As you all probably know, there is a big buzz around the internet marketing world lately about blog networks being mass de-indexed and many sites losing rankings (including mine) as a result of all this mass de-indexing.
Well, there is no need to guess anymore or assume that the reason for the rankings loss has been caused due to blog networks being targeted by Google. It is official now. Google is targeting various blog networks and this comes directly from Matt Cutts himself (the head of Google’s Webspam team) as you can clearly see on his twitter when he responded to a question about this specific topic.
I must say I was really surprised to see Matt Cutts being so clear when saying that Google has blog networks under its radar. I don’t really know if he or anyone else in Google has ever clearly said what they are targeting or doing when it comes to dealing with web spam.
If you read between the lines of the twitter message that was sent to Matt and his reply, it is pretty clear that Authority Link Network (ALN) is 100% under Google’s radar and the 5000+ blogs that were de-indexed from the network is more than enough proof that Google is hitting it hard. According to the emails I got from the owner of ALN it seems they are aware and transparent with their users about what is happening. They also announced a few changes to the network that will effect how it will be used but I don’t really know how effective they will be if the entire network is under Google’s radar. Only time will tell and in any case, ALN 2.0 has just been released.
If all of this wasn’t proof enough, on the 19th of March BuildMyRank has been completely de-indexed by Google and the service has pretty much ended in its current form as you can clearly read for yourself.
Among the various blog networks, BuildMyRank has been considered to be the higher quality type of blog network accepting only unique content and providing high PR links. I think that the 150 word limit per post had a lot to do with how Google was able to get the entire BMR network de-indexed.
Who Else Has Been Hit?
Aside from Authority Link Network (ALN) and BuildMyRank (BMR), I can also say that SEO Link Monster has been pretty much de-indexed completely and you can read all about it on my SEO Link Monster Update I posted at the beginning of the month. High PR Society (HPS) just reported via email to their members that they lost 50% of their blogs.
Other blog networks that I can’t confirm but are rumored to be hit and de-indexed are:
- SEO Linkvine Elite
One thing that I really don’t like about the guys behind SEO Link Monster, SEO Linkvine Elite and SEO Nitro is that they aren’t sharing anything with their members as far as I know. While other networks have been transparent about what Google is up too, the owners of these networks (The Callen brothers and Dori Friend) have remained quite and didn’t share anything.
If you know of any other networks that were hit, please feel free to share by commenting below and please make sure to add a link to the source if you can.
How Google Did It?
I don’t know anything for a fact but I can make some guesses and share the guesses that were made by others that I had the chance to read.
One assumption that I read was that Google sent out tons of warning messages via Google Webmaster Tools saying that they detected unnatural links. When someone gets such a message and decided to reply to Google confessing that he only used this or that type of service than Google will simply de-index all the blogs on the link profile of that site or they will manually review these sites and de-index the ones they see fit. Since Google can send out millions of these messages it is enough that only a very small percentage will reply to allow them to de-index tons of blogs.
Another assumption is that Google manually reviewed blogs that were hosted on SEO hosting accounts since it is well known that blog networks are using such hosting accounts in order to have various IP’s across their network. Focusing on IP’s from such hosting providers probably helped Google to narrow down the search and by manually reviewing the sites on those IP’s it was easier to find the blogs that were part of various blog networks.
Again, these are all guesses since I don’t think anyone knows for sure how Google did it but it is pretty clear that once Google made up its mind to eradicate blog networks they have the brains and the resources needed to pull it off.
Why Google Did It?
Aside from the fact that building links via blog networks is against Google’s TOS (and just about any other form of manually creating links for your sites) I think it is more about fighting spam.
Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s Webspam team and it is called that for a reason. When you think about it, 99% of the content published on these networks is pure spam. It is being created only for the purpose of creating links and adds no value what so ever to anyone so it is in Google’s interest to get rid of it.
What More Google Is Planning?
It seems Google are not nearly done and they are already planning an upcoming algo change which will be focused on “Overly Optimized Sites” according to Matt Cutts. Matt announced this during a panel on SXSW which was named: Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better! and you can listen to it on that link.
