If you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably don’t already know that Google took a very big step against one of the most popular ways to build backlinks on the Internet. I am, of course, talking about guest posts. Guest post blogging is a fairly easy way to get a backlink. All you need to do is contact blogs in your target niche and offer to write a high quality original blog post in exchange for the placement one or more links in the body of the blog post. Oftentimes, the blog host would allow you one or two links in your author or guest blogger bio section or “about” section. For the longest time, this produced a win-win situation.
Guest blogging’s win-win situation
Not all bloggers in the world have a lot of time to blog. However, to engage their audience, they have to post frequent updates. For a variety of reasons, they don’t want to pay other people to produce content for them. Even if they did, high quality content can cost quite a bit of money. On the other end of the equation are SEO companies and individual blogger or webmasters that need backlinks to rank higher on search engines. They are willing to do almost anything to get backlinks. Put these two needs together and you have the birth of the guest blog post. Ideally, it’s a win-win situation. Ideally, the blog owner gets high quality blog content that isn’t published anywhere else, then that adds value to the lives of the blogger’s audience members. The content contributor on the other hand, gets targeted backlinks from an authoritative and relevant blog in his or her niche. Sounds good so far?
The problem is, as with many other communication platforms and content platforms on the Internet, spammers got into the mix. Spammers began to abuse the guest blog system. Guest blogging has became synonymous as cheap and easy form of getting backlinks. It’s not uncommon for links promoting shoes to show up on a blog that is about pet kittens, for example. It got ridiculous really quickly. It got out of hand. Sure enough, just like with any other formerly excellent link building practice, Google got into the picture.
To its credit before Google crackdown on guest blog posting, it did sound an alarm. No other than the head honcho of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, posted more than once that guest post spam is on its way out. In fact, Matt Cutts made it very clear that guest posting for SEO purposes is pretty much done for. He used a phrase ‘stick a fork in it.’ This official pronouncement, of course, sparked a wave of outrage throughout the SEO community. As always, people were in denial, people were in shocked, and a lot of SEOs just didn’t really want to do anything about it because guest posting was so easy to do.
Well, guess what, the other shoe fell in the case of Google penalty on myblogguest. How bad was the penalty? If you do a search for myblogguest, it won’t show up in Google results. That’s how bad the penalty was. To make matters worse, registered publishers in the myblogguest system also got penalized. This is seriously bad news folks. This is a shot across the bow to anyone who looks at guest blogging as a way to get cheap and easy backlinks. So does this necessarily mean that you should stop guest blogging? Should we be afraid to link out from our own guest posts? Should we second guess ourselves based on what Google’s editorial decisions may be? Thankfully, the answers to all these questions is a resounding NO. Here are the three key lessons learn from the myblogguest penalty.
Asking For Payment To Broker Guest Posts Is A No-no
You have to remember that myblogguest is not the only guest post platform that got penalized. In fact, another platform called postjoint got penalized as well. They got the same exact penalty as myblogguest. If you try to do a search for postjoint on Google, you can’t find them. What do these platforms have in common? Obviously, they both broker guest posts. But digging deeper and comparing them with other guest post platforms, one critical difference comes to mind: They both charge money. That’s right. Postjoint made a big deal of the fact that they don’t have any footprints. That the guest posts that they broke are invisible to Google. Matt Cutts made it a point to make a big deal about this claim by postjoint and tweeted that when anybody says that there are no footprints, that’s a big red flag. This again is a public show of force on Google’s end. They are making it clear to guest post platforms and also SEO is trying to use guest posts that Google is on the case.
Postjoint charged money for their services. Interestingly enough, myblogguest also charges money. They don’t charge money upfront. Actually, when you join myblogguest as a publisher, it would be a free membership. However, if you want to offer your articles for posting on publisher’s websites and blogs, you have to pay a premium or PRO membership. So both sites asked for money. This is a key red flag that you should watch out for when trying to build backlinks using guest post. At the very least, do not use platforms that ask for payment. Another compelling piece of evidence backing up this observation is the fact that completely free guest post platforms are still alive. These are actual platforms. They use software to pair up publishers with content creators. Also, social network based guest post groups and lists are still alive. You only need to go to Facebook and search for guest blog post groups and you will find a nice list. Those systems are still alive and kicking. The key takeaway here is pay attention to whether the platform that you are using for guest post is completely free or asks for money in one form or other.
