Startups
Now Reading
RIP MyBlogGuest

RIP MyBlogGuest

by Brad MerrillJanuary 23, 2014

In the past, I’ve been a big fan of MyBlogGuest for connecting with guest bloggers. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a ton of great writers, and have even invited some of them to contribute to VentureBreak on a regular basis. But I’m sad to say that MyBlogGuest has signed its death certificate.

Since the very beginning, our guest posting policy has been to add a “rel=’nofollow'” attribute to all links. This prevents Google and other search engines from following the link and using it to calculate search rankings. As such, it protects both parties from incurring a penalty for manipulating search results with an unnatural link (you can hear Google’s official stance on this here). I’ve always done this, and no one has ever complained.

Until now.

I accepted a guest post from Nancy Baker on MyBlogGuest, added the “nofollow” attribute to all links, published it, and carried on with my day. Very quickly I got an email from the guest blogger:

Hey!

Hope you are going great…:)

The link provided in the Bio of the article : “5 Ways To Stop Your Logo From Sucking If You Use DIY Software” is marked as no-follow.

Can you please remove the no-follow tag?

Regards,

Nancy.

I responded as kindly as possible, informing her of our long-standing policy:

Nancy,

Doing great – I hope your holiday season is going well!

Thanks so much for the post, but per our guest posting guidelines, byline links are always nofollow in order to avoid search engine penalties. This benefits us and you, and we hope you can understand. You’re still getting human traffic, of course!

Cheers,

Brad

That should have been the end of it. But three days later, MyBlogGuest managing partner Sana Knightly was in touch:

Hey there,

You nofollowed guest link in this post http://venturebreak.com/2013/12/19/5-wa … -software/

Please fix it, and let me know when it’s done.

Regards,

Sana Knightly
MyBlogGuest Managing Partner

Before I had the chance to reply to this message, my account had been banned from using the service, which includes private messages, so I decided to use the main contact form to get my point across in an email, reprinted below:

Hi Sana,

In accordance with VentureBreak’s long-standing guest posting policy, we did indeed nofollow the link. I see no issue there, as it prevents both the author and us from incurring a penalty from Google. Guest posting is typically done to boost one’s credibility and to reach a new audience, hopefully drawing some of that audience to your own site. Doing it for search engine cred and complaining when we nofollow the link is rather spammy, and again, may result in search ranking penalties for both parties.

I really love the MBG service – VentureBreak is one of the most active publishers here – but to require that all links be dofollow is a poor choice. I’d hate to leave the community, but I cannot abide by such a rule.

My suggestion to you would be to allow sites to specify – in their profiles somewhere – whether they allow dofollow links. Doing so would improve the experience for everyone: for guest bloggers who care about link-building, it would show them which sites to avoid; and for publishers, it would help weed out the spammy authors.

I care very much about quality, as I’m sure you all do as well. I hope you can understand my stance on this.

Brad

After nearly a month of waiting, it’s clear that the folks at MyBlogGuest feel no need to respond to my concerns, so I’m calling them out publicly.

As of now, I can no longer recommend MyBlogGuest to bloggers who care about quality. This requirement is going to turn the service into a spam dump, and that’s something serious publishers should avoid.

UPDATE (3/19/14): Google Just Killed MyBlogGuest, Confirming The End Of Guest Blogging For SEO

About The Author
Brad Merrill
Brad Merrill is the founder and former editor of VentureBreak.
  • Daron

    I agree that this is all infuriating, but what strikes me is that they didn’t have the decency to respond. Rule #1 of good customer service is to work with your users until the issue is resolved, no matter how unpleasant the user is. And in this case, you weren’t unpleasant at all…you were very professional throughout the situation. I’m surprised by their apathy.

  • Ok, Brad, we are not here to enforce any rules for YOUR own blog. But if you want to use MyBlogGuest, you have to follow our rules! I don’t believe in nofollow: If you done’t like the link and cannot “vote” for it, DON’T use the guest post. Nofollow is a terrible solution because it encourages bad editors to use free content. If they can’t vote for the link while still linking, that means they DON’T care about their users who may still click that link. That doesn’t make sense to me! You? Until nofollow links become official Google’s requirement, we won’t allow it within MBG for that exact reason: there are no bad links in a guest post: That’s the job of the editor: To see if ALL the links are good enough to go live on YOUR blog. If they are not (for any reason which is up to the editor), that must mean they are not good for users as well, THAT’s why that guest post should never be published on that blog. Just skip it. Move on to another guest post until you find the one where you love the content and ALL the links in it

    • Ann,

      It has nothing to do with editors liking or disliking the author’s link. In my case, I check every link before I even think about publishing a guest post to ensure that my readers aren’t getting screwed in any way. But just because I can “vote” for the link does not make it a *natural* link.

