Blog Post

YouMoz and Google's Manual SEO Penalty


As you most likely have heard, YouMoz, which is one of Moz's sites, recently received a warning from the Google Webmaster Spam Team. Chad and Adam thought that this would be a great time to discuss this warning and Moz’s reaction to this Google Webmaster warning. Watch the Daily Brown Bag to learn more about Google’s manual penalty, guidelines, and more about SEO.

Also available on YouTube.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we're going to be talking about the YouMoz scandal, where a link from YouMoz to Scott Wyden's website was listed as a suspicious link in a Google Webmaster warning. I'm Chad Hill. I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good afternoon, Chad. Welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. So this is an unfolding story that we're covering today and this link is, Chad, as you said, was YouMoz, which is one of Moz's sites. And Rand Fishkin, a very vocal leader from Moz, is talking quite a bit about this and isn't too happy. Basically, Scott Wyden, this photographer in New Jersey, was referenced in an article on YouMoz and later received a warning from the Google Web Spam Team, saying that their inbound SEO links look suspicious. So Rand is . . . and I think what really started this controversy, Chad, is that in the . . . "Here is a few example links that we don't like from the Web Spam Team at Google," one of them was specifically the link on YouMoz. And that's what has made Rand pretty unhappy. He's saying that the Moz team reviews every single submission and checks every single link that comes to them, so he's saying of course they have this incredibly strong editorial control. And everything that is put in there is very organic and intentional and for the end user value. So they take great care to make sure both their authors and their SEO links are vetted. And he feels this is a fairly unfair action because of that, because it's hard to understand what could be stronger, editorial control or placement, and further away from creating SEO content just with the intention of manipulating the rankings.

So, I think the bottom line from and what his controversy is, Chad, is he really wishes Google would be more transparent. So then he talks quite a great deal about at Moz, of course, that's their stated mission is to sort of reverse-engineer Google and help people understand what works for SEO that make it transparent. And so I guess the big controversy today is, Well, is this just an accidental SEO thing done by a lower-level analyst on the Web Spam Team or is this the warning shot across the bow that says even SEOmoz is not immune, Chad, so I beefed in your thoughts on this.

Yeah, I don't know. I've asked myself that question a couple times today and we've talked about it, and there's been some great people who've responded back, talking just about all sorts of conspiracy theories and various other things. But I do think, to your point, Moz has really taken a leadership role, both from a SEO data standpoint as well as from a SEO community standpoint on their website. And I think that . . . the only thing I can think about is that this actually, I remember reading this article. It was a pretty interesting article. I read it. I think it was from a while back, but I read it, stumbled upon it not too long ago, and it was a very interesting article. Actually, ironically enough, about how you needed to build relationships and not SEO links and how those relationships could help you get cited and referenced. So, it seemed like it was in the spirit of what Google wants the Web to be, which is this place where people are sharing knowledge and referencing each other. And actually, the particular SEO anchor link that this is on, I think, Photography SEO community, which, again, this guy runs one. So, it all seemed to kind of fit together and it is a little confusing, so Adam, I have to kind of believe that this just ended up a little bit on someone's list and they picked it.

But if it is what you said, and this is another sort of example that Google's putting out there, knowing that it would sort of blow up in the SEO community at large and create more uncertainty, then, yeah, I think we've certainly got some interesting months and years ahead of us in the SEO industry, which we all know, and there's been a lot of debate on this, which is still one of the best ways for businesses to generate awareness and bring visitors to their website. So, I guess we're going to have a little bit of a wait and see here.

And another chapter in this unfolding story, I agree, we will not know for sure. This is an unanswerable SEO question, but it may be that there's a divergence brewing between the spirit of what Google wants you to do in SEO and how they can actually police it. And what you're saying is it's just an innocent SEO action of a low-level person, which is pretty plausible, it may show that that divergence between what they've written in their SEO guidelines and how that's actually being applied to the website has gotten pretty confusing, which we've reviewed it before, trying to follow those SEO guidelines to the truest, honest, best intentions we have and is very difficult. It's very difficult because they rest on intentions. So I'm sure this won't be the last but that's the breaking news today about this seo backlink from YouMoz causing a SEO manual penalty. We'd like to hear your thoughts. We hope this has been informative and we hope to see you back here at a Daily Brown Bag real soon.