Google Takes Action Against Guest Blogging

Guest Blogging PenaltyYou've likely heard by now that 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:

myblogguest penalty

While Matt doesn't identify the Guest Blogging Network that was penalized, it quickly became obvious that he was referring to 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 β€œguest blogging” as their link-building strategy."

Of course, Matt also says:

Matt Cutts Encourages Nofollow Links in Guest Posts

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 β€œnofollow” 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:

Matt Cutts Not Heeding His Own Advice?

😐 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

...and Google PageRank: Tool or Marketing Gimmick?

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?! πŸ˜›

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

With no warning, and as a public example, like burning a presumed witch at the stake without trial, Google de-indexed 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. πŸ˜› 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

Ann Smarty, owner of MyBlogGuest, responded to the action taken against her site in this post:

Guest Blogging, the Fork and My Take

She also posted an update here on what they're doing moving forward.

Another GREAT read: Guest Blogging Penalties and the Decay of Links as a Ranking Signal: An Open Letter to Matt Cutts (Part 1)

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 β€œDone” … 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. πŸ˜‰

I use purely organic marketing strategies to get instant exposure/traffic AND long-term results, which I teach in my Niche Success Blueprint.

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. πŸ˜€

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...

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreΒ»


  1. Jennifer (PotPieGirl) says

    That guest post on the 2.0 site is odd.... I kept reading thinking it was fake or something. I see that Matt says he chose that site to guest post on because (apparently) that site is not a big fan of Google at all (that's a polite way of saying

    In fact, the owner of the SEO2.0 site has Google blocked - which makes it more entertaining that Matt used optimized anchor text links in his post. He can easily defend that because Google doesn't crawl that site - so follow or no-follow, it doesn't matter to Google. Guess he's just spamming Bing? hahahaha! (that was a joke...heehee)

    Regardless of all that, the whole MBG thing and then what happened to Doc Sheldon's site has been quite the fiasco. Twitter has never been this entertaining!

    Awesome post AND awesome advice, Lynn!


    PS - Aw man, I'm not supposed to talk to you... We've never actually met so you're a stranger. But if you NEVER talk to strangers, how would anyone ever become friends?

    • LOL Jennifer - we haven't "met in person" but I know of you and your reputation speaks for itself in our circles, which cross over a lot. πŸ˜‰ I'd link to you any day! πŸ˜€

      Setting a good example of his points would have been ideal in that Guest Post. Using the attribute, or actually - not including any links at all, given his "ideal scenario" at the end stating that links are not even necessary on the web. Wow, that cracks me up every time I look back at it! πŸ˜›

    • I agree, Jennifer - it's so bizarre, looks very surreal. I don't know anything about SEO2.0, but I assume you and Lynn know enough to know that post is truly by Matt.

      Lynn, thanks for pointing me in the direction of that post (loved it) and thanks for mentioning Gerald Weber's guest post at Traffic Generation CafΓ©.

      Hope you don't mind me link dropping; gave you a shout here

      • Ana Hoffman says

        To follow up: the author of the post (NOT Matt Cutts) did confirm that it was indeed written as a joke:

        • Thank you SO much for that update, Ana! I actually followed the link from Ann Smarty's post, so I assumed it WAS legit - and it all seemed to be until it went totally off base at the end.

          I'm shocked the author didn't disclose it as a "joke" at the end of the post, or at least in the comments. He just left it hanging out there. Terrible...

          • Jennifer (PotPieGirl) says

            Thank you, Ana, for letting us know it was a uhhhhhhh....a "joke" (yes, I was going to use another word...haha!) . It all just felt SO weird in light of the current online SEO climate..... And yes, that totally could have been disclosed on the front side. But apparently, anyone can pose to be anyone else and cause issues these days.

            Lynn has the best advice ever - run your online business as if you are already penalized by Google.

        • LOL!

          I was shocked reading through at first. Until I reached halfway down the page where Lynn said it was Fake.

          And then ... Lol.

