Are article networks dead is one of the biggest questions in the Internet marketing business these days. Many people claim to have the answer. Some say it is and those selling linking tools say it is not. Those using linking tools hope it is not.
So what is the answer? Nobody knows the answer. It doesn’t look good. I’m leaning on the side that article networks are dead. I’m leaning on the side that it is also dangerous. It has always been against Google’s terms of service to build links to your website. Now it seems to be within their cross hairs.
What Are Article Networks?
A blog network is where a webmaster pays the owner to publish an article within their system. In most cases the articles are spun. Spinning is a technique used by some Internet marketers in an attempt to make each article appear unique.
In most cases the quality of the spun content is horrible Google should deindex that junk. I tried to get some content from such a network but the quality was horrible. I gave up.
As you may know, the respected and popular Build My Ranks network of blogs was completely deindexed last month. This network was doing everything right. They did not allow spun content and each article you submitted was published to only one blog. They were all about quality. The articles had to be at least 500 words long but that was the minimum. Also, each article was manually read and approved.
I didn’t use them. I probably should have been using them but I’m glad I wasn’t. It would have all been a waste if I had. Every article on those sites was removed from the Google index and the sites were banned from Google. In terms of link building purposes, those articles are now worthless.
There are others that have been hit. Rumors about SEO Link Monster having much of their networked deindexed too. The operators of that network have not been open about it if that is true.Build My Rank fully disclosed the issue to their clients, refunding money and closed their doors. As far as I know, SEO Link Monster has neither acknowledged nor denied they have also been deindexed.
Google seemed to be making a statement with their destruction of the Build My Rank network. Remember, these articles were not spun and published only once! They took out the best in terms of the quality of what was being distributed. That seems to be saying they were going after the link building and not only the quality.
Other blog networks have also been destroyed. The ones most often hit are the ones where the network blog owner also owned all the sites on that network. Many blog networks have third party webmaster join in order to get content for their site. I think it would be foolish to publish such content on your site now.
Has Google Introduced Negative SEO For Article Networks?
I’ve also seen some indication that Google has introduced some limited negative ramifications for those using those networks. I can’t say that for sure. Here is what I do know. I know someone that was using one of these networks. They got an email from Google stating that it had noticed unnatural link building.
He had managed to get a short tail keyword ranked number six on Google. Soon after they got that notice his ranking dropped to below 50 for that term. A single word and the name of a city. There is no way to know for certain that Google did penalize the webmaster. He was using SEO Link Monster. Most of the sites his keyword was on suddenly disappeared.
Probably because they were deindexed. He is now getting ping backs for those articles again on new websites. Which is an indication that SEO Link Monster republished those articles to other sites. His rankings though are still way down. Still ranked below 102 in the search engine results page (SERP). However for the same “city country” combination he is currently ranked number eight.
Before he started his campaign for the city name alone, he was ranked number 17. So not only did he go from number 6 he dropped all the way below 100. Below the point of where he was in the rank before the network got hit.
Even that is not 100% proof that Google penalized him for using the network but it is a strong indication. If he ranked number 17 without any link building but has now fallen below that then the explanation that his links were deindexed doesn’t seem to answer that. It would seem they would not fall below where they were just for loosing links.
The fall could be because of a rapid loss in links might indicate to Google that the site is no longer popular for that keyword. It could be they lowered it below the starting point for reasons we don’t know. After all, we don’t have access to the Google algorithm. That would be something that could be exploited if one did have it. Even having it, it would likely be extremely difficult. to understand how to use that information. Other than what not to do. That would become clear.
On the other hand, one can learn what not to do by reading the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Something I did just now and found it is good to refresh your own memory. I need to look into a plugin I’m using to make sure it does not violate their terms of service.
In my previous article, I wrote about overly optimized seo websites. Matt Cutts, one the leaders within Google on SEO abuses and SEO, signaled that sites engaging in ‘way too many link swaps” may be penalized. That is a pretty qualitative statement. It is hard to know what is way to many or what is even considered a link swap. He indicated that Google was working on it and it had not yet been rolled out. That doesn’t mean it isn’t being tested on a few websites now.
If Google does penalize sites that are using blog networks then someone could place their competitors link within those networks. I wouldn’t do it but some will. If Google doesn’t detect it you could help your competitor out a great deal. With my luck that is exactly what would happen. Intentionally doing harm to someone else is not my style. There are many out there that would do it in a heartbeat. There are a lot of young adults and even teens in the internet marketing world and in some cases their judgment in such matters is not fully developed.
You might see the term “Negative SEO” around on SEO advice site. This would be an example of negative SEO. If Google does penalize sites for link schemes in an algorithm, you will see people engage in negative SEO or building spammy links back to their competitors site.
Whatever you do online it should resolve around quality over quantity. That hasn’t always been the case but it is becoming more of an issue now. I did things just a few months ago that I would never do now. Everything I do is now quality based. Yes that takes time but I believe it is required. I will write more on that topic soon.
Internet marketing requires patience, determination and probably failure. You can expect to fail quite a bit but you can learn from those failures. For now, I would stay clear of article networks and wait for the dust to settle.
Filed under: SEO
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