Google Penalizes MyBlogGuest: Today’s White Hat is Tomorrow’s Black Hat
Yesterday it was confirmed that the popular tool and site MyBlogGuest was targeted and penalized in Google’s highly anticipated fight against guest blogging. MyBlogGuest allows both publishers and writers to connect and share content with no exchange of money aside from the monthly fee to use the service. What content gets posted and where is entirely up to both publisher and writer, which has been part of its appeal compared to other services that provide more automated tactics and do not always ensure a high level of quality control.
So why punish those that merely facilitate these interactions? So far, speculation has focused on the fact that as part of signing up with MBG, publishers are required to “dofollow” the links included for the writer, which can be seen as a form of compensation and is clearly in place for SEO benefit. Naturally, this key factor is what has been great for SEO to date, as the industry struggles to find more scaleable ways to drive quality links that follow all of Google’s Ts & Cs. We have used MyBlogGuest and other such content distribution services at Location3, as this has been both a viable and appropriate approach for several years.
It’s not that long ago that guest blogging was considered a white hat form of link building. When paying for sidebar links was a common practice, yet scorned by the search engines, many of us turned to guest blogging as a legitimate way to create content that was high quality, relevant to the publisher and generated links while still being able to include partially optimized anchor text that fit in context with the surrounding content. We used tools like MyBlogGuest to help scale some of these efforts, as doing it manually (which we continue to do) takes a lot of time and resources. But as they say, “today’s white hat is tomorrow’s black hat.” Things change – Google makes sure of that – and in order to keep playing the game we must adapt and move forward.
What To Do If You Used MyBlogGuest
The first thing to do is keep a close eye on Google Webmaster Tools for any sort of penalties that may have been incurred as a result of existing relationships with MyBlogGuest. Some publishers have reported receiving penalties, but so far none from the writers’ perspective that I’ve seen up to this point. Perhaps MyBlogGuest will lift their “dofollow” policy and allow publishers to start adding the “nofollow” as a means for avoiding negative consequences. This might also help MyBlogGuest keep their business afloat, as I am sure they’re currently experiencing a mass exodus from their platform as we speak.
If you do incur a penalty, start cleaning up those backlinks and either get the nofollow placed or have the link removed altogether. Obviously there is still a lot of value in guest blogs for brand awareness and thought leadership, so don’t remove the content – just deal with the link.
How to Move Forward with Link Building
If you, like I, still believe there is value in getting links because the algorithms say so (and they do), then here are some ideas of how to continue acquiring them:
For local or multi-unit businesses, local listing or citation-building can be extremely worthwhile. There are opportunities with the standard local business directories, and those are actually valuable to residents in a particular town or city.
Once you go beyond that point, you need to be a little more creative. A good first step is to build relationships with other local businesses that relate to your own in some capacity. For example, a hotel business might reach out to companies that will be holding big events at the nearby convention center. Perhaps they offer a discount to attendees? Or maybe your hotel has a great wedding package that could be included in a local wedding coordinator or catering company’s “resources for brides” section?
Do you see where I’m going with this? Think about the value your company has to offer your community, and be creative. If that value can translate for the audience of another business, then there exists an opportunity.
These same concepts apply to enterprise-level link building as well. Find the value a company provides to its customers, community and other businesses, and then pitch that story to websites and bloggers that would find the information interesting to talk about. For example, maybe you have a unique internship program that provides employment opportunities to hundreds of college graduates? Who might find this of interest? Colleges and universities with eligible students, career advice blogs and internship list sites, and a host of others. Maybe you donate part of your sales to the humane society to help stop animal abuse? I bet there are a lot of animal-related bloggers out there that might find this story appealing and might even recommend that their readers spend money with you.
Build Relationships, Not Links
While there are concerns with guest posting as an SEO-only tactic (i.e., with the main objective being obtaining links), we know there are benefits from an awareness and thought-leadership perspective and we will continue to look for these opportunities. The objective here is not to simply build links, but rather to build relationships.
Furthermore, taking this approach can actually lead to links and other SEO benefits. When the content provided is high quality and compelling, people will naturally be interested in linking to it as a result. Additionally, increased exposure of a brand across numerous sites and social networks leads to more familiarity and recognition of that brand, thus leading to increased searches on Google and an overall positive impact on ranking. It’s may not amount to the instant gratification or results you crave, but you can’t always (and sometimes ever) take the easy way out.
We will be keeping an eye on the MyBlogGuest situation and the entire guest blogging conversation, and will address any new information here as it comes up.
Thanks to Angie Pascale for her contributions to this blog post.