Google might be cracking down on websites which publish guest posts. There are numerous reports of unnatural outbound link penalties.
Outbound Link Penalty
An outbound link penalty refers to manual action against a website. In such cases, the publisher finds that Google might have stopped PageRank from flowing from his site.
Manual Action By Google On Guest Post
A publisher reported that a manual action email read:
“We have detected that some of your articles are guest posts… We have disabled your authority for your outbound links. Please set your outbound links to nofollow and submit a review request.”
The publisher is not the only one who has received the email. Others have reported guest post manual actions from Google. Alan Bleiweiss of Forensic SEO tweeted about a client who has reported about an outbound link penalty. The penalty was related to guest posts.
Is Google Targeting Guest Posts or Paid Guest Posts?
One major question that webmasters are concerned about is whether Google is issuing manual actions for guest post articles, for paid guest post articles or over-optimized guest post articles. The warning email from Google mentions that the manual action is specifically for paid guest articles.
The publisher reported that his website doesn’t mention that it accepts guest posts. He also stated that outbound links only utilized branded anchor text instead of keyword-optimized anchor text. Since the last four months, his website posted only 15 guest posts over a quarter( a single post per week on average).
One interesting thing to note is the fact that in Google’s example of a problem page, they identified a guest post out of five outbound links in an article. This signifies that Google could precisely detect which link was beneficial to the person who created the guest post.
No Official Statement From Google
As of now, there is no official statement from Google. Google Webmaster Trends analyst Gary Illyes tweeted that he wasn’t aware of any particular campaign. However, Webmaster Trends analysts are not search engineers and are not likely to know everything happening in search.
For instance, last year, the Webmaster Trends team belatedly found that Google had discontinued using Rel/Next link attribute years ago. But John Mueller had been suggesting the use of the defunct link attribute during the period when it wasn’t being used. Google’s developer pages were recommending it.
Should You Continue Accepting Guest Posts?
Google’s manual links warning asks a publisher to include the nofollow attribute to paid links which are embedded in guest posts. Experts believe that there is nothing wrong in accepting guest posts or asking to get guest posts published. In case there are paid links, make sure that you add a nofollow link attribute on the sponsored link.
Publishing guest posts without any nofollow link attribute can be risky till there is a formal announcement from Google. Google’s email also talks about compensation. Therefore, it might be that Google’s major concern is to remove paid links that influence search results artificially. The publisher believes that this might be the start of Google’s campaign against guest posting for links.
“I see here a tactic from Google to fight against guest posting as it’s one of the most popular link building strategy.”
It seems that it is a part of Google’s unending fight against paid links in general and do away with paid links specifically in guest posts.