Build My Rank is one victim who has pulled up stumps and called it a day (at least for now) and traffic planet is reporting Authority Blog network got 25% of it’s 22,000 blog network de-indexed with more to come.
I think this is just the beginning, more and more blog networks will get smashed and become totally useless – In fact I suspect many of them have been useless for a while. The ethical operators like BMR will acknowledge it and tell it’s users and offer refunds, but I suspect many blog networks will operate on a “business as usual” basis either not knowing or not caring that their sites are now useless.
My advice is if you are using a blog network of any kind, cancel your subscription immediately – It’s 2012 and it’s time to do things differently. Yes I know it’s a big call, but I am putting it out there now. At the end of the article I give you a link to a post I wrote a few months ago which contains the answer to getting great rankings and traffic.
You might be wondering how Google could find these blog networks, after all aren’t they all on different class C IP addresses, and don’t the owners go to great lengths to hide themselves from Googles prying eyes?
Wouldn’t it be near impossible to track them? Well what many people fail to realise is that Google has the entire database of search engine results to work with. Frankly they can query the search engine database in ways we cannot.
They can look for patterns. Here are just a few ways off the top of my head they could be using to figure out the blog networks.
1. Google analytics – Many blog network sites will use the free Google analytics program to track their traffic. Many blog networks require you to login to a central site to submit your article and have a preview button to view the article – Google could just scan all google analytics data for income links from that site to figure out sites that are in the blog network.
2. Patterns – Many blog networks do things in an identical or very similar fashion – For example submitting the same or similar article to many sites – So a query of all sites with the same article would be a way of identifying those sites that are in a blog network.
3. Perfect SEO – As you may all know Google has now some sort of seo penalty for sites that are too perfectly optimized. Many of these blog network sites will have perfectly optimised seo sites with “proper” headers, proper header tags, and maximised for SEO – Another way to identify a potential blog network site.
4. Plugins – Many plugins that form the basis of a blog network leave a big footprint in the html – For example there is a plugin that shall remain nameless that inserts an image for a Like button that is actually in the plugins wp-content folder – A simple query of the database could identify all sites using this plugin.
5. Lack of any real social interaction – Sites that have no sharing of content from other users, or engagement (comments and the like) might not be real sites.
Remember Google are in the box seat here because they can see data you cannot and query their massive search engine database (and other programs like google analytics, google docs and heck even gmail). Just identifying a single site in a blog network would give them a solid lead to automatically discovering many others.
What is clear is they have done just that and hit some of these blog networks hard. Matt Cutts confirmed it himself in a recent tweet.
Bottom line: If you own a blog network be afraid, very afraid, and if you are using a blog network to get rankings consider if you really want to risk it anymore. Carefully check your results and consider the risk factor and the money involved. If you think it’s not worth it get out now.
These six factors that I identified above are ones I thought of, off the top of my head – There would be countless more ways to look for them. The thing is any one of them might be a false positive in it’s own right, but if a site starts suffering from 2,3, or more that has to be a sign right?
Frankly if I were Google, I would sign up for an account at the top 100 biggest blog networks and test them out and look for the common patterns that these blog networks use – Almost all of them would have a recognisable signal of some kind. Don’t think they would do this? Consider this post where Google indirectly employ at least 4,500 people to manually review websites.
If anyone has the resources, it’s Google. Think about what they have to gain – Eliminating tens of thousands (maybe millions) of pages of websites that should probably not her in the position they are. That and the concern in the “blog network” community which would likely prevent many people from doing it.
The time has come to acknowledge that content is king - Give google just what they want. Great content!
I just wrote an article about the Google authorship program since a few people mentioned the problems of stolen content, so have a read!