You've likely heard by now that MyBlogGuest.com was penalized by Google in their "War Against Guest Blogging" - specifically to set a public example. This particular penalty was basically a scare tactic (and PR stunt).
Sadly, it's working. This is not the first instance of "manipulation" by Google, btw. In this particular case, they went about it all wrong (in my opinion).
Let's look at ALL the details here so you can see just how far beyond ridiculous this particular case has been taken (so far). After you've seen the facts, I would LOVE to hear your opinion - and your thoughts on Guest Blogging going forward...
It all started with a Tweet by Matt Cutts:
While Matt doesn't identify the Guest Blogging Network that was penalized, it quickly became obvious that he was referring to MyBlogGuest.com. He links to his post titled The Decay and Fall of Guest Blogging (which he later edited to add "for SEO"). The most quoted bit from that post being:
"So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done;"
The biggest concern being that Guest Blogging is used for paid linking, or for "spammy" link building. The real issue (to Google) is that those links are being used to pass PageRank in order to improve search engine rankings. Matt clarifies in his post that this penalty (er, public example) is the result of "a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to “guest blogging” as their link-building strategy."
Of course, Matt also says:
UPDATE 3/31/14: It turns out the "Guest Post by Matt Cutts" I share with you next was a HOAX. See the confession from the author here. 😐 I will say, I am really glad to hear Matt did NOT write this! ...
Ironically, Matt Cutts decided to follow up on this topic... in a Guest Blog Post at SEO 2.0 which you can read here: Matt Cutts on Spammy Link Building.
In that post, Matt clarifies what he (they, Google, ?) considers "spammy" about Guest Blog Posts. The key indicators being:
- Outgoing links to one domain
- Rich anchor text links
- No “nofollow” attribute added
- Shallow thin content
Even MORE interesting is that he does NOT use the nofollow link attribute in all of the links in his Guest Post and he DOES use "rich anchor text" links:
😐 I call bullshit. How can we even take this seriously?!
Personally, I find it odd we're still talking PageRank at all at this point. Or link building as an SEO strategy, for that matter. To catch you up, be sure to read:
Linking: To Follow or No Follow? regarding the Nofollow Link Attribute
That last link is an OLD post, and PageRank is OLD news - or should be. I stopped taking it seriously a long time ago. As a metric WE should watch that is, given actual PageRank has never been shared publicly (only "Toolbar Pagerank" - or what they want you to think the PageRank is for any given web page).
But I digress. Take a look at what Matt says at the end of his Guest Post:
What does it all mean?
It’s about cleaning up the Web. We have to remove spam one link at a time. Ideally webmasters would stop linking out completely. Then we could rebuild our algorithm from scratch based on Google+ and authorship markup. Until then we have to clean up this cesspool link by link. Join us in the fight against spam.
don’t accept guest posts from strangers
don’t link out to strangers
don’t talk to strangers
In case you do we at Google have the means to determine you do it and to act manually or algorithmically. Ever since we launched Google Books we know that hypertext is way overrated. Books worked for hundreds of years without hyperlinks. So why can’t the Web? Please follow me on Google+ to get more insights on how to make the Internet safe from spam again. Use only Google approved ways to link other sites. Did you know that you can embed Google+ posts on your blog?
I choked on my coffee when I read that part at the end.
I literally LOL'd.
Is he even serious?! 😛
I counted THIRTEEN LINKS in that "GUEST POST" leading up to his ... conclusion.
"Don't Talk To Strangers"
Hello. Everyone is a stranger until you meet them. If I took this advice, I would have never met anyone outside of my immediate family. I chose NOT to teach my children that one even, given it would be hypocritical and confusing. They saw me say hello to "strangers", offer to help someone, speak to the cashier at the store or the bank teller, etc. I can't even believe Matt would resort to talking to us like we're children, much less think anyone would take that seriously.
As for "Cleaning Up The Web" - I'm all for less spam, less junk, higher quality content and connections, and less spammy guest post pitches in my inbox even (which I ignore/delete). But not linking out? That's ridiculous. By it's very definition, the web is nothing more than a collection of interlinked files. -source
This ends the section related to the FAKE Guest Post. Apologies for my mistake in assuming it was legit! 😐 (I'm totally relieved it was NOT)
Google's Action Against MyBlogGuest.com
With no warning, and as a public example, like burning a presumed witch at the stake without trial, Google de-indexed MyBlogGuest.com. They simply removed every page on that domain from Google altogether. Not including the "jobs" subdomain, which remains in the Google database.
