In the early days of the internet, it was easy to manipulate search results by purchasing paid for links. Paid for links have been against Google webmaster recommendations for a long time but they never seemed to be actively doing anything about it.

In the last year though, Google has been very pro-active in turning the search results around so that they are back in control. Various rollouts of the Panda update got rid of sites that were over optimizing pages and not providing value to the reader.

Now Google is de-indexing major blog networks in quick fashion.

The last month has sent networks and their clients into a flurry about what the future holds. Let me explain the story from the beginning.

What Are Paid Blog Networks?

In case you do not know, paid blog networks were a variety of blogs owned by one company. Clients could sign up for a monthly fee and buy links for as little as 1.50 USD. Clearly, a violation of Google’s standards but the networks always insisted that they were flying under the radar by using various tactics.

Many internet marketers and SEO firms used this backlink building strategy to gain higher rankings not realizing the networks were under the watchful eye of Google.

Link Building

Google De-Indexing

One by one, blogs belonging to the networks started to get de-indexed. This meant that the links on the blogs were dead and rankings for many companies and individuals suddenly dropped overnight.

How Did Google Know The Blogs That Belonged To The Network?

No one knows but there are rumors. People have reported that when an unnatural link-warning message appeared in webmaster tools and they replied, the response from Google was

If you give us details of the SEO services you used this will increase your chance of having the penalty removed.”

How many people handed over blog address to get their sites indexed again?

One thing is certain. The blogs were not flying under the radar as they thought they were.

Blog Networks Affected (Checked April 2012)

  • On a statement on their website, High PR society denied being hit however they have closed their doors to new members
  • There has been no official announcement from Linkvana or ALN, business is normal but internet marketers are reporting their links are not indexed anymore.
  • Build My Rank shut down completely after 90% of their sites were de-indexed.
  • SEO Link Monster has temporarily closed membership and has given no response to de-indexing rumours
  • There has been no response from SEO Link Vine and they are continuing as normal despite the rumours. SEO Link Vine did operate differently in that members submitted their blogs in return for free content though.
  • Blog Blueprint has closed doors to new memberships but not given any response to the rumours that their sites are de-indexed.
  • SEO Nitro  has also closed doors to new members but offered no official response to rumours of de-indexing

So What Has Been The Knock On Effect?

Sites that were using the blog networks saw their search positions drop overnight. If they have been clever, the networks were not their only link-building tool and positions have only dropped slightly.

If they were only using the blog networks, they are probably on the back pages of Google now. The other side of the coin is that sites that were not using the blog networks may have seen their rankings rise as their competitors dropped.

Will Sites That Used The Networks Get De-indexed?

No one knows for sure. Some marketers are advising webmasters to remove links of which “Build My Rank” has given their clients the option to do. Other insist that there will be no penalties for these sites as if there was, there would be a flurry of posting your competitors links to these sites in order to get them de-indexed.

Honestly, no one can predict what will happen, but if you were/are using the sites, keep a close eye on the messages section of Google webmaster tools. If there is a problem with your site and unnatural link building, they will tell you there.

Link Building Is Not Dead

Google is trying hard to send a message that link building is dead and content is king. However, many internet marketers believe that Google is trying to pull the wool over our eyes.

I also disagree that content is king. No matter how good a piece of content is, without SEO writing techniques, link building and social media interaction, the article will probably never see the light of day from the back pages of any search engine

Link building is alive and kicking, as is SEO writing techniques and social media interaction. The goal posts have simply moved now.

Paid For Blog Networks Are Dead

I do however believe that paid for blog networks are dead. Many internet forums have threads in which members ask for recommendations of blog networks to sign up for because their normal provider has been de-indexed. My advice is to forget them. Use that membership money in a better way.

If you want to use blog networks, get together with a small bunch of like-minded people, create your blogs and close the doors. Ensure the blogs have a common theme running through out and are on different class IP addresses. Do not trust a blog network who says they are flying under the radar. Build My Rank said exactly that and they were de-indexed.

Other Link Building Options

Despite feeling that the world has ended, there is still plenty of other link building opportunities out there. The downside is that link building is no longer about simply throwing up a 150-word piece and rising in the search results.  The first option is to assess your internal linking structure. Are you making full use of the links that are available to you there? I see many sites that are not.

Guest posting is a great opportunity as this is also a chance to increase your presence on the social media scene. Considering using the web 2.0 sites and article sites such as Ezine, Squidoo and Hub Pages

A good link building strategy should always combine a variety of methods so if you have not been doing that, now is a good time to start.