Yesterday morning, Matt Cutts announced via Twitter that Google "took action" on a large guest blog network.
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
What many marketers familiar with the industry read between the lines was that Matt Cutts probably meant Ann Smarty's MyBlogGuest. Indeed, later that day, a search for My Blog Guest returned only links to MBG's social media profiles in the results.
Then the penalty was later officially confirmed by the service's founder herself.
The industry reacts
To those unfamiliar with how guest blogging devolved from being a legitimate marketing practice to being viewed as some outlawed activity, MyBlogGuest's penalty may seem justified.
But I'd be inclined to think that anyone who shares this view simply hasn't been in online marketing long enough.
Because many people who have, actually expressed their support of Ann Smarty and puzzlement with Google's move. And I am talking about such big names like Michael King, Aleyda Solis, Joe Hall, Tadeusz Szewczyk, and others.
.@MyBlogGuest was a service connecting independent writers and publishers. Not a link network or farm.— Alan Cairns (@lancairns) March 19, 2014
By the way, as Ann herself tweeted with irony she “never realized MyBlogGuest was so popular”.
MyBlogGuest strikes back
Although currently at a PubCon conference, Ann Smarty took the time to react to the penalty issued by Google to MyBloGuest. Apart from the confirmation tweet, she also published a post on SeoSmarty.Com, in which she outlined the main points of her take on the matter.
What’s really interesting, the actual message Ann received from Google in Webmaster Tools suggests that Google has a problem with links pointing to the MyBlogGuest website itself – not with the links people have created by using the service:
Ann also urged anyone who thinks their site may have been affected because of using the platform to email her directly, and not to simply nofollow the links to the guest articles they discovered on MyBlogGuest without discussing it with the authors.
What the surface-scratchers are missing
I remember the time when MyBlogGuest was just starting out. SEOs "born" around the time of Matt Cutts famous stick-a-fork-in-guest-blogging remark will probably not remember this, but when MBG was launched, there was nothing wrong with guest blogging itself and Ann’s service had a beautiful idea behind it.
The idea was to connect guest bloggers with expertise in their areas with publishers willing to add professional contributions to their online resources.
As far as I know, Ann Smarty's project was the first in its kind (with many clones springing into existence afterwards), and it has always remained the best-moderated one. So, just because it was so far abreast of its current
copycat competitors, it was the most obvious target for Google to fire at.
Hence, what people bashing Ann Smarty and saying 'we told you so' are missing is that, like any good practice, guest blogging got simply jumped to by hordes of web spammer when certain related link spamming techniques (such as article submissions) died out.
The one mistake Ann Smarty has made
In order to make what I’m going to say next clearer, let me give you my personal retrospective on how guest blogging’s name became tarnished.
Originally, guest blogging was something link spammers didn’t care to do, because they were too lazy for it. Back then, even Matt Cutts recognized that authoritative, genuine blogging had the right to exist (he actually still thinks so, but says it has gotten “way spammy”).
Come the Penguin update, and many easy-to-do link building methods that utilized content among other things were rendered ineffective. I’m talking about such tactics as forum link spamming, article submissions, etc. This resulted in a flood of guest posts requests from former article spinners looking to make up for the opportunities they’d lost.
And there was MyBlogGuest, a platform created for beautiful purposes, but that involuntarily allowed for abuse by those who wanted to abuse it.
Now, back to the point of this section – the only mistake I think Ann Smarty had made. This mistake was, I believe, not giving publishers a mechanism that’d let them nofollow links in guest posts (if they wanted to), since launching the platform.
In her yesterday’s post, Ann said MBG would now provide this opportunity to publishers:
But, again, her philosophy is that, basically, each guest post should be rewarded with a FOLLOWED link back to the author’s site. That rang a bell for me. I remember how Matt Cutts once said that the reason followed guest posts links are not natural is that they are not votes publishers cast for the site or service they like. They are votes publishers cast for the piece of content they like, and that’s different.
I kind of hate to admit it (taking the context of the subject I’m writing on), but this particular reasoning makes sense to me. Does it sound logical to you? What would you say?