Over the past few weeks, there’s been a huge crack down on blog networks. Everyone is thinking it, is this the end of link building as we know it? Well no, but yes and yes, but no. So what’s been happening?
Google has been de-indexing blog networks and even forcing some of them to shut down. Like many online marketers, I use blog networks on a daily basis. Why? Simply because they work. Blog networks have been around for a long time and they’ve consistenly been a sure fire way to top search engine rankings.
As Google is de-indexing them, many of their users are now losing their rankings. Before I address exactly what this means for SEO’s and webmasters, let me explain the situation.
First What Are Blog Networks?
In a nutshell, they are networks of blogs all hosted on separate IP addresses and used to manipulate search engine rankings. People use blog networks to artifically build links to their own sites. Blog networks make it seem like other relevant blogs are linking to your own. Normally to access a network you pay a subscription fee of anywhere between $25/month to $200/month.
Once subscribed, you can submit spun articles into the system which slowly get distributed to X amount of blogs in the network. It’s an incredibly simple concept. You submit spun articles and the network distributes them slowly to dozens or even hundreds of blogs in their network. And of course, in every article that gets distributed is a link to your own website/s.
What’s Wrong With Blog Networks?
They easily manipulate search engine rankings. Google has been fighting networks for years. Originally SEO companies would have their own private blog networks they’d use to boost their client’s rankings. It’s a smart idea and using them is possibly the best way to gain top search engine rankings. But… They are easily discovered. That’s the problem.
The problem is most blogs in blog networks are all very similar. They all have a wide set of categories, badly written content and a high number of out bound links. Even worse, many blog networks allow their members to export their backlinks. That means if Matt Cutts wanted to shut down a blog network, all he’d have to do is join, submit a few articles, export his backlinks and then de-index all the sites.
The point is, blog networks do a terrible job at hiding their “footprint”.
Why Do We Use Blog Networks Then?
Greed, laziness, profit, excitement… Take your pick. People use blog networks because they’re a pretty much guaranteed way of ranking high on Google and other search engines. You practically can’t fail with them. Want higher rankings, just submit more articles – it’s as simple as that.
People use them because they can and most users don’t even consider the fact that they may one day be de-indexed. That’s why a lot of people are complaining right now, they’re losing their rankings. And you wanna know why?
It’s mainly because they’re exclusively using blog networks to get their rankings. That’s the biggest problem.
Who’s Been Affected?
Many blog networks actually, more than we know of. The big shocker of the lot was Build My Rank. The blog network I recommended over any other. Over the past week Build My Rank announced they were shutting down. The news of Build My Rank’s shut down completely shocked the industry and put fear into every black hatter out there.
People just didn’t expect it. It’s the one network that prided themselves on the fact they didn’t accept spun content. If you wanted to use their network, you would have to write and submit an article of 150+ words of unique content. Each article you’d submit would be published on just one of the Build My Rank network’s blogs.
It’s actually why their network was so successful, and the reason it was so effective was because their blogs were high Page Rank.
One hundred percent unique content only being published on one domain, yet they still got screwed? Unfortunately yes. BMR was the blog network that seemed untouchable, yet Google was onto them. Over the past week a great percentage of their blogs have been de-indexed from the search results and I’m sure it’s just the beginning.
Build My Rank was just one of many networks to be affected, but they are the first to shut down because of it. Other networks like Authority Link Network, Link Vana and others have been said to be greatly affected. In fact, Authority Link Network lost several thousand blogs overnight.
So What Does This Mean?
It means Google is on a rampage again trying to clean up the search results. In reality getting rid of a few blog networks isn’t going to have a global impact on the search results. A tiny percentage of webmasters use blog networks. However, many blog network users are using them to push crappy websites to the top of Google.
All Google wants to do is clean up the SERPS and provide its users with better, more relevant results. The majority of Google users think that for some reason the top search results are always the best. It’s some weird human instinct that dates back hundreds of years. Probably the same instinct that makes people buy the most expensive items when shopping even if they’re the same as the less expensive items.
So if webmasters are using blog networks to push their crappy websites to the top of the SERPS, Google is going to do something about it. It also makes them look good. Every time they clean up the search results they get a ton of praise from other websites and companies.
What Do You Do?
First, if you’ve been heavily using blog networks that have been affected, you may want to consider removing your links. Google has actually been sending out notifications via Google Webmaster Tools telling webmasters to remove “unnatural” backlinks.
