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Google Takes Action on Large Guest Blog Network
Dymero




msg:4655459
 5:43 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

[searchengineland.com...]

Matt didn't mention the specific network, but My Blog Guest's Ann Smarty later noted on Twitter that her site was penalized.

I've seen a couple others report a penalty on their own sites, supposedly in relation to this, but not many so far.

[edited by: Dymero at 6:00 pm (utc) on Mar 19, 2014]

 

Planet13




msg:4655463
 5:55 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

My questions are; Why all the fits and spurts? Why selected targets? and why now?

I understand that google likes things to scale and tries to get their algo(s) to do all the heavy lifting.

But guest blogging (which, as we all know, is COMPLETELY different from article marketing / lenses / content farming), would be pretty easy to spot - either by the algo or by a manual visit.

So why the delay? and why the selective measure only against my blog guest dot com?

Are they just trying to fire a warning shot against all the other guest blogging sites to nofollow outbound links?

Is there actual wiggle room for guest blogging sites to have some followable outbound links, but a nebulous border which they are not supposed to cross?

Dymero




msg:4655471
 6:09 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

In my experience, MyBlogGuest hasn't been a fantastic source of high-quality guest posts. As a publisher, I've gotten a handful of really good ones, but most are pretty spammy. I haven't accepted those.

That's not Ann's fault, though. She's simply providing a conduit through which writers and publishers can connect.

I guess what might be a problem, as some have noted, is the rule that all backlinks be do-follow, and noting on the front page that writers can build links to their sites. However, she's also been pretty good advocate of backlinks being not spammy.

You're right, Planet13. It is in that grey area. Technically, by accepting a post, you are signaling that you're vouching for the links, which should fall well under Google's guidelines. But does requiring do-follow links constitute a form of non-monetary payment, which violates the guidelines?

CaptainSalad2




msg:4655513
 8:04 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

I wonder if G ever considered coming up with a rel="follow" attribute. The doubt as to the intent of the link and collateral damage would have been avoided.

I don't think forcing people to change/add attributes to links that were around LONG before Google has gelled very well, people don't like to be pushed around for one thing, for another not everyone follows this stuff.

Perhaps treating all links as nofollow unless a follow attribute was added would have been less totalitarian and been more concise when calculation what is a link and what is a recommendation?

EditorialGuy




msg:4655545
 9:18 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

I wonder if G ever considered coming up with a rel="follow" attribute. The doubt as to the intent of the link and collateral damage would have been avoided.


Links were meant to be citations years before Google was even a grad-school project. They're supposed to be followed. That's why they exist.

Granted, some SEOs and publishers may need to be educated about the purpose of links, but many won't listen no matter how many times they're told. There will always be flat-earthers, birthers, and people who refuse to acknowledge the difference between organic and unnatural links.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4655556
 9:50 pm on Mar 19, 2014 (gmt 0)

I wonder if G ever considered coming up with a rel="follow" attribute.


That would mean Google would die overnight because all links would no longer be counted, and Google would have to wait for the rel=follow links to be published to start re-building the data their algo would rely upon.

JD_Toims




msg:4655626
 3:07 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

I wonder if G ever considered coming up with a rel="follow" attribute.

<littleRant>

<little edit></little edit>

</littleRant>

[edited by: goodroi at 11:15 am (utc) on Mar 20, 2014]
[edit reason] Let's stay on target and avoid off-topic rants :) [/edit]

McMohan




msg:4655651
 6:42 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

With all Google's supposed sophisticated algorithmic abilities and the infrastructure to scale, I expected better. The unthoughtful and nearsighted action in banning MBG, Google has proved its algorithm can't say from apples to oranges and pulls off a publicity stunt by banning MBG.

If HummingBird were that good in ascertaining the quality of content, if Penguin could say if a link is in good faith or not, the efforts of Google should have been geared towards spotting individual sites that are abusing its algorithm, not the platform. Yet, Google went for the easy way out in scaring the community never warranted.

Sadly, these actions from Google, instead of improving the landscape, will only make it more murky, pushing the good guys to do bad things.

jmccormac




msg:4655702
 10:53 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

There will always be flat-earthers, birthers, and people who refuse to acknowledge the difference between organic and unnatural links.
The FUD about "unnatural links" is a creation of Google because of the inability of people there to solve what is a relatively simple problem.

