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April 28, 2014

The Google Net Widens: First MyBlogGuest, Now PostJoint

Last month MyBlogGuest got hit with a Google penalty, and now it’s PostJoint’s turn. What is really happening here?

When the Penguin update was released by Google, it clearly targeted link networks. However, many people believed blogging communities were untouchable. Everyone believed that as long as they were distributing their content through such an organic “network,” they were safe. But Google’s recent and aggressive moves against these “tight-knit communities” are quickly proving otherwise.

PostJoint – Just Another MyBlogGuest? Or Is the Google Net Widening?

While MyBlogGuest is well-known in the guest blogosphere, PostJoint was gaining traction. Both platforms, in theory, are designed to connect blogs with quality content. In reality, they are connecting marketers and advertisers with bloggers. Those who owned their own blogs could earn money posting content provided by these marketers – content that linked to clients’ websites. These links were “dofollow” links, and at the heart of this scheme, it was a lot of smoke and mirrors and a way to pay for links without it seeming that way outright.

Is there a difference between MyBlogGuest and PostJoint? PostJoint certainly thinks so.

Developed by UareL, a digital marketing agency based in London,¬†PostJoint claims its unique selling proposition is the quality of its content. The company has argued MyBlogGuest has minimal quality control measures in place, clearly demonstrated by the site’s open declaration of earning links to sites for advertisers and marketers. While PostJoint has taken decisive measures to moderate all user accounts, content, links and participating sites – even being picky about which sites can join in the first place – MyBlogGuest had no such system in place.

Another major difference between MyBlogGuest and PostJoint may be the brashness displayed by the latter. Trumpeted right on their homepage, even as I write this article, is a clearly stated promise to its members that they are secure and leave no footprints – that is, evidence of a connection between the sites in the network. Of course, they couldn’t really keep such a promise – power users, who uploaded and/or posted content to the site frequently, naturally make footprints very similar to those of a traditional link network.

To Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Webspam, PostJoint’s brazen claim of no footprints was just begging for a Google penalty. PostJoint also recently published blog posts about why guest blogging isn’t dead – a blatantly opposite stance to Matt Cutts – and it should be no surprise this not-as-well-known blogging community got hit.

What the Penalty Means for PostJoint

The penalty PostJoint received from Google was a manual one just like MyBlogGuest. Branded terms are no longer showing up in any organic search result pages of consequence, including their company name. At this point only a sloppy AdWords ad appears. Google has pushed them into the dark recesses of their search results.

PostJoint has confirmed the manual penalty received was for unnatural inbound links. This penalty, which appears to be the net being used for blog networks, defines unnatural links as those used to manipulate a site’s ranking.

There’s little doubt that cleanup companies will soon be targeting the PostJoint name, just as what occurred after MyBlogGuest was hit with their penalty.

What About Its Members?

While PostJoint tells its members that they shouldn’t be penalized by Google as long as standards are upheld, PostJoint guidelines are followed and money isn’t the main goal, site owners are continuing to see devastating effects on PageRanks for only those sites they had used PostJoint content on. They too are getting notices of manual penalties.

Members are also getting slammed with link removal and nofollow requests from the advertisers themselves. PostJoint members are clearly being affected, and it’s safe to guess they’re not happy about it.

How many members are feeling the effects? We can’t be sure. Originially PostJoint claimed via tweet that the number was only 16%, based on PageRank comparisons they did across their member list. That number was removed from their Twitter page, however. Rumors are circulating that the number’s removal means the reality is much greater.

What’s the Future of Guest Blogging Communities?

The future of guest blogging really depends on who you ask. PostJoint seems to be sticking to its guns, but Matt Cutts has opposing points you should be aware of.

PostJoint has published a notice on its site saying it will continue with its business model because marketers will still need to reach their target audience via blogs while bloggers will still want to make money off their sites – and offer fresh, quality content to readers. PostJoint, despite this manual Google penalty, is still holding strong that guest blogging is important, valuable and viable.

While PostJoint is still claiming no wrongdoing, it is suggesting that members change links to nofollow and notify advertisers through their internal messaging system. This is PostJoint’s attempt to contain – and hopefully reverse – the damage felt by their members.

Ann Smarty, founder of MyBlogGuest, on the other hand, has taken the brash approach this time, explicitly stating she will continue to not allow nofollow links. In her opinion, Google does not run the Internet and should not hold all the power. She is refusing to allow nofollow links on her site because she continues to believe in the importance of natural link-building and the natural policing that occurs through quality content.

What Type of Content Will Google Penalize?

The bottom line is that guest blogging communities are clearly being targeted by Google. No matter if the content is quality and closely moderated, Google views guest blogging as a way to manipulate page rank – a way that doesn’t help their own bottom line and provide Internet users with relative content.


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Adrienne Erin writes twice weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses like Rose Metal Systems succeed. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter to see more of her work or get in touch.

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