Google continues to penalise link spammers. This week Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts denounced another link network, Anglo Rank, through Twitter: “Oh, Anglo Rank,” Cutts remonstrated the spammers after mockingly quoting their marketing material: “There are absolutely NO footprints linking the websites together.” Anglo Rank and network associates have received penalties.
Anglo Rank customers began receiving penalty notifications on December 10th for violations of Google Webmaster Guidelines, which prohibits participation in link schemes. These customer sites have experienced substantial ranking drops. Rectifying Google penalties and re-establishing rankings can take a lot of time, even months.
In the words of reformed link network spammer Carson Ward, who posted in 2012 to Search Engine Trends: “These services [link networks] allow paid subscribers to post their content to a network of sites for the sole purpose of building links.” The resulting spun content encouraged by these networks is ludicrously bad. One headline example reads: “Choosing Tragedy Cleanup Sodium Body of Water Town UT.”
Webmasters began receiving notices from Google’s search quality team for “unnatural links.” The notices explain that Google has detected violations of their guidelines that include participation in link schemes and buying links to boost their PageRank. Those notified have recourse to reconsideration, given that all dubious links are removed. Game over.
Ward counsels people using link spam with impunity to change their practices: “Blog networks,” he says, “are not a sustainable long-term strategy.” This prognosis is confirmed by the rounding up of more link networks by Cutts and his team, who have been relentlessly ferreting out spammers. In May, Cutts had announced that “several thousand link sellers” had been penalised, and the siege continues.
In response to Google’s war on spam, SEOBuffer.com responds in what might be part of a representative chorus: “Well, we all know what Google actually did… They forced the ‘real’ businesses that cared enough about their business to do SEO, off of organic search by penalizing them… which forced then [sic] to rely on Google’s paid advertising programs (Adwords) to stay in business!”
Whether or not marketers are in agreement with Google and its policies, they are setting the inevitable tone of things to come. This means investing in quality content and honest links rather than resorting to old tricks.