Googles Wave of Guest Post Related Penalties- Keep Calm
As most people know now, MYGuestBlog has been hit with a penalty which has wiped it out of the SERPs yesterday. I can say that the writing was on the wall once Matt Cutts wrote about guest posting earlier in the year. (side note – interesting titbit – I was the FIRST guest poster on Ann Smarty’s personal blog see this post the post was picked up by the NY times – this shows that REAL guest blogging has had value way beyond SEO – and I know Ann was VERY happy…)
Another side note – I warned people about guest posting and anchor links way back in 2013. I think I have the right to say “I told you so”. I got a lot of heat from that post people saying that google would NEVER target guest posting – and yet, here we are.
At the same time, I have heard of reports of many small and a few large brands being hit with a similar wipeout penalty (due to NDAs I can’t reveal the names, suffice to say they are decent sized brands). The problem with these penalties is that it can take weeks to get a site back into the SERPs – I know because in late December I had THREE small businesses hit by wipeouts due to guest posting links – majority of the profile was branded guest posts, and normally I wouldn’t have been worried, but there were a couple of links which I call “trigger links” which may have raised the brows of the spam team. As a result, I went on overdrive – three -4 weeks out of the serps could mean the end of some small businesses – with no orders coming in as some small brands don’t diversify – luckily in this case they had PPC and social media keeping things ticking over.
Early Jan we managed to get all the penalties revoked – after really hitting hard at the links and pushing to get them removed.
What the Hell Happened???
Simple. Google HAD to send out a major message – STOP guest posting or else. What was the best way to do that? Hit the biggest guest posting platform and a bunch of high end sites so as to create tremors and put the fear of Google into SEOs and businesses alike.
Now here is my message to the SEOs and Businesses hit by this wave of penalties.
- I have looked at the profiles of some of these sites. Prior to yesterday, my professional advice would have been that these sites are at low risk. Now looking again, it seems that links that were built maybe 1.5-2 years ago are the ones to go after. Specifically:
- Anchor text rich links
- Low quality guest blogs
- Blogs with obvious guest post footprints
- Posts primarily with low quality content
- I DON’T blame the agencies and SEOs behind these sites – everything they did was acceptable at the time they were doing it. Some had even been really cautious – but a few bad links still caused the penalties. Remember, up to quite recently – google was even OK with directories, yet the last 2 years we have been advising clients to remove or disavow the majority of their directory links.
- This isn’t the fault of legitimate SEOs – rather that of people manipulating guest posting too heavily as an easy source of guest posting. Remember – a site could be of good quality when you get a link off it, but over time it could become toxic – for example the site owner decides to allow too many guest posts, links to bad sites etc.
- Don’t play the blame game – Google keeps moving the goal posts – the best you can do is to keep moving along with them. You cant really judge WHAT google is going to do next – and neither the business nor the SEO can guarantee “whitehat SEO” anymore. After all, directories, anchor text and guest posting were all white hat tactics at one time. Even Reciprocal links were way back .
- What is legitimate link building? Honestly – stay away from ANYTHING that is to easy. Go purely for earned media – Google has most definitely won this round.
What should you do if your site has been wiped out?
I suggest a VERY quick move – don’t wait around:
- Get a full link profile download.
- A review ASAP – concentrating on guest posts and anchor rich links.
- Build a target list, get the contact details and start contactin.
- Ideally get a dedicated mailbox and screenshots of contacts and keep it all well documented – ideally using google drive, and a gmail address – and make sure that these are included as proof in your reinclusion.
- I would disavow the contact domains ASAP as well way in advance of getting responses – amending and adjusting the disavow as you go along
- Run a re-inclusion as soon as you get the contacts done – without really waiting more than 48 hours for response – the longer you wait, the more risk the business is of losing staff, revenue etc.
- In the re-inclusion mention you used guest posting for link building when you thought it was OK and you stopped (if you did) – If you didn’t, be honest. Explain you have now gone in and tried to remove as many as possible and disavowed the rest. Politely ask for the brand back as a starter, with a promise to continue removing and pruning as many bad links as possible.
- Carry on removing and try and contact sites up to 3 times – you need to show some real determination.
This HAS worked for me, and I think it may work for a fair few of you.
Ideally I would speak to LinkRisk.com – these guys can turn around contact and review fairly quick and in some cases have turned around removals in 48-72 hours. If time is of essence, and for brand penalties it usually is, then they are an excellent resource.
If you need help, just reach out.
Stay calm, and keep on removing.
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