PSA: The Topics You Include On Your Blog Must Please Google

By: Chris Crum - March 27, 2014

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?

It’s no secret that Google has launched an attack against guest blogging. Since penalizing MyBlogGuest earlier this month, Google has predictably reignited the link removal hysteria.

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:

To which Sheldon responded:

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.

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:

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 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

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • John Britsios

    Chris, if I recal, in a recent Google Webmasters Hangout on G+, John Mueller clearly stated that having links from irrelevant sites should not be a problem. Going back to the case of Doc Sheldon and the tweets about him of Matt Cutts, I see significant contradictions.

    I know what the truth is, but how can webmasters handle such misleading information provided by employees of the same company?

    • Chris Crum

      He said something similar in a forum post relating to the Disavow tool.

  • Tyler

    Google pretty much decided that couldn’t figure out which links are paid so they put in a blanket penalty. This obtuse move has created far more confusion than good. I am hesitant to even link to good resources now in fear of hurting them.

  • Kathleen Johnson

    Mico Management at eBay resulted in almost an entire population of hostile Sellers – look at the myriad of eBay boards to vouch for that stance.

    Micro management, aka socialism personified, is not going to create an amicable environment at Google either. Socialism has never produced a thriving economic community – so, why on earth do Google think it is going to fly in their paradigm?.

    As a very small website owner with a very small blog – I am already not on the horizon for Google and, my blog at Backwater Studio is already eclectic, as is my website.

    I have given up, quite honestly, trying to tow the line. I cant, anymore, even define where the line is. A website with an email list and direct interaction via those means with customers seems to be a viable working option these days.

    Google is not mutually inclusive, has become elitist, and an unattainable social class.

  • JH

    Google is nothing but lies

  • macgizmoguy

    “Pigeon-Holing” a site’s theme is something I’ve seen Google do before. So this may not be unique to guest blogging. Say you have an established site about Coffee Makers, then later branch out into Tea Brewers and Hot Cocoa machines. The latter topics and keywords may NEVER get traction even if they’re less competitive. Google algos have decided you’re about Coffee. Period. This seems common in aged sites with high commercial intent. (The Pigeon Update?)

  • Harald

    Just another demonstration of Google’s arrogance. It won’t take long until they dictate us which business we are allowed to be in and how to manage it.

    Instead of complaining about their inacceptable behaviour we all should simply stop using them. The problem is that many of these guys out there that are constantly arguing with Google’s “god-like” manner still earn a lot money with exactly Google’s way of fooling people. If Google were rational and people were able to understand what they are doing, a lot of these so-called SEO experts would have to look for other jobs.

    • Robert Goolag

      Slavery of a new type comes to mind… More needs to be underlined to get people to rebel against it, like more businesses going under by the thousands, maybe.

  • AzMandius

    The days Google was doing the search are gone, now its a gargantuan bulk, destroying something every time it makes a move.

  • Deb

    I don’t think it is Google’s right to tell bloggers what they can blog about and have it affect them negatively. I have a section on my blog I was thinking about reviving but now, I don’t know what to do. Sometimes you just want to write about something that’s unrelated to what your primary business is to put some variety in your day. Why is that wrong?

  • Mr Speedy

    Why we all talk about a google, what google says? The title should impress people, it has to make them to go inside and read the content itself. guest blogging is good when you have an expert talking about cons and pros of what you said, isnt it?

  • Joe

    Google has so much information on everyone in the world it is just nuts. They can dictate what people believe. If you type something in the Google search engine and results come up, people simply believe those results are accurate information. How long before this corporation dictates people’s beliefs and even the news they receive?

    My advice is to stop using Google. There are plenty of alternatives. I’ve changed the search preferences on all of my family computers and other devices to Bing. I tell everyone I know to do the same, and make an effort to tell people to Bing something rather than Google it or search it. Most of Google’s revenue comes from their advertising, if they start losing real market share they will have to adjust their operations.

    BTW, if you want to see how Google really works, look up a little company VRNG. Google has been using their patents for their adwords. The court and patent office have ruled that Google is in violation, but they continue to infringe. The court ruled not long ago that they are now willfully infringing and ordered an ongoing royalty payment (which Google is not paying, they are still fighting it rather than pay someone to use technology that is rightfully theirs). So Google, who preaches all this hippie love crap operates no differently than other major corporations – they are fighting this lawsuit tooth and nail, and only have been able to drag it out this long due to their deep pockets.

    So what happens when Google controls the vast majority of the information people have access to? How far away are we from very fast facial recognition software and can we trust them not to use it in conjunction with their Glass project? Will they be able to collect information on the general public who is making a decision not to use Google and give them their information?

    • MARK

      What is your age? 3? Webmaster represents 0.0000001% of Google users. Rest of the population doesn’t know any other search engine other than Google. There is nothing we can do.

      • Numus Software

        I know for a fact there is something huge in development that Google does not have a clue about. Nobody has a clue about.. all these big companies always dominate for 10 -15 years and then something completely revolutionary appears. Sky did not invent TV and Acer did not invent the laptop.. the list goes on.. i can not think of a single company that has managed to dominate a specific market for over 15 years. The new WEB ID laws that are embedded in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) legislation will fundamentally alter the internet anyway. Google is a dinosaur trawling through library books. The world is about to change.. .Actually my esteemed college has just pointed out that the exception is Microsoft!