What purpose did that serve, exactly?
None, other than "a warning" and to make an example in the industry as a means of scaring people out of Guest Blogging. Removing the site from Google search results doesn't stop writers and publishers from networking there - as they already know how to find the site. And if anything, MyGuestBlog has gotten more publicity (and links! ohhhhh, lol) over the last week than it ever had before.
A Better Solution
If Google really wanted to "clean up the web" and "encourage people to use Google approved linking practices" they certainly had the means to do so in a positive way.
They could have easily collaborated with Ann Smarty, owner of MyBlogGuest, in a positive PR campaign to educate the market. Knowing Ann personally and what she stands for, I imagine she would have been thrilled to work with Google on a project with the potential for such positive impact!
Sadly the "shock factor" and "we're watching you and we know what you're doing!" are more Google's style. It always causes a big stir on the web, which is the response they're really going for: manipulation, swaying the herd.
Did MBG Deserve To Be Completely De-Indexed?
No. Or not any more than a million other sites at least. MBG was singled out and punished for the purpose of making a point, and "going viral" with their message.
The message is all wrong, though.
You can slap a nofollow attribute on any link. You can link to multiple crap sites. You can use obscure Anchor Text. It doesn't make bad content any better. That alone will not "clean up the web".
EDUCATING people on how to write great content, how to run an online business, and how to market their business online - THAT would actually clean up the web.
Maybe they should de-index the SIX MILLION PLUS results for "how to make money fast on the internet" and replace those results with a page that educates people on what they should consider (and search for) instead. 😛 Or de-index the TWO BILLION results for "buy links" even.
Google is in a position to be SUCH a positive influence on the web. It's a shame they don't make better use of that position. They also have the tools to create better algorithms. Again, PageRank is old news. Link Building (for SEO purposes) is old news. Google should simply update the way they determine relevance and rank pages.
Ann Smarty, owner of MyBlogGuest, responded to the action taken against her site in this post:
The Bottom Line on Guest Blogging
I recommend you read this post by Marie Haynes:
Yes, high quality guest posts CAN get you penalized!
And this post at Copyblogger:
Matt Cutts Declares Guest Blogging “Done” … Are We All Screwed?
While I'm disappointed in the way Google chose to "make their point" it is their business and they can run it how they please. I do wish Google were more of an asset to the community (versus taking on the persona of a bully), but they get to choose how they position their brand in the market...
I like what Ryan Biddulph said in response to this story:
"Only fools or those with no vision panic in moments like these."
There is nothing wrong with Guest Blogging. Even if you don't use the nofollow link attribute, according to Marie Haynes (see her comments on this at link above). There IS a problem with content spam, comment spam, link spamming of any kind, and obvious link building - such as getting too many of the same types of links to your site to the point that it's obviously unnatural.
Variation is the key to a smart, organic marketing strategy.
Don't stop linking (that was just plain comical!).
Simply forget Google exists.
Market your website and business like it's 1997. Which, sorry Matt!, means "talking to strangers" and getting out there and interacting with your market.
And yes, that includes Guest Blogging as a means of gaining exposure by getting in front of an established audience with something of value for those readers.
My advice: Pretend like your site has already been penalized or de-indexed by Google. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what you would do to continue running a thriving online business. Now... go do that. 😉
Module 13 in the NSB weekly training course is on "Creative Guest Blogging Strategies that greatly improve your chances of getting published on a popular blog" - yes, even (and especially!) given the current issues & scares discussed in this post!
If you're not ready to sign up for the course, or just want to download Module 13 separately to learn super creative Content Marketing Strategies, click here to download Module 13 for only $10.
* You'll actually get access to at least two Training Modules, as there are links back referencing previous modules. It's a great way to "preview" the course super-cheap if you're still on the fence. Enjoy!
Note: If you decide to enroll in the course after studying this Module, I'll refund your $10 one-module purchase. All you have to do is email me and ask. Just include your PayPal receipt, or at least your PayPal email address so I can look up your order.
p.s. I would love to hear your thoughts - and any questions you have.
Also, CONGRATS to Ann Smarty of MyGuestBlog for all the awesome FREE publicity! I have a feeling this will be a turning point and stepping stone that will take her business to a whole new level. 😀
p.p.s. Links are obviously an outdated way of assigning rank or authority to web pages. The obvious next step up from PageRank is Social Media Rank - at least as part of a smart ranking algorithm. At this point you'd be very wise to incorporate a strong social media strategy in your overall organic marketing plan...