It’s no secret that guest blogging has been on shaky ground for a while now. I first blogged about the potential risks of guest blogging back in July last year and since then, Google has only been getting more and more vocal about how careful you have to be when guest blogging – last year urging SEOs to no=follow any backlinks in guest blogs – and more recently, warning that guest blogging for SEO is dead.
With that in mind; I can’t say I was really that surprised to find out that Google had penalised a guest blogging network yesterday, with Matt Cutts making the announcement over Twitter.
Now, while I wasn’t surprised that Google had finally started to tackle the topic of guest blogging (come on; they’ve given us plenty of hints!), what I was surprised about was which guest blogging network the Big G had chosen to penalise – MyBlogGuest.
The MyBlogGuest Penalty
There are lots of guest blogging networks out there but MyBlogGuest is easily one of the largest and most well known within the industry, mainly for its sheer size and reach. Figures circulating this morning suggest the site had more than 73,000 users in 2013, with around 265 guest blogs posted every day. In addition to its size, the network was also pretty famous in the industry because of who its founder is – Ann Smarty – a renowned name in the SEO industry who, at the time of writing, boasts over 39,000 followers on Twitter.
Now, although Google have yet to officially confirm they’ve penalised this network in particular, the site no longer ranks for the term ‘myblogguest’ and Ann Smarty herself has come out to confirm the penalty via Twitter.
OK, so we know which network got penalised by Google this week, so now it’s time to look at why this network caught Google’s attention for all the wrong reasons.
First we need to look at what the network actually is. In simple terms, MyBlogGuest allows users to either ask for guest blogs for their site or offer up guest blogs for publication on other sites – so essentially it’s a guest blog marketplace.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, Google has been pretty outspoken about guest blogging over the last 12 months or so, reiterating that links should be no=followed, guest blogs should be relevant and high quality and guest blogging shouldn’t be done for the sole purpose of link building.
With this penalty, it looks like the linking issue might have been the problem. An article on SearchEngineWatch states that MyBlogGuest had a pretty open policy on linking within the guest blogs – mainly that links couldn’t be no=followed.
With that in mind, and given the fact that Ann Smarty hit back at Matt Cutts almost directly a few months ago by claiming that MyBlogGuest would not be changing its link policy anytime soon, it seems like it was only a matter of time before a network like MyBlogGuest received a slap on the wrist from the search engine and was made an example of.
The Future of MyBlogGuest?
Interestingly, MyBlogGuest seem to be quite insistent that they’ve not actually done anything wrong and have made it clear that they’ve got no plans to change their policy in attempt to get the penalty lifted.
“We are already policing the links: No made-for-SEO links are allowed within our platform (for at least a year now; We’ve been always advocating no-anchor-text links but we started actively policing them 2 years ago, then we stricken the rules even further). You are free to link to your home page but no keywords are allowed (just names), for example,” Ann told SearchEngineWatch.
Should You Be Worried?
Of course, as with any network penalty of this size, questions are now starting to be asked about who might feel the brunt of this penalty, aside from the site itself. At the moment, it’s hard to say. I think if you’ve only used the site a couple of times to find publications/source guest blogs, I wouldn’t worry too much – however, if you’ve been using it as a major part of your link building strategy, you might have more cause for concern.
According to reports, Google has already been sending out unnatural link warnings in Google Webmaster Tools – so if you’re worried, I’d definitely keep an eye on your account – and if you’re really worried, it might be worth starting the clean-up early! Try contacting the sites you’ve blogged on and ask them to no=follow your link in your guest blogs – and be sure to keep a record of all your outreach attempts.
I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this one – Have you used MyBlogGuest in the past? Are you concerned now? And do you think MyBlogGuest will ever recover if they don’t actively change their links policy? Leave me a comment or tweet me – @amy_edwards88.