In January 2014 Matt Cutts warned that guest blogging for SEO is dead and it caused lots of discussion among online marketers.
After revising his original statement, Matt Cutts said: “It seems like most people are getting the spirit of what I was trying to say, but I’ll add a bit more context. I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future…
I just want to highlight that a bunch of low-quality or spam sites have latched on to ‘guest blogging’ as their link-building strategy, and we see a lot more spammy attempts to do guest blogging. Because of that, I’d recommend skepticism (or at least caution) when someone reaches out and offers you a guest blog article.”
Whew, okay Matt… I thought you were throwing guest blogging under the bus. I mean, what online business doesn’t get lots of link requests for not only guest blogging but for link exchange, comment spam, directory listings and much more?
Another reason online marketers were disappointed with Cutts statement is because it adds more fear into the world of blogging. Trisha Agarwal expressed it in her comment:
“Google has said many times to produce great content that will earn links but they have embarked on a mission to scare webmasters into being very selective with who they link to… This article does nothing but scare webmasters and makes it harder for us to create value and gain traffic.”
In mid March, Matt Cutts publicly announced that Google had taken action against a large guest blog network. Soon it was confirmed that it was Ann Smarty’s MyBlogGuest.com (MBG).
If you’ve used MBG as I have, you know there are checks and balances in place so that articles are published when and if the editor approves it. If a submitted article isn’t considerably good, it will likely never be picked up since there are so many authors to choose from. MBG has done a great job of bringing authors and editors together and facilitating collaboration. This along with other reasons make MBG a great place to find high quality content and plublishers. MBG did what they could to prevent link buying.
Steve Gerencser of SEO Training Dojo made this point about G’s action:
“This is no different than hiring a copywriter… the only difference is instead of handing them cash, you’re saying yes I will link to your author profile…”
Within days of Google’s MBG penalty, they also handed out manual penalties to many of the blogs that have participated in MBG’s free community. Obviously, G thinks that some of the links in MBG guest posts violate their quality guidelines.
I asked Ann Smarty, owner of MyBlogGuest, what she thinks:
Our biggest issue was there were LOTS of genuine guest bloggers and authors – and it was alarming a lot of people would be sacrificed in this war against low-quality guest blogging – which actually did happen.
It was also obvious Google is unable to tell a good link from a bad link – so instead of fixing their algorithm, they are using PR to scare people off and have them report each other – which is just evil
Me: Someone said Google is using fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to scare people about this issue and they are using a well known brand, MyBlogGuest, to do it. What is Google attempting to do and what has been your response?
Ann: Yes, that’s the overall conclusion from the community. I am not sure what Google is trying to accomplish there. Such a scare campaign against the most transparent guest blogging brand that has been trying to promote Google’s standards and rules clearly shows that following the rules does NOT work. This means it will scare away only genuine people who try to do what Google says and encourage others to be sneakier. My response is here: http://www.seosmarty.com/i-apologize-to-our-community-for-being-transparent-myblogguest/
In her post, Ann apologizes for being transparent, “We never hid our sites or users, we never dropped the word ‘guest’, we were publicly sharing our best achievements, etc”
And she explains what to do if your blog received a manual penalty due to participating in MBG’s community.
Many speculated that because MBG required publishers to keep all author links as do follow Google penalized them and MBG publishers. MBG now allows publishers the flexibility to nofollow byline links, but publishers must specify so authors know what to expect.
It’s likely that guest blogging will soon be considered a spammy practice that SEOs came up with to game G – a far cry from what guest blogging really is and has been. But that seems to be of no concern to a media giant like G who will use their influence to make a point regardless.
What you could be wondering now is why did Google pick on a reputable community like MBG when there are numerous blogs, splogs and real link networks that obviously run under G’s radar with respect to links and web spam practices?
This reminds me of a US President who seeks to solve big problems with politics. For example, Obama’s campaign to drum up more Affordable Care Act subscribers and Michelle Obama’s campaign against vending and “unhealthy” snacks sold in public schools (programs that seem good for all the people until you dig down to the details).
Yes, Google is involved in politics and politicking, a.k.a. public relations (PR).
Every time Google interacts in a public forum for any reason, whether it is speaking at a conference, posting on a forum, releasing products, press releases, publishing blogs, conducting a hangout or employees interviewed, this is a form of public relations.
Ok, but why would Google need public relations, it’s so big anyway?
Google needs public relations for many reasons primarily because they don’t want to be perceived as a jerk who exploits other businesses for profit to maintain market dominance. Google has been considered a monopoly numerous times for different reasons and challenged by the US Justice Dept:
- Acquiring DoubleClick
- Digitizing books
- Acquiring the travel software company, ITA
- The Google antitrust probe in 2012
According to an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, Google launched a full-throttle public relations campaign years ago to explain why Google should be loved, not feared.
“Part of what’s prompting this charm offensive is the view within Google that Microsoft (MSFT) mishandled similar complaints… The Justice Dept. sued Microsoft in 1998, claiming it abused its monopoly power to curb competition in operating systems and Internet browsers, and there was talk about busting up the company.”
So it’s critical that Google attempts to keep public opinion of them more on the positive than the negative.
Matt Cutts is Google’s public relations agent to the online marketing community
He’s invited to all the major online marketing conferences like PubCon, SES, SMX, SXSW, etc. Matt answers questions on his blog, Youtube channel and focuses on webspam – he’s head of the webspam team at Google.
Sometimes Matt Cutts says things that can easily be misinterpreted by the SEO and online marketing community. For example, when Danny Sullivan (a well known tech journalist) interviews Matt, he clarifies, restates and sometimes interprets what Matt is saying to help marketers understand what is really being communicated. And sometimes Matt avoids answering Danny’s questions. Matt really needs Danny more than he may realize.
What I’m saying is in recent years Google solves problems without their algorithm:
- Matt Cutts makes an announcement or issues a warning
- At some point Google’s web spam team begins handing out lots of manual penalties related to the warning
- The word spreads that what Matt said is true or much worse and the majority of marketers adopt it as the new best practice
Now you might be wondering who is manipulating who?
The Matt Cutts PR machine is working quite well and if you haven’t noticed, Cutts spends a lot more time making short videos than ever before. Hmm, I wonder if there’s a correlation?
I could go on about Google’s PR, but if you still have the opinion that Google is all good you’re a tiny bit naive to not acknowledge that Google is very much involved in public relations designed to win the public’s love and trust and to push their agenda on webmasters and marketers.