Even though I’m a curmudgeon I can still say quite safely that I’ve an admiration for Ann Smarty, founder of MyBlogGuest – the recently Google penalised guest blogging community.
Like any visionary, Ann saw and took an opportunity and she and her troops turned MyBlogGuest into the biggest brand on the guest blogging scene – fair play, albeit one that seems to have been their downfall. At the time Guest Blogging was the darling of link building – ask anyone who’s been in SEO for a half a decade, Google included, was inclined to agree.
Guest Blogging became Van Wilder
However, since those heady days in 2009, things have changed – guest blogging’s become the Van Wilder of the link building arena. In that I mean to say that though it still has plenty going for it, constant abuse has left it ravaged like the mature collegiate’s liver. As with all livers, guest blogging with proper care can be repaired and to some degree Google sees nofollow as the milk thistle of guest posting.
I’m not going to go into what makes a good or a bad guest post – if you don’t have a good idea what does or doesn’t then you probably shouldn’t guest post. However, I am going to take a closer look at the current situation, through the medium of ancient Scandinavian mythology.
You Can’t Stop the Tide
There’s a story of an Old Danish King called Canute. Canute believed that because of his previous successes he could stop the tide from coming in and out. Now, I’m in no way suggesting Ann Smarty and Canute are in any way similar, however in my opinion Google is the sea and its will (guidelines) is the tide.
Ann Smarty’s very public acclaim that MyBlogGuest would still only allow dofollow links upon Matt Cutts highly discussed video advising otherwise, could be seen as a folly of notable proportions. Even though I would admire Ann for standing up for her belief, as Canute found sometimes there are powers of nature stronger than you and the old adage of knowing when to choose your battles springs to mind.
To me Matt Cutts has quite a genial nature, but there is an iron will there – you don’t get to a top position in Google’s with a marshmallow core. Ann Smarty’s a well renowned figure in the SEO world and I can certainly imagine Cutts removing his gloves upon hearing her dofollow response deciding to make a point. Of course, MyBlogGuest’s position at the top of the guest blogging triangle is probably an even more major factor here.
Bad Links or Blog Guests
Now, the question remains – was the cause of MyBlogGuest’s downfall bad links back to the site or was it a link scheme/network related penalty? Ann Smarty told Bill Hartzer the former rather than the latter – Google hasn’t distinguished whether it was one or the other (more on that later).
This is of course of crucial importance. If the site has been penalised for dodgy links it’s only really going to impact on the site. If the penalty was triggered because MyBlogGuest is considered by Google as a network then sites that used the network could potentially also be penalised. Now, there have been reports of some sites that used MyBlogGuest receiving penalties but whether this is coincidence or not is uncertain as of yet.
The Power of Propaganda
Ann Smarty’s made the point that her site is probably the cleanest platform of this sort out there, is closely monitored and tries its very hardest to adhere to Google’s Webmaster guidelines and I would agree wholeheartedly. However, propaganda is often a more powerful tool than any other instrument and Google knows this. As they say, ‘People are free to do what they are told’ and if Google tells them to fear backlinks from guest blogs – who’s to know how to act otherwise.
I would argue that we look at the way Google’s penalised MyBlogGuest but without clarifying whether it’s for the service itself or because of its bank links as a case in point. Google’s not averse to being a bit covert in ‘protecting’ itself and its interests.
Interestingly, I’ve read a number of threads suggesting the search engine’s employees may have even joined MyBlogGuest to check up not just on what was going on, but also on sites that regularly utilised the platform. Rumours are abounding that penalties may even be dished out upon information gathered because of these covert memberships.
However, one interesting point did stick with me when I was thinking about this scenario. In recent times we’ve discussed how Google may devalue spammy guest blogging back links rather than penalise sites – after all guest blogging was very legit a few years ago in Google’s eyes.
I know from my own efforts in outreach that a lot of the same poor quality sites tend to pop up again and again in all niches. If you don’t believe me do a run of your competitors’ link profiles. I’m telling you there will be a number of the same sites appearing repeatedly.
So, here’s a thought, what if Google had entered MyBlogGuest, compiled data on sites it felt were of that ilk and simply penalised them and knocked them out of its results, therefore devaluing them? The job is done, with little collateral damage to sites with generally decent link profiles – merely a worthy devaluation of manipulative sites and the links from them. Of course, this would be a quite good scenario for a lot of people and if it were the case, credit would have to be offered to Google to some degree.
As of the moment Ann Smarty has responded to the Google penalty with typical resilience, the penalty remains on MyBlogGuest and we all surmise and ponder what’s next.
Google’s a powerful entity, whether we like it or not and I’d imagine that if you’ve read this far it’s likely it’s a large part of the Internet for you. However, we must remember it’s not the entire Internet, just as guest blogging isn’t the only worthy link building or for that matter, all about link building. As with the aforementioned, there’s more to most things than meets the eye and we wait with bated breath to see how this scenario plans out.