• http://myblogguest.com/blog/ Ann Smarty

    [EDIT: I cannot see this thread in another browser where I am signed OFF Discuss, still, sorry!]

    “Posts that appear here only appear here — we only accept original content, so you won’t see the same post popping up all over the place. Every post goes through an editorial review process, so writers can’t just put in links in any old way, unless our editors have reviewed them.”

    That’s something you can say about ANY MBG publisher. We used Copyscape API and banned any attempt to place duplicate content. And publishers were using their editorial judgements as to what they want to publish (no automation in any form). Which makes me, again, wonder WHY there were penalized.

    When they announced paid link battle, Google provided clear-cut guidelines as to how to stay safe. What about guest posting and author attribution? What’s the official word on that beyond Matt being pissed by a spammy pitch?

  • http://hometechmtl.com/ Bob Benedetti

    Unfortunately that plugin crashes my server so i guess short of the nuclear option i could go and delete all the links from MBG posts

  • Norm Deplume

    “self-inflicted linkspam is not the same thing as negative SEO”

    The trick, of course, is that an algorithm can’t divine intent, so they are the same thing, provided the negative SEO is done in a way that closely mimics spamming your own site.

  • http://keithcash.com/ Keith Cash

    There needs to be a NON-Google board to help solve problems with Google if the problem is in a gray area. Now to Get Google to abide by them would be a different story.

    Maybe even a Grandfather clause for websites.

  • http://hometechmtl.com/ Bob Benedetti

    The combination of the two plugins crashed my server and corrupted my WordPress installation in such a way that if there was even only one plugin active a script would run away gobbling up CPU cycles. Not good behaviour on a shared server.
    So, I deleted the full installation and restored it from an earlier backup and to deal with the Google issue I went tactical nuclear and removed all the MBG related posts. I’m sorry to drop MBG because I had a few regulars who were providing me with good content.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Ann, I’d guess the difference between us having contributors here and guest blog posts with MBG is that we’re not turning to a third-party service to collect possible content. We’re working directly with writers on a one-to-one basis. And we’re not suggesting people get an “earned link” benefit by writing for us. The primary reason people want to write for us is because they feel they can reach an audience to hear what they have to say. And the primary reason we run content from authors, who we work with, is because we ultimately decide they have something interesting to say.

    You can play the “why us, not them” thing all you want. I get that. I was just answering your question about why we believe ourselves to be fine in relation to Google’s guest post policies. For all I know, Google might decide we’re not — and if we did get hit with a penalty, I could end up as upset as you are.

    But having said that, I think there’s a fundamental difference between a publication working directly with writers and a network that’s designed to connect authors with publishers. The latter isn’t necessarily bad, but when the latter has a requirement that you must not no-nofollow links (as I understand the case to be) and when “earning links” is one of the primary value points positioned to authors, that’s going to light up on the Google radar as a possible link scheme more.

    And it did. And the official word from Matt was this was over. He’s the head of Google’s web spam team, and whether he made that proclamation on his personal blog or not, it was his proclamation. I’m sorry you apparently decided that wasn’t official enough, but as a third-party standing back from all this, it was clear how it was coming — and it seems like you didn’t make any of the changes to help at least position MBG to better defend against things when actually hit.

    And again, I get that sucks. It especially sucks for what I’m understanding are small sites that might have run a post or two of content that ultimately was original to them. It’s a punishment way out of proportion to the violation that happened AFTER they even realized it was one.

    And worse, it especially seems to be tied, from some of Matt’s tweets last week, to a pattern of behavior by the post authors. IE, with Doc, he talked about the second post on Doc’s blog being authored by someone who’s done a number of guest blog posts.

    OK, so Doc (or anyone) runs a single guest blog post from someone who’s authoring posts all over the place? Punish the author; punish the author’s site; but hitting the publisher with a site-wide penalty is way over the top.

