Google Takes Action On Guest Blogging

    March 19, 2014
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Google has been warning webmasters about guest blogging for quite a while, but now, the search engine is getting serious.

Will going after “guest blogging networks” improve Google’s search results? Let us know what you think.

Head of webspam Matt Cutts tweeted early Wednesday morning that Google has taken action on a large guest blog network, and reminded people about “the spam risks of guest blogging”.

That link points to a post from January on Matt’s personal blog where he proclaimed that “guest blogging is done.” He later clarified that he meant guest blogging specifically for SEO.

He didn’t specify which network Google just took action on, but Pushfire CEO Rae Hoffman suggested that MyBlogGuest appeared to be the “winner”.

Still, from where we’re sitting, the site is in the top three for its name, appearing only under its own Twitter and Facebook pages.

MyGuestBlog owner Ann Smarty confirmed, however, that her site was indeed penalized.

The site promises on its homepage, “We don’t allow in any way to manipulate Google Rankings or break any Google rules.” It does promise bloggers a way to build links, which everyone knows is a key signal in Google’s ranking algorithm (Cutts recently said links are still “super important”).

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land points out that Smarty wrote a blog post after Cutts’ January post, saying her network wouldn’t nofollow links. She wrote:

MyBlogGuest is NOT going to allow nofollow links or paid guest blogging (even though Matt Cutts seems to be forcing us to for whatever reason).

Instead we will keep promoting the pure and authentic guest blogging concept we believe in.

She went on to note that she is an SEO who stopped depending on organic rankings a long time ago.

“I believe in the Internet and its ability of giving little people (like myself) the power of being heard. I can say, I don’t care about Google,” she wrote. “I don’t think Google is THE Internet.”

She’s right, and one can’t help but admire her attitude, but one also can’t help but wonder how many of those utilizing the network have that attitude.

The phrase, “Play with fire, and you get burnt” also comes to mind. Google isn’t the Internet, but how much are people spending time and effort writing guest blog posts depending on it?

Apparently Smarty does care about Google after all. Bill Hartzer writes that she told him before Cutts made the announcement, “I really hope that they don’t target MyBlogGuest. There are other guest blogging networks that should targeted, such as PostJoint, a paid guest blogging network. MylLogGuest is not a paid network.”

It stands to reason that Google is going to be going after more of these types of sites the way it has been doing with other link networks.

Smarty, a well-respected SEO veteran, and MyGuestBlog are getting some support from the webmaster community.

Do you think MyBlogGuest deserved a Google penalty? Should Google be this concerned with guest blogging? Let us know in the comments.

Note: This article has been updated since Smarty confirmed the penalty and more has emerged.

Image via YouTube

  • Google is Evil

    Matt Cutts is such a smug c*nt.

    • Anon

      Couldn’t have put it better myself.

    • http://alex-hemedinger.blogspot.com/ Alexander Hemedinger


  • wertwert

    Google chooses who wins and loses… Kind of sad that Google has to keep changing the rules to target sites it disagrees with. What about free speech, Matt? As far as I am concerned who you link to and why is the pinnacle of free speech on the web. Why does google think it has any right to dictate that with financial repercussions for websites that disagree? I hope the courts step in and put Google in their place as far as dictating what websites can and can’t be penalized for.

    • Anon

      If any company was acting like Google in the off-line world they would already be broken up and have their market dominance reduced. A corporation should never be able to damage and manipulate the incomes of millions of people without accountability.

      Google has elected itself as an internet police force, with no responsibilities, no accountability, no oversight and no constraint. This is akin to Bank of America owning and running the Federal Reserve for profit.

    • Emily

      Google can’t hurt your free speech; as she said, Google is not the internet. But if you attempt to “work the system” dishonestly, they have the responsibility to fill the gaps. Every time a security system gets hacked, we have to upgrade it and change it a little. It’s the same thing.

      • Chris

        And who determines “Dishonesty”? The last time I checked there was only ONE judge known to man in this world and it certainly isn’t named “Google”!

  • kenneth

    now, how the fuck we are going to rank our webs on first page?? I mean to say what should we do to make our site popular??? Google has not left an option except to pay them for ads.. and everyone is quite sleepy and silent about this.. :-O

    • Daniel Ripoll

      @kenneth, that’s just it. Google doesn’t want you to be able to “make” your website rank. They’ll take great measures to ensure the integrity of their search results. Top ranking in SERPS is not a right, it’s a privilege bestowed upon those making a worthwhile contribution to the larger community.

