Google’s taken the apocalypse into their own hands. No, it has nothing to do with the Mayan Calendar.
Google previously released their Panda 3.4 update. This was supposed to be a “minor” update that only affected a small number of websites. Well, it did only affect a small number, but those websites had a huge effect on the SEO world.
These sites were what we like to call blog networks. Ever since Google released Panda 3.4, the SEO world has been buzzing with news of entire blog networks getting de-indexed.
Here at SEOSiteCheckUp.com, we’ve really been pushing the “content is king” angle. You’ve heard us say this before: Google is a business. Google’s goal is to stay at #1. To do that, they have to provide their users with the most relevant and valuable content every single time someone searches for something!
It really is that simple. The mass de-indexing of these blog networks gives us even more proof that Google’s goal remains the same.
So What is a Blog Network?
Building backlinks has always been the cornerstone of any good SEO campaign. It’s because Google (until the Panda update, that is) used backlinks as a way to gauge how much authority a site had.
If you liked content on a site, you linked back to it. Therefore, the more links a website had, the more valuable it was.
Once SEO’s figured out backlinks helped websites rank, we started looking for ways to artificially build backlinks. One of the most popular ways was to use a blog network.
A blog network is exactly what it sounds like – a “web” of blogs that all contain content on a similar topic. All these sites link to each other in some way, giving authority to every blog in the network.
So how do you use one?
Well, let’s say you have a website on guitars. To use a blog network, you’d first write an article based on guitars. Then, you’d put that article through a spinner to ensure each word, phrase and sentence was unique. Finally, you’d put the spun article into the blog network.
Now all the websites in that network have your article posted. Since you submitted a spun version, they’re all unique copies. And best of all, they all have a link back to your site.
As you can imagine, depending on how big the blog network is, you can get a huge number of backlinks relatively quickly.
Have you Used a Blog Network?
When Google de-indexes a website, all the links from that website become invalid. Therefore, for people who used one of the de-indexed networks to rank on page #1, their rankings are now gone – completely.
Also, even if you only used a blog network for a handful of links, all those links will now be invalid. So Google will know that you’ve used a blog network to gain links before. Talk about a huge red flag!
So what can you do about it?
For starters, stop using blog networks! Although a large number of networks were de-indexed, not all of them were. If you’re using a network and your rankings are safe, you still need to stop using the network. Google’s shown an obvious dislike for networks. Therefore, at this point, using a blog network for backlinks is playing with fire.
It’s time to get away from “easy SEO.” It’s time to get away from writing one 500 word article, spinning it and expecting to reach page #1.
Remember, Panda was specifically designed to get rid of all the fluff and filler content on their rankings. And it’s doing an incredible job. If you’re still “building backlinks,” you run the risk of waking up one morning to find your site’s been de-indexed. Yes, it can—and does—happen overnight.
Instead of spending time, energy and money on “old SEO” techniques that don’t work anymore (and hurt your site’s rankings), spend that time, energy and money on improving the user experience. Instead of outsourcing 50 500 word articles, outsource five 3,000 word articles – and make sure it’s high-quality content!
So, How Do You Keep Your Blog Alive in 2015?
If you have, or are thinking about starting a blog, keep these pointers in mind to ensure it survives the previous and possibly, upcoming changes from the major search engines.
WordPress set up and .Com
In order to rank, you still need a .com site and a self-hosted blog. WordPress is the still the best way to go when setting up a blog site. It is easy to use, has a ton of free plugins that are simple to use, and makes it easy for beginners to properly optimize their blogs for SEO.
Keep up the Speed
A slow loading blog site will not only cost you visitors, it will cost you money. Consider using a VPS server, find a good caching solution and check out this article on how to shrink images, CSS, themes and other items on your site.
Changing Link Direction
Instead of paying for links, start paying for advertisements that lead to links. Natural links are still an important part of blogging, but quality has taken a front seat over quantity.
Do Not Stop Guest Blogging
Whatever you read about Mutt Cutt’s and his take on guest blogging, ignore it…well, at least some of it. Guest blogging is still an important part of blogging, so find the sites that allow guest blogs and start working your magic. When guest blogging, be careful to stay natural, strong rich anchor texts for all your links leading back to your blog is a sure why to get the wrong kind of Google attention. Only post on quality sites and do your best to keep your blogs evergreen.
Do Not Stress over Google+
While Google was pushing hard for everyone to join Google+, many of the followers became irritated at the demand for the account in order to do anything Google. The social bully has lost some of its power, while still useful; it is less necessary than once predicted.
Keep Email as Part of Your Strategy
Combine email with your blog and increase your subscribers. Use services like AWeber and create free newsletters, e-books and other promotional materials, just make sure they are useful and wanted by your subscribers.
Consider Hiring a Freelancer
When it comes to up keeping a blog, there is a lot of background aspects that require your attention. If writing is not your strong point, hire a writer. If web maintenance or SEO is not your thing, hire someone to help.
Make Sure You Are Mobile Ready
Having a mobile ready blog site is not an option, it is a requirement. Plugins from WordPress make it simple to create a mobile friendly site.
Pay Attention to the Experts
No matter how much you read, no matter how successful you think you are, there is always something to learn from those who are considered experts.
If you are looking for information on blogging and entrepreneurship, follow Pat Flynn, Neil Patel, and Jeff Goins. If SEO is something you need help with, check out Whiteboard Friday from Moz. If it all seems to be too much to handle, check out Zen Habits for some useful tips.
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