Google Deindexed Blog Networks

Starting on February 17th 2012, Google started deindexing networks that were trying to game their algorithm through backlinks. If 2011 and the Panda algorithm updates were all about on-page issues, 2012 so far looks like being all about off-page seo and the types of backlinks Google finds acceptable (or not!)


Google Deindexes HomePage BackLinks

The first networks to fall were so called "Home Page Back Links" or HPBLs for short. These were nets of very high PR sites, which had a massive post on the front page (usually about 10,000 words), into which were interspersed a lot of hyperlinks anchored on keywords.

For an example of what these networks look like, here's an image that SeoMoz managed to take of one such high PR site:

Source

As you can see, the links are inserted willy nilly, even if they don't fit the context of the article. But because they are on the homepage of a high PR site, they were passing a lot of link juice. They typically sold for $35 per month for links on about 20 high PR sites, and if you wanted more sites, the price went up.

Google found a way to nuke them.


Google takes out the Blog Networks

The next target was so called "blog networks". These were also high pagerank sites, but were blogs - users purchased a monthly membership, which ranged from about $39 a month to several hundred dollars a month, and you got to post articles to the network. To benefit from these networks you relied on volume - on some such as Blog Blueprint, your posted article was spun and put on over 100 sites. On others like Build My Rank, you had to post a unique article each time, but each article stayed on the homepage for a while, and the structure of the site tried to distribute pagerank from the homepage to the individual blog posts, and because your monthly subscription bought unlimited submissions, if you were diligent, you would soon end up with a lot of blog posts on a lot of sites with different IP addresses and different pageranks.

People typically hammered these networks, typically submitting hundreds and in some cases thousands of articles to these nets.

Google decided to start hammering the blog networks.

In the first two weeks of March they took out SeoLink Nitro (which cost $497 per month! Who has this sort of money to spend?) and SEOLinkmonster ($147 a month). They also took out 22% of the Authority Link Network, deindexing some 5000 blogs. And Matt Cutts gleefully confirmed on 15th March via twitter what was happening - see below:

Source

Then they went for the big one - on 19th March 2012, they deindexed the entire BuildMyRank network - some 22,000+ sites - as BMR confirmed in a blog post.

Google has also been tackling other networks, some big and some small, some which sold posts for a monthly fee and some which were completely private. Some people are talking about their losses on the webmaster forums, but others are keeping quiet, so it's difficult to gauge the extent of Google's action.

Has Hubpages been affected?

Oh yes! Take a look at the following screenshot of what has been happening to backlinks to Hubpages (the data comes from ahrefs.com).

As you can see, Hubpages has lost about 2 million links (about 6%) and the losses came in two stages, the first which started on the 17th Feb, and the second drop which started on 19th March.,

We do not know how many more links will be reported lost (ahrefs crawls a certain number of pages each day and checks them for indexation, and of course they crawl much slower than a search engine would, so reporting will lag).

Has this had an effect? Yes.

Some people in the forums reported a drop of traffic, and I believe this is down to a domino effect. If some hubs which had been backlinked by the blog networks lost their links, not only would their rankings drop (as their links no longer exist), but the link juice they pass to the related hubs in the sidebar would also drop, causing those hubs to drop (the related hubs would have ranked previously thanks to second hand link juice being channelled from the hubs which were directly backlinked).

The mass deindexing has affected some big sites

It's not just Hubpages.com which has been affected. Take a look at the following ahrefs graph for Amazon.com:

Amazon appears to have lost some 20 million links.

Now why on earth would amazon be affected by Google deindexing blog networks and home page back links?

For a start, many third party sellers on amazon will have been using these networks to backlink their product pages to ensure they ranked well in the search engines, as would some of the indie authors.

But the biggest impact on Amazon will have been the affiliates. Some affiliates link to Amazon and forget to nofollow their links, passing link juice to Amazon. If these affiliates used blog networks exclusively to rank their stuff, then the sites themselves are in danger, if all of their links disappear. Google doesn't like high negative link velocity, and if most of your links disappear all of a sudden, they conclude you are a crap site and remove you too from their index. And of course that means you can no longer pass link juice to people you link to - like Amazon.

It's not just Amazon affected - take a look at Facebook's link graph:

You are probably thinking, this is nuts. Why on earth would Facebook need to backlink with these blog networks. Of course Facebook doesn't need to at all - but Facebook spammers are a different story.

Ever wondered how those Facebook note pages with titles like $$*!!Buy Samsung LED Blah Blah Blah !!*$$ managed to be everywhere in the SERPs over Christmas? That's right, they were backlinked by blog networks.

