26th Mar 2012
Why is anyone still using paid link networks?
By Alice Neeson
Google built an algorithm that places value on links, so it’s no surprise that businesses sprouted up to make money selling those links.
What is surprising is that the search giant took so long to crack down on these paid link-building networks. And what is equally surprising is that website owners still pay money to be included in those networks.
Last week BuildMyRank announced that the majority of their network had been de-indexed.
Their statement said: “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.”
The statement added: “In our wildest dreams, there’s no way we could have imagined this happening.”
They didn’t see it coming? … Seriously? As Google’s latest algorithm updates continue to sweep through the web, penalising low quality sites, most black-hat SEOs have been feeling like their sky is falling down.
BuildMyRank have thousands of domains in their network, most of which publish low quality articles spawned around backlinks. Given Google’s long history of going after link farms, the de-indexing seemed inevitable – and actually a little overdue.
In their Webmaster guidelines, Google clearly state: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number,” “Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings,” and, most significantly: “Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s rankings or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or ‘bad neighbourhoods’ on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.”
So what does this mean for the website owners who paid for backlinks through BuildMyRank? Or website owners who pay for backlinks on similar sites, like LinkVana or Authority Link Network?
SEOs are split over whether or not site owners should remove their links from these networks. Some argue that because the pages will be de-indexed, the links won’t count anymore but won’t actually do your site any harm. Others argue that being associated with a ‘bad link neighbourhood’ could result in ranking penalties.
In my opinion, penalties aren’t very likely. If they were, competitors could easily engage in link sabotage by submitting your links to black-listed indexes and networks. However because these networks will no longer be passing on any link juice, it’s not a bad idea to remove the content to be on the safe side. Either way, your rankings are likely to drop due to the fall in backlink power.
The bottom line is that search engine optimisation has no quick wins. Invest time and effort into producing great content and promoting that content, and organic links will follow.
*Cartoon by dewaldp @ Flickr