What follows is the story of my good friend Ann Smarty's community being the target of a Google smear campaign. Full disclosure: Ann and myself both work for Internet Marketing Ninjas (IMN). ThreadWatch.org is owned by IMN's CEO Jim Boykin. The statements made by myself and Ann in this posting do not reflect the opinions of IMN, our partners, and subsidiaries.
Before we begin our tale, lets talk a bit about FUD. Fear, uncertainty and doubt is a popular PR strategy to confuse the public in a way that benefits a specific organization. Software companies are notorious for this type of strategy because software is inherently hard to for the public to understand. Even the most talented programmers require the use of abstracted thought to fully understand how a piece of software works. Understanding the algorithms that power search engines requires this same level of abstracted thought. Google understands this and leverages the public’s ignorance to craft FUD strategies that help them reach a certain objective.
The following is just one case of Google FUD that I have witnessed first hand. In my opinion even professionals that analyze Google's algorithms all day fail to see this type of PR move. OR maybe they do, but they choose to stay quite. Staying quite has never been my style.
On March 13th Rae “Sugarrae” Hoffman tweets the following from the audience of a session at SMX.
Many speculate that Matt is talking about MyBlogGuest.
On March 19th at 1am (while most of the world sleeps) Matt Cutts tweets the following:
Ann officially states that MBG has been hit with a penalty.
Many including myself and Ann cast this as a PR campaign, and (wrongfully) doubt that members of MBG will be affected.
Webmasters within MBG begin to report they are being hit with penalties.
More support for MBG from the community. (proof that the FUD campaign isn't working)
Seeing that the smear campaign isn’t taking hold, Google goes after a well-respected “white hat” SEO, that never was a part of MBG, to further push a sense of uncertainty and doubt.
I can already anticipate a bunch of questions to this post. So let me address them now...
If this is just a smear/FUD campaign why did actual sites get hit?
To send a message. The important point here is that Google targeted MBG because it is the most popular guest blogging platform on the web. There are many other similar services that don't have the same level of publicity as MBG and they haven't been hit. If Google is serious about going after guest blogging they should go after the sites that charge $$ for each posts those are the services that actually break the rules.
Why did sites like Portent.com get hit when they had no connection to MBG?
Honestly, I don't know. And it looks like neither do they. In fact at first Ian thought they actually were connected to MBG. This is all a part of the Uncertainty in FUD. Create an enviroment where conflicting information rises to the top, so that decision makers start to doubt a given tactic.
Is guest blogging dead??
I am not sure, but this is the strategy I am planning on using in the future.