OMG! The Sky Is Falling!?!?!

So – blog networks are dead now, right? That means the sky is falling, right? Well, if you know me at all, you know I do NOT subscribe to the whole “sky is falling/end of the world” mentality. Changes happen, we go with the changes – that’s how we roll, right? So let’s talk about what’s happening with this massive deindexing of paid blog network sites…and what it means to us.


First off, what are paid blog networks?

Ever heard of services like LinkVana, BuildMyRank, Authority Link Network, etc? Those are paid blog networks. You either pay a monthly fee or “pay” by adding your own sites into the network.

When you use these networks, you are able to submit content/articles with your links in them out to their sites. Those links pass value and help you rank better.

If you’ve been working online for a month or more, you’ve heard of these blog network services.

And, let’s face it and be real… if we’ve used any of these services, we know exactly WHY we use them, don’t we?

We use them to get the in-content links to help our web pages rank better.

Yes, we use them to manipulate Google rankings.

We all know what we’re doing – we know Google frowns on that (ok, totally HATES that), but we do it anyway.

So, please – no whining about how this isn’t “fair”, ok?

What Happened?

In the case of BuildMyRank, Google identified an “overwhelming majority” of their backlink network sites – and Google de-indexed those sites (here is the official BuildMyRank announcement post).

This has been happening to MANY of these backlink blog network sites and services as Google is getting very active about removing these network sites from their index – and making the links FROM those sites useless.

Google doesn’t index those sites anymore, therefor they don’t see or count your links anymore. In turn, this weakens your back link profile, and your rankings start to drop – or tank all-together (depending on how much these types of links made up your entire back link profile).
I’ve heard around the web that this is happening to not only Build My Rank, but also to services like LinkVana, Authority Link Network, and many other names we’re probably familiar with.

So, What Does This All Mean?

Well, first off – this whole situation and all the buzz it’s creating is awesome PR for Google. It’s always great for Google to get major news buzz when they do something to remove the crap from their index and to improve search results.

Ever since the JC Penneys incident, the general public is more aware than ever of how web masters manipulate Google in order to be able to rank at the top of their query space(s).

We in the internet marketing/SEO space have always known this was going on (and will continue), but I don’t think the average Google user was overly aware of this – or really cared, for that matter.

But since the NY Times brought this situation front and center for the whole world to see, Google has HAD to do something to clean things up. These “things they did” include things like Panda…and this massive de-indexing of blog networks.

Reality is, Google can’t just sit there and do NOTHING – so hats off to them for doing something to appease the general public, further promote trust in their brand and search results, and for protecting their index.

Hey, it’s their company, right? They can do whatever they want.

But here IN the internet marketing/SEO community, the overwhelming feeling is – the sky is falling.

::insert heavy sigh from me.  Like Michelle said in her blog post about this – I also hate ‘fear mongoring’:::::

Should You Remove Your Links From Blog Networks?

This is a good question that is totally up for debate (and your personal choice as how to react).

Some say leave the links/ignore messages in Google Webmaster Tools – others say remove the links.

Many wonder, “If I keep the links and don’t remove them, will MY site(s) get deindexed too?”

This is a tough question. For one, when sites that have links to you get deindexed by Google, those links don’t “count” anymore. Based on that, as I said earlier, your rankings may very well drop or tank.

This doesn’t necessarily mean YOUR site is getting hit with a penalty because you have links from these blog networks – it DOES mean you lost back link POWER so your rankings drop.

ie, it’s not necessarily a direct penalty, but the indirect result from your linking pages getting de-indexed.

Got it?

Also, as I’ve shown before in this Twitter conversation in this post, Google has been known to penalize a site for what they USED to do and/or have on their site – so you might not get a “clean slate” just because you remove those links. The history is still there…and Google forgets nothing.

You also need to decide if you believe that things can be done TO your site’s Google rankings or not.

By this, I mean – do you believe someone else can go out and buy/build a ton of links to your site and HURT your rankings?

I, personally, hold on to my warm and fuzzy belief that there is some fairness when it comes to ranking in Google.

Yes, that might be foolish of me 😉

However, I hang on to the belief that others cannot go out and build tons of crap links to my site(s) and cause harm to my ranking.

If so, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) would become SEOC (Sabotage Every Other Competitor), ya know?

Why would anyone work on their own sites, links OR content, when all we’d need to do is go out and attempt to destroy our competition?

That’s why it makes sense to me that Google doesn’t necessarily penalize your SITE for “nasty” links, but instead, devalues or de-indexes the pages/sites those links come FROM so they don’t affect your either way (neither good nor bad).



That, to me, makes perfect sense – and it’s how I keep my sanity ’round here.

However, others do not feel the same way – read this post from AffHelper.