  2. I'm a little reluctant to comment here since you don't know me (and they don't come much stranger than me!!). But I just wanted to add that surely the biggest source of spam on the Internet is comment spam? I loathe all those stupid comments and I spend a tonne of time dealing with them (and blacklisting them!). If google would address them I'd forgive them some of their other weird tactics!

    • I'm glad you DID comment, Tracey! πŸ˜€

      Regarding blog comments, that was the original reason for the nofollow link attribute. It's applied to blog comments by default as a safety feature for bloggers - so we're not unintentionally linking out to (endorsing) sites outside of our editorial control.

      Never, ever (EVER) install the DoFollow plugin on your blog, which removes the nofollow link attribute from comment links. Not just for Google purposes, but also because it'll put you on "blog comment spam lists" of places to get "dofollow links" via comment spam. 😐 Ack!

  3. Hi Lynn,

    It's certainly an interesting story. I did a write-up about it yesterday as I couldn't quite believe it and wanted to verify all the different angles for myself. I can't quite decide whether this makes Google seem very arrogant or very desperate. Surely their algo can now weed out and discount the junk links without needing to slam bloggers for guest posting without nofollow? It's all a bit crazy...

    Keep up the good work,
    Neil Shearing.

  4. Belinda Pepper says

    Every time Google makes stupid stunts like this, they make themselves just a little more irrelevant. Seriously, even my totally non-techy friends are noticing how crap the Google search results have become.

    If they focused less on trying to control every person on the planet and more on making their product better, they might make more friends. Their "Do No Evil" mantra went out the window a LONG time ago.

    Side note? It's called THE WEB because it's bloody WEB-LIKE. Get a clue, Google. *facepalm*

    • After reading Neil's post (link in my comment above) I'm even more shocked. It will be interesting to see just how far they go, and what this will all amount to in the end.

      Given that the penalty referred to was for a guest post from 2011, perhaps Google should offer us a plugin to fix a decade worth of archives easily. I certainly don't have time to edit every post by hand - and it's ridiculous to even consider.

      New rules should only apply to offenses made after announcement date. Not that my opinion matters in this little witch hunt they're on at the moment...

  5. My first thought was the Google bully. I long ago gave up counting on Google for anything. I'm so disappointed in them but you're right I think this is going to help Ann! Love it.

    • I think so too. I imagine she'll look back on this as a HUGE turning point in her business, thanks to Google "being a jerk" (in my opinion). She's handling it quite well too, I should add. Speaks volumes for her character!

  6. Hi Lynn,

    The whole time I am reading this in disgust again over Google's parlor tricks, I'm wondering when they will get to the commenting section of blogs.

    Are we now going to be penalized for accepting a comment from a stranger?

    • Regarding blog comments, that was the original reason for the nofollow link attribute. It's applied to blog comments by default as a safety feature for bloggers - so we're not unintentionally linking out to (endorsing) sites outside of our editorial control.

      Never, ever (EVER) install the DoFollow plugin on your blog, which removes the nofollow link attribute from comment links. Not just for Google purposes, but also because it'll put you on "blog comment spam lists" of places to get "dofollow links" via comment spam. πŸ˜›

      The main issue behind this whole saga is the push to use the nofollow link attribute. Of which I'm not necessarily a big fan (outside of blog comments by default). You can see my thoughts on that here:

  7. Maurice Bernier says

    All I can add to this story is that I guess Matt has shown the whole world he's a hypocrite. I agree that Google is partaking in some bullying tactics but this isn't new to them since they have been doing the same with people's Adsense accounts for years. Their terms of service for that are listed in such a manner that one needs a lawyer to translate them.

    While I do like Google for some services they offer, I think it's high time they remember that they aren't the only SE out there and should learn to appreciate contributions bloggers/websites make no matter where the links come from. It's only good business to give respect/recognition where it's due instead of using control tactics which only serve to alienate a future potential client.

    • It's unfortunate, I agree. It's made me wary of using certain services - like Google Analytics or the Google Keyword Planner. And I stopped being a customer of Google Adwords many years ago.