  • http://seashell.co.in/blogs/seashell.htm Ganesh J. Acharya

    Matt Cutts is right at his part, but look from an Magazine and Business’s point of view. They need articles updated on their website persistently to remain in business. The Business owners would see these free to publish articles and a good source. How would someone not very well specialized in SEO realize there is a bad link in the article? I guess DocSheldon would be completely ignorant about what wrong they were doing here. The actions seems too harsh. Again staying at Matt Cutt’s place how practical would it be addressing each and every website owner about the precise mistakes? DocSheldon again from an standard practices stand point was it good for your editorial team to have ignored the link?

  • http://myblogguest.com/blog/ Ann Smarty

    Oh wow so they penalized us because we were the place to meet? So it’s ok for large sites like SEL but not ok for smaller people? So that’s the official rule now? wow I love this coutry

  • http://myblogguest.com/blog/ Ann Smarty

    Bottom line: And I am sorry if I seem protective or stubborn (I hopу you(‘ll) understand where I am coming from). The fact is, NO rule was broken. If there were, they would have given me the exact reason when banning (and preferably the way for our members to recover). And I get it. Google can do whatever they want. What I don’t get is how people still think that’s normal and try to explain Google’s behavior in various ways (mention of “Links” on the home page, dofollow policy, etc). No matter what that was, people had no reason to be part of the community UNLESS they wanted to. To penalize them for that (or to penalize the actual place) while NO rules have been broken (moreover, those rules don’t exist as of now) is not OK.

  • http://www.cfsearchmarketing.com/ PM Fiorini

    It seems to me that Google is confused about good/bad links, SEO’s are confused about good/bad links, etc. – this is complete madness. Perhaps the best strategy for Google is not to count links at all anymore since, apparently, their algorithm is simply not sophisticated enough to handle it.

  • JaylikeBird

    Good, shut ’em down. You people strew garbage all over the web, just scurry into some other crevice like roaches when discovered. No one will miss you when you’re gone.

  • JaylikeBird

    Golly, it was just a little malware, no problem there.

  • JaylikeBird

    If SEO’s had ever done anything to earn public respect, the perception would be different. SEO = garbage on the web. Is there something else you people do?

  • Chris Rempel

    This whole “penalty culture” destabilizes SEO as a traffic source, and quite honestly drastically reduces the asset value of organic traffic (& content).

    If you can’t see this as a HUGE WIN for Google, then you’re dreaming. Of course, we all long and hope for the day when logic & reason wins the day, and links are simply devalued as opposed to penalized.

    But that’s because it’s logical & reasonable… from OUR perspective. When your primary goal is to provide a good investor experience, and you’re an advertising company (like Google) – link penalties are very logical & reasonable.

    Now, don’t mistake this as a Google fanboy comment. It couldn’t be further from that. I’m merely trying to inject some reality to this discussion, and encourage people to embrace it and adapt, accordingly. (And you don’t do that by trying to desperately “chase the dragon” of trying to perpetually adapt to Google’s ever-changing, retroactive rules).

    You do that by changing your approach to SEO, and placing less reliance on it as a singular channel. And for God’s sake… don’t hang the success of your organic campaign on a single domain. Spread it out. That’s the only sensible adaptation to all of this insanity.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Why would you believe Google can not determine the intent of links? They have been finding paid links and other link schemes for years.

    I happen to believe that Google CAN tell the difference. After several attempted negative SEO attacks, my own site went from around 250 linking domains to several thousand in about a year’s time. Many of those looked a lot like the handful of “questionable” links the site already had. These attacks had zero negative effects on rankings or traffic.

    One of the main parts of my business is diagnosing ranking & traffic drops. Out of the 30 or so alleged negative SEO cases I have looked at, not one of them was without enough link spam prior to the attack to warrant a penalty or to trigger Penguin. In most cases, removing/disavowing the links from negative SEO did nothing, while removing the older linkspam removed the penalty.
    None of the so-called case studies that claim to prove SEO are really any different from that. Lots of scary headlines out there, but you have to read the articles to get the details. Many of those details don’t match the scary titles. Scary titles make good click/link bait. People claiming negative SEO in support forums and blog comments are often misinformed or just plain lying to either cover their own butt or get attention – so no “proof” there.