      Google imposes penalties for unnatural links that are marked “dofollow.” This happens in the cases of guest posts, sponsored posts, and paid contextual links.

      Google’s John Mueller has stated publicly that, as a general rule, author-serving links in guest posts should be marked “nofollow.”

      I understand that users of your service have to follow your rules. But when a service enacts rules that are bad for the users, those users are well within their rights to leave.

      • Why aren’t those links natural? If they are not natural, the article should be rejected…

        And I didn’t mean to say you were a bad editor, I was explaining our attitude to nofollowing author’s links; And that attitude is: “It kills guest blogging because it encourages bad editors who don’t care about the links as soon as it’s nofollow”

        Further on, why nofollow? Hasn’t Google made it clear that we need to be natural? What’s natural in “nofollowing” links? Why should a good writer and a careful editor even care about the attribute? Links are links as soon as they make sense. Guest post links are editorial because editors approve them together with the article.

        Bloggers are not paid for placing articles and links. That’s the beauty of the concept: Editors take content they LOVE. If they have any doubts, they don’t use the content. Why do we need semi-measure here when it’s so simple and beautiful?

        • They’re not natural because they are self-serving links. If I have a blog about widgets, and you have a store that sells widgets, you may want to guest post on my blog in exchange for a link to your store in the byline. That’s fine and dandy. But when Google sees that link, it interprets it as an endorsement by my blog of your store, which – even if I love your store – is a conflict of interest because you wrote the post in exchange for the link. The link is the compensation. In such cases, Google recommends nofollow.

          • I don’t get it: This is the unfortunate misinterpretation of links. If you, as you say, like the store, then why would Google be mistaken to count that link in their algorithm? If you don’t like the store (and probably your users won’t like it as well), why to link then? There’s no semi-solution here: You either like or dislike the store, i.e. you either link or not, i.e. you either publish the guest post or move on until you find one you WANT and agree to endorse!

          • ghosthendrikson

            The irony of coming back today and reading this conversation has provided me with a very entertaining evening.

    • Looks like you might benefit from this video as well:

      • dsottimano

        When you have something of value to provide to the conversation rather than just posting a WM video, let us know. What exactly is your position in this situation other than regurgitation? Here, let me help you out. See this? http://analytics.blogspot.com.es/2014/03/storytelling-with-data-using-measureful.html it’s the Google Analytics blog, see the first line? The following is a guest post from John Koenig, CEO at Measureful. Guess what? BOTH links are followed. That… is a complete contradiction to the rules from the people who set the rules. Do your research and contribute meaningfully!!

        • I know all about research. I went to college for 8 years. There are always many, many opinions presented and you make a choice in the end. My choice is not the same as yours. Everyone is allowed to have their own choice. There is no need to so negatively attack other people who make a different choice. Please do not reply.

          • nightowl

            You’re a moron… when your site gets penalized for following their ‘guidelines’, then come back here and post ok?

          • I’m a very educated, intelligent person. I’m praying for you.

          • I’m praying for you.

          • dsottimano

            I would prefer 20 bucks, or pepperoni pizza to be honest.

          • I’m praying for you.

          • Rush

            Why pray, rather than continuing the conversation? Oh wait, that’s right…it’s because you’re a TROLL who follows an incredulous and tyrannical entity that will condemn you to an eternity in HELL if you don’t follow religion blindly.

          • dsottimano

            Why wouldn’t I reply? Can you honestly say you weren’t being negative towards MBG in your original comment? “I have never seen a company or organization be so defensive – and even read posts like this! It actually creates more BAD PR for the company to be so defensive.” You didn’t look at all the facts, and the fact that you went to college for 8 years doesn’t impress me. Yes, we are all entitled to our opinions but YOU made the initial choice to be negative by patronizing one of the top professionals in our industry with a WM video.

          • I’m praying for you.

        • Good find. John’s guest post is the perfect example of Google’s ‘do as I say, not as I do’ policy.

    • mswansonxi

      *NOW* do you believe in no-follow?

      • +1

      • Hannah

        MBG should not have been penalized, whether they enforced dofollow or not. They weren’t forcing anybody to post links they didn’t vouch for, and it’s short sighted and I want to say even weak to insist that we should nofollow everything out of fear of Google. The fault should fall on owners of crappy sites.

        It’s up to the site owner who is accepting content to vouch for the links or not. It’s simple – if you can’t vouch for the links, you shouldn’t post the blog. So just don’t take the content, period, if you aren’t willing to legitimately link to the relevant sources.

        Brad shouldn’t have posted the guest blog if he wasn’t willing to vouch for the author’s link. MBG shouldn’t have been penalized for expecting people to hold their sites to this standard. Rather, the sites abusing the service to post irrelevant or poor content and links should have. Ideally, this wouldn’t include someone like you, Brad, because if the blog you used was quality, and the link was relevant, Google has no reason to go after this, as there’s nothing unnatural about it. The closest it gets to unnatural is that there was a community that introduced you to people with content, and vice versa. What on earth are we supposed to do if we can’t post relevant content that links to relevant sites? What are we supposed to do if we’re not allowed to group up and introduce people who have content with people who have websites? Go home and hide under the covers?

