It appears Google is taking aim at the long list of blog networks that have sprung up over the past couple of years. Some of the biggest names like Build My Rank have even been shut down. Some of the other names to get hit (according to the IM world) include SEOLinkMonster, High PR Society, Unique Article Wizard, SEONitro, My Article Network, LinkVana and BackLink Canon. With Google also announcing a new “Too Much SEO” penalty, it appears the sky is falling for a lot of SEO folks. Here are 3 important things to note about what’s going on in the land of blog networks:
1. Public vs Private Blog Networks
I have seen a lot of posts that are pointing out private blog networks have been taken down by Google and there is little point in using these ever again. You should keep in mind a service like Build My Rank is not a private blog network, it’s very much a public network. Any network that allows the public to sign up and advertises itself to the masses is not very private. Building your own private link network means you don’t let other SEO/IM folk use it. You are best to just keep it to offline businesses who don’t care about link reports, but just care about results. Will this mean you stay clear of Google’s clutches? Well it really depends on how you build it.
2. The Warnings
There are some really great insights into the type of warnings people are getting from Google about unnatural links over on this Google+ thread. Your typical message looks like this:
Something I found quite interesting is this thread over on the WarriorForum, which said:
Google replied and said: if you give us details of the SEO services you used this will increase your chance of having the penalty removed.
This would seem to flag whats ever happening is not algorithmic. These kind of blog networks are pretty easy to spot. Lot’s of content, not themed, plastered across random blogs, but my guess is Google are doing something semi manual where they push the button on something that runs out and slaps these networks. With over 700,000 unnatural link messages sent by Google in February alone, I doubt it’s a manual process. As David Harry pointed out on this thread, it’s probably that they always send these messages, but have now lowered the thresholds, or got better at finding these link patters.
3. The Fix
Unfortunately if you are caught up in this mess, there is no easy fix and there are some odd patterns as to how Google is dealing with sites that were using these blog networks. For one, there has been a lot of chatter around one particular link network that appears to have gotten all those who used it, into a spot of bother. SEOLinkMonster seems to be killing a lot of sites. This is a little odd. Most would have thought Google would just have devalued the links acquired from the networks. If they just penalised all sites who were found to have links from the networks, then how easy would it to be to run Negative SEO campaigns for your competitors. Simply dump your competitors into all these networks and watch them burn. But as Richard Hearne rightly points out on this thread:
Google is never going to be this dumb
It may be a case Google can look at a number of other factors including % of quality links vs % of crappy links, existing authority, trust etc when faced with a link profile that has clearly gone awry. This is what most SEO’s would like to believe as Negative SEO would be worse than people using blog networks for their own sites. However, I have seen a site who got the message above and received a penalty the following week, with only around 20 dodgy links, from thousands upon thousands of quality links. The site is a big brand, trusted, old and got a couple of crappy links over a 1 month period.
I would recommend anyone with this problem to get their link profile cleaned up and submit a re-inclusion request. A lot of people are recommending to say nothing as you don’t want to admit to your crime. Well, if you haven’t got a penalty yet, just the message, that could be good advice, but if your site has already been slapped down, you need to take your head out of the sand.