Cutts: We Will Penalize Spammy Guest Blogging

Nov 13, 2012 • 8:53 am | comments (28) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Guest Blogging - Matt CuttsA month ago, I covered how Matt Cutts of Google said guest blogging can be good. But shortly after writing that, a client emails me about where they should place links in their guest blogs. Should they place two or one.

I sent him the video and they respond, "okay, so how many links." It is like I want to bang my head against a wall.

Now, Matt Cutts created another video about "spammy" guest blogging and how Google will take action against it. Here is the video, watch it:

Here is the automated transcript from YouTube:

0:00 today's question comes from india mindy did the asks currently guess plugin is
0:06 the favorite activity webmasters printing technician
0:09 due to its easy nature lots of spinning activities are going on like article
0:13 spending etcetera
0:14 is google going to hammer websites for links acquired by guest blog
0:18 it's funny because i did a video uh... another video recently about responding
0:23 and it was sort of like saying well can't it be a an ok activity i was so
0:27 it's sort of saying well if you get a really high quality ponder it can uh...
0:31 but this is the flip side and i wanted specifically address that as well
0:35 if if you were doing so many guests blogs that you were doing article
0:39 spending and likewise if you're allowing so many guest bloggers theory about
0:43 things like spun belongs where people are really writing real content of their
0:47 own and that is a pretty big had indicator of quality and
0:52 if your website links to sites that we consider low quality of spanish i can't
0:56 picture size reputation so the short answer is yes google is willing to take
1:00 action if we c_-span your low quality ordained exploding when everyone call it
1:05 it's basically just placing low quality articles on that side
1:09 and so i i would be cautious about using that as a primary link acquisition
1:13 strategy and if you have a website
1:15 we'll just let anybody post uh... probably the kinds of links that you get
1:19 embedded in those articles as a result might affect your site reputation so do
1:24 you think about that don't just enough a go of course it's called s body and
1:28 therefore it must be good you always as the site owner or as the person who's
1:33 trying to get links have to think about quality of the links the quality of the
1:36 content of the amount of work that's been is put into it and fundamentally
1:40 whether users are gonna be happy to end on that page if it's down to the level
1:44 where outspent activities are taking place one of the article spending or
1:48 really low quality syndication or whatever
1:51 that is the sort of thing where those results are going to make users are
1:54 happy
1:54 and therefore google is going to be interested in ways to stop it
1:58 so do you think about that whenever you're thinking about the the retina
2:00 kaspar post or
2:02 having a guest blogger place article on your site

So do you understand better? Good, so go with two links. Just kidding.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Mitch Bush

11/13/2012 02:00 pm

It may be automated but that transcript is pretty bad!


11/13/2012 02:00 pm

I think the real answer is this - just because you write a guest post doesn't mean you deserve keyword rich anchor text. Sorry, but that link should only serve as a citation of the author / source - your website. Of course, if you are citing particular content on your site and there is more relevant anchor text, use it, but don't just shove some keywords in.

Nick Stamoulis

11/13/2012 02:45 pm

As Matt said, the site owner has to think about the kind of links going out from their site. Even if you didn't write it, you are partially responsible for the content that is going out from your site. A link here and there is fine when it makes sense, but you don't have to give someone a link every 100 words when they are a guest blogger.

Michael Merritt

11/13/2012 03:20 pm

Where I work, we've been accepting guest posts on our blog over the last few months. I think I've kept my standards pretty high, and for this reason have not posted as many articles as some other sites might. However, I don't have any regrets as I know this means the blog will be of a higher-quality in the long-run.

Nick Ker

11/13/2012 03:25 pm

Right on. Like most of the things Google's webspam team has been targeting, guest blogging is a good thing that a lot of people are abusing by doing silly, spammy things that really don't make much sense - like accepting any and every blog post, or guest writing anywhere that will accept keyword-stuffed link carriers disguised as a blog post.

Eric Bridges

11/13/2012 03:36 pm

While I understand the frustrations with how people are taking advantage of guest blogging, I hope that Google doesn't go overboard on trying to penalize people. I think guest blogging create's a great online ecosystem that usually benefits everybody (site owner, guest blogger, and the reader). If you are letting spammy guest blogs go through, most likely you are letting poor quality content go through as well (which means you are going to eventually get pinged one way or another).

Buy ads

11/13/2012 04:40 pm

Google: Guest blogging can be good...we will penalize...maybe. Penguin, Panda, ads above fold, links give before 10 am PST....just buy ads for your site and shut up. Why would anyone listen to Matt Cutts, Google's chief POS, for advice is beyond me. He's pathological by now. All those penalties increased Google's ad clicks and revenues by 100% since Panda. A coincidence, huh?


11/13/2012 04:58 pm

I dunno, it's kinda zen. "you think about that don't just enough a go of course it's called s body"


11/13/2012 05:10 pm

I know this shouldn't annoy me so much but I am so sick of seeing your face pop up in these comment sections. You are never on topic with your replys and you always seem to parrot what is said without attempting to understand what you/the source are saying. If you had anything substantive to say you would elaborate just a little bit, or add an opinion, or pose a question... Go. Away. Please.

Patrick Williams

11/13/2012 05:35 pm

As a specialist in the SEO world, I run across spammy and poorly written posts every single day. It's giving the industry a really bad name and a black eye. I write guest posts for blogs all the time- I'm lucky if that allow me to leave in link in my Bio Section, if any at all. I think it's important for google to crack down on these spammy posts and bloggers and guest writers. It's obvious that the penguin and panda updates have changed the game once again! Sigh...

Barry Schwartz

11/13/2012 05:36 pm

Google should know better.

Jaimie Sirovich

11/13/2012 05:54 pm

The closed captioning on Youtube is always great after a glass of wine.

