White hats, you can finally say it: “I told you so!”
After Google finally took down a few blog networks, I think we can all sleep a little bit better knowing that what we’ve been telling our clients all these years & what we’re now seeing in the SERPs is starting to look a lot more similar.
But at the same time, another issue is on the horizon. These seemingly public outings of these blog networks have many SEOs realizing that Google isn’t just ignoring some of these network links – they’re penalizing webmasters for them.
Google Bowling, which I now call Negative SEO, isn’t new. There’s even a service for it (quote from their site: “we only use legal means to ensure your competitors get banned”. It’s hard not to laugh at that).
The real issue here is that people are sharing their alerts from Webmaster Tools showing that Google is detecting unnatural links, a direct result of the blog networks they’re a part of. And since these networks are now publicly known to be bad, and that they don’t cost much time or money to get links from, some are drowning their competitor’s link profiles in them.
Here is a good example. For those who don’t have a Wicked Fire account, this guy penalized his competitor with $200 worth of ALN links over a three week period.
Take a couple blog network blasts like that, throw in a few comment spam services, an Xrumer blast, and an SEnuke package, all over a 30 day period with spammy anchor text, and what do you get? Most likely, a penalty. I’ve even heard of people taking banned domains and 301ing them as a strategy, which, unfortunately, is working.
The most upsetting part of this is that it’s really an easy fix. All Google has to do is one of the following:
1) Just ignore these links
2) Let us flag bad links & 301s in Webmaster Tools
For those wondering about #1, think about it. If they’re ignored, the black hats don’t win because those links become money down the toilet, and for us, we don’t lose because we don’t get a penalty.
Believe it or not, there is a solution to this problem, but it’s not fool proof, and you’ve probably heard it before.
Take, for example, that you blasted a few big time Fortune 500 companies, whom have never (to your knowledge) engaged in any type of black hat strategies. What would happen?
Probably nothing. It actually might even help them (yes, I’m not kidding).
Why is this? Because Google trusts them. Yes, after all those years of being told to build trustworthy links, it’s starting to show how essential it is that you’ve listened and done as we’ve told you.
The reason is different now. We told you to build links for trust so you could rank higher; now it’s so a competitor doesn’t bomb your link profile.
So maybe it’s time you joined the Better Business Bureau. Maybe it’s time you also forked out $300 a year for a listing in the Yahoo Directory, and even picked up the phone (Gasp!) to join a few niche specific organizations & associations, regardless if they cost a bit more than you’d like for those 2-3 links.
Do whatever it takes to become trusted by Google. Chances are a lot of you won’t have a competitor perform a bit of negative SEO on you, but are you really willing to take that risk?