      How they run their business, and how they act publicly, is their business - literally. Likewise we get to choose how to run our business. Ideally everyone would run their business with integrity and above all... serve their market.

  8. Starting today, I'm going to use Bing as my search engine. As long as Google gets the majority of the searches, they will feel like they own the whole internet.

    I have thought about doing this for years now, but have never really done it. No more. I'm tired of these bullies and I will use Bing or other search engines for my searches. If more people would do this, then maybe Google would have less power (or perceived power) over webmasters.

    More webmasters also need to make sure they have submitted their sites to Bing and Yahoo and also sign up for the webmaster tools account through Bing.

    • It should be fun to do some comparisons between the two, regarding relevancy of results and ROI of advertising campaigns, etc.

      We (webmasters) are an extremely small group of Google's overall market, and they've always made it a point NOT to cater to us.

      Personally I tend to ignore most "Google News" but this particular story just had to be shared. Especially as it relates to Guest Blogging, which I'm a huge fan of as a means of gaining exposure and expanding your reach across the net.

  9. Sheryl Siler says

    This caught my attention as I'm beginning a blog tour next week. I'm providing great messages to great people. That's good enough for me.

    • Wishing you lots of success with your Blog Tour, Sheryl! πŸ˜€

      Will you be using the nofollow link attribute in the links within your guest posts throughout your tour - or not? Given you'll be creating a number of "guest blog links" with this campaign, even though the real purpose is obviously exposure, is it a risk you're willing to take - that Google may see it as unnatural linking / link spam?

      Given I only do guest posts on occasion, I would leave it up to the blog owner to use their own "link discretion" - but if I were doing a major marketing campaign that would result in a sudden increase in inbound links (with Google currently on a witch hunt) ... I'd be inclined to request the nofollow link attribute to avoid being targeted.

      It's a shame we even have to think this way - when "SEO" and "Link Building" aren't even the objective - simply the result. Rah.

  10. Lynn,

    I get your argument. I also get where Matt is coming from.

    I receive many requests each day from 'guest bloggers' who want to post 'quality' articles on my site(s). I reject almost all of them because they are spam bloggers. The articles are crap and the links out generally go to SEO company sites.

    I'd like to believe that what Matt was trying to say - vet your guest bloggers well... i.e. I'd accept an article from you, Lynn, any day of the week without fear of being penalized for the link.


    • Ditto Rosalind! πŸ˜‰

      And I agree that WAS the original point. I get those same mass pitches in my own inbox, and simply ignore/delete them. It's like comment spam and email spam - a nuisance. I don't disagree with that bit for sure.

      I do take issue with the way this was handled though...

    • Gerald Weber says

      I get the sentiment that low quality guest post requests are annoying. So just say no to them. Simple.

      • Exactly. Any professional blogger that runs a real business wouldn't publish "random content" (or the type of posts Matt was specifically referring to) on their blog anyway. And anyone that would do that type of guest blogging, or publish those types of guest posts, is likely flagged as "low quality" anyway (for a variety of reasons).

        The whole message seems rather pointless from that perspective.

  11. Hi Lynn,

    Google like to pretend that they own the Internet and they like to try to influence others in believing that's the case. What they seem to be failing to realise is that, by constantly using bullying and 'we know better than you, so hard luck' type tactics, they are actually aggravating a lot of people and thus losing what it is they're striving for. Many people are coming to realise that Google is NOT the be all and end all of everything, that there are other options out there and that they actually have the choice to simply ignore them.

    With regards to online business, I absolutely love what you said at the end:

    "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."

    Lynn, that is one of the wisest and best pieces of advice I have seen from anyone for a long time! People need to print that out, stick it by their workspace and look at it every day until it is ingrained into them!


  12. I think that "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." is the starting point for people to get over their cowering fear of Google.

    I understand what Cutts is trying to do. I think he's going about it wrong. It's great to put a stop to spammy guest blogging; but making the good guys suffer for it is going to do more harm than good.