        Why does nobody understand the concept? Don’t just bow down and nofollow everything for fear of Google. Stand behind the content you post and only post content that you ARE willing to legitimately link to. I have a blog listed on MBG and never posted anything from the service because I never found anything that was perfect for my site in the few searches I did. It doesn’t mean that if there is a blog that’s perfect for my site in the future, that it’s unnatural of me to accept that content and give it a followed link. Why? Because I’m being extremely discerning with what goes on my site, and am not going to put up content I don’t vouch for 100%! If that’s what you’re taking content for, you shouldn’t be taking content at all.

      • No I don’t

        • mswansonxi

          Well, Google *does*. And, as we all know, Google holds 49 of the 52 cards in the deck. While you can talk about doing what you think is right, at the end of the day, Google calls the shots. You may not agree with it, and you may not like it, but it is what it is. It’s easier to join an army of 1000 than fight that army by yourself.

          • I am not by myself

          • dsottimano

            Definitely not alone Ann 🙂

          • Tambourette

            It’s easier to join an army of 1000 than fight that army by yourself.

            You’ll just change sides like this? Not very loyal, are you?

            There are plenty of others like you out there, Ann.

            If you can’t vouch for a link, don’t publish it. No-follow stinks of link manipulation. Didn’t Google say links should not be manipulated?

          • Actually, nofollow prevents link manipulation.

  • Sana Knightly

    Brad, it’s so nice of you to admit that you refused to follow our rules.
    Yes, it’s you and only you who decide what to publish and where to link to from your blog. You have a great blog, and I personally like it! But being a member of any community you have to follow the rules. If you are not going to do this (for your own valid reasons) it’s kind of obvious that we just can’t let you keep breaking the rules, and keep adding no-follow to guest links – our authors do not want this to happen!
    We have obligation to keep the community clear and safe. And I’m sorry, but we are not obliged to keep in touch with anyone who openly says “Your rules are crap, and I’ll keep breaking them”…
    BTW the article is still live at your blog. Don’t you think it would be have been more fair to remove it as soon as you got the first message from the *author*, and give her a chance to find another blog with a do-follow link for it?
    You can blame me as long as you wish, but the author didn’t do anything anything wrong…

    • The author didn’t do anything wrong, you’re right. The link in question has been marked “dofollow” to rectify the issue for her.

      But the larger problem still stands, which is the fact that these links open the door to search engine penalties. That’s why I’m no longer interested in the community. My intention is not be argumentative and shout that I’m right for the sake of being right – I actually love the premise behind MBG. But I do have an issue with requiring publishers to do something that Google frowns upon.

      • Sana Knightly

        Thank you Brad! I appreciate that you changed the link, and I’m sure the author is happy now.
        As for Google… In all Matt’s scary messages and videos the only point that really matters is that at the end he always talks about quality. And that’s what we believe in! We believe that if guest blogging is done right – you will only benefit from it! And if you have doubts whether it’s safe to link out to a specific site or not – then just skip it, let the author keep looking.
        There are two parties behind a guest post: an author and a publisher. We care about both. That’s why we insist that quality guest posting is important for both!

        • Jake

          How’d this work out for you?

          • I’ll tell you how that’s worked out for them… I was contacted by an author a few hours ago asking me to REMOVE their entire author bio and links to their website because they received a warning from Google… I’m sure more will follow… 😉

            Not to mention the fact that my MGB account was also banned because I changed the author bio from over-optimized key phrase anchor text to a branded link in one of the articles I published a year and a half ago. The best part is that I told the author I was changing it when I published the article and they agreed. Now a year and a half later they complained and I got banned, no questions asked, and no investigation…

          • Quality.

          • Bhaskar

            Even I started getting emails from authors to remove the links from my blog, as soon as matt announced the penalty. I have a couple of blogs associated with MBG.

    • I feel like you need to watch this video from Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g37bwBlifnk

  • Ryan

    Can’t believe you caved in, Brad. Why risk your business because these self-promoting white-knights get up your butt? Wah wah wah, Ann. Give me a break.

    Go spew some BS to the IMN team. Seriously.

    You guys didn’t check other posts to see if the links were no-followed or not?

    Yes, he may be using your service, but it’s HIS site. You don’t own it. Get over it.