      They have left everyone an option. The way to make your sites popular is to create great content and/or create a great product/service that people (especially blog publishers and social influencers) want to share with their audiences voluntarily.

      People share links to websites when it makes them look good to do so. People will help make your site popular because of the social currency they accumulate in the act of sharing.

      • http://www.kickstartsearch.com/ Jessie Fadayel

        Well then how does Google make the distinction between the two? What if a blogger just wants to share my product and links my site but then his site gets penalized for it? People will start to be too scared to link to anything in a blog post because of all these rules…

        • Anon

          Exactly, and when people are too scared to link to things they like small businesses have no choice but to pay for advertising with Google.

          This is why Google didn’t announce which site it attacked, because it scares everyone instead.

          It’s devious, insidious, corrupt and typically cut-throat corporate. The old saying of “don’t be evil” has been changed to “be as evil as possible, whatever makes us money!”

          • Daniel Ripoll

            Anon, see my comment above. It’s just not true. You’re never going to get anywhere playing the victim. Just focus on identifying gaps in your user’s knowledge, and filling those gaps with worthwhile content. Rinse and repeat. Do that, and you’ll earn top rank.

        • Daniel Ripoll

          It’s tricky to make this distinction. The process is far from perfect. But there are obviously patterns that they can use to detect fraudulent link schemes.

          When reputable publishers who create strong content that engages readers decide to link to useful resources, that’s the web at its finest. No penalties there. The reason MBG got into trouble was that most of the blogs were very low quality spam blogs run by people who have no interest in making a worthwhile contribution to the internet. Google figures, and rightly so, that many of these links are paid.

          The biggest problem I see in the SEO community is that everyone feels like a victim all the time. That Google hates the little guy and favors big business, or that it wanted very one to buy its ads. This is a bunch of B.S., and frankly, I’m sick of it.

          People need to sack up and take a look in the mirror. Ask yourself if your product really kicks ass and adds value to a set of users. .

      • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

        Unique content gets you better traffic… shame it’s not true.

        Take a look at the search results for any product and you’ll see only the biggest sites with less content beating the smaller sites with more content.

        Google blatantly favors corporations over smaller businesses, no matter how hard you work to obey their rules.

        • Alex

          BlokeToys you are 100 right here… nothing to add.

        • Daniel Ripoll

          Another victim. Geez this is depressing. It’s just not true. If big biz appears atop search it’s because they have the resources to do things right. They’re earning links because they have the dollars to buy the audiences attention and create awareness. Blame capitalism for that, not Google.

          Everyone sitting around talking shit about Google is not going to put any money in your pocket. Get creative and figure out an angle that the big businesses in your space aren’t exploiting. You have the advantage of being quick and nimble, to create something unique that a small set of early adopters will rally around because of its novelty. Big business can’t easily do that. They’re full of BAs with cushy jobs who are too afraid of losing their jobs to do anything risky. That’s our advantage.

          And to a term from Simon Sinek, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Think hard about why you’re in the business you’re in and tell the world that reason. Don’t look for people who need what you have. Look for people who believe what you believe.

      • http://alex-hemedinger.blogspot.com/ Alexander Hemedinger

        It’s like they are forcing you to spend on their Paid Search area. #sad

      • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

        @danielripoll:disqus, That sounds very noble, but the reality is based on Google’s algo, even if a small biz were to create great content equal to those of the big boys, they can’t compete. Google favors the big boys regardless, so this idea is flawed. The small guys have to work twice as hard just to compete.

        • Daniel Ripoll

          Steve, see my comment to Blaketoys above.

    • http://www.couchespouradultes.fr/ Patricia

      The only way is to be a big corporation and by sponsored reviews without the word “sponsored”… google has killed small companies voluntarely because they are the one who are more likely to buy adwords ( big corporations don’t since everybody already knows them ). that is a “smart evil” move from their shareholders and whoever thought of bringing even more money in their Bahamas accounts. ( useless money that does good to no one except a computer storing a big fat number ).

    • http://www.bloketoys.co.uk/ BlokeToys.co.uk

      Simple answer?
      Become a millionaire overnight, then invite some of the Google staff out for dinner and talk about how you can beat the competition into total submission with their help, guaranteeing you first place over a 100 pages with comprehensive and unique content.

