Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are You Surprised That Google Doesn't Like Paid Blog Networks?

Maybe it's time to stop obsessing over meaningless links

Google has been cracking down on lesser quality content littering its search results a great deal over the past year - probably more than any other time in the search engine's history. Obviously, to those who follow the search industry, the Panda update has been leading the charge in this area.

Google has been de-indexing blog networks that webmasters have essentially been paying to get links.

One way that content, including some lesser-quality content, has been able to manipulate Google's algorithm is through paid links, and linking "schemes". Google has long had policies against these things, and has not hesitated to penalize sites it busted. See JC Penney and incidents from last year, for a couple of examples (not necessarily the best examples of low quality, but of getting busted). Google even penalized its own Chrome landing page, after paid links set up by a marketing firm were discovered.

Penalties like these can greatly hurt sites. There was talk that Chrome's share of the browser market was impacted by that penalty, and that's Google's own property. Overstock blamed Google for its ugly financials when it reported its earnings earlier this month.

If such penalties can have such an impact on brands like these, think what they could do to lesser-known brands.

Google is now cracking down on blog networks, which have added sites to their networks in exchange for fees. BuildMyRank, in particular has received a lot of attention.

The site posted a message about it recently:

On a daily basis, we monitor our domain network to check metrics like page rank, indexed pages, etc. As with any link-building network, some de-indexing activity is expected and ours has been within a permissible range for the past two years. Unfortunately, this morning, our scripts and manual checks have determined that the overwhelming majority of our network has been de-indexed (by Google), as of March 19, 2012. In our wildest dreams, there's no way we could have imagined this happening.

It had always been BMR's philosophy that if we did things a bit different from other networks, we would not only have a better quality service to offer our users, but a longer life in this fickle industry. Sadly, it appears this was not the case.

In case you're not familiar with how BMR actually works, it essentially sells link juice. In the "how it works" section, it explains that the backlinks it helps you build "help add extra link juice and added indexing speed". This comes at prices up to $400/month. Here's their video overview:

BMR Overview

Word throughout the SEO community is that other blog networks have been getting de-indexed as well. Meanwhile, webmasters with links from these networks, have been getting messages from Google's Webmaster Tools. SEOmoz shares a message from Google Webmaster Tools that some webmasters have received:

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