Google Will Penalize Ultimate Guides and Expert Lists in 2014

google 2014 penalties matt cutts

In an unprecedented move, Google’s webspam team is going to take action and penalize websites that publish ultimate guides and expert lists. And—shockingly—not only will they penalize websites that that are publishing the content, they are going to penalize websites receiving backlinks from these articles.

Ultimate Guide Controversy

The popular online SEO community Inbound.org continuously hosts up-to-date articles for those of us involved in the SEO and online marketing community. However, many folks have become tired of the typical “Ultimate Guide to…” articles. Mostly because these articles usually make their way to the top of websites like Inbound and simply rehash the same old information that most of us already know.

ultimate guide seo inbound

However, users know that if they include the term “Ultimate Guide” in their title, it will generate more clicks to their website. It’s title bait.

Well, Google has taken notice of this practice. According to Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, “We have noticed a spike in ultimate guides published on the Internet over the last 18 months. However—unfortunately—many of these guides are not ultimate. Oftentimes, these articles just combine information from two or three other sources and put the information together in one post. Then publish it as one long article and simply call it an ultimate guide. These publishers are taking advantage of our algorithm that oftentimes reward longer articles. Be forewarned, we will be implementing an update to our algorithm that devalues ultimate guides in order to prevent us from rewarding spam and search engine manipulation.”

Ultimate Guide to…

If you do a quick search for “ultimate guide to” on Google, you will see that there are about 938,000,000 results. Interestingly—at the time of the publication of this article—Google feels like The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, 2nd Edition is the most relevant result. Thanks for rewarding huge authority domains in your search results, Google! I’m sure that’s what the public wants.

ultimate guide to

Anyways, if you are going to publish an ultimate guide, be sure you are posting the most ultimate information you can possibly think of. Because if it is less than ultimate, Google’s upcoming algorithm in early 2014 could seek out your website and punish you.

Expert Lists

Another hot topic on Google’s radar are expert lists. We’ve all seen these titles.

32 Experts Reveal … 48 Experts Share the Most Actionable Tips About … 8,000,000 SEO Experts Give Tips About …

It has become clear to the webspam team at Google that many people in the SEO community are blatantly using “expert roundups” in order to gain links and social shares to their websites from the people they interview. And—even more importantly for the people that participate in these interviews—these publishers are creating dofollow backlinks to the people they interview.

What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

When reached for comment about the situation, Matt Cutts had this to say, “Wow, look at these expert lists. Amazing information. So many actionable tips from leaders in the SEO industry. They’re publishing amazing content. But wait, look at the amount of natural links and social shares these expert lists are generating from these articles. Is that natural? Are they gaming the system?”

He continued, “And wow, look at the links included in these expert lists. Branded links, anchor text links such as “this” and “comprehensive guide” and “click here” and other random anchor text links. Are these SEOs consciously creating these natural looking anchor text links? Doesn’t that make the links unnatural if someone is actively thinking about making their anchor text natural and linking to related domains? Unbelievable. Wow. Gee golly. How can our webspam team combat this situation? Be warned, Internet—we will soon launch an update to our algorithm that will punish natural links pointing to your website.”

Upon further questioning about the natural links included in expert roundups, Matt Cutts simply sat silently in his chair, stared at the wall, then suddenly flew away on a unicorn.

Update 7-17-2014

Looks like Google no longer favors anal sex with the “ultimate guide to” search. And is only returning 175,000,000 results.

ultimate guide to - Google Search 2014-07-17 20-50-08

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11 Comments

  1. Pawel Gontarek

    Doomsday … 🙁

  2. Alesia Krush

    “Interestingly—at the time of the publication of this article—Google feels like The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, 2nd Edition is the most relevant result.” – nowhere to be see in my top 10.
    Personalized search, maybe?

  3. Nicholas G

    Lol, I don’t think so (I hope), since I used an incognito window. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I just hope people don’t take this article seriously. It looks like it was somehow found and shared on G+ and other places.

    BTW, Link Assistant is awesome! Great tools. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Alesia Krush

    Thanks! Must be my personalized results then. I guess I’ve read to many ultimate guides by now. 😀

    Cheers,
    Alesia

  5. Nicolai Lønne

    Do you have any kind of source for this claim?
    I see a lot of great content that is based on X number of experts/authorities giving their inputs (but true I also see some bad ones).

    Anyway; you make a very bold claim here but you need to back it up with a real quote from MC or other trusted source 🙂

  6. Zamir Javer

    This makes sense. Far too many firms, including marketing firms, create Ebooks and guides which provide no added value , and are simple regurgitations of existing information. This keeps people on their toes and continues to force the creation of Quality Unique Content.

  7. Nicholas G

    Hi Nicolai,

    I have zero sources to back up my claim because I completely made it up. It’s just an idea I had for an article that I wrote at the beginning of the year that I thought would be funny to post.

    I’m wondering if I should add a disclaimer or something so people don’t take it seriously! I was just trying to have some fun while everyone else was publishing their Google predictions for 2014.

  8. Nicolai Lønne

    Well a friend of mine started a fear based debate on G+ based on your blog post. It’s written very much like a confirmed truths, and not as an opinion – in my opinion 🙂

  9. Nicholas G

    Yeah, I was kind of going for an Onion style article: http://www.theonion.com. And I thought the ridiculousness of some of it would send signals to anyone reading it that it isn’t real, especially the end when I claim that Matt Cutts flew away on a unicorn (he could possibly own a flying unicorn, we may never know).

    But if it’s on the internet, it must be true! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Zamir Javer

    I haven’t come across any sources either….looks to be just someone’s claim or guess. I believe Google can index Ebook content much the same way as they do any content, and so if the Ebook contains nothing unique, then it will be treated as such and most likely will not be ranked high.

  11. Nicholas G

    Hey Zamir,

    Yeah, there are no sources because I made up the info in the article. Check out my other comments here. Thanks for stopping by!

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