Regards...jmcc

Uber_SEO




msg:4655717
 11:23 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

What. A. Mess. Why don't they just come out and say link building isn't allowed any more? This is getting beyond confusing.

goodroi




msg:4655721
 11:49 am on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

I am not sure if some of you are unaware or are ignoring the facts of this situation. This was a case of link manipulation not link building.

Yes, there was some good qualities to MyBlogGuest but a very large part of MBG was off-topic, poor quality link manipulation. There are reports of MyBlogGuest banning websites if they added nofollow tags to the bylines. I have also heard bloggers complaining that they ended up with near duplicate content and a bunch of other complaints.

That is why I prefer to do my guest blogging elsewhere. I reach out to relevant websites that will send me legitimate direct traffic when I publish on their sites. Some people complain about Google. Instead of complaining I spend my time developing new non-Google traffic streams which makes me independent of Google. The less I need Google, the more they want me. This is one way I measure my link building success.

JD_Toims




msg:4655756
 2:00 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

There are reports of MyBlogGuest banning websites if they added nofollow tags to the bylines.

I haven't heard why, but is it because using rel=nofollow on links to rank better is technically manipulating the algo and against Google's guidelines?

Using rel=nofollow is definitely *not* "building your site for visitors rather than search engines", because visitors don't care if a link is "follow" or "nofollow" -- Only search engines care at all about rel=nofollow.

goodroi




msg:4655796
 4:29 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

@JD_Toims ;)


I think that there are a few lessons to learn (or be reminded of) from this.

#1 - Guest blogging can successfully manipulate your Google rankings. Why else would Google bother to penalize a guest blogging network?

#2 - When manipulating Google it is wise to keep a low profile. The bigger and more noticeable you are, the more likely Google will target you sooner.

#3 - In general, avoid using networks that leave identifiable signature/patterns which Google can notice and algorithmically penalize. The more you can customize and minimize the patterns the harder it is for Google to find & cause you trouble.

Feel free to share any other lessons you learned (or re-learned) from this situation...

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4655806
 4:42 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Why all the fits and spurts? Why selected targets?


This is definitely not the first and not the last link network that Google will 'out'. As said, these links do 'work' but as with everything on scale, they can be possibly be identified on scale. Be aware of the risks of participating. It's not just the patterns of your own links and the pages they go on, but the potential patterns of the whole network.

Obviously these kinds of systems are difficult for Google to detect, and something they disapprove of. It's effectively a manual process for Google to deal with these it would seem. Announcing that they're "on the radar" effectively ends the scheme.

This one may be called a blog network but I prefer to think of them with 'links with surrounding text' ;o)

JD_Toims




msg:4655807
 4:46 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

#2 - When manipulating Google it is wise to keep a low profile.

Definitely and for sure don't be T-Mobile and WebDesign.Org [seroundtable.com...]



#4 - Forget about not building a site or links for search engines [Remember Number 2 Above], because until they do away with counting links and use only the content on the page you likely have to do both to rank [for anything very competitive].

adder




msg:4655816
 5:39 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Dymero, it's funny you've picked that particular source because they have directly or indirectly endorsed MBG not once but twice:
[searchengineland.com...]
[searchengineland.com...]

That's not Ann's fault, though


Whoa whoa! Excuse me, nothing personal and don't consider this a personal attack but she must've known that MBG was against the Guidelines.

why the selective measure only against my blog guest dot com?

It's not exactly a selective measure. If you google for "busted link network" you'll see how many diverse link networks Google has actually busted during the last couple of years. Although, this particular one might be a sort of a reminder, like saying: "you thought I was joking about overdoing guest posts, well, I wasn't"
This was a case of link manipulation not link building.

Amen to that, goodroi! Completely agree!

Yes, there was some good qualities to MyBlogGuest

No, there weren't any. Sorry for being blunt but I've seen Analytics reports of several large sites which were active on MBG. The traffic generated by MBG articles was minimal and the few dozen of hops that were made via MBG links were mostly bounces or foreign traffic.

Oh people, please stop creating those obvious SEO footprints all over the place. Footprints = Penalties.

BTW I'm keeping a blacklist of sites to make sure I don't approach somebody I shouldn't. The sites participating in this network ARE on my blacklist.

[edited by: adder at 5:47 pm (utc) on Mar 20, 2014]

martinibuster




msg:4655817
 5:40 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

MBG made themselves DOA the moment they wrote on their home page that the service was for building links. I tweeted my concern to Smarty but it went over her head, she didn't get it and she left that description on the home page. I tried, as an industry colleague, to warn her. I don't know if anyone else warned her about that. But the best friends you can have in this industry are the ones that will tell you when your zipper is down, if there's a flaw in your plan.