Guest Posting For SEO Is A Bad Idea
It cannot be emphasized enough that guest posting purely for SEO purposes is a bad idea. Google is adamant against link manipulation. This is precisely what you’re doing if you are soliciting other blogs to publish your content so you can get a backlink. This is blatant link manipulation. The key takeaway from this is that guest post platforms are quite obvious regarding this intent. Your intent can be read in one or two ways. Your intent can be read in terms of what you say or what your motivations are or it can be read based on the effects of your action. While myblogguest has been very clear that they are more focused on branding, Google’s takeaway from the effect of the myblogguest platform is that it had bad intent. The results inferred bad intent.
What are some takeaways we can walk away from this key point? You should avoid places on the Internet that publicly solicit guest posts. You should avoid websites that publicly solicit guest posts and there is a link involve. Also, you should focus more on branding. In other words, you should still accept the guest post opportunity even if the backlink is a no-follow. In other words, there is no obvious SEO advantage to getting your guest post published. Matt Cutts released a video highlighting what “good” guest posts practices are all about and one of this is about sharing expertise. To make a long story short, the focus should be on branding. If you are an expert in a particular body of knowledge, focus your guest post experience on that. Don’t focus on the backlink that you get. The backlink should be a distant second consideration. Focus instead on branding yourself with expert content posted on a site that has an audience which is looking for your expertise.
Google Can Tell Niche Mismatches In Guest Posts
Google is becoming extremely sophisticated in a very short period of time. If your need proof regarding this assertion, just pay attention to the updates Google went through since 2012. The way Google filters links and processes content currently is light years away from its 2010 self. In fact, you can barely recognize Google now from its former self. Why? It’s so much more intelligent. Case in point: Google recently penalized a blog run by a very respected SEO, Doc Sheldon. What was DocSheldon’s crime against humanity? He published a guest post promoting his panic community marketing. Matt Cutts was on the record on Twitter explaining the penalty. He said that there was a mismatch between DocSheldon’s blog, which was all about SEO and his panic community marketing.
While we can nitpick regarding the accuracy of Google’s interpretation or we can quibble about Google in effect killing ants with a flamethrower, one thing is indisputable: Google has evolved the technology to determine the content of one page and relate it to the links that are found on that page. Ten years ago, this was unheard of Ten years ago, this would have been scary and stuff of Terminator movies. Well, guess what, Skynet, at least when applies to search engine technology, is here. Need proof? Take a look at the Doc Sheldon drama. Google was able to tell that the website was linking to something unrelated niche. This is scary stuff folks. They key takeaway here is that whenever you build backlinks through guest posting, make sure you solicit blogs that are directly or closely related to the niche of the website that you are building backlinks for. Also, the keywords that you are using should be directly related to the content or specialty of the blog that is publishing your guest posts. You can’t push the edges with backlink building nowadays. If you are trying to cut corners or you’re getting a bit too lazy when it comes to niche research, you might be headed for a Google penalty.
The MyBlogGuest penalty has really woken up the global SEO community on many fronts. At the very least, it showed us that Google is serious regarding the transfer of payment or some sort of value when it comes to building links. Also, Google is very serious about link manipulation. Doing stuff purely for SEO purposes is fast becoming a thing of the past. Finally, Google has evolved technology that should really scare most SEO straight. You can’t really play it fast and loose anymore when it comes to publishing backlinks on unrelated sites. You have to be very discriminating regarding where you draw your links or where you build your links. Considering how things are progressing, it is increasingly a bad idea to actively build links. Instead you should focus more on drawing natural links based on the quality of your content.
Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/86639298@N02/8559722063