SEMrush Selling Links That Are Against Google's Guidelines

Jun 3, 2020 - 7:15 pm 14 by
Filed Under Link Building

Semrush Jail

SEMRush launched the SEMRush Marketplace about a year ago and at some point, within that marketplace, began selling guest posts that drive "natural links to your site." Now, we all love SEMRush, but John Mueller of Google said on Twitter this is "an unnatural link - the kind the webspam team might take action on."

The guest blog post sales page says "The Guest Posting service from SEMrush Marketplace provides you with a cascade of high-quality, natural links to your site, boosting your rankings and helping you get more organic traffic. Without doing any research or routine work yourself, you can order unique content with an integrated backlink to your site, which is then placed on a relevant site within your niche."

Now, I am not sure when that verbiage was added, if it was a mistake or an oversight but it is there at the time I wrote this.

John Mueller said if you want to do it so it is not against the Google guidelines, then "making sure the links use rel=nofollow / rel=sponsored would still allow sites to get visibility without having to worry about manual actions."

Here is a screen shot (click to enlarge):

click for full size

Here is John's tweet when asked about this:

John was actually replying to SEMRush on Twitter, but SEMRush deleted the tweet. George Majic captured it, here is his screen shot.

Tweets SEMRush did respond to others about this, without deleting those posts downplaying the link side:

The funny thing is that Tom Rayner said on Twitter "I bought a couple of the SEMRush links. I then put the site I bought them for into SEMRush's backlink audit tool. SEMRush's backlink audit tool flagged the links that they sold me as toxic." I do believe it.

This must be some sort of oversight by SEMRush. I doubt Google penalized this yet but SEMRush will have to figure something out about those who already purchased links on this guest blog network without adding nofollow or rel=sponsored attributes to the links.

I did reach out to SEMRush for a comment, but did not hear back yet.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

Update: The following morning, SEMRush has pulled the page selling these guest posts. It no longer loads and 404s. I have it in the screen shot above.

Here is what some users get when they try to use the service:

Update 2: Oleg Shchegolev, the CEO of SEMrush, sent us this statement:

Yesterday we faced controversy surrounding our guest blog post editorial/outreach service, offered in Content Marketplace. I’d like to personally apologize for any stress or confusion.

Some people on Twitter and in other media accused us of selling links. This is untrue. The service was about content development, outreach, and editorial coordination. We did not pay publishers for placed articles and were not selling links. That said, we understand that our product launch communication could have been better.

After launching Content Marketplace, we surveyed our clients as to what other services they most wanted to see in the Marketplace. Guest blogging and outreach support were by far the most popular answers. Guest posting can be a complicated topic. We recently flagged potential pitfalls ourselves with research. If done wrong, guest posts can cause manual penalties. However, this in itself doesn’t mean that any type of guest blogging violates search engine terms of services.

Our team made a decision to follow customer feedback and we are proud of those efforts. We found partners to provide honest, high-quality writing and outreach to ensure our clients get what they have asked for in a transparent, “white-hat” way.

Early this week we audited the first batch of guest posts and came to the conclusion that the service will require more time to implement given the volume of orders received and our commitment to excellence.

As we were exploring potential solutions, we also started seeing negative comments on social media. We also received more and more new orders that would be difficult to properly fulfill. We made a decision to pause the guest blog post editorial/outreach offerings and refund all orders.

I am proud we can react to customer wishes so quickly and am thankful to each customer who has tested the service. SEMrush will continue asking our customers about their wishes and challenges and keep developing tools they love. We’re also committed to gathering feedback and listen proactively to the marketing community.


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