Guest posts have come under the spotlight recently. Guest posting has been considered one of the major aspects of medical content writing services. But there have been reports of Google taking a tough stance on websites posting guest articles.
Is Google penalizing guest posts? That would seem quite a strange penalty to apply. Search Engine Journal reported by the end of February that there were reports emerging of penalties being dished out to websites publishing guest posts. Outbound and unnatural link penalties were reported by many webmasters.
Outbound Link Penalty
Outbound link penalty refers to a manual action carried out against a website, usually by stopping PageRank from flowing. This was reported, with one of the publishers citing a message he received from Google which stated that it detected the presence of guest posts in his site. Later, Google mentioned that his website’s authority for its outbound links has been disabled. He was asked to set nofollow for the website’s outbound links and then submit a request for review. The unnatural outbound link penalty was reported by many, with Google stating the guest post factor as the primary reason.
What Google Actually Seems to Target
But, on close observation, we get more insight into what Google is specifically targeting. Based on the warning email Google had sent to the affected sites, this penalty has to do with paid guest articles. The publisher, on his part, mentioned that his site has never stated that it accepts guest posts, and that his outbound links made use of only branded anchor text rather than anchor text that is keyword-optimized. In the past 4 months there were only 15 guest posts in his site, translating to 1 guest post each week. Nevertheless, Google felt like penalizing the site.
Google did cite an example of what it considered a problem page – it managed to identify accurately one of 5 outbound links featured in the article. Search Engine Journal points out that Google could accurately spot the link that benefited the guest post author.
Paid Links Are the Target
Google has been silent and has not mentioned any campaign targeting guest posts. Google could be focused on guest posting as a means for generating links. We know that webmasters consider guest posting as a link building strategy. Search Engine Journal reckons that that this could be part of Google’s efforts against paid links. While generally targeting paid links, Google could be specifically focusing on guest posts.
Add Nofollow Link Attribute to Guest Post Paid Links
The manual links warning given by Google instructs adding the nofollow attribute to embedded paid links in guest posts. So it’s not the guest posting practice as such that Google is against. With the emails received by publishers giving some insight, you would need to add nofollow link attribute to the paid links in your guest posts. Google basically doesn’t want paid links to influence search results artificially.
In fact, this topic had come up back in 2014. Back then, Marketing Land had reported Google stating that guest blogging is fine as long as it is not used as an SEO practice. Specifically, Google stated that guest posting is bad if the purpose of the post is to gain links for influencing rankings. When it comes to the medical field, this would require a modification of your healthcare search engine optimization strategy.