    • I am not sure why you won’t get over it 🙂 We did that long ago…

      That’s absolutely Brad’s blog and Brad is welcome to do whatever he wants with it. No one argues with that. And I am not sure why we would check other articles on HIS blog as well…

  • This conversation thread is VERY interesting to me. I have never seen a company or organization be so defensive – and even read posts like this! It actually creates more BAD PR for the company to be so defensive. It reminds me of this post I have called Customer Service 101: Excuses, Excuses

    • You are right, Liz. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I did need the outside look at the situation. I am not sure if any of us even apologized to Brad and he was our dedicated member! His issue should have been handled differently and I do get that (I guess that point of mine got lost in me proving my point here).

  • I am sorry to be over-protective, Brad. I do think your issue should have been handled on a more careful and positive level. Don’t think that we ignore users’ feedback (both positive and negative). Actually the whole platform was built solely on the user feedback. I do hope we haven’t lost that while we were growing. We are working on the new design, focus and feature-set. I am hoping you’ll give us another chance in the future!

    • No hard feelings on my end, Ann. I’m definitely interested in hearing what’s in store for the future!

  • Micsten

    Looks like MyBlogGuest just got slapped by Google. They aren’t appearing for brand term search and Matt Cutts has recently Tweeted they have hit a guest Blog Network.

  • Pingback: “myblogguest” Just Hit By a Google Penalty | Link audit blog()

  • john watson

    looks like you were right all along, good call, funny how they called it the NEW SEO http://www.seosmarty.com/old-vs-new-link-building-strategies/ when clearly it was manipulation and has been called a lot also on http://linkaudit.co.uk/blog/myblogguest-just-hit-by-a-google-penalty/

  • Pingback: A requiem for MyBlogGuest - Trevin's Blog()

  • Pingback: Additional Thoughts On The MyBlogGuest Story()

  • Pingback: MyBlogGuest: Another One Bites the Dust | News Stuff()

  • Chipper Nicodemus

    Brad have you been penalized? I think the fact that MBG forced people to include a follow link is a reason why they got hit.

    • That’s exactly why. VentureBreak has not been penalized (because we nofollow all links in guest posts), but there is a great deal of panic within the MBG community.

  • Pingback: Bi-Weekly Marketing Round Up: March 21, 2014 - Intertwine Marketing()

  • Great article. That’s a definite no-no on their part. In today’s SEO climate, the publisher cannot trade dofollow links for content. It’s as simple as that really. I think a website like MBG can still exist, but the power needs to be given back to publishers and not authors. Authors should want to publish their content on worthy blogs, not just any blogs in order to get a dofollow backlink. I’d rather get an article published on Forbes and get a nofollow link, than on 20 crappy PageRank2 websites which look like their only purpose is to flow PageRank to other websites.

  • Pingback: Tales from a #Pubcon Virgin: Reputation Matters on Day 3 - JLH Marketing()

  • It amazes me that a post like this gets such a heated argument but when I posted about little girls getting raped repeatedly in third world countries, crickets. #FirstWorldProbz #LOL We are living in the end times, people. Pray to Jesus for forgiveness, change your ways (repent) and live a new life. This kind of stuff is NOT THAT IMPORTANT. Ripping Brad’s head off (or mine for being on his side) isn’t going to get any of you anywhere. Now I’m off to change the world… (literally)

    • Eric Price

      Oh boy, how did the religious nuts find this post? The first sentence of this comment was coherent and sensible, but then the delusion took over. Look forward to hearing your reply to this one Brad.

      • This post is not about religion. I don’t share Liz’s worldview either, and I encourage *respectful* discussion/debate on my personal blog ( http://bradmerrill.net/topics/religion/ ), but VentureBreak is the last place to have a war about it. Please, let’s leave it at that.

        • Eric Price

          Meh. Not what I was looking for. But fair enough.

  • Pingback: Google Slams the Door on Guest Blogging for SEO - FirePress()

  • Pingback: Why has Google Penalized MyBlogGuest.com « Web Marketing Blog()

  • Filipino Store

    Wonderful post

  • indiejudge.com

    Google is a nazi dictator. If this keeps up, Google will shoot itself in the head, a fitting end to a suicidal enterprise. Stop penalising and start supporting Google. Matt Cutts is a moron, don’t believe his lies. It’s just a rouse, misdirection and cheap talk. Cutts wants you to lose support for MBG. They can’t technically penalise you and their spiders can be deceived nevertheless, so Cutts says something cheap to distract you and so that you retract your support. Just because one idiot spams doesn’t mean everyone does. There are still people who care about quality.

  • benito

    MyBlogGuest rules are very clear, people giving you their articles for free expect to get a dofollow link from you, if you are not ok with that you shouldn’t have used the article nor the forum in the first place.

    • Actually, that’s the problem. The rules were not clear. Nowhere in their terms or guidelines did they mention nofollow/dofollow links until AFTER this whole fiasco.

  • Pingback: Tales from a #Pubcon Virgin: Reputation Matters on Day 3 | JLH Marketing()