By deindexing the networks, Google is also removing Facebook spam from it's search results.

From the figures above, this deindexing goes way beyond a few high profile networks - they are clearly deindexing all the private black hat ones used by serious spammers too, and of course deindexing on this scale can only be done algorithmically.

This is not Panda, Panda was about on-page stuff - this is the Blog Network Algorithm (I made up the name, but hey, no one else has named this algo, so why not?)

Implications of the Blog Network Algo and Conclusion

Some people are reporting sharp drops in the SERPs thanks to this algo, but other are reporting no change.

It all depends on the niche you are in. If you are in a niche where everyone else also uses these networks, then you will find little change in your rankings as all the drops in links cancel each other out. If your backlink profile is diversified, you may even rise while your competitors fall. If your only source of links is these networks, either directly, or indirectly (because you were relying on a link from a hubpage which itself was backlinked), then the only remedy is to get some new genuine backlinks to your own pages.

Remember that the domino effect will also affect pages from authority sites like Amazon, which uses the related "customers who bought this also bought..." to redistribute pagerank throughout their site, and thus rank product pages. If Google's actions continue, the prevalence of pages in the SERPs from Amazon and other sites affected should be reduced.

Which means that now is a time of great opportunity for those whose links are clean. If you have the ability to attract genuine authority links, or make your stuff go viral, the SERPs is wide open in a way it hasn't been for a good three years.

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Comments 15 comments

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Wow, very interesting news. Blog Networks are huge and I have one blog listed there. I wonder if a person should get out of there asap. And I have seen the BMR sites everywhere. I don't really see why Google has to take these places down; it makes me feel very bad for those affected. On the other hand, it is also a good opportunity for those who want to create a niche right now. Thanks for the important update on the strange world of Google.

I am sharing this.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

That is interesting, but I don't understand it all. As far as writers on HubPages, we've lost backlinks to blogs we may have posted on...? Is that right? I didn't get all of that, but that's my fault for not being savvy about the www and all the backlinking going on. LOL! Interesting article.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I'm always sort of pleased to see tricks of SEO thrown out the window in favor of (hopefully) good writing.


Melis Ann profile image

Melis Ann 4 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

This Google deindexing can only help those writers who provide quality hubs that find their own organic backlinks. Sounds like the way it should be. I agree this is a great opportunity!


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

You got that about right. I dropped SEO Nitro ages ago because their quality was awful. They may not have been deindexed, but their links were devalued a long time ago.

Of course - it is really easy to get genuine authority links to a "10 best amazon widgets," article lol


Paulipopo profile image

Paulipopo 4 years ago from Abuja, Nigeria

This is some important piece of information you sharing, I have noticed a few drops and rise in traffic on different blogs of mine without really knowing what was wrong but i think I understand what's going on. Google is simply trying to offer the best possible service to end users.


Susan Ng profile image

Susan Ng 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Thanks for this information. I don't know much about SEO so I don't really understand a lot of it, but I'd like to ask since you mentioned it in your hub: When should I make a link no-follow? I see the option when I add links to my posts in Blogger and I've read the help explanation, but I still don't get it. :O


lakeerieartists profile image

lakeerieartists 4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Excellent article. Your data is interesting, and this is another reshuffle of the Google landscape.


Robert Craythorne profile image

Robert Craythorne 4 years ago from Okehampton, North Devon, UK

Great article! The BMR meltdown was spectacular but I suspect that it was predominantly a manual process partly driven by the panic reporting following on from the webmaster tools messages about 'unnatural links' that plenty of site owners received


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

Pretty sure BMR was algorythmic, as was SEO nitro et al.

Big G are now deindexing based on sites being linked To as well. Clever buggars.


Robert Craythorne profile image

Robert Craythorne 4 years ago from Okehampton, North Devon, UK

"Big G are now deindexing based on sites being linked To as well. Clever buggars."

De-indexing the 'link from' site presumably?


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

Yes. Send 2,000 links to spam/thin/empty/MFA sites and you will get yourself deindexed.


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 4 years ago from Massachusetts

I appreciated reading this. It's informative, as your stuff always is.


jainismus profile image

jainismus 4 years ago from Pune, India

Thank you for sharing such a great information, which is very interesting for me.


Milli Thornton 4 years ago

Very informative Hub. Thank you for presenting the issues. I'm even more motivated now to seek only organic backlinks, and to use a variety of methods for building backlinks to my sites, blogs and Hubs.

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