Google does not like guest blogging for SEO purposes, since according to what Matt Cutts announced on January 20, 2013 it has become “more and more spammy“.
Cutts even declared guest blogging to be dead as an SEO practice. He did not want webmasters to rely on practices such as guest blogging SEO, guest blogging sites or guest posting as a means of link building. The one exception he gave was if the guest blog was by someone the website owner knew well as a reliable source.
Google Murmuring about Guest Blogging for Quite Some Time
Google’s stance on guest blogging hasn’t come out of the blue. Back in October 2012, Google posted a video explaining its view on the practice of guest blogging. On July 9, 2013 Google advised webmasters to nofollow links generated through guest blogging. On October 16, 2013 Matt Cutts advised guest blogging to be carried out in moderation while on December 10, 2013 Cutts complained about the rise in spam through unhealthy guest blogging. Now Google seems to have outlawed the practice altogether.
Way Too Aggressive Penalizing
But according to a recent report in Search Engine Land, Google seems to have got too aggressive about this. It seems that a whole website – DocSheldon.com – was penalized because of one guest post which Google felt was not relevant. The SEO and content strategies website was penalized as a whole, as opposed to a single or a few pages. In the penalty report, Google stated the presence of unnatural links that caused it to apply a manual action to penalize the entire site. However, Google never specified what those links were. It was naturally a worrying situation for the website owner who decided to tweet an open letter to Google’s head of spam, Matt Cutts, to get to the bottom of this.
Cutts responded by referring to one hyperlink in one of the pages of the site. The page contained a guest post, and the hyperlink was present in the author’s bio section. This hyperlink connected toa site which Google believed was not related to what DocSheldon.com dealt with, though it can be argued to be connected with DocSheldon’s SEO information and content strategy data. The site to which the link pointed to dealt with Hispanic social networking best practices.
Google Decides Which Links are Irrelevant
Apparently Google did not think so, and presumed that the link was added for serving SEO needs and not for educating readers. It seems that Google decides which links are relevant and which are not and takes action accordingly. The other alarming fact was that this guest post was made back in March 2013, way before Google announced the updated guest post guidelines.
What this goes to show is that looking for innovative means to build links could backfire significantly. Search engine optimizers must focus on building audience and links would come naturally. It is better to be safe rather than risk penalties which would cost you traffic.
In DocSheldon’s case, the penalty was revoked after five days and saved the website owner a lot of heartache. Certainly Google’s penalty strategy warrants a change. In the DocSheldon site, Google could have penalized just the particular page where the link was placed instead of the entire site.
In any case, professional SEO companies keep abreast of Google’s approach towards guest blogging, link building and various other aspects. It would be wise for webmasters to seek the guidance of these specialists when it comes to deciding on the right tactic to enhance their online visibility.