I’m going to be talking about some changes that are required to your link building strategy today, thanks to a new little update at Google.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now that Google has been on a rampage this last month, testing out some new spam prevention features, and leaving devastated webmasters (and many affiliates) in their wake.

Unlike most algorithm updates, this is one that you really need to pay attention to if you’re an affiliate marketer looking for free traffic. This one has real and immediate implications.

Basically there are some changes you need to make to your link building strategy, starting today, and if you don’t make them, you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the Big G pretty soon.

Ok, the sky’s not falling, affiliate marketing isn’t dead, and neither is SEO but…complacency on this one will get you punished.

If you use Google Analytics to track traffic to your sites, you may have received emails from Google about “unnatural links”. These warnings have been affecting people left and right, and as a result, it’s one of the few times where Google makes an algorithm update and you really need to take some responsive action.

It’s been an even crazier than usual time because of the disagreement between marketers on what the algorithm actually means, and what actions you need to take in light of it.

One one side, you have the old-school people who say “This is just another algorithm update – what works to rank in Google is the same thing that always worked – Don’t get caught up in this – Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.”

Then there’s the other side who might sound a bit more strident: “Google is out to get link builders! – We have to fundamentally change how we’re link building – We can no longer rely on the search engines for traffic”…and so on.

The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle.

So Exactly What Happened Over The Last Couple of Weeks?

It began with the BuildMyRank blog network getting deindexed. It’s not a service I used myself but it was regarded quite highly in affiliate marketing circles. Following on from that, forums started to buzz about other blog networks going down. And blog networks have and are being actively deindexed by Google, so this is real.

There are two important questions to ask:

Why Did Google Deindex Them And How Did Google Know They Were Blog Networks Anyway?

It seems, for the most part, that Google was targeting blog networks that published spun content. Where there was a blog network that published variations of the same article which all used the same or similar anchor text links, Google basically said “No Thanks” and deindexed them.

There were probably other footprints that helped Google identify such blogs as well, for example if they were linked together, had a common footer watermark, shared IP addresses, etc. [If you’ve built a blog network with your own blogs, those are things should should look at, especially if you interlink your sites.] However, the primary cause of Google picking on such such sites seems to have been the spun content. Let’s face it, may people don’t take the time to ensure their spun articles read well; they just take what their article spinner gives them and publish that. And now, Google’s calling time on that.

Blog networks that don’t use spun content don’t appear to have been targeted bu Google, backing up the contention that it’s the spun content blog networks they’re going after. However, it’s still early days and time will tell as to whether other blog networks will follow suit in being deindexed.

If you used a blog network service it’s possible you;l be affected by this algorithm update, if you haven’t been already.

I don’t use Google Analytics on my sites so I haven’t received any unnatural link warnings from Google. That doesn’t mean I’m not affected. I might be, I might not be. I’ll have to monitor my sites over the coming weeks to see how they fare in Google.

I only use one blog network – Article Marketing Automation. I know Dan and Marc (they guys who created AMA) have set it up in a creative way that has made it less subject to this effect. So maybe it won’t be affected. Again, time will tell.

That said, I’m going to be very careful about posting content to that blog network until the dust settles and in time I’ll know whether to stay with AMA or not.

I mostly use SENukeX for distributing spun content. This system posts to article directories and press release sites. These are discrete, non-linked entities and so are not part of a network. Article marketing looks safe for the moment but you have to wonder if Google has that in its sights for the future.

That brings me to Article Samurai which posts to both Article Marketing Automation and Unique Article Wizard. I’ve contacted the Samurai guys for their take on the algorithm update and how it affects Article Samurai. Posting to Unique Article Wizard should not pose any problems but posting to AMA might be problematical for the reasons I outlined above. I’ll update this post when I hear back from them.

So Why Is This Algorithm Update Different To Others?

Remember Panda? There were months of ongoing analysis, trying to determine what things were causing the Chinese Giant Racoon to slap certain sites. And even in the end, there was no ultimate consensus. On the question: “What caused my site to get slapped recently?”, the only answer that ever came forth was the basically “Well…it’s complicated”.

This update is not like that. Here there’s a very clear cause for a penalty, and there are very clear action steps for webmasters moving forward from here.

One singular thing was penalized. A pretty specific thing at that. This isn’t a time to “keep doing what you’ve been doing ? create good content and hope for the best” unless you want to lose all your sites and all your money.

So what do you do?

Action Steps You Should Take Right Now

  1. Cancel your accounts at blog network services where you were submitting a spun article many blogs. Even if they haven’t been penalized yet, there’s certainly a possibility they will be in the near future.
  2. If you were using any kind of technique for submitting very similar (spun or otherwise) content to multiple blogs for backlinks…stop. It’s not that big a deal – there are many ways to build backlinks.
  3. Keep calm. There’s no need to stop link building, doing SEO, change your business model, or go and get a real job. Aside from this one reasonably insignificant thing, SEO is still the same, and link building is still the same.

Just be circumspect about the services you use to promote your sites and you’ll be fine.

All the best,

Gary Nugent

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