It was always my understanding that it wasn't a matter of IF it would get penalized. In my mind it was always always a matter of WHEN. It was marked for penalization from the beginning.

If you build a networking service for building links, never promote yourself as a service for building links. That's just putting a target on your business.

[edited by: martinibuster at 5:48 pm (utc) on Mar 20, 2014]

netmeg




msg:4655818
 5:48 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

It was always my understanding that it wasn't a matter of IF it would get penalized. In my mind it was always always a matter of WHEN. It was marked for penalization from the beginning.


Agree. And she more or less dared Google to do something about it. Though it does seem odd that in her post about the situation, she says the specific penalty in her GWT speaks of links TO MBG, not links generated BY MBG.

EditorialGuy




msg:4655834
 6:41 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Though it does seem odd that in her post about the situation, she says the specific penalty in her GWT speaks of links TO MBG, not links generated BY MBG.


Two different issues, maybe? (Wouldn't a message in Webmaster Tools be about her site, not the network of sites that are using "guest-blog spam" links?)

netmeg




msg:4655836
 7:31 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

Right, I'm kind of surprised she had a manual penalty notice at all.

But maybe they don't have a stock message for her particular situation.

MikeNoLastName




msg:4655868
 10:50 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

It's always interesting (for those PPC advertisers who are also publishers) to cross reference the things G adwords and B-ads consider "arbitrage" or ban-able from their ad campaigns with the things they eventually penalize in their Search Results to get a clue what will be next in penalties... very similar. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they started penalizing for offsite nofollow links, if they don't already, since you can already be banned from their advertising for doing this on your ad landing page.

But we settled this topic years ago on most of our sites. We simply don't link to ANYTHING off of our own site(s). Which pretty much follows their PPC ad landing page criteria to a T. Let G/B build their OWN SERPS without any outside help... see how that works out for them longterm. If we want to give our visitors a useful link to great offsite references which we do frequently (because we ARE an information site and it's what html was originally designed for as someone further back mentioned) we're forced to simply code it in the inline text exactly as it should be COPIED to the address field without any 'A' link element. It's a bit inconvenient, but that's what G/B hath wrought. It's then up to the reader to block copy it up there to the URL field manually if they want to go there.

Let me know if I'm wrong, but last time I heard G has never penalized any site for doing this... yet.

bhartzer




msg:4655880
 11:51 pm on Mar 20, 2014 (gmt 0)

I spoke with Ann Smarty yesterday afternoon at Pubcon about this. Technically speaking, Google has only given MyBlogGuest an 'unnatural link warning' in Google Webmaster Tools. That's links TO the MBG site.

There is no evidence that guest bloggers and blog sites that were a part of MBG have been 'hit' by any sort of penalty.

Google hasn't taken down the network or anything like that.

netmeg




msg:4655889
 12:43 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

There is no evidence that guest bloggers and blog sites that were a part of MBG have been 'hit' by any sort of penalty.


Actually there were a ton of comments on the SEL post from people who believe they were 'hit' including some that got unnatural link penalty notices today.

But not knowing any of them personally or having any access to see any of this, who knows.

wheel




msg:4655890
 12:45 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

Let me know if I'm wrong, but last time I heard G has never penalized any site for doing this... yet.

Penalization can be seemingly random. Doing it 'right' is no assurance. Maybe you do all this stuff but someone does a manual review and decides your version of internal linking is gaming the system. Or your articles have an unnaturally high keyword density. Same penalty.

Still, Google's threats about guest blog posts are easily avoided.

- pay to get posts only on good quality blogs that are also relevant to your site.
- make sure the content is unique AND good. Don't use professional writers, use subject matter experts. If you're writing about real estate in las vegas, have a las vegas real estate broker write the article, not some $5/500 word content writer.
- make sure the post gets some lively comments. How to do this is left as an exercise to the reader.
- make sure the post gets some offsite links. How to do this is left as an exercise to the reader.

I just had a guest post published on a blog. I didn't pay, but my competitors do. How does google tell the difference? My post got dozens of comments and links from two national newspapers. Theirs didn't get either. Make your guest posts look like mine, not his. It can be done artificially.

