Some big shake downs in the SEO world recently. If you do any type of organic site promotion you owe it to yourself to read this entire post.
What Went Down?
Some 700,000 + webmasters received a little “how ya doin” note in their Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account over the last 2 months. The purpose of the note was to inform them that they had a site(s) with “unnatural links.”
Here’s what the note looked like:
Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links to http://example.com/
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://example.com/,
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buyinglinkstopassPageRank or participating in linkschemes.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
Google Search Quality Team
Why It Happened
We could argue and throw conspiracy theories back and forth all day about whyyy it happened. And trust me, there are a couple that have good arguments. But I digress…
The simple fact of the matter is Google put the kibosh on the spammy link builder’s delight known as “Blog Networks.” And they came down hard on one in particular called Build My Rank (BMR).
Here’s a snippet from BMR directly:
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.
Don’t know what a blog network is?
In short it’s a network of sites that allow you to post short snippets of text including anchor text links. It worked a treat (til now) for quickly building decent quality (only technically speaking) and quantity of backlinks to your site. But there’s no doubt it was the exact type of artificial crappy spam links Google doesn’t want to see.
Here’s a screen shot of a typical blog network blog
“You Worry Not About Payment As You Sell House to Denver House Buyers”
That’s an example of spun article title. Complete crap.
No human in their right mind is going to want to read this stuff. It exists solely to attempt to game the search engine rankings through the accumulation of anchor text links. Exactly the kind of stuff Google is trying to move away from.
Start off by getting rid of those spammy links to the best of your ability and resubmit your site in GWT. Hopefully your rankings will come back if they have been tarnished. Next step is to start using some critical thinking when it comes to link building. It’s going to get a lot harder to get great links in the coming months and years. Start thinking about how you can obtain them in an ethical white hat way and stay ahead of your competitors.
This is a step towards making content quality more important and that’s great. It means more sites will publish more and better content. Is that enough to rank right now? Absolutely not. Links still matter and they just got harder to come by. What concerns me is that Google may be punishing webmasters unfairly… giving birth to “reverse seo.”
What’s to stop your competitor from slamming your site with crap links and bam another friendly letter from the Google team shows up? Hell you could outsource 5,000 dubious links for $5. What’s to stop your competitor from buying 25,000 just to really jam it in your craw?
I hope time will give us the answer to that. As of right now it’s a concern.
What do you think? What link building tools are you using after this shakedown? What do you think about this move by the big G? Let me know in the comments below.
This article was brought to you by: Dustin Bow
Dustin Bow is on the cutting edge of Internet Marketing. His 8 years of experience in SEO, affiliate marketing, teaching, and consulting combines to create a unique voice in our industry. He writes from an “in the trenches” perspective any level of marketer could find useful in their own campaigns.