Turns out that some things really are dead…public link networks and Build my rank in particular. You may have seen the news that broke on Monday culminating in the closure of one of the most prominent link networks around. Build my rank is no more.
Far be it from me to make light of another business’ misfortune but there are certainly some things to be learned from this recent wholesale spanking of the link networks but the more pressing issue is what now?
First and foremost: Don’t believe the hype
Whatever you do, don’t go running to one of the many forum threads out there and take advice from the abundance of
‘gurus’ morons out there making statements like “Forget about backlinks“…
Let’s clear up a few things:
- The link is not dead – you should NOT just forget about building links
- However, you perhaps should forget about depending on link networks for your rankings – some will disagree with me here; that networks will just evolve and find smarter ways of operating but given that one of the most prominent networks out there has decided to call it a day (at least for now) definitely says something about how feasible that argument is.
Be proactive in your link profile clean up
If we’ve learnt anything from this whole saga, it is that Google is gunning for certain types of links and webmasters who engage in developing those types of links.
This whole de-indexing thing serves as a gentle reminder than now is a good time to clean up your link profile. If you are simply taking preventative measures, then I would be a little more reserved in your profile clean up perhaps only getting rid of the worst offenders but if you think you’ve been hit by some kind of filter or penalty (for over-optimisation perhaps?!) because you’ve seen a monumental drop in your rankings then you may need to be a little more rigorous.
In the overall, long-term scheme of things it makes sense to be proactive in cleaning up your link profile since things will probably get tighter over the coming months. That being said, I fully appreciate the need to move with the times and clients don’t take kindly to falling off the map because you’ve cleaned up their profile when their competitor is still sitting atop page 1 with a horridly spammy looking link profile. It’s all about balancing present day reality with educated predictions of what is to come.
As thing stand though, the links I would concentrate on removing are blog network links and site-wides.
We’ve seen increasing problems for clients who’ve developed site-wide links over the years. In our opinion, it isn’t ideal for a site to have any site-wides in their profile, beyond the usual naturally occurring ones for example linking geo-targeted websites together. It is especially important to seek out the exact match anchor text ones and remove where possible. Recently, we believe we have seen sites that appear to be filtered or penalised by Google based on the link graph inflation that site-wides can cause.
I can’t disagree with the idea that Google has probably been filtering these kinds of links for a few months now seeing as in reality, from an analysis standpoint, they are so easy to identify however given Google’s current offensive on “over-optimisation” a defensive play in this area is definitely what I would recommend.
Fair warning – Remove links at your own discretion, the above advice is just how I/we would play it.
Take a look at this Spammy Link Profile Escape Plan from Simon Penson.
Adopt new tactics
As a company, I can say hand on heart that we haven’t used link networks to support rankings for our clients but I don’t cast judgement over anyone that has. In our heart of hearts, we all know that links from the networks shouldn’t have really worked – if success in the search results was as simple as getting a subscription to a blog network then we’d all be out of a job.
Generally speaking, the harder a link is to get, the more valuable it is likely to be – long term, link networks have proved this point. Now that you are down on your link luck, you are going to need some new sources of strong, genuine links.
The best way to move ahead with this and get the most out of it is to understand the present weaknesses of a site and plan a campaign which addresses these deficiencies. Really back to basics stuff but sometimes stripping it back to the bare-bones is what’s required to see results – a tailored plan rather than throwing stuff at the wall and hoping for the best.
- Invest some time in analysing the weak areas of the site, learn as much as you can from other sites, analyse data across a variety of SERPs. Build the clearest picture of what you believe is going on.
- Link weaknesses with the tactics available to you e.g. need greater domain diversity? Try guest posting. Need to reduce bounce rate? Try creating some content that’s actually decent. Looking to increase the number of trusted links? Try infographic creation combined with influencer outreach.
- Estimate the gap between your position and your competitors
- Plan a targeted campaign with a clear timeline, benchmarks and expectations
Be certain to learn from the link networks disappearing
Whatever you do, be sure to take something from this pretty herculean change in the landscape…
- Diversify your traffic sources
- Diversify your link profile
- Think carefully about shortcuts
- Be mindful of copying competitor tactics
For anyone that wasn’t hit by this – go make hay, the sun is well and truly shining and from some of the SERPs we monitor, there are an abundance of opportunities to exploit now that the playing field has been leveled a little bit! We’ve been positioning clients for an opportunity like this and we’ve got some big stuff planned over the coming weeks and months!
Oh, and for some further reading try Richard Baxter’s latest post – Stop paying for terrible links
How do you plan to combat this development/take advantage of this development? Please add your thoughts in the comments below