    Stop and think about it for a moment – with all of the big ol’ brains at Google and the amount of data Google collects, do you seriously believe they can’t determine who is doing what in regard to links? Why are there not hundreds or thousands of truly innocent victims of negative SEO if Google is as dumb as you seem to think?

  • Norm Deplume

    1. They can’t divine intent. Much less complex tasks, like sentiment analysis, are just now reaching 80-90% accuracy.

    2. There aren’t thousands of truly innocent victims because most people that dabble in negative seo don’t do everything a self-spamming webmaster would do. The most obvious is staying the course over an extended period of time, versus blasting for a week or two.

  • Bhaskar Dihingia

    When an entity starts penalizing even when looking away provides a similar solution, it is a show of power and might. One of the reasons Google continues with this attitude is that it knows very well that we will all genuflect before its first page after our blood pressures have normalized.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    1 – Simply repeating your opinion that Google can’t tell the difference between self-made linkspam and sabotage, doesn’t really do anything to support the claim. Unless you work for Google, or have some evidence to support that idea, it is just a belief.

    2 – You think 1.5 to 2 years of sustained link spamming as a negative SEO attack is not an extended period of time?

    I think you are not willing to let go of your belief when there are no facts to support it. Either that, or you do acknowledge that “successful” negative SEO link bombing of a site that had no prior link spam is extremely rare – so rare that there are no confirmed incidents.

  • http://www.seoymarketingonline.com Carlos Castañeda

    It is now as ridiculous as a pseudo-religion. I remember in my past SEO work in 2011 that I received one of this “Unnatural links from your site” alert. It is kinda disappointing that after almost 3 years of that experience Google’s is not focused on what it was supposed to be “quality content and natural linking” new policies but still keeping with going to the past where everybody was almost a black-hat SEO and then taking actions screwing websites… Boring!

  • Norm Deplume

    1 – Pot, kettle….

    2 – Sounds like you’re referring to something specific, but there’s not enough context for me to figure out what.

    3 – Not everyone that disagrees with you is an idiot. We all have different experiences that form our opinions. Sounds like you have some experience with NSEO, and I respect your opinion…I just happen to disagree with the fundamental notion that google can tell who made a link and why. Most of the data needed to determine that isn’t visible to their crawler.

  • http://www.adamedwards.us/ Adam Edwards

    It’s like the no fly list. There’s no way to know if you’re on it.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    1 & 2 – I thought you were following this thread and would recall what I said about what happened to my own site. But then, I didn’t really spell it out here regarding why that experience (and a few dozen others) supports the idea that Google actually can tell the difference, based on patterns of “behavior”, for lack of a better way to say it. In short, it just didn’t look like something I would do: http://kercommunications.com/seo/negative-seo-reality-check/

    3 – I didn’t say you are an idiot. But I do think you have a view of negative SEO that is derived from headlines but not details. Your belief that Google is not capable of determining whether or not a link fits a pattern is a bit baffling. Just what is it you think the algorithm CAN do – just count links and read a few keywords?

  • Norm Deplume

    Yes, it can follow a pattern. Thus, if a pattern can be mimicked with sufficient accuracy…

    The point *you* are missing is that a pattern can “guess” at who is making a link and why they are making it. My earlier point is that much easier problems, like sentiment analysis, are just now doing better than random guesses. The people working on sentiment analysis aren’t less talented than the people at Google. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume that the accuracy with which Google might guess “who and why”, with the limited data their crawler can see….is pretty poor.

  • Norm Deplume

    Also, I had a look at your site. If I were going to attack it, I wouldn’t have blasted tons of low quality spam. A better strategy would have been to do things that are more likely to be done by a site owner. Like medium quality articles on an article directory, paid site-wides on sites that openly sell them, paid guest posts on almost legit sites, new “pumper” websites with whois contact info that (almost) matches the contact info for your website, etc.