    At any rate, kudos to Ann for being a trooper through the bullshit.

    • I agree. And "good luck" putting an end to spam of any kind. We've been battling that for two decades already. Deal with it, and move on. Meaning - filter it out - whether it's your inbox, your community... or your search engine. There are bigger pursuits for our time and energy as business owners!

      I do think this situation going viral presents some great opportunities. Hopefully it WILL scare the less serious and encourage *everyone* to improve the quality of their practices across the board. Though it certainly could have been handled better - but I'm not sure anything less would have been quite as effective. Obviously Matt Cutts was willing to put his reputation on the line for that result.

  13. I\'m posting this anonymously (even though I have met Lynn virtually so I\'m not entirely a stranger) due to my comments below. I have been following all the discussion on this (thanks Lynn for your shares here and on FB). One thing I can say is this side of Google is already familiar to those of us that do link remediation projects (when you get slapped by an algorithm change or a Google manual penalty - you might call someone like me). Google has been citing guest blog posts as examples when rejecting reconsideration requests for a year now. When there is obvious spam - I get why sites are penalized , but some of the \"spam\" cited by Google is very borderline in my opinion. I was even having to remove purely natural links for a client due to rich anchor text while they were under penalty. These were links freely given to them because of their marketing efforts. The tip can pass along here - is don\'t leave a footprint as that is what Google can detect. Don\'t do anything large scale that looks automated, don\'t use services that leave a footprint and hopefully you won\'t have a problem. BTW - Tracy - most blog comments are nofollow so often do not contribute to a problem.

    • Thank you for those details "Not Lisa" πŸ˜‰ - very interesting. It's a shame we even have to think SEO (or rather Anti-SEO) when doing Content Marketing as a means to increase reach and exposure online.

      Ideally Google would update their algorithm and do a better job of serving up relevant, quality results - instead of putting the work on site owners to deal with who links to them and how. Like you said, some are quality links placed by other site owners totally out of your control, not even a result of "marketing".

      Given those facts, AND the great example of the FAKE Guest Post by Matt Cutts (which wasn't written by him at all) - this takes the power away from Google, and away from the site owner, and puts it straight in the hands of any spammer or anyone who wants to tank you in the search results.

      Anyone can go on an all-out Content Marketing campaign and get YOUR site penalized? C'mon Google. You have the resources to come up with a better solution than this. πŸ˜‰

  14. I just had a conversation of this sort last week with someone about Google's "arrogance," and was of the opinion that they are doing the same type of thing that got Microsoft in trouble and caused the fed's to order the disconnection of Internet Explorer from Windows. They are using "bullying" tactics to force others to adhere to their decisions, right or wrong.

    The hypocrisy of Matt Cutt's post is similar to the hypocrisy of Bill Gates stealing code for his operating system, his mother writing his contract with IBM that allowed him to compete with them when Phoenix came up with a clone bios, and his stealing of or cloning of the original spreadsheet. Later, when he had enough capital, he fought anyone who even looked like they might copy or clone a product of his.

    Over time, Microsoft's position has eroded, to the point where they are cutting price on their operating system and even giving it away in some instances.

    I don't think it will be long before an upstart hits Google between the eyes. Social media caught them offguard, but they have caught up ... for now. There was a saying we had on the wall in the announcers booth at the radio station when the Beatles came to LA ... "Tempus Fugets. This too shall pass."

    Boy, that rambled.

    • I always enjoy your rambles, Kirk. πŸ˜€ Give the history of technology and tech companies over the last two decades, change is inevitable. It shall be interesting indeed to see how this plays out over the next couple of years...

  15. The problem is, guest posting isn't just for SEO at least not how I see it. Guest posting puts me and my expertise in front of people who might not otherwise know me. And the same for people who guest post on my site. If Goolge wants to get rid of spam, it should use people, not a computer to determine if content is good. Further, they should ban scammers from Adsense (which is another issue but it's hard to take them seriously about cleaning up the web when they take money from the people they're trying to ban).

