There are dangers to relying on guest blogging for SEO, most of those stemming from Google’s recent crackdown on link networks and the penalties associated with their usage. However, recently, MyBlogGuest, a different kind of link network that many marketers did not consider to be a link network at all, fell victim to Google. Check out the details below and learn a few tips for guest blogging the legitimate way.
MyBlogGuest was created to help connect blogs looking for content with bloggers willing to provide it; a win-win situation for many companies, especially startups looking to get ahead with targeted marketing campaigns.
The network provided a platform that was a paid service. Unlike free link building sites that are regularly sought out and penalized, MyBlogGuest’s content was unique, reviewed and approved individually by the site’s editorial team, void of objectionable anchor text and watched closely by moderators within the community. People were running the site; it was not a chaotic link environment that relied on spam. In fact, those running the site worked hard to avoid that very scenario.
Created in November of 2009, the site quickly grew to include over 28,000 users from around the world with around 200 articles placed daily. It held contests for solid material that was promoted by user reviews and guest posts. It was a community that was known as a safe, white hat way to build links, increasing search engine rankings the right way.
So, What Happened?
MyBlogGuest caught the attention of the Google authorities, in the way link building networks have been doing for some time now. While careful to avoid these actions, it’s important to note that toward the end, the network had become more “heavy-handed” in the eyes of some users by taking over the control of sites that used the community for content. They required those sites to remove a “rel=nofollow” tag that was used for protection. This may have been the fatal error that drew Google’s attention.
On March 19, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam tweeted – as he’s known to do when a network has been classified as spam – “Today we took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging” with a link to his recent post on the subject. The terms were vague, but something had changed.
Later that morning, creator of MyBlogGuest Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) confirmed everyone’s suspicions with the tweet “[Official] Even though #myblogugest has been against paying for links (unlike other platforms), @mattcutts team decided to penalize us…”
What Do the Penalties Mean?
Following the posts, many questions arose. Who would be penalized? What would those penalties mean? What would happen next? For now, the answers aren’t clear, but the bottom line is this: no one is safe – anyone using the site could be penalized going forward.
To answer the questions relating to who would see penalties, Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) tweeted “@n2tech when we take action on a spammy link network, it can include blogs hosting guest posts, sites benefiting from the links, etc.”
Search Engine Land confirmed this by posting reactions from users of MyBlogGuest, many of whom saw immediate drops in rankings and “Unnatural links from your site,” messages from Google’s Webmaster Tools. Content authors and publishers who had been using the site for years as a way to publish content and increase recognition were punished and may not be able to recover because of the power grip Google has on the search industry.
How Does This Affect You?
Does the takedown of MyBlogGuest mean that guest blogging should be done away with? No. However, it does mean that going forward, companies must be careful about how they find their content and where it comes from in the first place. Follow the suggestions below to be safe and to avoid Google’s penalties that could take years to recover from.
Create content internally. While it may not be the most efficient means of creating content, it’s safe. Think about the topics you’ve been asked about and what matters most to your customers. Look for news stories that you could respond to and just start writing. For example, a motorcycle attorney could respond to motorcycle laws or accidents. Health food stores could respond to news stories relating to food recalls. Set up a Google Alert or two in order to stay current. For internal content needs, this is probably the best place to start.
Work with writers who write according to assignment. Sites like WriterAccess make it easy to find an army of writers who can write content, without exhausting your time. While it’s not a free service, neither was MyBlogGuest. Sometimes paying for content is necessary; pay for quality and pay for security.
Be careful where you post. For bloggers and companies looking for guest blogging opportunity, throwing content and links out through link building sites is no longer acceptable. Google is cracking down and nothing harms a business more than losing the ability to be found on the network. Personally reach out to site owners and pitch content. It takes more time, but when a brand’s reputation is at stake, this time is worthwhile.
While controversial, Google’s latest link building site takedown makes one thing clear: link building through link building networks and mass forums will not be tolerated. Even the “safest” site is no longer safe. Be careful of your actions and your associations online and take any steps necessary to protect your rankings. Google shows no signs of slowing.