Google has always made its fight against spam public, but the search engine took it to a new level by targeting respected guest blog community My Guest Blog.

Matt Cutts recently publicized that a large guest blogging network had been penalized by the webspam team, but what he didn’t say was that it was Ann Smarty’s. Well-known and respected in the SEM community, Smarty is the and organizer of, a website that connected thousands of content writers with guest blogging opportunities.

Up until now, the large guest blogging network passed under the radar because it was primarily an avenue for connecting writers and publishers without monetary exchanges. In a Tweet addressing the penalty, Smarty asserted that she’d always been against paying for links and, therefore, considered herself on the same side of the fence as Google.

However, it seems that Google’s team was on a different page and was perhaps looking to draw a hard line against large-scale guest blogging in general. This wouldn’t be too surprising, given that Cutts previously published a blog telling marketers to “stick a fork in guest blogging” because it’d become so spammy. He subsequently released Webmaster Help Channel videos stating that Google might take action against sites using guest blogs to game the SEO system.

Ann Smarty defends, which was recently penalized by Google.

It’s unclear at present whether there were any underlying factors that contributed to this penalty. (In a recent video, Cutts said it’s easily to tell when links are purchased 99.9 percent of the time.) But this move definitely struck the hornet’s nest, and many marketers who hadn’t yet turned on Cutts and the webspam team have started to question their allegiances, particularly if they were among the sites impacted by this strike.

In a recent post covering SMX West discussions, Brafton’s Katherine Griwert said SEO is getting harder – not easier. Marketers must consider this possibility as they develop SEO campaigns in the future, focusing on merit-based approaches that won’t yield overnight results, but also won’t become ‘fad approaches’ that end up being punished.

Lauren Kaye is a Marketing Editor at Brafton Inc. She studied creative and technical writing at Virginia Tech before pursuing the digital frontier and finding content marketing was the best place to put her passions to work. Lauren also writes creative short fiction, hikes in New England and appreciates a good book recommendation.