Googles Wave of Guest Post Related Penalties- Keep Calm

Matt Cutts Kills MGB

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.

My Blog Guest#

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.

  1. 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:
    1. Anchor text rich links
    2. Low quality guest blogs
    3. Blogs with obvious guest post footprints
    4. Posts primarily with low quality content
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 .
  5. 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:

  1. Get a full link profile download.
  2. A review ASAP – concentrating on guest posts and anchor rich links.
  3. Build a target list, get the contact details and start contactin.
  4. 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.
  5. I would disavow the contact domains ASAP as well way in advance of getting responses – amending and adjusting the disavow as you go along
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 – 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.

keep calm

If you enjoyed this post – help me out and share it :)

Googles Wave of Guest Post Related Penalties- Keep Calm
User Rating: 4.8 (2 votes)
Rishi has been a consultant in online marketing for over 10 years, specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing, Email and Social Media. Over the years he has worked with many brands as well as many small businesses.
  • IrishWonder

    No more advice re: building something better quality as you are removing? Gosh…

    • rishil

      Not for getting back in for brand. I am talking fro pure experience…

      • IrishWonder

        So I suppose different rules apply in case of losing generic rankings still?

      • rishil

        Yep – in a way.

  • Bo0k3r

    I hold a little reservation #1. If the linked was built 1.5-2 years ago, we can conclude it passes the test authority, isn’t it? Why today we called it a low quality/spammy – do you think due for penalizing it?

  • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

    Just another affiliate paid article….especially when you click on

    • rishil

      Gestoffe – it isnt a Paid article. I have a long standing history with That is my tracking link so that they can tell me the traffic I drive to them. If you know me (looks like you dont) then you should know I have been the biggest promoter of LR com.

      • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

        So you denying that you get a kickback from that link? Why would anybody just promote anything? you doing it for fun?

      • rishil


        “When it comes to planning, most businesses should now allow for link removal and link assessment to be part of their strategy. For example, I use heavily when looking at clients’ profiles.”

        No link there – although I could have insisted it be one.

        The three founders of the company are VERY close and personal friends.

      • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

        “The three founders of the company are VERY close and personal friends.” ……….enough said………….

      • rishil

        lol what does that mean? Of Course I will promote a tool built by friends/ You asked why I would promote that tool. I gave you the reason. In addition, it works brilliantly.

      • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

        the reason : a kickback

        read this :

        just a subcategory of what you doing – which is ethics, antonym unethical.

      • James Crawford

        What is your interest in this Gestoffle? What’s the problem here? To play devil’s advocate, if Rand Fishkin blogs about his mate Matt Cutts and links to him does that mean it is somehow not ethical?

      • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

        Rand Fishkin is right up Matt Cutts’ ….you know what. so why would that be eh James Crawford??????? Of course there is no gain there is there. Think of another level headed answer…….

      • James Crawford

        OK, Robert Scoble is friends with most of the tech community yet he blogs about them. Go pick a fight with Scoblizer.

      • rishil

        Irrelevant – its my blog – its not a public service or a user generated site. So I can post links to whoever I want.

      • Gestoffle Van Eerden-Vark

        There we go; getting defence now are we? How can we believe what you are writing here is true then; especially when there is financial gain. When you buy a book, there is no hidden agenda, no sneaky links. You pay the money, read the book and everybody is happy and walks away.

      • rishil

        Not defensive at all :) I make revenue from Client referrals from people who read this blog. So I need for the content to be solid to make sure that I do get the business…

      • Barry Adams

        Gestoffle: you’re an idiot.

      • Matt Bennett

        If you buy a book (at least a non fictional book), then often there are citations and sources referenced in that book aren’t there? Isn’t that where the whole idea of using links to validate authority came from?

      • Krystian Szastok

        lol – I endorsed Link Risk (and other my friends companies many times) – personal friends means no kickbacks. It’s when you endorse companies you’re not friends with is when they pay you. Sadly or gladly, friends get mentions for free – and when they have good products only too.

      • Rae Hoffman

        Rishil – you need a disclaimer like mine. It essentially tells people if they think me using affiliate links influences what I write, they’re welcome to get the hell off my blog. And by essentially, I mean it actually says that. :) I don’t care if your link gets a kickback or not. It’s your blog, you link to and promote whoever the hell you want. If someone doesn’t like it, their browser sure as shit ain’t “trapping” them here.

      • rishil

        Lol Rae – no one calls it like you do :P

        The site is newly acquired, but you are right – I should make a point of a STFU policy on complaints :)

        P.s thanks for dropping by…

  • Ralph du Plessis

    Good point about blaming, Rishi. We all got into the whole link building business because clients wanted to compete and we were expected to deliver in a timely fashion. Knowing the risks we have always made it absolutely clear to clients that THEY get to sign off on all link activity and that they know the risks. You still get the occasional client that likes to blame, but usually they’re ok and pretty decent about it.

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  • Autodog

    Hi Rishi thank you very much for the heads up with link risk software. Iv been using it on my site which has been in penalty for 13 months, I managed to get the manual penalty revoked 6 months ago but I think Im still in an algorithmic penalty as my traffic has not improved.

    Hopefully it should do the trick Iv managed to remove 100s of links i had not found originally and added 800 more domains to my disavow who I could not contact. Its really easy to use I would recommend it to anyone i can’t comment on any other similar tools because iv never used them. I will let you know how I get on and Risk links service was excellent my emails were replied to almost instantly.

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