We’ve been thinking a lot recently about why blog networks like BuildMyRank (BMR) and Linkvana (LV) failed. For those of you who are unfamiliar, these were very popular services in the IM world that charged a monthly fee to post articles with backlinks on their network of sites. They shut down in early 2012 when Google deindexed their entire networks. You can read more about it at Spencer’s blog: http://www.nichepursuits.com/are-private-blog-networks-dead/
Since then, nothing has really replaced them. In fact, everyone has been busy disavowing their unnatural backlinks, afraid of the various Google Animal algorithm updates.
Meanwhile, we’ve been busy building our own internal network of sites. When done right, they can’t be detected since they look exactly like the rest of the internet – different IPs, different themes, different authors, different posting schedule, along with consistent voice, consistent relative topics, and consistently high quality, native North American English content. We don’t interlink our network, and we don’t leave a footprint. It’s been working extremely effectively; sites that we backlink have seen significant jumps in the SERPs very quickly.
But we’ve gotten so good at building private site networks that we have a ton of them sitting unused for the most part. It’s really a waste… so we’re thinking about how to best open them up to other folks to improve their rankings, while still fiercely protecting the integrity of the network that we use ourselves for our bread and butter business.
That brings us back to BuildMyRank and the other failed networks of the past. It’s obvious that there were three main areas contributing to their downfall:
1. The site quality was poor.
I don’t have any particular examples of old BuildMyRank sites anymore, but there was basically no editorial process. You just submitted any article you wanted, and even if the content was complete gibberish it would still be posted. The sites themselves were poorly designed and clearly not geared toward human users; they contributed nothing to the internet in general except for backlinks.
2. The technique became too mainstream.
Any non-white hat technique in the SEO space that is sufficiently affecting rankings will attract the attention of Google. BuildMyRank and the other networks did a ton of advertising on all the forums, and it was extremely well known by word of mouth as well (since it was effective). Once it was sufficiently above the radar, Google had no choice but to crack down, although it took them much longer than expected to do so. Google has clearly improved their response times now, since each algorithmic update is happening with less time in between.
3. The network was completely unprotected.
Anyone was able to sign up, and anyone was able to post anything, as often as they wanted, and on sites that were not relevant to the backlink at hand. This allowed a Google employee to sign up and post articles on EVERY site in the network with a unique “tracer” phrase. Then after waiting a few days for Google’s index to update, it was trivial to find every site on the network and deindex it. Game over!