Myself and others have come to the conclusion that the Google Webmaster Tools notification is nothing to worry about. People were seriously freaking out about it. Shitting themselves thinking their sites were going to be de-indexed unless they remove all unnatural backlinks.
You have to remember, even if you do get penalized for unnatural links (which is difficult by the way), you’ll always recover. Remember JC Penny got penalized for “manipulating” rankings by using black hat link building tactics. I mean shit, the news were all over that story and their site still recovered within a few weeks or months.
The point is don’t crap yourself when Google warns you about unnatural link building you’ve already done. Back to removing links, it’s totally up for debate. If you’ve only used blog networks, you’re in trouble.
You could just leave your backlinks and hope they don’t get de-indexed. That’s probably the best thing you can do right now. As for those exclusively using blog networks, your rankings will most likely take a sudden fall when your links get de-indexed.
So you definitely should remove your backlinks on any de-indexed blogs, but keep the links on the blogs that are indexed. That’s my view anyway. What you need to take from this article is that Google will keep screwing us over. Panda and other updates will continue to roll out.
Google just rolled out Panda 3.4 and they aren’t going to stop any time soon. All these “minor” updates aren’t as minor as most people think. This update alone is said to impact “only 1.6%” of queries which doesn’t seem like much. But when put into perspective 1.6% of 88 billion monthly queries = only 1.4 billion queries/month. To me that’s a pretty big deal.
We are very much fucked if we continue SEO with the same old mind “link builder’s mindset”. I honestly think link building won’t be dead for a very long time. Google’s current algorithm for ranking websites is very reliable and effective. Yes – it can be easily manipulated but I just can’t see any dramatic paradigm shifts in the near future.
What I can see however is many small changes that will lead to a complete alteration in the way Google evaluates and ranks websites. That’s how the government screwed us remember? Tiny changes, one at a time. Google has a monopoly on the Internet much like the governments does on the world.
They make tiny changes towards a new order. So in 100 years time we think to ourselves, “how the fuck did we let these criminals steal our money, control the money supply and dictate to us what we should and shouldn’t do?”
Now that’s something to think about and it directly relates to what Google is doing right now. These little changes are definitely pushing Google in a new direction. Who knows, maybe link building will become extinct in ten years time. Maybe social signals will become more valuable. Whatever the case, you can count on marketers figuring out a way to manipulate the system – one way or another.
The best thing for anyone to do right now is to continue to build more links. Continue to use more blog networks, but start incorporating other techniques into your link building. Start submitting to directories, start creating high quality wikis, web2.0 sites and start submitting high quality articles.
All the distribution of spun stuff works, it really does. How long for, I have no idea. But I can say this, focus on high quality spun articles. If people would take the time to manually write and spin the bullshit they submit; we wouldn’t be having these problems. We wouldn’t have Google on our asses. Why not? Just because blog networks and other black hat SEO generally promotes the distribution of bullshit content.
That’s another problem.
Nobody wants to read spun garbage, let alone a bad article. So when spun garbage gets distributed to thousands of websites and starts appearing at the top of Google; there is a problem. Google doesn’t even want webmasters doing SEO period. If you learn SEO from “white hat guys”, you’ll learn about writing great content and properly optimizing it.
If you learn from “black hat guys”, they’ll tell you its a fools game. After all, how the heck can you compete with the black hatters unless you’ve got an audience of tens of thousands of people. You can’t compete and it just makes the whole SEO industry unfair. Even if your website rocks and you write breathtaking articles, you’re not going to get enough links to compete.
This blog right here, I write good stuff on it. But still, I never get more than a few natural links to any of the posts I publish. So if anyone wanted to outrank me for a keyword, all they’d have to do is fire up a link building tool or submit 1 article into a private blog network. The system is stupid and it greatly favors black hatters. (Or extreme white hatters)
Really you have two options. Build an enormous audience, hope your stuff goes viral and gets all the links it needs. Or use black hat SEO. The latter is far easier and immensely more cost effective for most individuals. What if you’re trying to rank your site in the gardening niche? You could potentially start a white hat link bait campaign to attract natural backlinks.
You could do that, but it would be expensive and you’d probably need a few hundred natural links to get the rankings you desire. It could literally take a year and several thousand bucks to accomplish that naturally in a small niche. Or you could spend $69 on a blog network and submit two articles, which would probably take you 3 hours.
