Additional Thoughts On The MyBlogGuest Story
I broke a story yesterday morning that has been taking the Internet by storm: guest blogging network MyBlogGuest has, as I predicted, been penalized by Google. Specifically, they’re no longer appearing in Google search results for their name or any related keywords.
I originally wrote about MBG in January. I had a rather horrific experience with them where—long story short—they refused to let me add a ‘nofollow’ attribute to the links in guest posts I published, and then didn’t reply to my email about the situation for more than a month.
For the less HTML-savvy, a ‘nofollow’ attribute tells search engine spiders not to follow a link for ranking purposes, making the link invisible to Google, but still visible to humans. Google doesn’t like to use ‘unnatural’ links to develop their rankings, so when a blogger publishes a sponsored post, they’re expected to add ‘nofollow’ to those links. The same applies to guest posting—any self-serving links a guest blogger may have in their byline are expected to have a ‘nofollow’ attribute. I think I explained it best in a comment on my January post:
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 think it’s a fairly simple concept to grasp, even if you’re not a techie. Despite that, MBG co-founder Ann Smarty was (and is) very firmly against the concept of ‘nofollow’, presumably because she knows that her community is used largely as a link building network intended to manipulate Google search rankings.
Brett Dixon wrote a great blog post about the implications of this. He writes:
If your site was number 1 in Google after investing your time and resources into building your reputation and brand etc, how would you feel if a low quality site kicked you off the top spot simply because they’ve published a tonne of low quality guest posts on low quality sites and obtained backlinks?
Brett also included this screenshot of the service’s homepage, where there’s a clear contradiction between the “benefits for guest bloggers” and what they “allow”:
Neglecting to nofollow links in guest posts—particularly self-serving links—is clearly bad for the blogging community and search rankings as a whole, so naturally Google is taking action.
Following the story, I’ve seen some very interesting discussions on Twitter—some of which have speculated that the penalty was a direct reaction to my original post. Personally, I think it had more to do with Ann Smarty’s “fuck you, Google” mentality. Of course, now that Google has dropped the hammer, publishers on MyBlogGuest will have the option of nofollowing links in the author byline. I think it should be a requirement, as does Google, but it’s a step in the right direction.
As of now, I stand by the statement I made in January: “I can no longer recommend MyBlogGuest to bloggers who care about quality.”