Dewaldt Huysamen

11/13/2012 07:20 pm

I do not think if your articles end up on good relevant authoritative blogs you have anything to worry about.


11/13/2012 10:11 pm

With all the changes and everything else that is going on I'll never understand why bloggers are still hung up on output to the point that quality is so sub par that it may cost them more than it's worth in the long run. Still, while I get why Google works as hard as it does to police the overall quality of pages/sites, I can't help feeling concerned. There is so much to keep track of these days and a simple miscalculation can land you being bars so to speak. Plus, the reality is a single change tomorrow could send many of us running for the hills despite following all the rules in place's like walking on eggshells sometimes.

Corey Northcutt

11/13/2012 10:58 pm

So Google's head of webspam is targeting webspam if you do it via a guest post as an outlet? Get out of here. :) I think it's funny that so many people get up in arms each time a video like this. It was the same gig when Matt Cutts recently mentioned infographics. And before that with article sites. And before that with designers putting their links in themes. Once again, the less to be learned is: don't spam. You know exactly what Google is working towards; it really hasn't changed much over hte years. You can still guest blog, create infographics, or write articles, just make them useful, and put them on sites that are genuinely clean/useful too.

Nick Ker

11/13/2012 11:14 pm

That "Google says they want up to date content so I am going to post something every day whether it is worthwhile or not" mentality is one of the silliest and most long standing SEO misconceptions there is. In my opinion, that has been a big contributor to the mountains of low quality and copied content that Google is now working to keep out of the search results. Can you believe that there are still plenty of website owners who are surprised that copying the work of others is not an OK thing to do and can't figure out why their site full of plagiarism does not rank high in searches? Google could have been more clear on what "regularly updated content" means, but I think they wrongly assumed that all webmasters have common sense. There really isn't much cause for concern about algorithm updates unless: 1) You know you are doing things that are spammy or are against Google's guidelines or 2) You never read through Google's Webmaster Guidelines and SEO Starter Guide (or didn't understand and never bothered to ask someone who does) Despite what a lot of people claim, Google has not really changed the rules, with the possible exception of the EMD update. I don't think G clearly addressed that before, other than the broader idea that you shouldn't do things just because you think it will help you rank higher. I know Cutts and others have hinted that it was a spammy practice, but I don't think it was specifically addressed in any earlier versions of the guidelines. Since most people who use keyword-rich domains are doing so because they expect it to rank better, then I guess it technically was addressed before it was an actual problem. Lesson to be learned: don't try to find loopholes or ways around the rules - just understand the intent of those rules. Simple miscalculations very rarely cause a problem, if ever. Now if you combine several miscalculations, or one of those miscalculations was buying links, doing hundreds of directory submissions with the same keyword anchor texts, or other dumb stuff - then you may have a problem. Just to humor those who feel Google is in fact changing the rules, if you use common sense and stick to the general concepts of Google's guidelines: Be real, provide a useful/usable website for your users, don't spam, don't try to game the system - you will do just fine. That "usable" part is where a lot of webmasters innocently fail - poor coding, confusing navigation, a structure which creates duplicate content, etc. But that goes back to the original reasons optimization of websites came about to begin with - to fix those problems that would confuse the search engines.

Nick Ker

11/13/2012 11:19 pm

Big +1 to this! People try to analyze specific rules and completely miss the larger message - be real, don't spam, don't cheat.

Aidan McCarthy

11/13/2012 11:51 pm

Putting that transcript on this page is surely a bad idea as it is shitty content?!


11/14/2012 12:08 am

This was predictable especially after the last video. I think Google's biggest mistake is actually telling people in these videos that certain practices are ok. Like in the last video when Matt mentioned that guest blogging was ok. After that video went live, I have read so many bloggers talking about how even more guest bloggers offered to write for them. People don't understand the fine line between quality and spam, so they take it to the extreme just because they want to rank fast. Those are people that are looking to make a quick buck. Google never needed Panda or Penguin, they just needed to be more discreet about their algo. We are basically all suffering because the "spammers" know too much. Matt should stick to basics in his videos like robots.txt, META tags etc. and leave out tactics that can be abused by spammers. But then again, what does Google have to lose?


11/14/2012 02:44 am

Well... that make sense. I've recently seen a lot of obviously spun blog post. I received around 5 guest blog requests a month. I only accept, at most, 2.

Silicon Beach

11/14/2012 09:13 am

You're lucky, we receive around 5 a day, and I'm sure larger sites are inundated with them.

Nick Pateman

11/14/2012 09:26 am

That transcript is probably harming your rankings Barry! Google might penalise you for using their own crappy (seemingly spun) content.


11/14/2012 10:28 am

Penalties are placed manually. As long as you're not gaming the system, then you won't be penalised for it, just have to take care where you guest post and who you accept guest posts from (but then you would apply the same caution in any type of business or important decision in life). However, how can it be expected much weight is given to links in guest blog posts? Legitimate guest blogging is more about audience, traffic and exposure and not about Google. (Unless you're manipulating it.) As long as you don't spam, you'll be fine.

Webstats Art

11/14/2012 12:05 pm

Google will have to change this policy if it wants to index social interaction. They are millions of years behind facebook on this topic. The problem is that Google themselves are not social and no-one ever knows if anyone working there is for real.


11/14/2012 04:13 pm

It goes back to relationships 101, I believe genuine guess blogging will always be a good thing.

11/15/2012 09:32 am

Cutts.. Cutts.. we are sooo tired of all your 2012 innovations in G Search. I'm afraid of even thinking of whats gonna be in 2013 ;)

Winson Yeung

01/19/2013 03:32 pm

I just started guest blogging and am very happy with the response but after matt cutt talks about spammy guest blogging, I will have to double review everything now...


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