The search marketing industry has been abuzz about safe link building practices in light of Google cracking down on sites with ‘unnatural and artificial links’.
Many webmasters have been left enraged after being issued penalties by Google because their sites acquired artificial links that were used to manipulate their PageRank. Many experienced a sudden drop in the Google SERPs without prior notification.
Google has either partially or completely removed entire blog networks from its index. Consequently when Google removes a website from its index, any outgoing links automatically become null and void leaving thousands of websites affected.
The worst affected by this update are blog networks like BuildMyRank who are reportedly on the verge of shutting down.
So why are blog-networks being penalized this time?
Firstly Blog networks are a form of paid link building and Google’s policy on paid link building is crystal clear that states that “buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”
The purpose of blog networks is to facilitate link building, by creating genuine back links with quality content via posts opposed to creating paid back links from blogs without genuine content, which many webmasters resort to as it is easy and quick.
Blog networks are a type of “link scheme”. Recently some blog networks have been found to develop a technology to allows users to distribute their articles to hundreds of different blogs in the shortest span of time which is another quick and easy but un ethical way to generate thousands of back links to a site. It was only a matter of time until Google noticed this especially when Google’s opinion on link schemes clearly states that scheme blog networks are not on their list of favorites.
Articles posted to blog networks tend to be of fair to poor quality. The majority of articles posted to the affected blog networks were purely “filler” content that was written to get back links.
Following the first Panda Update in 2011 Google has constantly maintained that it wants genuine and quality content sites to occupy its search index and it wants webmasters to create and exchange value added content that helps readers visiting the blog site, not content that just creates back links.
Back in March 2012 Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts had hinted an algorithmic change that will come down hard on sites with over optimization or SEO.
“We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on a page, or whether they exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect in a particular area. It is an active area where we have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”
Givena Google penalized one of their own Chrome websites when it was revealed that a marketing company they used had employed paid back links, there is no reason to think Google would spare the other culprits.