Vanessa Fox from NinebyBlue has wrote a pretty comprehensive post about this upcoming algo change and I recommend you check it out if you want to learn more about what it means. The post is filled with quotes from Matt himself so if you don’t have the time to listen to the whole panel on SXSW than you should at least read this as it brings the most important parts.
Are Blog Networks Dead?
I don’t think blog networks are dead but they defiantly lost their power and using them should be done differently from now on.
I can’t say I’m surprised as I knew that one day Google will lay a death blow to the entire blog network concept since most of them can clearly be labeled as spam, I just didn’t think it will happen anytime soon. I guess the right way to say it (or write it) is that I hoped Google won’t get the time to deal with the blog networks and that I and others could keep link building as we did for the past year or so.
Wishful thinking .
Blog networks have became so popular mainly because they are very easy to use, especially if you combined them with spun content services like the Ultra Spinnalbe Articles and Article Builder, and because they simply worked great as far as helping sites rank.
I will be the first to admit that I made the mistake of relying on such networks quite heavily and now it is my time to pay . With that said, using blog networks has helped me a lot over the past year and I made money by using them (among other things) so I don’t regret using them, I only regret not being prepared for the day Google will end them. This is totally my fault and I can’t blame anyone other than myself.
Even though the future of blog networks looks pretty bad right now, I don’t personally think they are dead in the water. I think that some blog networks will still work and stay active and it does seem that many of them are already making some necessary changes that will make it harder for Google to track their blogs down and that means it will make it harder for their users to use them which will result in less people actually using them which is probably a good thing for everyone involved.
What Does This All Mean?
In short, this means that if your link building strategy has relied on the use of such blog networks, you will need to update it and adapt to these new changes. This is something that is very common when it comes to SEO since it is dynamic and will continue to change and evolve.
You need to be aware of that and you need to be prepared to make changes and tweaks to your link building strategy so you will always be on top. I personally think that this latest Google update (Panda 3.3) is the most important one since the original Panda. Panda probably had a much bigger impact and caused a lot more panic and “SEO is dead” titles all over the internet but we managed to survive it so I don’t think all of the current panic and “SEO is dead” claims are justified. But only time will tell.
What’s Next in Regard to Link Building?
Good question that I have been asking myself for the past few days. It seems that the ease of using blog networks and their great effectiveness in providing good rankings has made me (and others) forget that they will eventually come to an end. It seems pretty clear that things are going to get a bit harder now (at least in the near future) but not all is lost.
SEO isn’t dead yet.
There are many ways to build links that existed before blog networks and will outlive them. My plan for now is to go back to what I was doing when I first started and that was to build web 2.0 properties and use a tired link building strategy. Any links from blog networks or other low quality type of links I will point to sites on the 1st tier and not directly to my money sites. This is a solid strategy that works but it is slower and more time consuming than what worked until a month ago.
You can check out Pat Flynn’s backlink strategy as it is very similar to what I’m talking about and even thought he posted it over a year ago it still applies and still works (with slight changes and tweaks) and whenever there is a big update he makes sure to include it in the post itself.
What About Small Niche Websites?
One thing that has been on my mind for the past few days is the future of building small niche websites. I’m talking about sites that are made to me monetized with AdSesne, Amazon and Clickbank products and mainly focus on a very small number of keywords (1-5). Blog networks had a big part of promoting such sites and getting them to rank quickly and without them the entire promotion will take longer and will probably be more expensive. All of this makes me think if this entire concept is still viable.
Keep in mind I’m not making any final decisions here, just sharing my thoughts with you. It seems to me that promoting too many little niche sites becomes a much harder without the ease and power of using blog networks in the process of link building. I will of course put this to the test since I don’t like to make any assumptions without basing them on some facts and personal experience but I wanted to put this out there so that I will be able to get your thoughts on this subject.
So, What Are Your Thoughts?
The stage is yours now.
What are you thoughts about what Google is doing? What do you think about building small niche sites? Is it still viable? How are you going to change your link building strategy?
Any tips you have feel free to share since we can all learn from each other.
After all, its all for one and one for all, right?
P.S. Be sure to read what Jon Leger had to say about the situation. At the end, I couldn’t agree with him more.
To your success (and mine ),