  16. I meant ban scammers from Adwords... that is fed through Adsense....

    • I agree, Leslie. It's a great means for exposure, and a great opportunity to get in front of an established targeted audience. What concerns me most is the example made of a Guest Post from 2011 that got a site penalized. Meaning we need to go back and edit years worth of archives to add the nofollow link attribute to avoid potential penalty? Not cool.

      As I stated above, a better algorithm is in order here. Period.

  17. This whole thing is completely crazy to me. I kind of feel like Google is the mafia and they are trying to break a few legs to get people to listen. Well thanks to them, I now know about

  18. Gerald Weber says

    Apparently Matt Cutts is an "SEO Blogger" lmfao!

    This was my first thought.

    What the hell man? Do as I say not as I do.

    And so now the official rule is to no follow all guest posts to prove you aren't an SEO spammer.

    Ideally the entire web will be no follow?

    I have an idea. Why don't you just stop crawling links Google?

    And don't you think that Google authorship is a link scheme? (someone send G+ an unnatural links warning)

    I just love how Matt leads by example.

    I can't believe he tells us not to talk to strangers or allow guest posts from stranger. What am I 3 years old?

    OK so now my second thought.

    Is this really a guest post written by Matt Cutts or is it a hoax? Has any confirmed that Matt really wrote this post?

    I'm going to cite your post in part of of "The Decay of Links As A Ranking Signal"

    • Hi Gerald,

      The guest post was indeed a hoax - thanks to Ana (above) for tracking that down and getting the scoop for us! And thank goodness, right?! Still, I can't believe he got away with that one. I'll be interested to see if there's any backlash there...

      "And so now the official rule is to no follow all guest posts to prove you aren't an SEO spammer."

      Right. And apparently to go back and edit ANY guest posts dating years back, as another site was penalized for a Guest Post on their site from 2011. Craziness.

      This is ridiculous coming from Google. Get a better ranking algorithm. Period.

  19. First off, thank you for a great series of posts here Lynn. Very informative.

    While I understand the theory behind what they are doing, the way in which they are doing it is really ticking me off! Most of us are working hard to build a reputable brand complete with marketing, advertising, and developing public awareness of our products and services. ALL busiensses, online and offline, must do that to survive. Business is all about having sales and sales is all about having customers. Seems like Google may be cutting off it's nose to spite it's face if you ask me. These recent dictator like decisions are nothing short of plain old BS and are at the very least contradictory to what the internet is supposed to be all about...connecting people.

    Don't talk to strangers? Is there such a thing anymore? Has Google forgotten that www stands for world wide web?

    Thanks again Lynn. I'm grateful for the info even if it did pi** me off first thing this morning! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Leigha. πŸ˜€ I agree. I don't like their "war against advertising" (coming from a company that sells advertising no less, lol). The web has thrived on ad revenue since well before Google, and there's no good reason you can't purchase legit advertising online - for your online business.

      Google caused this problem with the whole passing of PageRank, now they want us to fix it with the nofollow link attribute. Speaking of, if you are not creating posts in a text editor (ie using the Visual Editor) - how would even add that code? Many bloggers will be lost on that point. Their ranking issues are not our problem.

      Not to mention YOU cannot control how people link to YOU, whether it's a natural link or a questionable site linking to you. Yet Google puts the responsibility on YOU to "clean up your link profile" to reverse a penalty. 😐

      Link spammers, content spammers, etc can be dealt with in other ways - they leave an obvious unnatural footprint. Legit bloggers and marketers shouldn't be punished for running a solid business with smart (organic) marketing strategies. Ahh but we are. Thanks Google. πŸ˜›

  20. Mer Miller says

    Weren't your children strangers the day they were born? Poor Matt. He is obviously a hermit with no friends or family. After all, friends and family all had to be strangers at one point.

  21. I think we need to see the bigger picture and follow the money! Google search makes the majority of it's revenue selling targeted ads to brand (Adwords) - which people are becoming blind to.

    Social media is replacing the search as a way to get believable information (it's replacing adwords).

