Blog network links has until recently been the back bone of linkbuilding and SEO for many Internet, affiliate and niche marketers. Article directory services like Unique Article Wizard and My Article Network have been hugely popular with marketers trying to outfox Google by building mass blog network links and climbing up in the search rankings.
These article submission services have also been paramount in the success of many of my niche sites. In fact, not so long ago I wrote a detailed post outlining my link high successful link building strategy exclusively using My Article Network and Unique Article Wizard.
Well, all that changed at the end of February as Google Panda 3.3 update pulled the plug on manipulative blog network links. As a result, many affiliate and niche sites previously enjoying top rankings on the back of these links were sent plummeting down the search engine spiral. About half of my 50+ niche sites also saw big overnight drops in rankings by as much 100 places.
So what was Panda 3.3 all about? Alongwith a number of changes listed in the official Google press release. There was one which attracted significant debate on search engine blogs like search engine land:
While the debate continues over which characteristic of links Google decided to turn off, there is no doubt that this update was specifically designed towards penalizing mass link building tactics often deployed by affiliate and niche sites to gain rapid rankings.
Soon after the release here are some of the emails I received from some well know Internet marketers, friends and blog network owners:
- Justin from HighPR Society
Thankfully, I’ve been testing quite a number of things on my portfolio…so after looking closer at the data I was able to draw a few conclusions. Conclusion #1: Sites with links from BuildMyRank didn’t drop. Conclusions #2: As I had some one-page sites go UP in ranking…the size of a site doesn’t seem to be the (only) issue. Instead, I believe the drop in my rankings was attributed more to the fact that I’d only used UAW/MAN on some (not all) of the sites that dropped. The next thing I did was talk to my friends to see how Panda had affected their portfolio (Spencer and Haley) and each of them reported the same thing. Spencer said sites with ONLY UAW/MAN links did drop. Hayley told me that she’s been using a combination of BuildMyRank and Linkvana and her portfolio was unaffected” - Trent Dyrsmid from Online Income Lab
Thankfully, I’ve been testing quite a number of things on my portfolio…so after looking closer at the data I was able to draw a few conclusions.
Conclusion #1: Sites with links from BuildMyRank didn’t drop.
Conclusions #2: As I had some one-page sites go UP in ranking…the size of a site doesn’t seem to be the (only) issue. Instead, I believe the drop in my rankings was attributed more to the fact that I’d only used UAW/MAN on some (not all) of the sites that dropped.
The next thing I did was talk to my friends to see how Panda had affected their portfolio (Spencer and Haley) and each of them reported the same thing. Spencer said sites with ONLY UAW/MAN links did drop. Hayley told me that she’s been using a combination of BuildMyRank and Linkvana and her portfolio was unaffected”
- Trent Dyrsmid from Online Income Lab
Trent is already reporting in his email that other well know marketers like Spencer Hawes from Niche Pursuits also saw drops in rankings.
Of course, we as online marketers are often extremely resilient to these changes. After all, when Google released the first Panda update in early 2011, many people were predicting the death of affiliate and niche sites for good. In reality that couldn’t be further from the truth, I personally built a lot of successful niche sites in 2011 and so did many other marketers.
But, here is the real question, is this really a viable business model? The answer is yes and no. It is viable in the short term but not sustainable in the long term.
So, what does it mean for your success as an Internet marketer?
It really comes down to these key factors:
1.) Is your content worthy of being shared around the Internet naturally? (which is what Google wants to see)
2.) Are you building a site purely to make money or building an asset which genuinely solves a compelling problem for your visitors
3.) Are you prepared to do the hard yards to build a quality site which is Google proof and will last you in 2012, next year, the year after and beyond?
Now, you might be thinking, all sounds great on paper but is it really that easy to change everything I have been taught about affiliate marketing so far? After all, it is more convenient for me to put up five pages of content, plaster the site with AdSense and affiliate links and continue to mass submit articles to blog networks.
The idea here is not change the way you do things but adapt them so you can be sure that your online business will continue to enjoy success in 2012 and beyond.
Here are some key action points to consider:
- Create content for your visitors. Not for search engines, your vendors or AdSense
- Create more content. Instead of standard 5 pages of standard articles, go for twenty pages and see if you are genuinely and comprehensively covering everything there is to know about your chosen niche.
- Take a moment to answer this simple question. “Am I building a site where real people with real questions can turn to find real answers?”
These are the exact same questions I asked myself at the start if this year and the direction I was already taking with my business even prior to Panda 3.3 update and already have a number of high quality niche blog projects ready to launch. So, what is going to be my own success strategy moving on? The focus will very much be on building a real online audience and not just another niche site where visitors may come once, click on a few ads and never come back.
On a daily basis, we monitor our domain network to check metrics like page rank, indexed pages, etc. As with any link-building network, some de-indexing activity is expected and ours has been within a permissible range for the past two years. Unfortunately, this morning, our scripts and manual checks have determined that the overwhelming majority of our network has been de-indexed (by Google), as of March 19, 2012. In our wildest dreams, there’s no way we could have imagined this happening.
For the time being, BMR will be shutting down our service in its current form. Whether we’ll re-open again after the dust settles and we’re able to determine the root cause of the de-indexing activity remains to be seen.
What do you think? Do you own successful niche sites? How are they performing since the February panda update? Please share your feedback below and let’s start a discussion.