      A month later they’ll manipulate their algorithms to support your corporate interests and theirs, destroying another hundred smaller businesses and sending the traffic to their new rich friend.

  • Why?

    This one makes no sense. MyBlogGuest is a matchmaker, matching sites that want guest posts with sites that place guest posts. No money kind changes hands, the only value provided is the quality of the content. Both the content creator and the content taker have to manually agree that the placement makes sense for them.

    That is exactly how all freelance journalism works – you have great content, you pitch it to editors, and you get your article placed in their magazine / newspaper.

    If that isn’t a pure editorial endorsement, what is?

    • Mtm

      Because they were forcing publishers to only use the posts with DoFollow links and if you made them NoFollow they banned you from their site which means manipulating the google rankings. They should have left it up to publishers to decide how they would want the links to appear to Google Bots.

      This has been spoken about by Matt Cutts since 2011 and is really no surprise. MBG is just the first one to go down especially after their responses to a user on VentureBreak. I think everyone expects more of these types of blog congregations to fall as evidence comes out that they are forcing DoFollow links.

    • Daniel Ripoll

      I’m somewhat surprised (but not completely) that they took action on MBG.
      Ann has always worked hard to ensure that the network participants follow the rules. No pay to pay schemes exist on MBG. That said, it is a tool that can be used for larger scale guest blogging (for SEO), which in turn works to manipulate Google’s search result

      I really don’t get why they penalized MBG but not Post Joint which has been very open about breaking the rules.

      At Content Blvd we’re getting out of guest blogging completely. But for entirely different reasons. Unless one is willing to allow pay for play, there just isn’t a fit between what marketers and publishers want at a large scale.

  • http://www.devdigital.com/design DevDigital

    Excellent post Chris..thanks for sharing detail post on guest blogging and updates..!!

  • JH

    More crap where at one time were were told this was a good thing and now it isn’t

  • http://overallbeauty.com/ Kim Snyder

    It to the point that I got no clue what to do. The list of things you can’t do are getting longer and longer. I am a blogger, I am I to stop putting links to the products that I get for review for free? I am a website owner who sends product out for review, am I to do stop doing that as well? Honest blognetworks are going down, article directories are already gone.. What next? I do not understand the differences between noFollow and doFollow links.. Get post Chris.. I am glad I get webpronews emails..

    • John

      Agreed. How does Google know the difference between a link I post I post on my blog because I want to and like the site on the other end, and one for which I might be paid to post? The obvious solution is to just tag everything with a nofollow … but that too has larger implications …

      • http://overallbeauty.com/ Kim Snyder

        I do sponsored blog posts by a very well known media site. Am I to stop those as well? Its all about natural linking and natural content and stopping spammers, I get that. But for those of us who are honest, we are getting caught in the cross-fire so to speak..

  • Chris London

    Jessie Fadayel says it best, “Well then how does Google make the distinction between the two?” More importantly how do we distinguish between what might get us penalized and what doesn’t? Many of us try to write share worthy content, but part of that is reaching out to build your network and for me that includes guest posting.

  • http://2014Taxes.org/ Steve Patterson

    From what I can tell, publishers were penalized. Even if they only published an article years ago. Makes no sense since guest blogging wasn’t an issue for Google two years ago.

  • http://www.couchespouradultes.fr/ Patricia

    I am very happy to have discovered myblogguest, i was looking for such a platform in the US. Thank matt cutts for the free advertising, he’s awesome :)

  • Kathy

    They have created the ultimate money machine. They have basically figured out every possible way to sell ADWORDS – make it impossible for small businesses to rank so they have to BUY ADWORDS. But ADWORDS has become so expensive for some niches that NEW small businesses can’t afford it. Explain to me how a new plumber can afford an average cost per click of $50?

    I agree someone -someday is going to take Google down – but then again -can you really take down one of the richest companies in the world?

    The whole situation really pisses me off in so many ways.

  • michael

    It’s like how doctors and scientists change every year on what is good and not good to eat or drink. But in this case, Google is the only doctor calling the shots and we are forced to listen. I have always felt guest blogging should be about providing even better content than you would use for your own site. I think a clean up will help with this.

