Link building. SEO. Sustainability. Scary words like “banned” and “deindexed.” But what’s the real fuss all about?
Last week we saw some big changes from Google as they continue to update their algorithms and the way they rank web sites. The most recent news and discussion was on the dismantling of BuildMyRank, a major link building network.
BuildMyRank was an extremely large and successful network of high Page Ranking blogs that made up a content link building service. Someone would join BuildMyRank, pay a monthly fee and contribute articles to the network of sites. For ever 150+ word article you provided, your content would then be posted on one of their network sites.
BuildMyRank was only among of these blog networks that have been “found out” by Google (kudos to BuildMyRank for manning up right away and admitting it) and Google has, in turn, deindexed the sites the blog networks own. That means that those blogs – which people have been posting articles with links on – can no longer be found in Google’s search results. And since they aren’t in Google’s index, any links from them no longer “count” for backlinking purposes.
Why are blog networks being targeted by Google?
Basically, blog networks allow you to publish blog posts (read “articles”) on different websites that are linked into some form of automatic content distribution system. For example, if I wrote an article called “5 Killer Guitar Solo Secrets”, I could then submit to a blog networks and in theory this article will then be published to sites in the network related to “guitars”, “music”, “hobbies”, and things like that.
Blog networks come in many different niche, with the only real underlying similarities being they are a system for generating backlinks by submitting content, and there is usually a price for membership.
“Public” blog networks consist of blog owners putting their sites in the network to receive free content. “Private” blog networks are slightly different, because the administrators of the network actually own the sites to which writers publish their content.
They are considered black hat – or at least grey hat – by most. Keep in mind that any link building is considered “black hat” by Google. If you built a Squidoo page with the intention of linking back to your site, that’s “black hat” in Google’s eyes.
So why is this bad news?
1. Blog networks are a form of paid link building. Google’s policy on paid link building is crystal clear, especially the fact that “buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.” The purpose blog networks is to facilitate link building, and these links are most definitely paid for in a slightly less obvious manner. Google penalized the website of their own Chrome software when it was revealed that a marketing company they used had employed paid backlinks; Google were hardly going to think twice about penalizing other paid link users were they?
2. Blog networks are a form of “link scheme”. Just like paid linking, Google’s opinion on link schemes leaves no room for confusion. They are not a natural form of link building, especially once blog networks developed the technology to allow you submit a spin-ready article to hundreds of different blogs in a short space of time. Nobody submitted to blog networks just for the sake of getting content published – it is and always was about generating links. Blog networks sold themselves on this basis of being a way to get unnaturally large amounts of links quickly, and it was only a matter of time until Google caught on.
3. Articles posted to blog networks tend to be low quality. The vast majority of articles posted to blog networks were low quality “filler” content that was only written to get backlinks. That might sound harsh, but the unfortunately the truth hurts. If the Panda update of 2011 wasn’t a big enough wake up call, then hopefully the newest of Google’s changes is. Google wants quality, unique content to populate its search index. Google wants you to create and distribute content for the purpose of providing value to readers, not just to build links. If you want high search engine rankings then you need to focus on providing value first, and link building/SEO second.
How many times does Google have to say it. Put great, relevant, content on your site and people will love it and spread it around, if they do, Google will reward the page with a decent ranking for phrases it deems relevant.
How do you know if you have a problem in your own web site?
- Only have traffic coming from one source or worse, key phrase – You Have A Problem.
- Used paid link building strategies that use privately owned blog networks – You Have A Problem.
- Are not in the Top 20 influencers in your market (or have no clue how to get there.) – You Have A Problem.
- Don’t know the key stats about your site, How many Unique Visitors to your site did you have last month? Could not answer in 30 seconds? You Have A Problem.
- Don’t know what Google Webmaster Tools is. You Have A Problem.
Effective Link Building for the Future
While there are still plenty BuildMyRank alternatives out there, it’s wise to focus your efforts on link building efforts that will stand the test of time and continue to grow your sites with not only inbound links, but also quality traffic. If you aren’t already focusing on your link building efforts, here are a few ways you can start building quality links that stand the test of time.
Guest Blog Posting (Top Choice)
One of the most effective ways to build incoming links while also hitting a target audience is through guest blog posting. In addition to building quality links, you will also be gaining new readers as they click on your author and content links which will send them back to your site. Another huge benefits of guest blog posting is that it’s free, but instead of costing money it will take time and effort to find quality blogs to write for and creating killer content. If you’ve ever take a look at the majority of guest blog posts out there, many of them will focus on targeting long tail keywords in their author/footer section.
Press Releases & Article Marketing
There is a lot of debate in the air about how well these two methods work for increasing your results in the search engines, but they are still both effective for getting your site links out there. Article marketing directories were hit hard during the last Google update, and most Press Releases are no-follow on the links inside the postings. Either way, links are always great to have and these are two more sources that aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
YouTube and Social Bookmarking
The power of social networks, bookmarking and video are always going to be on an upward trend. There are plenty of social bookmarking sites out there that can help with getting your blog posts and content noticed. YouTube is also an excellent way to upload videos and include your site URL in the description area.
Once again, another network and business falls to the mighty hands of Google. This is another example of how crucial it is NOT to sell text links through your web sites. While there is a massive influx of customers who are now looking for new link building solutions, it will be interesting to see which new service comes to rise and takes advantage of the situation.
Lastly, be moderate. Donít be someone who x1000’s everything. Be thoughtful. Use your common sense. Keep calm and vary your backlinks, no matter where they come from.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket and rely on a single blog network as your main source of links. In fact, you shouldn’t even rely on multiple blog networks for the bulk of your links. If you are going to use any of the remaining networks, it should be as the cherry on your SEO cake. The ball is in Google’s court here, so you should be playing by their rules of natural link building and quality content.