Oh, I forgot one. 500 words of content with three offsite links, two of which are to authority sites. Puleez. How does that not stink of doing what everyone else who's doing paid guest blog posting is doing? Do something different. I'm currently trying to find content types that have links in them that aren't guest blog posts, that can be published on blogs. These things do exist.

Either way, boring content on large volumes of blog sites, all 500 words with three links out, well it shouldn't take matt cutts in 2014 to tell you that's going to hurt at some point. That was entirely clear 2-3 years ago before guest blog posting went mainstream.

FranticFish




msg:4655922
 6:50 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

I think MBG positioned themselves wrong from the start.

I came across the site in 2010 I think and the people in the network were 100% thin affiliate / MFA / factory SEO crud.

Articles like 'Why you should use a real estate agent to sell your property in San Diego', starting 'If you live in San Diego and want to sell your home, you'll need a real estate agent.'

And this was several years AFTER Google nuked all the generic article directories and it was widely being reported that people who invested in these lost all their rankings.

If the quality bar had been set a little higher, the membership and content exchanges policed with an eye to Google's TOS, and the benefits been communicated in a more subtle manner, it might have flown under the radar for far longer. As it was I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.

EditorialGuy




msg:4655967
 11:47 am on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

I spoke with Ann Smarty yesterday afternoon at Pubcon about this. Technically speaking, Google has only given MyBlogGuest an 'unnatural link warning' in Google Webmaster Tools. That's links TO the MBG site.


Would you expect Webmaster Tools to include messages about penalties to other sites (meaning the network)?

incrediBILL




msg:4656061
 8:04 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

What will Google do next to show how bad they are?

Juggle kittens?

Kick puppies?

Lame.

EditorialGuy




msg:4656064
 8:59 pm on Mar 21, 2014 (gmt 0)

We simply don't link to ANYTHING off of our own site(s). Which pretty much follows their PPC ad landing page criteria to a T.


Sorry, but that doesn't make sense. Why would you treat a content page that's getting traffic from organic search like a PPC landing page?

If we want to give our visitors a useful link to great offsite references which we do frequently (because we ARE an information site and it's what html was originally designed for as someone further back mentioned) we're forced to simply code it in the inline text exactly as it should be COPIED to the address field without any 'A' link element.


You're forced to make users copy URLs instead of clicking them? Forced by whom?

Let me know if I'm wrong, but last time I heard G has never penalized any site for doing this... yet.


I'd be concerned that, at some point (if not already), Google would regard that tactic as a heavy-handed attempt to discourage users from leaving the site. If I were grading such a page on "user experience," I'd rate it pretty low.

Planet13




msg:4656155
 4:05 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

Just some more random thoughts on this:

1) While I understand how the content-for-links marketplace that was part of myblogguest would infuriate Matt Cutts to no end, why would they get an unnatural links penalty? Do the articles made available on MBG also include links back to MBG?

Or is it as someone alluded above (think it was netmeg) that they just don't have a "penalty" for this situation yet?

2) Is google so inept at detecting spammy links that they couldn't use their algos to figure out in the field which links were good and which links are bad?

3) How much of MBG's traffic to THEIR own site was by organic search? Considering all the publicity they are getting, are they really going to suffer from the "unnatural links penalty?

4) Hasn't Matt Cutts just helped MBG to acquire a whole lot of NATURAL links (and free publicity)?

JD_Toims




msg:4656173
 7:14 am on Mar 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

What will Google do next to show how bad they are?

Juggle kittens?

Kick puppies?

1) While I understand how the content-for-links marketplace that was part of myblogguest would infuriate Matt Cutts to no end, why would they get an unnatural links penalty? Do the articles made available on MBG also include links back to MBG?

Or is it as someone alluded above (think it was netmeg) that they just don't have a "penalty" for this situation yet?

2) Is google so inept at detecting spammy links that they couldn't use their algos to figure out in the field which links were good and which links are bad?

3) How much of MBG's traffic to THEIR own site was by organic search? Considering all the publicity they are getting, are they really going to suffer from the "unnatural links penalty?

4) Hasn't Matt Cutts just helped MBG to acquire a whole lot of NATURAL links (and free publicity)?

Great Questions -- One I have is why they feel the need to "flaunt" the fact they did their job like the receiver who "shows off" every time they score a touchdown, rather than being more professional like Jerry Rice who did his job better than anyone else but was also always professional about it, because all they really did was their job, nothing else.

This 60 message thread spans 2 pages: 60 ( [1] 2 > >
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