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Earlier this year, Matt Cutts announced the 'death' of guest blogging for SEO, declaring it finished as a link building tactic.
Now, following a tweet by Cutts announcing that action has been taken on a 'large guest blog network', it seems that, though Google hasn't confirmed it, MyBlogGuest is the 'victim'.
It no longer ranks for its own brand name, a classic sign of a Google penalty, while I can't see it anywhere for terms like 'guest blogging'.
Seemingly Google wants to send another message about guest blogging, so what does this mean?
Here's the Matt Cutts tweet from earlier today:
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
And the evidence. The site no longer ranking for its own brand name. It did have a PPC ad there earlier today, though this has since been removed.
MyBlogGuest is a network which connects guest bloggers with sites looking for content. Until now it has had no problems with Google, and has had upwards of 250,000 articles placed on sites round the web.
However, it does advertise guest blogging as a link building tactic, which is risky given Matt Cutts' previous statements on the issue.
She commented that people should market as if Google didn't exist, making the point that depending on the search engine is an unwise tactic.
With Google becoming a competitor for many brands, as explained by Kevin Gibbons in a recent post, I can sympathise with that view. It seems Google didn't.
I asked SEO experts about this issue, and what it means for guest blogging...
Why has Google done this? Is it purely the concept of the guest blog network, or is there something else at play?
Rishi Lakhani, online marketing consultant:
Frankly, Guest blogging was way too easy a tactic for most businesses to build links through. As a result, Google had to take a stand.
It started with anchor text links in guest posts being hit last year, as I mentioned in a post for this blog, then there was Matt's post on guest blogging, and finally it had to drive the nail in deep and hard and hit the largest independent platform for guest bloggers.
Andrew Girdwood, media innovations director at LBi:
If you look at Matt Cutts' "Put a fork in it" post it did seem as if he had some reluctance to dismiss what had been a valuable part of blogger culture but had finally reached the limit with spammy guest posts. Google is a number cruncher. Once something is statistically likely to be a negative quality signal, it becomes a negative quality signal.
Coming after Matt Cutts' guest blogging warning earlier this year, was it unwise to continue to list link building as a guest blogging benefit?
Absolutely. I think it was a risk, but I think also, Ann felt that MyBlogGuest was doing the right thing by sticking to its policies. Looks like Google didnt like them and were hit as a result.
I was aware that MyBlogGuest made efforts to improve quality and head in the right direction. However, even if the operators and owners wanted that to happen, it seems that many of the platform users were still engaging in guest posts that came in below Google's quality guidelines.
What does this mean for the future of guest blogging?
My opinion to ANY blogger for over six months now has been to remove any mention of guest posts. Period. Even if they weren't done for link building, I would just remove and obliterate the phrase 'guest post' from my own sites categories, authors, tags etc. Its algorithmic fodder as far as I am concerned.
We made the decision to get out of guest posting some time ago. This was not because we have a problem with the concept of guest posting but because we found it very hard to ensure the quality of work we wanted. I suspect Google has similar views.
I blog and I foresee myself still publishing guest posts but these will be in-depth articles, from experts, perhaps without links. Will I go to anything that looks like a guest post marketplace for content or links? Certainly not.
While I can understand Google's actions here, I do think it's a shame that guest blogging is being devalued. In part, this is due to the overuse of the tactic - I'm certainly weary of emails from dubious guest bloggers.
We have responded to Matt Cutts' warning by making author bio links nofollow, as well as making it very clear that we do not offer links in return for guest posts.
Guest blogging allows us to publish useful content from a perspective our writing team can't always provide. From the point of view of a PPC manager working for a big brand for example.
In return, the guest blogger receives exposure in front of a readership of digital marketing and ecommerce professionals, and a chance to showcase their knowledge and skills.
For me, there's more value in that than a link or two.