    The top people in social media are mostly BLOGGERS who write content that people trust enough to make purchasing decisions.

    Guest blogging let's people (and brands) bypass Google adwords altogether - and present their marketing message directly where people hang out: BLOGS!

    Professional bloggers are social media experts - and brands want in!

    I think this opens up an opportunity for us bloggers to unite and offer brands a helping hand. That's why I'd like Lynn to help in the creation of - A directory for us bloggers to post our "resume" and services directly to attract brands.

    You can follow our progress by following us on

    • Hi George,

      I work with several networks already that connect bloggers & brands. It's definitely a growing trend, and a great opportunity not only for the bloggers and brands - but for the readers as well. They get introduced to new products and new features in their own language, brands will sponsor contests & giveaways for those audiences, etc.

      Definitely a better form of "advertising" - agreed.

  22. Kirk Ward says

    I was wanting to use a different search engine because for some time I haven't liked the results that Google has been giving me. I haven't liked the way Bing works, it tries to be too touchy feely and help me with crap I don't want.

    I went through the list of search engines from Wikipedia, and the one I was looking for, Cuil, is no longer there. Another search engine of the same name, on a different top level domain, is there, but it is powered by Google.

    Anyhoo, I stumbled onto DuckDuckGo ( and have been getting great results with it. I'm actually using it in preference to Google these days as my standard search engine.

    Oh, a neat feature, by design, it doesn't track your activity. It seems a bit of a throwback to the Google "Old Days."

  23. I am not happy at all! I have been around through all the different periods way before Google and now they are telling me what is "Google approved" WTF???

    Getting hit for outbound links on your site is not a big problem.. You only lose page rank..

    But getting hit for inbound links is not good.

    I got this penalty on one of my sites and it has tanked in Google search. the thing is, the site is 8 years old and has a lot of backlinks.. And I didn't make most of these. Yes I was associated with myblogguest but other links are old link exchanges (that what we used to do), site wide links on random sites (nothing to do with me), sites that are deadish now (sorry I forgot to check) and bloody spam sites that still have their page rank and alexa in tact.

    In 2014 made 4,500 links to my site in 3 months.. What the hell? Why isn't that site kicked to the kurb... Big ??? here. .. Interesting that this site has PR 2 and showing google ads.. but has scraped content listings and no content of its own.. And no contact method so I can get my site taken off their feed list.

    So what the hell is Google doing to real website owners who have awesome real content, not scraped from others?

    There are more sites like that linking to me as my site has the answers.

    And the stupid thing is, I bet you I didn't get penalised for this site linking to me 4,500 times in 3 months.. I bet I got done for one or two pieces of anchor text that LOOKS LIKE it is being used for SEO...

    • I agree with you Mitz - the thinking here (and the ranking/penalties) are all wrong. It makes it far too easy for a competitor to get you penalized. That's a fault in their algorithm, not a fault of ours as hard working bloggers or business owners. Google has some work to do. And oddly, they're handing out "homework" to everyone else instead. 😐

      It's their search engine. They need to fix it. Spend less time telling us what we need to do, or clean up (on another person's site?!), and figure out a better way to sort and deliver results.

  24. I am not leaving a link here on purpose, lest google slap me right? Wrong. I don't want G to come over and play at my house today. I don't actually know Matt Cutts so why would I invite a stranger over, right?

    I so agree with your take on this Lynn. Whatever the intent of Matt's message may have been (good or bad) it is disgusting the way in which he delivered it.

    I agree that if they wanted to do some actual good online then they are in a great position to do it but instead chose the scare tactic. Matt sounds like an internet terrorist.

    He is terrible for PR (public relations BTW not pagerank πŸ˜‰ ) and they really should fire him. I can see it now; - Content all added by guest bloggers of course and blocking the Fat Cat G - get lost Google, we don't want your "low quality" PR (Public Relations) here - we only allow "good quality PR" here. Maybe a scare tactic in the reverse would get a message across.

