstly, that I do sympathise with google and can understand that they have to do something about the abuse of guest blogging.
What started out as a genuine way of getting yourself in front of new audiences (and let’s be honest, picking up a few links) has turned into another weapon in the spammers arsenal which is being rolled out on an industrial scale.
Crappy, spun posts, or endless regurgitations of the same boring content are littering the web with the sole purpose of gaining a backlink.
But that is not MyBlogGuest’s fault.
This action by google has all been about sending out a message. MyBlogGuest is easily the most high profile and successful guest blogging community there is and taking this step is basically a warning that…
‘We’re onto you. You better stop, or you will be next.’
In fact, there is bound to be a flurry of emails from worried webmasters asking for links to be nofollowed (or even disavowed).
But you know what…
The spammers will keep on spamming.
There will still be sites which are nothing more than glorified article directories and publishers happy to provide 500 words of rubbish to fill them up. These are the kind of sites google should be targeting – those with no editorial voice of their own.
In it’s crudest form all MyBlogGuest does is save on the donkey work/time spent looking for a home for your content/a new audience. Instead of pitching to sites which may not be looking for guest authors at that time MyBlogGuest brings together those looking for fresh content and those with great content to offer.
And one of the great things about MyBlogGuest is that there is at least some form of moderation of quality, be that in the article gallery or simply in the ability of users to rate each other/add feedback.
The higher quality of your content, the more likely you were/are to find a good, trusted home for your posts.
Surely that is a good thing and rewards hard work/high quality content?
Show Your Support For MyBlogGuest
Ann Smarty confirmed today that the penalty has hit their traffic hard.
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) March 27, 2014
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) March 27, 2014
The business that Ann and the team have worked so hard to create is suffering because of the actions of those who have chosen to abuse the practice of guest blogging.
Ann is one of the hardest working and most helpful individuals I have had the pleasure to be acquainted with in my 16 years in internet marketing and google’s actions…. well…. suck.
So, I am supporting MyBlogGuest and will continue to champion their services (however they may evolve over the coming weeks/months). I will also post regular updates on twitter (and on my blog where appropriate) as the story develops.
You can show your support for MyBlogGuest by tweeting with the hashtag #isupportmyblogguest.
If you’re feeling cocky you can include an @mattcutts in there too 😉
My thoughts on the future of guest blogging (which is alive and well by the way!) coming up over the next few days…