Based on my thoughts and feelings on this, if you get a “love note” inside your Google Webmaster Tools informing you that they (Google) have detected “artificial or unnatural links” – it seems almost silly to me to go remove those links to please Google.

Why? Because, to me, it is giving Google proof that YOU not only created those links, but also have control over those links. In other words, it wasn’t done TO you.

Just my opinion. I think I’d go about working to make my back link profile better and slowly dilute the bad stuff.

You will need to form your own opinion and then decide how to handle your own unique situation.

 

So What Works NOW?

Natural question now that the news of the “death” of blog networks is running rampant around the web.

First off, not all blog networks are dead.  Not all blog networks are dead and gone forever.  In fact, I’ve gotten some emails announcing the “new” xyz blog network.

Blog networks will always be out there – and they will be used and abused as long as they work…and then it’s off to the latest and greatest new network.

The blog networks that are most heavily used and most popular tend to be the ones that get shut down the quickest.   I mean seriously, how hard is it for the good folks at Google to watch for the latest launch of any new network, sign up, and see what sites are part of the network – and that’s doing it manually, right?

So we need to be realistic here – if everyone and their brother is using it, the lower the life-expectancy of the network as a whole.

There are networks that appear to still “work”, but I’m not ready to talk about that now.  Naturally, them still being viable now doesn’t mean they will always remain viable.

I’m always testing and watching so I can be on top of “what works now” – but that probably isn’t something that I will literally spell out here publicly.

 

I watch query spaces.

Yes, that means I pick random queries (keyword phrases), take the current top 20 or so ranking urls, and pop them into my rank checking tool.

I pick phrases that I might be invested in… I pick phrases I have NO investment in.

In short, I just track them… check out their back links to see HOW they are ranking….and then just watch.

 

Why in the world would I do this?

First off, it’s fun for me (yes, I am a weirdo) – but mainly because I can SEE when algo changes totally shift a query space.

So when Google announces an algo change – I can SEE how it affects these query spaces.

I have pages that I am tracking that I *know* should be nailed with these latest changes – and they’re still going strong.

I have some urls I track that I’m waiting to see them get nailed, because by all accounts, based on what Google says, these urls should be dropped to no-mans land in the SERPs.

They’re still there.

And we’re talking some big money/big volume keyword query spaces too.  Some of them are majorly dominated with affiliate sites (which Google hates, right?  Wrong).

What Google says.. what Google does…and what actually happens are all different things.  Keep that in mind.

However, there are some urls that I track that I can see the effects of blog networks getting de-indexed hurting their rankings.

See this graph (sorry, not sharing the url or the keyword phrase)

 

Up until March 13th or so, this url was ranking pretty consistently above the fold on Page 1 for a very, very competitive keyword phrase.

On March 14th, that site tumbled in the rankings to #200 and is now sitting at about #150.

Ouch, right?

Why did this happen?  This url did a lot with blog networks… many of those blog networks sites that were linking to them got de-indexed, and now that url is losing back links at an alarming rate.

I’ve been watching where and how they get their back links – I can see what services/networks they use too (and if *I* can figure it out, I promise you, Google is way ahead of me – WAY ahead).

So now I am in the “watch and analyze” phase as all this plays out.  Who is still going strong?  What are they doing?  Who is tanking?  What did they do?

In these big money/big volume query spaces, it’s a dog eat dog type of environment.  No matter WHAT Google does today, they will figure out something in a few hours and do that to compete for that coveted first page or number 1 ranking.

I simply get the pleasure of being a ‘query space stalker’ – seeing what’s working/not working…and then applying that to my own not-nearly-as-competitive query spaces.

My advice is this – if you are in a query space that really matters to you – WATCH the other players.  You will learn MUCH more by watching the others than you will buying an ebook or paying for any blog network or “loophole of the day” rankings trick.

My Over-All Advice

Work on making your back link profile better.  Over time, the good should outweigh the bad…and slowly the bad will fall away.  Be careful when using any network that is wayyyy overused or is set up in a way that a) provides urls of WHERE your links are, or b) has an easy-to-follow footprint.

Also, realize that these blog networks most likely will not “work” forever.  The more public they are, the more likely they are to live a short life.

Concentrate on your message – and then be a “Stalker” in your query space(s) too.  See what helps your competitors rank and then make a conscious decision if you are willing to take that risk too.

Any time you do anything in attempt (or in hope) of manipulating your rankings in Google search results, it’s a risk.  Surely we all know that by now, right?

Above all – get informed so you make informed choices.

Michael, from 100kResults was kind enough to make the following webinar he did for his members public so we all can learn from it.

 Thank you Michael for sharing this with everyone.  Be sure to check out his 100kResults site for more info.

Ok, comments are open – fire away!

 

 

 

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