  • http://www.blog.mobiloitte.com Blaze Arizanov

    That’s it.. I am moving to Bing..

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Much of that was also done in the later attacks, except for maybe the paid sitewides. There are some sitewides, but if they paid for them it wasn’t terribly obvious. They also did a lot of junk directory listings that use less spammy info (company name rather than keywords, etc). There have even been articles/guest splogs that were done using my name. Just about the only one of your methods that wasn’t tried (yet) was the pumper websites… or at least I haven’t noticed them yet.
    Every time I get into a debate over whether or not Negative SEO is a serious threat, someone adds a new method to the “test” in an attempt to prove something. This week, it seems to be more appspot scrapers and bogus blog articles.
    (Hmm… where did that Fionn person go with the “proof” she said she would have in a week?)

    But this then, all points back to the fact that negative SEO is much harder than you and many other seem to believe. You even describe a long involved process of pretending to be the site’s owner, which is not the type of “all I have to do is go to Fiverr” effort , time and cost that most people who would want to try NSEO are willing to put forth.

    Nearly two years of all types of “suspicious” links – and NO ill effects from it.
    And there are still no verified cases of it working against a site that does not already have enough of its own spam.

  • Civilex

    Google is just trying to tame the elephant in the room by reusing the term SEO in their guides. What Google need for their search engine to work is relevant links with relevant anchor texts. What they’re struggling against, because it produces less relevant search results, is people who sell links as a commodity. And that’s what 99% of people in the SEO business are doing.

  • http://www.mostpixels.com/ Steve Faber

    Google faces an interesting dilemma. On one hand, they need to provide their users, who aren’t their customers, the most relevant results possible. If they fail here, they’ll ultimately lose their search base. That will cost them their real customers, advertisers who want to get in front of as many targeted Google user eyes as possible.

    On the other hand, they must deliver those highly relevant results while maximizing advertising revenue. Ad revenue simultaneously relies on highly targeted users, the number of paid ad customers, and PPC rates.

    If they shift too far in the direction of paid results, relevance and quality may suffer, and their user base will decline, leading advertisers to look elsewhere. If they let SEOs excel at their craft, allowing website owners to land at the top of the SERPs while paying SEOs, instead of AdWords for the privilege, they’ll again lose revenue.
    It’s a balancing act Google has yet to master. They try, leaving destruction in their wake. The interesting thing is that the average Internet user has no knowledge of the battle played out every day, or their role in it.

  • http://www.thelipstickingsociety.com Yvonne

    I routinely get emails from sites saying Google identified MY blog and a link I used in it, as inappropriate to THEIR site… I only link to content relevant to the post I’m writing, and all of these links are years and years old, so it thoroughly annoys me that Google is going around bullying people into removing perfectly good links, used to demonstrate the point being made…NOT to grab any SEO. I seldom remove the links. I used them honestly and I, for one, am not going to be bullied. If Google decides to shut me down, I guess, I’ll get shut down. But, I’m playing fair and if Google isn’t smart enough to see that… then they can continue bullying the whole world. And, they will get called on it… a bully is a bully regardless of where they live. Google stop bullying good people and their blogs.

  • mathewmakio

    Mashable, the largest independent blog in the world, accepts paid content for link exchanges every week and calls them “publishing partners”.

    Why isn’t this spam? They pass link juice and are “do follow” links.

    It is essentially a guest post that is paid for.

  • mathewmakio

    Now, once I’ve said that, what is the best Mashable never gets a penalty? A million dollars? I bet my life Mashable won’t get penalized because there is always “free entry” to big sites with lots of “reputation”.

    However, before 2011 and Google Panda, is when most of these sites built artificial “reputation” (links), then that lead to them getting natural links. They then went back and deleted the bad links and now they have the natural links left and they are invincible.

    Now we have pretend good content dominating and Google never touches it. Furthermore, a budding site is hit with everything under the sun.

    But it’s definitely a more open web these days right guys? Guys?