Since the massive de-indexing spree Google has been going through, a lot of people are totally freaked out. This is evident by the number of threads popping up all over the place on various internet marketing sites and forums.
Yes, it seemed as if the sky was falling and that all blog networks and SEO is dead as we know it.
But then I did a quick traffic and stats check on my sites and I discovered I actually had MORE opt ins and MORE traffic than prior to Google targeting these blog networks. Which is great, because it further goes to show the tactics and techniques I teach in the Google Resurrection course is now more relevant than ever.
Since I am a huge SEO linking building geek I actually spent a few days looking through the threads and studying exactly what happened.
And what I discovered actually shocked and surprised me at the same time.
I think the two biggest blog networks that were affected were Build My Rank (BMR) and Authority Link Network (ALN) both of which I heavily used in the past, but have since stopped. Yes, there were plenty of others, but these two were the most well known.
Remember, in the Google Resurrection guide, I mention the use of other networks. Since the blog de-indexation spree, I actually contacted each of the networks to find out what happened to their network. So far, some of them were affected in a minor way, others were not affected at all.
Before I go on, I want to point out something very clear to you.
If you’re one of those people who think “my link building is better than yours” and pointing the finger at other people who use blog networks…
Then here’s a reminder.
ANY SORT OF LINK BUILDING is against Google’s Terms and Conditions.
Read this straight from Google:
Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results. Examples of link schemes can include:
- Links intended to manipulate PageRank
- Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
- Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
So if you’re reading this post, thinking you’re all high and mighty and that you’re way of link building is “white hat” and totally legitimate.
If you do any sort of self promotion of your website, no matter how relevant and specific to the topic your site is about, you are by definition, breaking the rules of Google.
So this means if you do:
- Posting in forums
- Commenting on blogs
- Submitting to directories
- Retweeting your page
- Facebook liking it
- Social bookmarking
- Guest blogging
ALL of it is against Google’s terms and conditions.
If you don’t believe me, have a read of the opinions of the Google guys at the webmaster forums here:
Just look through a few threads and you’ll quickly realize, any sort of self promotion that you do directly is against Google’s terms…
But you know what?
If you’ve done internet marketing for a while, you’ll know one thing.
You need LINKS and Blog networks are a great way to get them!
I will attempt to explain to you in my humble opinion why the networks that I recommended were more resistant than BMR and ALN later on. But first, let’s look at why these two blog networks were hit.
The Problem With Build My Rank (BMR)
I was a heavy user of BMR when it first came out and I was very aware of the quality control requirements. Let me briefly list out some of the characteristics of BMR:
- there was a strict rule that you needed to have 150 word snippets
- each 150 snippet could only contain a single link
- each snippet had to be 100% unique in content
- the network was privately owned 100% by one person
- initially you could actually look at where your article was posted on the blog network (yes, on the actual blog)
- each blog snippet appeared on the home page of the blogs (initially)
- blogs in the network would get so many snippets a day that your snippet wouldn’t last on the home page of the blog for a day
Why did BMR die?
In short, BMR left a footprint that was too big and easy to trace.
All you needed to do was find blogs with 150 words and one article linking out and immediately you’d know that this was a BMR blog.
The other reason was that BMR would publicly allow you to view the blogs in their network (for a long time at the start of the network) you’d be able to easily find where these blogs were – because there was no attempt to hide them.
On top of that, as long as one of the blogs in the network left ANY trace of ANYTHING related to Google, the network would be comprised. Yes, this meant that each and every single blog in needed to be free of:
- Google Adsense
- Google Analytics
- Google Webmaster Tools
Otherwise the owner of ALL the networks would easily be identified and traced. Which is what pretty much happened.
I mean, BMR did have GOOD INTENTIONS to create blogs with good quality content, but due to the submission rules, it was destined to create autoblogs with really thin content.
I mean, by definition you’d be creating poorly written articles with hardly any real content. I mean, seriously, how much quality can you provide in a 150 word snippet?
On top of that, due to the popularity of the network and the amount of posts going through, you’d easily get blogs that would grow up to hundreds or even thousands of pages each with more than 20 or so outbound links per page!
That’s why this network had such a big problem, because the footprint would have been HUGE, especially since it was privately owned.
The Problem With Authority Link Network (ALN)
ALN apparently lost more than 5000 blogs in one week, as evidenced in this thread:
This is what the original poster stated:
“Last week ALN had: 22,954 Blogs
Today is has: 17,657 Blogs“
Which sounds like a really big hit right?
I mean 5000 blogs is a lot of blogs if you think about it.
However, if you actually did spend the time to look through ALL the pages of the thread (which I did) you’d be shocked to discover how weak the network’s diversity actually was.
If you took the time to read through ALL the posts, you’ll notice this SHOCKING confession in number 185 by a member named “Fear”:
Here’s a screenshot:
“I’ve had 1500-2000 domains in ALN”
Did you read that?
ONE USER had around 1500 to 2000 domains in the ALN network!
I mean, the ENTIRE network size was roughly 23,000!
So ONE single user comprised of nearly 10% of the ENTIRE network?
Do you see where I’m going?
So if you think about this, Google de-indexed 5000 blogs, but out of that number 1500 to 2000 were from ONE guy.
That just gives you some more grounding on the reality of the situation.
The whole network was not wiped out.
It was more like ONE single guy was hit.
That single person had a disproportionate amount of blogs in the network.
Fact of the matter is: it’s not as bleak as many people make it out to be.
Having said that, this did expose a major flaw in the ALN network. As one user having such a big portion of a “blog network” defeats the purpose of having a “blog network.”
