The hysteria around Google's actions

by Tim Hill (aka Doodled)

September 24th 2014
Google Hysteria
Can the SEO community be too hysterical when reacting to Google's actions?

I came across this in my unpublished blog posts and thought it was a good reminder about how the SEO community sometimes reacts with hysteria to Google's actions but when the dust dies there really isn't any meat in the frantic responses.

The story surrounds a Google ban of Doc Sheldon's blog (Doc Sheldon being one of the more respected people in the SEO world) earlier this year.

The ban lead to Chris Crum of WebProNews penning a piece on entitled Google’s Attack On Guest Blogging Reignites Irrational Link Removal Craze. I added my own comment. Ann Smarty, founder of the controversial MyBlogGuest service (which also suffered a Google Ban) replied and there followed an interesting discussion.

Here it is, starting with my opening comment as well as a reply from a website called bloketoys.co.uk. I've made some small edits for readability, the raw conversation is here in the comments section.

At the end is Doc Sheldon's comments after reflecting on what had happened when the dust died down.

The conversation

Doodled

I've certainly seen hysteria but if you step outside the world of SEO where most bloggers live and many have not even heard of Matt Cutts things go on and there is none of this "Crikey, let's nofollow all the links in our guest blog posts" because there doesn't need to be.

Write a guest blog where there is only one link and that link is "beds" and it goes to a page on an eCommerce site selling beds. Then write 100 more guest blogs all similar and all with the same link to the same page [using the same keyword] and your going to get hit.

Unfortunately that was what MBG had become. A market place for content farms and content writers thinking that ezine didn't count because it was an article site but these other "blogs" counted because they were called blogs instead.

I don't see any need for genuine bloggers hosting genuine guest bloggers to panic. Spammy guest blogging is obvious to Google but alot of people are crying foul for having been caught red handed.

Bloketoys.co.uk

"Write a guest blog where there is only one link and that link is "beds" and it goes to a page on an eCommerce site selling beds. Then write 100 more guest blogs all similar and all with the same link to the same page and your going to get hit."

This is just the point, many of those using that service were not doing that. There are thousands of users actually using the site to share their knowledge, gain good content for their sites and encourage traditional marketing through cross-promotion.

Google paid no attention to this and - just as you have done - branded them all as black-hat without actually looking at the quality of the content, the uniqueness of the articles, or the lack of "trade" between participants. Google didn't just harm the main site making the matches between writer and publisher, Google devalued and attacked every site involved with them, regardless of their intentions.

Doodled

Google didn't. Every example I've been shown so far where a site received a penalty was spamming. All MBG did was give Google a huge database of potential spammers to check and then the casualties mounted up.

I seem to remember (tell me if I'm wrong) that you quoted your bloketoys . co . uk as one of four sites that were hit. So your site has over 67,000 backlinks from 117 domains on 80 IP addresses. 35,000 links were site wide and 7,400 were from images. Your anchor text is just way too obvious - 43% of all your links are the phrase "mens *** toys".

The list of reasons your website has been penalized (or should be penalized if I've got it wrong) goes on in an ever more unnatural way.

Ann Smarty

Oh come on! So we are now picking up on each other?

Now, just because you didn't meet good people on MBG you are now labelling the whole community? Are there no spammers on Facebook? I bet you, there are more spammers than normal people. No spammers on Twitter? Yes, spammers are the HUGE problem of the whole Internet and we were doing our best to fight it.

Is this the reason to attack genuine websites and communities? Google can have our brand name, they can throw us out of their Index (they didn't) but attacking people inside the community?? Are you seriously supporting that?

Doodled

Not sure what this is proving? Here we have a guy who has a blog about SEO copywriting and yet there are dozens of posts with unnatural, keyword rich outbound links on them. In the link you posted, check the comments section for the person who gives a number of examples via the waybackwhen machine.

It's just not how normal bloggers do links and Google has a manual ban specifically for unnatural outbound links.

That's not a genuine website being hit.

I won't be changing any links on my websites or those of my clients to nofollow because they are naturally placed, not keyword rich and genuine citations. Lets see if that is "more fool me" ;-)

Ann Smarty

Dozens? There are hardly three guest posts. And who decides whether SEO blog can/cannot post articles on social media? And these are OLD guest articles (at least one year old). So suddenly Google decides it's bad, goes back to times when it wasn't uncool and penalizes them?

Here's another one: socialmediasun.com
Disclaimer: I nofollowed links because contributors got scared (not my own choice) but it was slapped before that, naturally

Doodled

This, I believe, is where many are getting confused because they are only thinking about guest posts.

Doc Sheldon's blog contained dozens of posts with unnatural outbound links. It doesn't matter if they are his posts or guest posts, just that there are lots of posts like that.

But because all the buzz at the moment is about guest blogging people are assuming this ban is to do with guest blogs only ... it's not.

And yes, I agree with you. There was a time when Google told us to put the keywords in the links and now it has completely changed its mind and this positive has now become an offence.

The thing is most real bloggers outside SEO never knew the first bit of advice so didn't do keyword rich linking. Hence they didn't have to "undo" when Google changed the goal posts - which I accept and agree was unfair and hypocritical but there you go. They told us to list in directories once!

socialmediasun . com? What was the ban? 26% of pages that have a link to the site contain the phrase "best social media blogs".

As far as the site itself I've only had a quick look but the post "Mindboggling social media trends .." is written how I believe a post should be while "Are you engaging clients with Great ..." is unnatural because it contains only one link and it is keyword rich.

However without spending time to dig around how it did look (as many sites have scrambled to sort things out in the last few days) I can't go any further...

And needless to say with all the noise this issue has thrown up I'm pretty short of time. But I've been helping people clean up their blogs for over 18 months now (editing links that were too keyword rich) because the writing really has been on the wall.

Ann Smarty

Just a note: socialmediasun was hit for OUTbound links, so your note about inbound links is irrelevant..

And I fail to see any exact-match anchor text on "Mindboggling social media trends" page either...

Doodled

But ... to end this off ... doesn't anyone realise that the real winner in all of this is MyBlogGuest?

I've written a piece “Spam, ban, thank you Ma'am”. It looks at how big brand names have used Google manual penalties to their advantage.

Once MBG cleans up its backlink profile (which Google claims was the reason for that penalty), introduces some stricter policing to get rid of the spammers and gets a reconsideration request accepted by Google they are more than home free.

The buzz this story has generated means the site has a monumentally improved backlink profile that would have taken a month of Sundays to achieve … just as InterFlora and Rap Genius did before it.

Not saying it was planned, just saying MBG will, in the long term, be the winner!

Ann Smarty

I Binged it :)

The Doc Sheldon Outcome

There was far more hysteria beyond the discussion above on WebProNews. An Inbound thread titled This is insane. Period Matt Cutts on why Doc Sheldon's penalty was valid generated nearly 150 comments, most from people raging against the Google Machine.

But is was in this thread that Doc Sheldon admitted, “... the more I look at that guest post I approved, the more I wish I could slap myself upside the head. For the record, while I do think a sitewide penalty was over the top, I've never said a penalty was undeserved”.

The lesson?

When Google makes a change or carried out an action there will always be a fair amount of wailing, even from some pretty seasoned Search Engine Optimizers.

Don't get sucked into the panic, stay objective and give it a few days for the noise to die down before picking through the evidence to see if the hysteria was really justified.