Blog Networks take a Kicking from Google – 3 Things to Know

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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.

If you have got a penalty, you might want to take a quick read of this post from David Harry and also be sure to check out Tim’s post on his take on what’s going on.

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.

  • Anonymous

    Ah well, that’s the end of that gravy train, coincidentally my most profitable site gone just today, probably never to return. 

    Cheers for the post Kieran.

  • Anonymous

    That’s rough, do you think it’s worth trying to 301 redirect to a new domain ?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand, what would a 301 do to help?

  • Anonymous

    So, don’t take my word on this, a lot of people over on the warriorforum are trying 301 to a new domain and then only build clean links to the new domain. Do penalties carry across the domain? I am not sure. But I am not expert on this. I have never tried a 301 in terms of a penalty resolution. 

    I wonder what would happen if you transferred the site over to a new name (a friend), 301’d it and then submitted a re inclusion request via a friend, to say they had just bought the site. Maybe shot in the dark, but Google might just devalue the crappy links, although they would probably reset the whole thing, so probably not much point.

    Probably all long shots to be honest. Might be worth heading over to the WarriorForum to find out more. Although, there are a lot of people over there who have no idea what they are talking about.

  • Anonymous

    Long shots I think Kieran.

    The penalty got me thinking – I was running an A/B URL split test on the ranking page, using the Max A/B WordPress plugin – it never occurred to me until the evening the site got dropped, but I think it must use a server side PHP redirect on the page to split the traffic, rather than a Javascript redirect.

    I think this is what triggered the penalty, they may have seen this as a “sneaky redirect”, and Google’s crawler would automatically detect this, if it was a server side redirect as I suspect..

    So maybe it was an automated penalty. I’ve disabled the A/B test now…could re-inclusion also be automated? ..Maybe when it re-crawls the page, now with no split, it may come back, or would I need to submit a re-inclusion request? There are 2k crappy links to that page..if there is a manual review the re-inclusion test will likely fail, though I’ve nothing to lose at this point, lol.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never heard of that plugin. I am not sure how it’s doing the redirect, but would Google not being crawling the page you have setup as control (the original) ? rather than finding a new page you are redirecting to. If Google things you are doing something cloaky, I assume it would be an automatic thing. Maybe wait to see what happens when Google crawls that page again. Is it just one page that you have penalized ?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Kieran,

    Site has come back, on Tuesday. Switching off the test did the trick! Sweet!
    I found out that it *was* a PHP server side redirect, so even though Google was crawling the original page, it was getting a different page 50% of the time it crawled. It didn’t like it. It was an automated penalty. Live and learn..!

    Happy Easter!


  • Anonymous

     Wow, that plugin is doing something pretty dumb 🙂 I wonder how many other people are suffering because of it.

    Nice spot and glad your site is back again.