Point being, if you want to win without breaking the bank; black hat SEO is the way forward. That is if you’re in a niche that’s not white hat feasible. With all that being said, you should try and be as white hat as possible. I try to follow Google’s rules as much as I can. But if I followed them to the T it would cost me ridiculous amounts of money to get the same results I get right now.
Things To Do
Google has a monopoly on the Internet, there’s no point fighting it. Why not just give in, follow the rules and prosper? It makes sense unless you just want to be an outlaw. So here are a few things you can do in regards to link building, SEO and prospering in general:
- Write Amazing Content
- Have An Attractive Website
- Guest Blogging
- Article Marketing
- Press Releases
- Web2.0 Creation
- Build An Audience
Those are pretty much the best strategies you can use to win at SEO right now. Write amazing content, after all that is what Google ultimately wants. If webmasters spent just half as much time writing quality content as they did building backlinks; the world of SEO would be a better place – really.
If you have great content, people will stick around on your site for longer. They’ll read more articles, share your content, refer others to your website and even join your email list. The benefits are endless. Having an attractive website is the same. The uglier your site, the less time people will spend on it.
Now when it comes to link building, there are very few techniques that are OK with Google. First guest blogging, it’s a no brainer. If you’re building a blog and trying to build a real audience, guest blogging is the way to go. It provides traffic, credibility and backlinks. The problem is, in most niches guest blogging just isn’t feasible.
You could however contact random blogs and offer them a free article in return for a contextual link back to your site. Many webmasters go for that because it works. It’s a natural way of obtaining links, high quality ones too. As for article marketing, you could argue that its against the rules.
If you’re spinning bullshit content and submitting it to thousands of directories, then forget it. That defeats the object of what I’m trying to say. You should write 100% unique articles and submit them to one directory each. Yes, spinning your articles and submitting them to 1000+ directories is far more attractive.
But a single unique article on 1 high Page Rank directory like Ezine Articles does carry a lot of weight. They also drive traffic and that’s one factor I believe Google will pay close attention to very soon. Is the backlink sending you traffic? If it is, it’s probably a natural backlink and if not, it’s probably been created with some tool. Makes logical sense to me.
Writing articles and submitting them to one directory is a great link building tactic. It may be expensive, but its essential even in the most limited quantities. Next Press Releases, an excellent way to build links. PR backlinks don’t seem to be as effective as they once were. But they do dramatically help. If you’re doing a load of black hat link building, press releases make your links seem natural.
If a load of news sites are talking about yours, it doesn’t seem so unnatural when you start getting hundreds of new backlinks. Web2.0 creation is similar to article marketing. Manually creating and building web2.0 properties is great for building links and driving traffic. Again, it can get expensive but it’s more than worth it.
Web2.0 sites like Hubpages, Blogger and Squidoo all provide great backlinks. Most SEO’s spin articles and publish hundreds of “unique” variations of them on web2.0′s. Because of this Google has devalued their value. Eventually web2.0′s that consist of badly spun articles are removed. So manually writing articles and using them to create high quality web2.0′s is in fact a great investment.
For one, you get high quality backlinks. Secondly you can promote the web2.0′s with other links (black hat links) and rank them on Google to drive traffic to your own site. For some of my sites, I have web2.0′s manually built each month. It costs around $2-3 per manually built web2.0, but if you target keywords and rank them – it’s totally worth it.
That just about covers the basics of “semi white hat” link building and what you should be doing on top of using blog networks. If you’re building a large site you should be building an audience. Again, it’s not feasible in most niches. Nobody is going to read a weekly newsletter on soap dispensers – for example.
However if you’re building a site in any niche that has a demand for information; build an audience. Your audience will keep coming back to your site, quickly decreasing its Alexa rank, sharing its articles and growing its traffic.
I 100% endorse the use of blog networks. At the end of the day SEO is corrupt, it’s a big fat lie. With that being said, we should try and be as careful as possible.
So continue to use blog networks, as one falls pick up another one. As one link building strategy fails you, use another. While at the same time incorporate some white hat SEO into your overall strategy. But most importantly, build a website that has value. Value is ultimately what the search engines want.
Build valuable assets that will genuinely help people and improve the quality of their life. Don’t piss people off, try and cheat the system and spam the web just so you can make a buck. Value Pays.
Last updated by.
Tell The World
Get free Blog updates