This is the following SEO technique that Google appears to be going after (or has gone after big style in the last couple of months).
A blog network is a group of blogs – typically bog-standard WordPress installs, with basic WordPress templates and lots of content. Generally, this content is generated explicitly to create links back to a website.
The thing about this content is that it is created at dirt cheap rates, with little or no thought. It’s then spun, which means the words are changed algorithmically by a piece of software. The content is then syndicated across a network of sites that the same person or organisation owns.
Each of these new blogs then has a link pointing back to a page on a client site using specific anchor text, which then helps that link’s destination rank.
The thing is, Google is getting more thoughtful about how it deals with this. There is quite a bit of talk in the SEO community about unnatural link warnings coming through to people’s webmaster tools accounts. I’ve written on it myself – it’s recently featured on SEOMoz.
How to tell if you’re looking at a blog network site?
When searching in Google, likely, you’re never going to find a blog network site; these sites aren’t designed to be seen by ordinary internet users. Instead, they are designed to generate links to websites to help those money sites rank.
If you do happen to find yourself on a site you think might be part of a blog network here are a few things you should look out for:
- Basic template – in all likelihood, no effort will have gone into making these sites appear good. They are all fundamental, usually just a date archive, limited navigation.
- Pages and pages of seemingly unrelated content
- The content is probably severely written.
- The content doesn’t add anything to the subject; it’s about.
- There usually are 1 – 3 links in the content back to the same page on a client’s website.
- They won’t link out to any other websites.
- They won’t have Google Analytics, Google Webmaster, or Google Adsense added.
What is Google Doing About Blog Networks?
Basically, as of March 2012, it looks as though the game is up – they seem to have figured out the general consistencies between different blog sites and what blog network sites look like.
This means they are Google is getting rid of a load of rubbish from its index. Just about every website out there that has ever dabbled in SEO will probably feel this pain in some way or another.
Some will have directly used blog networks in their strategy. Others will have used sites that also use blog networks in their system.
I think it’s fair to say it’s a significant change. It’s going to have a massive impact not only on those sites that have been delisted – it’s undoubtedly likely to put some people out of business.
What will happen to my site if I’ve got links from blog networks?
No idea is the honest answer. However, I can speculate. I’d guess that there would be a combination of two factors.
I think Google will implement time-based penalties for specific keywords – this would be like a time-based penalty that would see a site drop-down for a particular keyword. I don’t think Google will damage the strong players in the search market if they have some links from these sites; ultimately, if all your links come from these sites, your site will probably fall off a cliff.
But I’d guess because it’s had all its links removed by the reindexing of the blog network. Google’s advice is to take them off the network and resubmit a reconsideration request. I’m not sure how feasible this is, by and large.
I’d guess that most people who have links on these networks will never be able to get in touch with the person or organisation that owns them directly so that they have been removed.
Why did blog networks go wrong
Essentially, the blog networks got greedy and didn’t produce good quality websites. There’s talk about them not producing good quality content, but I don’t think it’s really about good quality content.
Instead, it’s about a type of blog that has no topic and no brand to signal to Google that this is good quality. Otherwise, Google’s algorithms would trip out, thinking just about every newspaper. So, for example, is a blog to be moved down a level.
Can blogs still work for SEO?
Google has been encouraging us to blog for years. Their new semantic search will be much more blog orientated, in my opinion, because it relays on the context of the content.
Our move towards inbound marketing would be left in tatters if it didn’t. Therefore, I believe that blogs still have a significant role in SEO. After the decline of the blog networks, blogs will probably influence SEO.
I’m not advocating it if there are people out there looking to build networks of blogs to benefit clients.
I would suggest they may be best creating content in topic areas and only taking on clients that match those topic areas, or at least writing the content in such a way that it relates the client content through to the overarching content topic of the website.
Easier said than done, no doubt!!
Why Google Dislikes Blog Networks?
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