Since last week, there’s been a lot of sites getting completely de-indexed from Google because of link building to blog networks (PBN) that people have created or buy from in order to “game” Google and rank on the first page in its search results.
I’ve heard more than enough horror stories and people I personally know who have lost 30 website, 50 websites and more overnight as a result of this slap from Google.
One victim is at a loss of $4,000 a month while another about $5,000 a month. After chatting with them, they are in deep. They’ve got a family to take care of and bills to pay and back to square one because they put their eggs in one basket.
I feel for them because I know how it feels to have a profitable site get slapped by Google (different story for me).
Google penalized these sites with a “Thin content” penalty, which isn’t exactly true because larger sites were also affected, but classified the sites under that anyway.
It’s harsh but that’s the consequence when trying to manipulate Google’s algorithms.
More on it, even if you don’t own a PBN and simply bought links from a PBN, then you were most likely affected, too as Google did a complete sweep.
Sure, it still works but only as a “churn and burn” tactic.
Fortunately, I don’t use PBN’s to get links anymore and was not affected by this update.
What Is A PBN/Blog Network?
PBN can stand for either a public blog network or private blog network. A public blog network is one that’s available to the public which you pay to get links from while a private blog network is not publicly available.
Essentially, search engine optimizers create sites that appear like a real site and then posting articles to it with a link pointing to their “money site”.
Each site/blog that they create in the network is hosted on different IP addresses, has different domain registration details (WHOIS), has different themes for each site to differentiate them, and anything else that sets each blog apart from one another to avoid any footprints.
Is Link Building Still Important?
Link building is still a big factor that Google looks at to decide where pages should be ranked. In layman’s terms, when another website links to your site, it’s giving you a vote, that’s the way Google sees it. When you have a high authority site linking to your site, that’s even more powerful.
Search engine optimizers have always been on the hunt to manipulate these Google algorithms and they always will and there’s always a way, no doubt.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way trying to dis SEO because I still do some SEO on the side and you can see my first Niche Site Experiment here.
So What Are The Alternatives?
I’m no SEO guru nor do I claim to be, but have enough experience and have lost enough to know that if you want to stay in this business for years to come, aim to build real authority sites that people will want to genuinely link to because they love your content and found it valuable.
Indeed it’s the slower path and you would have to come up with stellar content.
So you know that building links are important, but how do you genuinely build links without using private/public blog networks?
Here are some of what I’m doing right now to get links and exposure:
- Blog commenting. Yeap, even though most blogs have “no follow” for blog comments, it’ s still great for diversification. In addition, you can generate traffic from blog readers reading your comment and clicking on your website. I’m not talking about spam comments such as “Nice post! Thanks for sharing”, but actually reading the post thoroughly and adding value in the comments section so that you can join the discussion. Besides, that’s what it’s all about, right?
- Forums. Not a whole deal with link building, but it is still a way to get some exposure to your site while establishing yourself in the community.
- Social media. Indeed, social does have some weight in Google’s algorithm. Creating social profiles such as a Facebook Page, Twitter account, Google+, YouTube and then actively participating in them will help with these “social signals” and build your community at the same time.
- “Broken Link Building”. This technique involves contacting a site owner of a broken link and recommending alternate/relative sites to link to. It cleans up the web in a way which is what I makes this technique great. Moz wrote a guide on broken link which you can read here.
- Creating “viral” styled content. Viral content are those articles that get socially shared. You might have come across them, and their headlines are quite distinctive like “This Woman Looks Weird, But When I Looked Closer, I Was Shocked”. This is powerful with social media as it stirs curiosity and results in more traffic.
- Creating “list” content. This involves posts such as Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Eiffel Tower, 5 Ways To Increase Productivity, and so on. Still a great content format.
- Creating long-form detailed content. A post that is detailed and thorough often gets shared a lot more than just a 500 word post because it is often more helpful and complete.
- Network with other bloggers in your niche. The best type of links you can get are from other bloggers who then recommend you or any of your content to their readers.
As you can tell, it goes back to Internet marketing 101 — things that we were always trained to do.
That will be my approach for both this blog and other sites I own and am experimenting with.
What are your thoughts?
Have you been affected by this Google update?
Would you take the short-term (continue using PBN’s) or long-term path (building an authority site)?
What are you thoughts on using blog networks?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.