Remember, a true blog network at it’s very minimum is suppose to have:
- Diverse IPs
- C Class hosting
- Custom name servers
- Different WHO Is details
I am not sure if ALN did have a very strict quality control process over these elements. I’m guessing it wasn’t that strictly monitored. If they did it’d be much better as there would be less of footprint.
The other major flaw with ALN was the fact that the editorial system would allow really bad articles to pass through. Mind you, I used ALN a while ago, but at the time you could submit total and absolute gibberish and get it syndicated. Here’s an example:
It needed way better moderation, I mean, can you try to tell me what this means:
“– Vegetable Cultivation For Beginners How You Can Get Going With Your Personal Vegetable Garden Business on the net involves making many choices depending on your particular model, marketing and advertising methods such as using %link1% or related approaches. All brand new IM marketers may find that fact difficult especially when first getting started. Just like anything else, there is a definite learning curve associated with web business. The amount of knowledge and information you have to take-in looks intimidating, too, and that is assuming you know where you should start. It is normal to make mistakes, and that is something you can look forward to because they will never end. Those who have been at it for longer have made their mistakes, and now they do not make so many of them. While you really should always perform due diligence, we have no issue with that when it comes to the methods outlined below.—-“
I got that line of garbage from this thread about ALN:
So as you can see, it’s not surprising that a portion of the ALN network was severely compromised.
All in all if a SINGLE USER comprised of nearly 10% of the network, then looking at the overall picture, ALN wasn’t hit THAT hard by the update.
Now on top of that, if you’re one to believe in “conspiracy theories” this view of the ALN situation opens up a whole new can of worms:
If you’re too lazy to read the entire thread, then there’s the summary of it.
SEOMoz publicized the existence of a low quality affiliate site ranking at the time for “car insurance”. Since SEOMoz and the guys at Google have a close relationship, this warranted a manual review of the backlink profile. Unfortunately for ALN, this site’s backlink profile consisted of a large majority of ALN sites, which by now of writing have been nearly all wiped now.
So instead of Google coming up with a super ninja algorithm that detected the ALN network, the original poster is of the opinion that it was simply a matter of SEOMoz “snitching” on this site that got the attention of Google.
Other posts in the thread seem to confirm this view.
It was a MANUAL intervention brought on by SEOMoz’s whistle blowing.
Google manually traced the blogs within the ALN network directly to that site. Most of the sites that were linking to that particular site in the network have been de-indexed. This also happened to include a large portion of the 5000 blogs taken down.
So is ALN dead?
In my humble opinion. I don’t think so.
I think Akula summarized his opinion regarding blog networks nicely:
“The deindexed blogs equate to about 20% of the network (ALN). The network is fluid. The only thing that can kill that fluidly is fear. Fear that is blatantly apparent here on this thread. This is the weapon that google uses the most. They have used it effectively for as long as they have been king.”
The thing about blog networks is the fact that some users leave massive footprints that allow their blogs within the network to be compromised. Here are some really obvious characteristics of one typical blog within one of these networks:
- They are recently expired blogs that have been bought
- The PR of the site is artificially increased
- Random articles start appearing on the siteWithin a short amount of a time thousands of pages/posts start appearing on the domain
- There are thousands of out bound links per domain
- This is especially the case if a single user has contributed a large number of sites into the network, they would have the:
- same theme
- same layout
- same plugins
Now on top of these obvious footprints, what some people don’t realize is that they are further hammering nails into their own coffins because they install some sort of tracking or monetization method on these autoblogs.
Most of these people are of the mindset that they want to somehow monetize and track their autoblogs – which is perfectly fine in theory.
But in reality, how do these people monetize and track them?
- Google Adsense
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
- the same affiliate link
- the same monetization methods
ALL of these methods are easily traceable by Google.
Heck, I can trace your sites if you use these methods and I’m not a Google ninja.
So as you can see, it only requires a SINGLE slip up for the webmaster with blogs in the network to install ONE of the above methods of monetization or analytics to comprise their own identity.
So remember, as a general rule in the future, if you’re going to make your own networks or you’re going to submit a blog to a network. DO NOT FALL FOR THE MISTAKES I JUST MENTIONED!
But Jackson, What About The Blog Networks You Recommended In The Google Resurrection Course?
I actually contacted each of the blog network owners and so far here’s a summary:
- Article Marketing Automation (AMA) – not affected at all (woohoo)
- Article Ranks (AR) – affected 20% of the network
- Traffic Kaboom (TK) – not affected at all
- Unique Article Wizard (UAW) – already hit by last update last year as Google targeted article directories, but still effective (just not as powerful as it once was)
The reasons why I believe these networks are better than ALN and BMR are as follows;
- They are public networks and they have a large user base contributing to their network
- This means there’s less of a footprint
- They require you to have humanly readable spun content
- It must be at least 300 words per article
- There is real moderation (trust me, I have tried submitting poor quality garbage and I nearly got kicked out of ALL of them, so they DO check)
Now I’m not saying that these networks are going to be 100% fail proof, but what I am saying is that they have better quality control measures to ensure that the content that does appear on these sites are going to be better and provide more value to the user.
Having said that, I have always been of the opinion that you need to DIVERSIFY your backlink profile. Do not rely upon a SINGLE network, and don’t just get blog network links, you need to get links from all different sorts of places.
Mind you, I’m not recommending you to go and blast out profile links and scrapebox comments.
Keep reading and let me tell you two super cool and legitimate ways to get real links pointing to your sites, but first, let’s talk about building legitimate websites.
I will reveal them in part 2 of this series!
Just give me a Facebook like below and you’ll get immediate access (or you have to wait for a few days to get access to it).
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