Does Flagged E-Consultancy Link Indicate Where Penguin is Going?

Several weeks ago I decided to close guest posts on State of Search for the time being. Many thought it was just because I was getting so many bad requests for guest posts. It was however much more than that. In my view guest posting had become the newest link building tactic and not in a good way, it has become the equivalent of link exchange request.

And sooner or later things would go ‘wrong’ there. As I said a month ago: “The low quality content is hurting sites, and will be penalised by Google in the end I’m sure.”. It looks like that time is coming sooner than later. Though it isn’t directly low quality content which draws the attention, it’s the links.

Two signals point to that, first Matt Cutts who started tweeting about a new Penguin Update (‘Penguin 2.0’) and made a video (below) about what to expect in the next few months in terms of SEO in which he points at the upcoming update, which probably will hurt a lot of sites. Most likely this is the update Cutts talked about in San Francisco last year when he said “You don’t want the next Penguin update, the engineers have been working hard”.

That Penguin Update is coming and might just be focussing on guest posts a lot. A signal of that seems to come from E-Consultancy in the past few days. According to a tweet that went out towards Matt Cutts “author links in guest blog bios on Econsultancy have been flagged by Google.”. It turned out this was about a link on which E-Consultancy themselves reported before.


First the things Cutts was talking about. As said he tweeted, in response to questions, that a new update was coming:


And then the video came:



So today all of a sudden rumours started about E-Consultancy links getting ‘flagged’ as being bad links. With the many rumours going around this days it was hard at first to believe it, but after this tweet people had some attention for it and it seemed to be true. In the end it turned out to be something which E-Consultancy themselves reported on before.


To be clear, the links talked about here are those in the bio’s:


On State of Search that would be these:


What does this mean?

What does this mean? Does this mean E-Consultancy is in big trouble and their links are now ‘poisoned’? Not exactly. E-Consultancy uses a lot of guest posts on their site. Which means they themselves will be targeted by ‘link builders’ a lot as well. And they have pointed that out themselves several times as well.

The ‘problem’ could be that if one of those link builders is doing a ‘heavy job’, getting a lot of links in a short amount of time, that might alert Google and have them check and maybe even flag (some of) those links. This seems to have happened to them.

These links can therefore be flagged on many sites, including E-consultancy’s. This does not make E-Consultancy a bad site all of a sudden. But let’s face it: you don’t want links coming from your site being flagged.

The consequences

We don’t know if Penguin 2.0 will be going in this direction, but IF Google indeed is going there (things do seem to point towards that) it means this will have consequences. Sites like E-Consultancy (or ourselves for example) will become more careful because they don’t want to be ‘associated’ with these type of ‘bad’ links. It will hurt them in the end as well. On the other side there’s the ones doing the guest posting. Most probably they will have to reconsider their tactics. Agressive link building has never been a good thing which includes aggressive guest posting (what happened here).

It still believe that the tactic of guest posting as a link building tactic is indeed be up for a massive ride in the near future, towards the ‘bad’ side. SEO’s should already be looking at different methods than guest posting.

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Bas van den Beld

About Bas van den Beld

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

66 thoughts on “Does Flagged E-Consultancy Link Indicate Where Penguin is Going?

  1. So basically, when you create valuable content and manage to get it published on a site that’s not your own, Google now hates you too…

    In short, Google hates links. Any link, anywhere, for any reason, is suspect.

  2. If you tell me how you can algorithmically detect a post to be a guest post, I’ll eat it! (I rely on the proven fact that you can’t eat bits so I’m safe but still strong about my conviction)

    Manual attacks can be dealt to prominent SEO websites that are KNOWN to do guest posting just to turn them into unwilling whistle blowers hence deter the rest of the community from doing guest posting also.

    There’s not algo way to detect guest posts unless someone is lame enough to label them so! And if those guest posts are done right, you’re safe. They should blend inconspicuously into regular content.

    I love Google FUD! Manually slash a few, have them scream and shout to scare the rest.

    PS: It would be a good time for Gust Post sites to wipe clean the guest post markings, if any.

  3. I might be wrong here (so there’s the disclaimer) but aren’t we running scared a little here for no reason?

    Surely, with all the talk about Google Authorship, it’s the presence of those links that validate the credentials of the author who has written the article in question?

    Sites like Clickz have writers who all have day jobs, but they write regular columns for the site. Those sites can’t be the target, yet technically they are guest posts.

    Guest posts where there is no authority or context should be hit by Penguin, as well they should, but I’ll take an authority on a subject to write an article and then let the social interaction, shares, retweets, +1’s give Google the signals that the article has merit and authorship closes the loop on who it is that wrote the article.

    Writing in the third person, is probably going to be dead in the water. And “authorities” in industries like payday loans….well I can’t see many of them coming forward.

    1. @Jim Banks Good point. I think it will be broader actually. As E-Consultancy shows Google seems to be looking at different signals, combining them and then draw the conclusion whether or not a guest post is a ‘solid’ one, or just one with the aim of link building.

      One of the signals for example is an over optimised link profile, or building links quickly, or several guest posts in a short time. All nothing new by the way, something Google does already.

      But this is why I believe guest posting as a link building tactic will be less attractive in the future 🙂

  4. The spammer as well as black hatter will be panic and look for solutions throughout the web and forums, the authority sites that provide high quality content which truly add value and serve the web will enjoy more higher ranking and free traffic from Google . However, the great content is not enough without effective outreach strategies.

  5. You are actually crossing the bridge Bas. E-consultancy raise its flag befor the Panda and Penguin but I don’t think so if it can still raise its flag nowadays. Maybe, it needs a little bit twist for Google to consider it.

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