SEO Hosting — Do Link Networks Still Work?

Google Penguin & PandaAnyone who has had the privilege of using link networks definitely knows that they worked very well before Google went after them. As blogs that formed those networks were de-indexed, many top ranking sites lost their rankings. However, some people still talk about link networks and you wonder if they are NOT aware of everything that has happened in the recent past. The question you might want to ask is: Do link networks still work?

The short answer: YES.

The long answer: They work if you know how to go about them in light of the recent updates from Google (Panda and Penguin). So how do you go about them in light of the release of those animals from Google’s zoo?

Well, to answer that question, let us learn from networks that were NOT affected by those updates, those that recovered quickly and those that mitigated their losses and remained effective. There are lessons to be learned from their actions or inactions. Those that were hit had at least one of the following characteristics (And I believe avoiding those mistakes will help you build a formidable network should you decide to go that route)…

1. Unnatural Out-Linking Patterns
Home page backlinks were much sought after at a point. All you needed to do then was visit TrafficPlanet and you would get many networks that were selling upwards of 50 home page links. But in spite of the number, they were quite effective.

Now ask yourself a simple question: Who ever builds a normal site that has that many links out to external sites on their home page? It was a pattern that was very easy to detect and penalize. All Big G had to do was send over a human reviewer and such a site was penalized.

Lesson learned: Make sure your network has an out-linking pattern that looks as natural as possible.

2. Public Networks
Considering the sheer size of the internet and the intricate web that interlinking between the billions of sites creates, it would be difficult for any company (Google inclusive) to monitor things effectively by sending human reviewers. It was NOT a cost-effective model to have a team of reviewers randomly checking links to all sites.

Google had a better idea: Why NOT infiltrate those networks with their proxies? They did and those people bought subscriptions with all the networks Google could find. They stayed subscribed and kept posting effectively to sites that were just set up to find the sites that made up those networks.

It must have taken them quite a long time because subscribers to such networks were simply picking top rankings for keywords of their choosing. Then suddenly, Google struck. Sites in those networks were delisted at an alarming rate. As those sites were being indexed every site they linked to started losing rankings fast.

Those who had sophisticated systems that segmented their subscribers started doing audits to fish out the tattle tales. Once they found and kicked them out, their de-indexing stopped. Those networks are back and doing fine. However, they only allow people they “know” to be part of their network. Furthermore, they have legal statements that prevent Google or their proxies from signing up.

Lesson learned: Don’t ever make your network public if you want to keep it safe from Google’s hammer. Keep it for yourself and family alone.

3. Trash Content
Many networks thrived with content that looked like transcriptions of a recording that was read backwards. They were so bad that anyone could tell they were posted to game the system. Well, some weren’t that bad: They were articles that were in no way related to the anchor texts and out-going links.

How in the world can a writer string up a sensible article if it is meant to have links to an assortment of widely unrelated niches? A single page could have links to coupons, then weight loss, then insurance, then web hosting, then retirement plans, then travel and tours, then Thai recipes, then exotic cars, then…

Any url and anchor text from any webmaster that could pay for a placement. Articles had to have snippets of text related to each anchor text. The result: Chaotic articles! Google did NOT really have to bother about these. Competitors, who had lost their positions and decided to check what those folks were doing to beat them, found out and reported. Google sent reviewers and… There went another network.

Lesson learned: Posting top quality content on every site within your network is critical if you don’t want to lose your network.

4. Interlinking Sites On The Network
Some network building strategies depended on passing link juice from one site in the network to another. All Google needed to do was find one site on such a network and every site on that network got deleted. It was so easy.

Lesson learned: While it is so easy to transfer link juice among sites in a network, go the hard way: Don’t interlink. Build links to each property independently. Easy methods die fast!

5. Made-For-All Networks
There are blogs that cover a whole industry. However, you’ll be hard pressed to name three blogs that cover everything known to humanity. So once competitors, haters or reviewers see a site that covers an unusually wide array of industries, they smell foul play. This was set up just to give out links. All they needed to do was to look for other corroborating factors and there went another site — De-indexed!

Lesson learned: Focus on markets if you want to go very broad. Anything broader than that doesn’t look natural unless yours is the New York Times blog.

6. No Monetization Mix
Every website has a purpose. And while there are many properties that are NOT-for-profit, they all have intent. It is difficult to find a PR6 blog that has neither a subscribe form nor a single advert? So one mistake that gave many away is the fact that they did NOT show that they were of any use to their owners apart from…
…Oh, they had many outgoing links to selected sites.

Lesson learned: Make sure your network sites all have strong monetization models. You can have a subscribe form, sell advertisement or just have things that “show” that it is supposed to make you money.

7. They Were All WordPress Blogs
While WordPress is definitely so popular, it is NOT the only platform. If every high PR link to your site is a WordPress blog (with just a basic theme) then anyone who takes the time to analyze your links will pick you out very easily. Many were sniffed out and lost rankings.

Lesson learned: Make sure your private network employs sites that are on a wide variety of platforms.

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