    • Mr Speedy

      Probably you are right, but i guess bing and yahoo both use the same path, Bing share is about 2-3% and people use google on daily basis.

  • Cliff Newman

    I write story line about my life experiences, I had a goggle adwords account,
    story line was about my 30 years at the most dangerous job in the world, there
    was much murder and bad stuff, Italian hitmen, assassins, crazed raging drug
    lords with machine guns, mad screaming Muslim terrorists and even though I
    wrote the truth, goggles robots closed my account without asking me why. Goggle may for the moment be # 1 on the Internet but they are not number one. Compared
    to all the books, magazines, letters and blogs published, goggle doesn’t even
    register on the horizon.

  • Daniel Lofaso

    I too got an “outbound links” penalty on the site of one of my clients. I agree that Google is applying blanket penalties to sites where there might be one questionable instance of a contextually irrelevant outbound link. As we know Google has tested versions of their algorithm without link data; it sucked. So why are they making link building such as sin? This is total BS and is preventing great authors and website owners from doing what Google is supposed to be all about: helping people find really great content.

  • Larry Ullrick

    It’s apparent that Google is getting big enough that they can’t keep everyone in the proper loop. Either there’s inaccurate information going around, too many want-to-be chiefs giving different interpretations about what is relevant. The latter would certainly tie in with what John Britsios wrote about, how can webmasters handle such misleading information provided by employees of the same company? That being said, I’d conclude that it’s a rats nest of incompetents.

  • george smith

    Yes, I do think when your dealing with a monopoly it’s difficult to knock the heck out of them, but frankly, I did “hear”, that many small business owners are ganging up on the giant for a lawsuit penalizing their bottom lines by manipulating the outcome rather than naturally allowing business to naturally flow, rather keeping some business at ground level. Do I think it’s wrong? No, they are the giant that made the big boy plan, so if your not happy move to Yahoo or some other extension of your business. Do television, and other media venue. it’s a GOOGLE WORLD! As a small business owner though, I think going out a buying a brick and mortar at an outlet (building near), would be more beneficial. I’ve been over five years and my bed and bath store isn’t doing enough business to feed our family that’s for sure.

    • John Bottomley

      I share your pain. There will not arise a company to challenge google, that ship has sailed. I feel that search is what it once was, an open opportunity for anyone to be seen and heard.
      No longer.
      If a man with a gun standing in front of a building can control who can enter or leave, and no one stops him, that gunman owns that building. Does not matter whose name is on the deed. Google is that man and the internet is that building.
      There is an answer, but in this politically divisive climate, it will never happen.

  • VizFact

    Sheer madness. However, we’ve taken the position that the only people who will dictate how we run our site, is us.

  • Emali von Einem

    “We are Google. No more porn for you.”

  • ibrremote

    I find it annoying to have some absurd Google algorithm advise me my post will only be visible, but that I can appeal to show it to the world.

  • Numus Software

    Am I allowed to comment? Is Google going to punish comments from one site to another as well? If the blog is a good quality article (and surely Google knows if it has value!) then surely if it has value then its not penalized, even if it has links or not… if its a pile of *** then Google penalizes the page / and links… isn’t this what Google is supposed to be doing anyway? Looking for quality content and promoting it while demoting bad content.. regardless of what site it is on!.. I actually do believe Google is loosing its focus.. it will not be long before something completely new arrives and blows Google off the top. It happens to every single big company without exception..

  • Durango CO Photographer

    Will Google always notify you if your site has been penalized due to guest bloggers? I recently exchanged blog articles with a local wedding planner (I am a wedding photographer). My site has completely disappeared from the google search engines and I can’t figure out why. It used to be on the first page for my main key words.

  • John Bottomley

    I believe that Google is misrepresenting its Google-profit-engine as a search engine and the lie is ‘brand’. I always look at what is said against what is done to expose a lie, and you will find that commercial keywords in organic search are no longer going to sites about that keyword. The organic search results now offer large gas giants that offer that keyword in an ancillary fashion. These companies are also large advertisers. Gee, what a surprise.
    Google does not want your store to make money on your keywords, Google wants its store to make money on your keywords. To that end, it has been setting up an algorithm where the small guy always looses, and it will blame the small guy for losing.
    So a site like mine selling sundresses, about sundresses and nothing but sundresses, offering long sundresses, short, ethnic, halter, tube, slip and all kinds of sundresses is not relevant in a Google search for ‘sundresses'; but Victoria’s Secret, Dillards, Venus and other large advertisers that neither need nor deserve to be found as such are there front and center. If someone wants a sundress from Victoria’s Secret, they go to Victoria’s Secret.
    This is spam. Call it what it exactly is. The holy ‘user experience’ that Google has been howling about for years is junk, but just dandy if the search spam is their own.


    Google is out of control and should be boycotted by anyone with any common sense. I completely agree that it misrepresents itself and is intentionally exploiting our wallets to their sole benefit. I mean just take my industry and the keyword “coupons” It returns over 159M results with just 8 non-paid on first page. That’s insane the platform is broken and they know it but everyone thinks they need it and they don’t. Google has become a dictatorship governing the internet and they need to be ignored and they will go away. For any business it’s all about brand recognition and there are many more proven ways that have been around and successful for a long time. We have all just been brain washed in thinking we need Google and we don’t. See they pulled it off too, brand recognition that is.