  • Anon

    It’s great to see the anti-Google revolution really picking up speed amongst webmasters.

    I hope Matt is paying attention – people are turning against the corporation in massive numbers, seeing how the corporate world is destroying small businesses with Google’s help.

    Now we just need to persuade the general public to start using the competition and reducing Google’s power and reach.

  • Scott

    It seems that Google has gone past the fight against spammers and has adopted a more arrogant, I know what you should read, type of attitude. Clearly, they don’t want websites making money off of there organic searches. They are simply trying to force everyone to advertise. However, if everyone started using another search engine and ad revenue started to drop, Google would have to change their ways. They will continue to penalize sites as a way to manipulate search engine rankings and protect their advertisers until they are forced to do otherwise.

    • Anon

      The only way I can see things changing is if webmasters start actively promoting Bing or Yahoo to their visitors, and explain the reasons why.

      Even if every webmaster gives up on Google and stops using it, there are still millions of others out there who have no clue what Google is doing to small businesses all over the world. We need to inform the public and help them to make an ethical choice.

      If the tide is going to truly turn against Google, it needs the support of the wider public. As webmasters, we can help to inform them of the damage they are doing to small businesses by using Google.

  • http://www.clicktapmedia.com/ Click Tap Media

    Lets all just go guest blogging crazy for a month and link to google adwords using as much exact match anchors as we can possibly get away with.

  • http://rumblinglankan.com/ Nishadha Silva

    I think Google was left with no choice. I think most people forget that Matt Cutts said Guest blogging still has it’s purpose. He was against people using it as a way to manipulate search results. And if you allow keyword rich do follow links in guest posts that is exactly what you’re doing.
    I think MBG should have been a bit more flexible. Give the publishers the option of setting no follow or not. And let the content providers decide whether they want the the exposure or the back link.
    As with most things in SEO guest posts were also abused. A few penalties like this will discourage content writer and blog owners of using this and then guest blogging will be used for what it’s supposed to do in the first place.

    • Scott

      No, Google is the one manipulating search engine rankings. I don’t see Google penalizing AP or UPI for publishing the same content on hundreds of web sites. Yet, they kick off the small publisher that is trying to grow with guest posts. Not every publisher can afford to pay for journalists. It doesn’t mean their content is worth any less.

      • http://rumblinglankan.com/ Nishadha Silva

        Google favors brands, there is no doubt about that. Also if a small publisher is looking to grow then guest blogging is one of the best ways to go about it as well. Just make sure to add nofollow to the links.

  • Lem Steyn

    it complete threat to webmaster right. we all do business and target user to increase our growth. But Google is only supporting paid advertise through his own channel (ad words), if i do own a small scale industry and built quality product, still i will ran out of business. Almost 40% of my fellow small scale e-business has closed 50% cut their cost by firing few webmaster and not renewed their less profitable product. Google is partial and shameful steps taken by such repudiated search engine.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    In other words, if you want to be safe, nofollow every link, even if it’s not a guest post. Google is slowly killing the Internet. Content and links are the core fundamentals of the Internet. Now Google is telling us how and who to link to.

    • Anon

      That’s the goal of Google, to destroy all competition until it is the only source of information, scraping sites to present stolen information as its own, forcing small companies to spend their entire ad budget with them just to try to compete for the scraps left over from their corporate friends.

      Last night I did a mobile search on one of the products we used to rank in position 1 for five years ago, and I got six Google ads, two YouTube videos, the three biggest corporations and a Wiki page. We have ten pages of content for this item, all in excess of 1000 words with informative descriptions, customer reviews and so on, and we can’t get anywhere near these manipulated results.

  • Bob Teal

    Funniest thing is Someone is paying this guy big money to do this. Google is affecting real businesses weather they admit it or not Matt is making money for putting some guys out of business. Our traffic from Google is at its lowest ever in 15 years. We do not make money to add bells and whistles to our site in the hope it will impress a so called search engine and they will send people our way that want to save money on packaging supplies. Not very exciting but someone has to box up all that stuff and if it costs 90 cents for a box we sell for 10 cents well the customer pays more and we cant save people money at 10 cents a box if we have to do everything Google wants us to do or pay them for PPC. At our site customers save more than we make so would you suggest we raise prices on our customers or else we will be put out of business. Yes that is what Google wants in practice. Be sure to thank Matt and shop at http://www.gbepackaging.com because Google doesn’t want you to save money on packaging supplies or send us traffic so we will do it any way we can.

