Google revolutionized internet search when they recognized that hyper links more than just connect the internet but also serve as editorial votes in favor of the linked to content. By looking at who is linking to who, Google found a way to use machines to basically crowdsource their efforts of determining what a page is about and how credible it is.
This of course led to people trying to achieve unnatural links to manipulate search rankings. For years, SEOs and Google played the Google Dance and chased each others tails trying to stay one step ahead.
Google recognized that some links will be ads, or advertorials, or not about SEO, so they introduced the No Follow tag, which tells google’s pagerank algorithm to ignore this link. It says, “I am not endorsing the quality of this link, so don’t count it.”
For many years this served everyone well. Google made sure only editorial links we counted, and users could still link out without getting penalized by Google.
That All Changed Today!
Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam declared guest posting on blogs to be a dead strategy for SEO. He didn’t imply that it doesn’t work anymore, but he made it clear that guest post links should be No Followed or your site could get penalized for Selling Links. He made it clear the he thinks the once legit strategy of guest posting has been abused to the hilt. The truth is, the spam email he received which triggered this post by him seemed 95% legit… It’s only two mistakes were a)sending a guest post email to the head of Google’s webspam team…what a fool. and b) asking for a do follow link. What Matt got upset about was how legit spam looks nowadays that it’s time to throw out the baby… and hope the bath water doesn’t go down the drain (it will).
Matt Declared, “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things!”
He did say that guest posting is still a legit strategy for audience building, but Google not only wants to discount links in them, but also warns webmasters that it is considered Paid Links if the guest poster specifically asks for a do follow link.
Personally, I have NO IDEA how Google hopes to police guest posting in an objective way.
The only strategy I can think of is to use massive discretion about a specific author or website, and no one with any do followed outbound links is safe. For example, if Google sees my name associated with guest posts of various blogs, and several of them have backlinks to my main site, that looks like spam to them. Even though the guest posts were earned as editorial validation of my writing, and the links are to relevant content that enhances the guest post in a way that the user benefits the most. Still, I need to go back into them and No Follow them, or else Google might penalize both my site and the guest post host sites.
Matt seem to imply that…
ALL DO FOLLOW LINKS SERVE ONLY ONE PURPOSE: TO Influence GOOGLE’s Results and is therefore WebSpam!
Here’s the thing though…There are two reasons to do follow a link. The first is that it’s by default the linking option on your website and the second is to influence search results.
Bottom Line: No Following Links Has No Risks… SO The Only SAFE Option is to NO FOLLOW ALL LINKS BY DEFAULT!
This is the only safe play. After all, you can have a guest post that is perfectly legit with an editorial link and Google could easily consider it spam and the only way to prove otherwise is with some expensive E-Discovery software… or simply No Following every link.
So, might as well No Follow All Links…
The net effect of this will of course be that the very magic that makes Google tick will slowly dissipate as the more credible sites will likely play it safe, no follow all editorial links, and suddenly Google will lose the quality their pagerank delivered to them. I think it might just be time to short Google’s Stock.
(To be fair, this post is a bit alarmist, and I have an alternative theory that Matt Cutts only writes posts like this one, because his algorithms can’t solve the problem. After all, if his algorithms could detect these high quality guest posts with do follow links, he wouldn’t need to shout from the rooftops about the dangers and risks. I am not advocating ignoring his advice, I plan to pay heed, but take it with a grain of salt… after all, Google is a business, a smart one at that, and you can always count on them to be loyal to their bottom line, and with competitors just one click away, they need to keep their search index high quality.)