Two big movements in the SEO world last week, all of which again revolved around link building.
I wrote a few weeks back about how the practice is currently lumbering around with quite a heavy millstone around its neck.
Through no fault of its own, of course. Link building is still a vital ingredient in the SEO process, especially if they’re earned ethically and naturally.
But these two tales will, sadly, do a further disservice to link building’s reputation:
#1 MyBlogGuest Battered
MyBlogGuest has always been seen as a pretty reputable way to guest blog on other sites and to earn backlinks.
It’s always been as transparent as it could be. Owner, Ann Smarty, has always championed the site as more ethical than organising a paid-for link.
MyBlogGuest is a community that anybody can join to alert others of guest posting opportunities on their site.
The site lists amongst its many benefits the chance to network, share and create exclusive content with others, and – crucially – have links pointing back to your site with every post.
Though the site and community has thrived for years Google has taken exception.
It was confirmed last Wednesday that Google had hit MyBlogGuest with a massive penalty. Not only that but hundreds of site owners that have used MyBlogGuest throughout the years were also penalised.
Today we took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging: http://t.co/rc9O82fjfn
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 19, 2014
Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts mentioned a few weeks back that he would rather people didn’t rely on guest blogging for link building. This is some move on Google’s part, though, hitting a large community that many thought was ethical and doing the right things. Cutts called it a ‘spammy link network’ while Smarty feels an ulterior motive is at play, saying: “The reality is, Matt Cutts is using us for the PR game: To get more people scared.
“We are the hugest guest blogging brand out there: He could not have got more publicity by hitting anyone else.”
Did you use MyBlogGuest and have been hit by a Google penalty? Have you seen a drop in rankings and has it shaken your faith in guest blogging? Let me know in the comments below.
#2 T-Mobile’s troubles
The T-Mobile story is more straightforward and a lot more embarrassing for all involved, as an alleged representative for a site named WebDesign.org shared a lot of private search info all over Twitter.
‘Vince’ sent a tweet toward T-Mobile alerting them that some paid-for links placed a couple of years ago were due for renewal. It’s a way a number of SEOs earn their money – put a link on a website for a client and charge for its placement over a certain period of time.
Paid-for links are, of course, one of Google’s biggest no-nos. The link in question that Vince mentions appears to point toward T-Mobile’s Blackberry phones, suggesting that the company has previously paid for an anchor text link to rank higher in Google for its products.
Whether this is or isn’t the case Vince’s naivety in publicly flouting Google’s rules is astounding. Predictably Vince’s tweets attracted high-profile attention, with Matt Cutts even weighing in to make it explicitly clear that he was watching and disapproved.
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 20, 2014
Expect big penalties for both WebDesign.org and T-Mobile, or at the very least their search teams having to spend a lot of time cleaning up spammy backlinks.
Are Vince’s tweets the most cringe-worthy thing you’ve seen in SEO? What will the ramifications be? Let me know below!
Is gaming the system worse than paid links?
I understand and sympathise with webmasters that are finding it hard to build links, especially after the blow to MyBlogGuest.
I can see both sides of the story. Google has warned about guest posts and has taken action. Its rules on link building have been set in stone for years, and hitting MyBlogGuest is a very notable scalp as Ann Smarty suggests.
MyBlogGuest’s mission statement has always been about sharing fresh content, with Smarty pointing out over Twitter that other platforms openly flout the rules and support paying for links.
On the surface of things, Ann’s vision for MyBlogGuest is entirely the opposite of Vince’s philosophy and everything he represents.
I can only assume that Google has penalised MyBlogGuest for its system.
No system is perfect and Google must have some suspicion that MyBlogGuest was being gamed by some sections of its community for link purposes.
For such a hard penalty they must have evidence that more community members than not were taking advantage of MyBlogGuest to build more links, rinse, and repeat on a regular basis.
But wouldn’t a warning to the site’s moderation team have made more sense than penalising absolutely everybody that has posted a blog in good will (or otherwise) with MyBlogGuest?
How do I earn an ethical link then?
Google can’t think that the blogs being bandied around with MyBlogGuest were of a high enough quality or the penalty wouldn’t have been so severe, surely?
To earn a link of real value then you can’t just string together a few words and propose an article. Your post has to press the audience’s buttons, use PR and data to drill its point across and catch attention.
A social presence and personal brand looks more important than ever before when earning links. Creating your very own portfolio and updating it regularly is a great way to catch attention.
Interacting with your community on social platforms regularly is essential. Create content with different angles than the norm and share it with people to get them talking.
Be an authority, create regular content, and share it with the right people, wherever they may be spending their time on social media.
Or just ignore Google completely and champion Bing, as MyBlogGuest has done very well visibly on its front page recently!
If you’d like to learn more about the current state of link building and how it can help your brand’s visibility contact us today.