    • Durant Imboden

      “Google doesn’t want you to save money on packaging supplies or send us traffic so we will do it any way we can.”

      Including comment spam?

  • Judy Asman

    Cutts has his work cut out for him. Seems every other week since the Hummingbird release he’s announced Google is cracking down on something or someone. Yet, where’s the follow through? There are link farms whose articles still rank and businesses gaming the system with multiple sites and their own brand of link farming. What’s acceptable and what’s not? Check it. And in this case, does it really boil down to MyGuestBlog not spending enough in Google pay per click? Confused as to why they were singled out? They’re either a threat to Google or…they”re a threat to Google.

  • Dolce vita

    How is Google Adwords not a pay scheme. Google is a malevalent dictator and Matt Cutts is a paid lackey.

  • http://www.webmaisterpro.com/ Kaloyan Banev

    My social network which offer blogging, was partially penalized too. It went from PR3 to PR0, 2 days ago. It is pretty bad, when they penalize websites manually. For fuck sake, my social network is non-commercial.

  • Peter

    They are just being ridicolous! The penalized my site, even though I never posted any guest post. It was registred on MBG, because I planned to offer guest posts months ago, but I never had a chance to find something good. They penalized my site anyway. I wonder what community site will be next.

  • Jacob Maslow

    This is fraud. Sites publish posts in exchange for links. Author puts in the work to produce quality content that the site benefits from. They cant benefit fromt he article and then remove the links. That is theft. It is also fraud to encourage or induce someone to commit fraud. Google endorsed quality guest posts and matt cutts has published guest posts himself.
    I have five kids and my wife does therapy with pre school children. I have written tons of guest posts about classic toys on behalf of a client that I know well. I have received assistance from an accomplished author that is a parent. The articles went on parenting sites.

    That was well within the guidelines. Further, what if I want to have my own blog? Will my employer get in trouble if my posts show my background? People want to know who I am and what I do. What if I am working in a hospital and have a strong opinion about Obamacare? How could the site not mention my background and the hospital I work in? Will the hospital get penalized because google doesnt want me talking on other’s blogs?

  • Teknet Marketing

    what gets me about this is that @seosmarty is offering a quality service designed to improve the quality of online content and user experience with no payments involved. How can they be penalised when Google allows other networks to advertise through Adwords obvious paid for services offering lower quality alternatives! Do we take it @mattcutts that if you pay Google to advertise your services then you are immune? you would not want to upset your paying customers now would you!

    • Bob Teal

      Good question if you pay Google for PPC will they promote you no matter what you sell besides porn. It seems that there is no free lunch anywhere anymore. Is it all about money. I think so.

  • lauralouise90

    I do think it’s a shame that MBG got the penalty and we all know that Google likes to make an example of sites… Once again this has backfired on Google as people are just seeing it as a huge PR Disaster. Laura @ Ricemedia

  • Bitcoin-like search engine

    We need a decentralized search engine just like Bitcoin does

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    Let’s be real. Most guest bloggers would not be guest blogging if the links were nofollow. What incentive would they have giving someone else great content? I can understand if the blog is pulling in a ton of traffic, but otherwise, there is no incentive for people to guest post on smaller blogs.

  • http://www.sbwebcenter.com/ Steve B

    Google has made it very difficult for small businesses to compete for search traffic.

    First of all, the big brands already have authority and link popularity, so they already have the upper hand.

    Secondly, they’ve taken away link building methods, so the small guys have little option.

    They say create great content and people will link to you naturally. OK fine, but how will people find that content if your site isn’t known? And, do you realize how much work and time will have to go into that amazing content just to get a few backlinks? And even then, there is no guarantee of success after you’ve invested hundreds of hours creating that content. And guess what, after all that hard work and a few natural backlinks, what if Google determines that those links are “paid” for in their eyes?

    On the other hand, an authoritative website can simply write a 500 word article, slap it on their blog and call it a day. The next morning, they’ll have hundreds or thousands of social media likes, and hundreds of backlinks because they already have a loyal audience.

    Yeah…really fair.

  • http://www.Date2Relate.Com/ Date2Relate

    It’s a real shame that it’s come down to this, especially when we’re only getting started! Thanks for posting.