    Google built their entire algorythm on links, what is going on here with this" don't link out" thing? Why don't they just stop spidering the (Free) world wide WEB if they want people to stop linking! That would definitely put an end to link spam.


    Thanks again for a great post Lynn and for not being intimidated by this crap. BTW I wasn't aware of and will be bookmarking them and getting to know Ann Smarty as she sounds like a great person to know, oops were strangers maybe I shouldn't talk to her - but I don't like bully's and terrorists they make the world an ugly place to live for ourselves and our children - they cause war, hatred, contention and blood shed. It is friendship that bonds the world together and will ultimately bring world peace, and friendships will never happen by not talking to strangers - so I'm heading over to talk to Ann Smarty, stranger, she will be my new "google-not-approved" best friend.

    • Hi Jen,

      You'll really like Ann. πŸ˜€ You can find her on Twitter as @seosmarty (Smarty is her last name).

      To clarify, the bit about "don't talk to strangers" and "don't link out" was part of a hoax/fake guest post - which only came to light (that it was a fake) after I published my post. It tricked a lot of people as I found the link myself on a legit source. I'm anxious to see if that blogger suffers any backlash for posing as a public figure with such a negative message...

      But yes, this was definitely handled wrong. Or could have been handled in a much better way. Google has such great opportunity to be a true Leader in the tech world and positive influence on the web. It's a shame really.

      Ann totally rocks for the way she's handled this, considering all the details. Like I've said before, she'll definitely come out shining once the dust settles. I have no doubt. πŸ˜‰

  25. Trying to figure all this out is exhausting. I guess you're right that we should just forge ahead and keep doing the right stuff. But it looks like even if you do everything right you still get dinged and it will all change again next week anyway.

    Thanks for the post!

    • It is exhausting - and ridiculous. But yes, just keep creating/running an awesome business. Onward & upward! The worst case scenario here is losing Google traffic. Not a huge loss on today's web considering the wealth of traffic sources and various means of reaching your market.

      My advice: build up your assets - your email list, your social channels, your community involvement, your connections, etc. It's called "google-proofing" your business. πŸ˜‰

  26. Good to know that the post was a hoax. Most of it didn't make any sense! I was ready to start a revolution.

    I agree with your last comment. The fact that it was a hoax still doesn't change the fact that Google has been doing some questionable things in my mind and I'm tired of trying to recover from their poor choices. As you know, I got affected by one of their updates (not a manual penalty, just hit by the algorithm), and my traffic has never recovered. I still don't know why. I've tried the things Google said to do in their articles, what others said to do, and nothing has helped. For some of the keywords I'm interested in and was trying to rank for, the pages Google is choosing to show are dumbfounding. Very little content, probably no more than 200 words total on some of that pages in the top 10. So, I'm tired of trying. I really don't care much about Google anymore. It's been long time to move on. I'll do whatever the heck I think is the right thing to do for my website and my market and will ignore Google. It's time we stop thinking that Google owns the world. We need to just do what we want to do. And so the whole marketing conversation needs to change, as it has been recently. Someday Google will wake up, make things right, and I still won't care about them.

  27. What a great discussion here, Lynn! The moral of the story is DIVERSIFY as you said. Google has their own agenda now and it's all about their bottom line. I'm so on the fence with guest blogging because on one hand I get the low quality guest blogging problem, but I also like Ann Smarty, what she stands for and she's published a few high quality posts on my blog.

    Just to show you how far the bullying/paranoia has gone, someone even suggested I remove her guest post from my site so I could eliminate any affiliation with her name/site.

    Sorry, but I cannot let the bullying go that far. Why would I remove a quality post that I believe was worth a mention on my blog? See this is where it has gone too far and I hate the paranoia Google has caused.

    I agree that G could have handled this better. With Ann's reputation, they could have worked with her to come up with a better solution.... especially since she never encouraged black hat techniques. This was indeed a PR move and it's a shame Ann had to suffer.

