PSA: The Topics You Include On Your Blog Must Please Google
Have you thought about branching out in different directions for your blog content? It might not be a great idea if you’re worried about staying on Google’s good side. No, it would appear that you need to stay focused on what you’re already known for, or at least stay within the confines of what Google thinks your site is supposed to be. That is when it comes to having guest authors on your site.
This seems to be the message Google is sending with a recent Twitter exchange between Matt Cutts and a respected SEO who found himself penalized.
Is Google going too far with this stuff? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Wouldn’t you think that you’d want guest authors for different topics that you’re not used to writing about? You know, like experts on said topics? It would seem that if you do this, you’re going to want to make sure their links are nofollowed if you want to avoid Google’s wrath. The problem with this is that these experts have less of an incentive to write a guest post if they’re not going to get any credit for their links. I guess that’s the point as far as Google is concerned, and for spammy posts, perhaps it makes sense, but what about legitimate posts? These are cases when some would argue that those links SHOULD count for something.
If you write an article for a reputable site, and that reputable site vouches for your article enough to publish it, then why shouldn’t you get some credit for having your link on that site? Isn’t that a signal that you are an authority, and that your site should reflect that?
More people are getting manual penalties related to guest posts. SEO Doc Sheldon got one specifically for running one post that Google deemed to not be on-topic enough for his site. Even though it was about marketing. Maybe there were more, but that’s the one Google pointed out.
The message he received (via Search Engine Roundtable) was:
Google detected a pattern of unnatural, artificial, deceptive or manipulative outbound links on pages on this site. This may be the result of selling links that pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
He shared this in an open letter to Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, et al. Cutts responded to that letter with this:
@DocSheldon what "Best Practices For Hispanic Social Networking" has to do with an SEO copywriting blog? Manual webspam notice was on point.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 24, 2014
To which Sheldon responded:
@mattcutts My blog is about SEO, marketing, social media, web dev…. I'd say it has everything to do – or I wouldn't have run it
— DocSheldon (@DocSheldon) March 25, 2014
Perhaps that link removal craze isn’t so irrational. Irrational on Google’s part perhaps, but who can really blame webmasters for succumbing to Google’s pressure to dictate what content they run on their sites when they rely on Google for traffic and ultimately business.
@mattcutts So we can take this to mean that just that one link was the justification for a sitewide penalty? THAT sure sends a message! 😉
— DocSheldon (@DocSheldon) March 25, 2014
Here’s the article in question. It’s about best practices for Hispanic social networking. It’s on a blog called Doc Sheldon’s Clinic: “Content Strategy, SEO Copywriting, Tools, Tips & Tutorials.” Sheldon admitted it wasn’t the highest quality post in the world, but also added that it wasn’t totally without value, and noted that it wasn’t affected by the Panda update (which is supposed to handle the quality part algorithmically).
Cutts’ tweet didn’t indicate that the problem was with the quality of the post (which might have been a fairer point), but that a post on that subject didn’t belong on his blog. Combine that with the crackdown on guest posting, and a lot of blogs and bloggers might be in for some very interesting times in the near future.
I have a feeling that link removal craze is going to be ramping up a lot more.
Ann Smarty, who runs MyBlogGuest weighed in on the conversation:
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) March 25, 2014
Update: As a reader pointed out in the comments, Google seems to be sending webmasters contradictory messages about “unrelated” content. Google’s John Mueller recently said this about the Disavow tool: “Just to be completely clear on this: you do not need to disavow links that are from sites on other topics.”
That carries the connotation that Google isn’t that concerned about links coming from unrelated sites. So why are they concerned about content on your site that they feel is unrelated to other content on your site? And frankly, who are they to decide what kind of content mix you can offer?
Maybe this is all being blown out of proportion, but that was a pretty bold tweet from Cutts. People discussing it over at Inbound.org think it’s downright “insane”. There are also some good points in that discussion about nofollow links telling users and search engines two different things, which Google typically advises against.
What do you make of this mess? Discuss.
Image via YouTube