02.24.20167 min read

What Google’s Guest Blog Network Takedown Means for Small Business

Google is notorious for shaking things up. Notorious for coming out of left field. Notorious for scaring the ever-lovin’ bejeezes out of businesses. At the core of most updates or actions–as reassured constantly by Google’s brand man Matt Cutts–are the best intentions for Internet users. In reality, however, there’s much to be desired for businesses that don’t have the time or patience to become search engine optimization (SEO) professionals. 

Search Engine Land reported March 19 that a major crackdown on a large guest blogging network, MyGuestBlog, had occurred. The network that connected guest bloggers and businesses didn’t necessarily represent the black hat horrors of the early 2000s, but it arguably fell into the gray hat area that has become a major focal point for Cutts and crew. For some, guest blog networks are a neat and easy way to connect bloggers to businesses and gain ground in SEO using quality content. To others, obviously including Google, it was the lazy way to scam search engines by providing mediocre content in exchange for a link.

For small businesses, resources like guest blog networks can appear to be useful resources for developing necessary connections on the fly. Being a time-deficient small business owner doesn’t make you a SEO criminal, but it can make you a target.

Will MyGuestBlog users be penalized?

According to Search Engine Watch, the penalty inflicted upon MyGuestBlog is having a trickle effect on its users. Reports are filing in that users have received the dreaded invalid link notices from Google. While it’s often difficult to determine the degree and the reach of any Google penalty right off the bat, it’s safe to say that any writer or site connected to MyGuestBlog should keep a watchful eye. “Most updates have a Google penalty associated with them because the update eliminates some portion of spam. In this instance, Google is targeting guest blog networks and will continue to do so,” says Alyssa Sharp, SEO Strategist for Infusionsoft. Anyone using similar services should anticipate and prepare for the likelihood that MyGuestBlog

“Most updates have a Google penalty associated with them because the update eliminates some portion of spam. In this instance, Google is targeting guest blog networks and will continue to do so,” says Alyssa Sharp, an SEO Strategist. Anyone using similar services should anticipate and prepare for the likelihood that MyGuestBlog isn’t the only mark on Google’s list.  In 2011 and 2012 the big focus was on blog and link networks. While these networks had a much more surface level “ick” appeal, we can glean some insight from the event. Google didn’t stop at just taking

In 2011 and 2012 the big focus was on blog and link networks. While these networks had a much more surface level “ick” appeal, we can glean some insight from the event. Google didn’t stop at just taking down BuildMyRank. That was just the beginning. Time and time again we see Google penalize the big guy as a “reminder,” and then swiftly take down his friends. Anyone intending to jump ship to another guest blog network would do well to consider a different strategy.

Google wants you to earn it

If it’s “quick and easy SEO,” there’s a good chance Google is going to frown on it at some point. There is no doubt that SEO is a hugely appealing tactic for small businesses. It’s free (in terms of money, not time). It is unobtrusive to your customer. It provides value and volume. If it works, SEO is amazing. The pitfall being that it isn’t easy. It’s a Sisyphean task to learn about and there is no guarantee it will work for you and your business. It is understandable to turn to resources that will simplify the process. That’s not the wrong thing to do in theory. In fact, you’re probably the success you are today because you’re constantly looking for ways to simplify and improve. Applying your natural instinct to streamline, unfortunately, just does not jive with SEO and too frequently puts a Google-hued target on your back. If you or an SEO agency you’ve hired has used guest blog networks as a part of your strategy, Sharp recommends cutting ties with harmful links. “If [you] did get hit with a penalty, that penalty will show up in Google Webmaster Tools and [you or your agency] will need to disavow those links,” says Sharp.

The pitfall being that it isn’t easy. It’s an endless subject to learn about and there is no guarantee it will work for you and your business. It is understandable to turn to resources that will simplify the process. That’s not the wrong thing to do in theory. In fact, you’re probably the success you are today because you’re constantly looking for ways to simplify and improve. Applying your natural instinct to streamline, unfortunately, just does not jive with SEO and too frequently puts a Google-hued target on your back.

If you or an SEO agency you’ve hired has used guest blog networks as a part of your strategy, Sharp recommends cutting ties with harmful links. “If [you] did get hit with a penalty, that penalty will show up in Google Webmaster Tools and [you or your agency] will need to disavow those links,” says Sharp.

What now?

If working with guest blog networks was, or is, your plan for getting your name, brand, and content out there, Google has made it pretty clear with this announcement that you need to change things up. With every update, every warning, every takedown, one major truth always holds for Google: if your content provides value, they are going to do everything they can to get it in front of the right people. While the Google algorithm and ideas are in an infinite state of flux, understand that delivering quality is always the intent. Let conveying value guide your next step.

Keeping it simple and efficient

Just because Google shook their finger and tisked their teeth at guest blog networks, it doesn't mean you now have to stretch your two-hour-per-week time budget for SEO to two full days. While guest blog networks may have helped your content go far and wide, they may not have been a perfect solution for targeting the right audience. As a small business owner, your time is precious and your plate overflowing. So instead of inflating your time on SEO trying to get a wide reach, get laser focused on where you want your content to be seen. Focus on building relationships with the right people instead of casting a wide net via guest blog networks. Guest blogging for the sake of providing relevant and needed information isn’t going to go away or be punished. It will still be a wonderful tool for extending your network and showing your stripes. If you’re not producing content for the sole purpose of earning a link, odds are you’re into guest blogging for the right reasons and won’t need to worry about catching a Google knife to the back.

By Christelle Hobby

Defining and Achieving Small Business Success - Download Now
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