  28. Hey Lynn. It's been a while since I dropped by to say! πŸ™‚

    I enjoyed the entirety of this post, comments and all, and it just makes me think that maybe I'm on the right least for me.

    What I have done within the past year is to put aside all the "knowledge and tactics" I had about SEO and what the Big G wanted, and I just concentrated on writing the best content I could write as if I was talking to a friend over coffee...or in my case, tea!

    I also started building up positive relationships in my "niche" with bloggers who I enjoyed reading regardless if they were in my niche or not. I've met some wonderful writers online and they have become virtual friends, which is quiet nice! Suffice it to say, things are working out nicely and it is literally all organic. I don't even think about the Big G anymore when I am writing or starting a new blog. I just think of people.

    Hope that made sense and thanks as always for an insightful post...and blog. I hope all is going well with you and yours.

    Take care and all the best.


  29. Paul Davis says

    This is a ridiculous scheme on Google's part. I understand what they're trying to achieve but they're going the completely wrong way about it. By preventing guests from commenting, they are not only going to heavily reduce the amount of traffic that a blog receives but they are also going to discourage a community from forming.

  30. Teena Hughes says

    Hey Lynne, long time no chat!

    You've hit the nail on the head, my friend.

    As I keep telling my clients, friends and associates, "Stop trying to please Mister Gooooogle! He's changing his story every five minutes! Making people dance like crazy puppets out of control! Just ignore him and build a website you're proud of, full of great content people love to read and share."

    There are some wonderful comments here, and it's good to see many people have stopped play the Crazy G Game!

    Have a gorgeous day Lynne!

  31. This is just their latest. They have hurt my business more than once. So, I STOPPED using Google as my search engine. On one computer I use bing and the other yahoo. I stopped my Adwords. I refuse to give them any of my $. Yes, I have had to get creative but it is paying off.

  32. Hi Lynn, I've read so many posts on this topic in recent weeks, but I think yours is probably one of the most thought out. You have made some great points here. The act of penalizing Ann Smarty was for sure a stunt to prove a point, and yet in some small way it has done her a favour - if anyone didn't know who she was they sure do now! I for one welcome a crack down on spammy guest posts as long as the quality ones are not penalized.

    • Thank you, Kostas! I agree with you of course. I get tired of guest post emails that are irrelevant, or from people I have no connection or relation with, etc. I get inundated with them, like everyone else.

      If you take Google out of the picture, Guest Blogging is such a great way to get in front of an active readership, and to connect with other bloggers in your niche. It's a shame this has been tainted, like so many other legit marketing strategies for ambitious online business owners with a lot to share.

      • Not sure why I didn't read this before. Now I know where to point when my clients are worried about Guest Blogging. I guest blog because I like to, and of course because it gets my name out there. Since I am a ghostwriter that can be difficult to do.

        Guest blogging has given me great ways to link to my work, which I link to from my own website, or when people want samples, and offers a nice byline. I don't see it as any different from when someone writes for a magazine, and gets their byline and the little box at the end of the article to learn more.

        I was affected back, gosh, 2005? with having websites earning great money with Google Ads, to earning zero overnight, due to Google's algorithm change. Since then I do not rely on Google all that much. I just write for my audience, and let the chips fall where they may.

  33. Hi Lynn,

    Google should not take actions on most popular websites. Every person who wants to start their online business or blogging, they should think about it many times. Because one little mistake can harm their business.

    I was in love with Google but now...... πŸ™


  34. I agree with you that I disagree with what Google was doing to MyBlogGuest.

    After all, guest blogging isn't only done to get backlinks, or to backlink spam.

    What about the large number of people who are using guest blogging as a genuine way to get their content out there on other blogs?

    As a means of giving out good content, and getting some genuine traffic and readership?

    Anyways, good to see Ann got a ton of publicity as a side-result of it.

  35. This seems really harsh. I just went back to MyBlogGuest to have a look through the history of the incident. Are there more incidents since then on guest blogging and other guest blogging sites that were affected?
    What is everyone's stand on guest blogging now? Ok to do in selected niches on high authority sites?

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