I’ve been following this story today. If I understand it correctly, a guy called “Doc Sheldon” got a notification on 20th March 2014 of a manual, site-wide penalty from Google.
The action against Doc’s site seems to stem from the relationship he’d had with MyBlogGuest which recently ran foul of Google’s interpretation of its webmaster guidance.
Back in January, Matt Cutts wrote a blog post saying that guest blogging was “done” because it had become too spammy. Ann Smarty, who created MyBlogGuest, wrote a post in reply stating that MyBlogGuest would continue to require bloggers who used its content to use dofollow links.
MyBlogGuest is NOT going to allow nofollow links or paid guest blogging (even though Matt Cutts seems to be forcing us to for whatever reason).
Initially, MyBlogGuest said they wouldn’t budge and would not therefore be allowing publishers to add nofollow to guest posts at the blogs. Although, after the penalty, they’ve said they’ll give publishers the flexibility to “nofollow byline links“.
The interesting twist to the saga is that Doc Sheldon’s manual penalty seems to have resulted from him mentioning on his site that he was a moderator for MyBlogGuest in 2011. You can read Doc’s March 22nd open letter to Matt Cutts and everyone at Google here. On 24th March Matt Cutts replied to the open letter stating that some guest post content on Doc’s blog was the reason for the penalty. A whole lot of discussion ensued, including here.
It looks like Google gave Doc’s site a manual, site-wide penalty because it linked to MyBlogGuest but decided to give as their reason one of just five guest posts on Doc’s site… from a total of 111 posts since 2011.
So what’s the message we need to understand from this storm? Well, if you want to play by Google’s Guidelines, you have to be scrupulous about which sites you link to. As a webmaster, you are responsible for everything on your site, from content to links to organisational structure and load times. If something is “wrong” on your site, you run the possibility of a penalty, especially if there’s also something “wrong” with your backlink profile. Note, the definition of “wrong” is down to Google, and seems to change over time, so be ultra-careful.
What do you think? Please comment below.