Link Networks, Panda 3.4 and Over Optimisation

Google Gets Tough! 

Google’s continued an apparent crackdown against the manipulation of it’s ranking algorithm this last week by closing down some known blog networks and effectively deindexing whole networks of blogs used for manipulation of search engine ranking systems.

Networks like and many others have seen their vast catalogue of sites effectively removed from the Google index meaning that any links from those sites will no longer count or provide any ranking benefit to the target sites.


How does a blog network work?


Blog networks like, Linkvana, Link Authority, Rank Jumpers all provide a simple service which provides you with the types in-content of links that google likes (assuming they were not from this type of service).

These services still equate to buying links which are clearly against Google’s webmaster guidelines and whilst they don’t tend to penalise on external links alone (to prevent people nuking the opposition), they do all they can to discount them. These links also may form part of an overall trust signal and when they factor in other, possibly on site factors (footer links, keyword stuffing etc) it helps them build a picture of just how ‘honest’ your site is likely to be in its quest for rank and riches.

In simple terms, if you have used these systems, you have attempted to manipulate Google rankings and Google will attempt to undo this manipulation.


What does this mean for you?


Well, if you have built most of your link portfolio on this type of approach, then you are going to see your links and rank evaporate over the coming days and weeks. If you have never used a link network like this then you may see a boost in your rankings as some of the competition loses much of it’s (ill-gained) link equity.


What should you do now?


Well, it’s a given that the ‘new BuildMyRank’ will spring up and as quick as blog networks die, new ones will replace them. Well, the game of link buying is like a dog chasing its tail so if you want to keep feeding that vice then be my guest but be ready to have deep pockets and see diminishing returns.

The best thing you can do is concentrate on developing the good links and improving the linkability and quality (content) of your site with the goal of making these kinds of links a smaller part of your overall link profile.

Long term you want to remove these types of links or at the very least, NOT RELY ON THEM, else you are creating a very unstable foundation for your website (and possibly business) and you rest on the whim of Google’s right to do whatever the hell they like with their search engine.


Over Optimisation Penalty Coming at ya!


Could all of this be paving the way for the over optimisation penalty that Matt Cutts mentioned? A punishment (or adjustment) for sites that are doing too much (or the wrong type) of SEO. If you had links from these kinds of types then you may be giving out the types of signals that are going to bring attention to your site.


Should you remove these links?


Well, that’s a tough one, you may get an indication of bad links in Google webmaster Tools letting you know that Google has marked your card so possibly, but you are going to lose them anyhow so maybe your time would be better spent making sure you have some good links to balance out the losses and making sure your on page SEO is giving out the right signals. If it is keeping you up at night, sure remove them, but certainly don’t expect any special treatment for doing so.


Burner Site vs Brand Site


The long and short of this is that if you are looking to build your brand and establish a solid foundation for your rankings then this kind of approach is not what you want. Alternatively, had you spent this time/effort/money building valuable content and sticking your neck above the social media parapet to talk about your content and stimulate natural sharing then you would be seeing the benefits of watching many of your less honest competition fall from the skies.


1, 2, 3, Panic?


Well, yes and no. There is a great article here if you want to do a bit more reading on this. Beyond that, only you know what you have been up to so you have to wait it out and see what impact this has on your rankings and the rank of your competition (who knows how aggressive they were with these kinds of tactics).

If you have hired an SEO company and don’t know what they have been up to on your behalf, it could be time to ask the question or have someone who knows what they are talking about do it for you.


This is a good thing


It’s important to remember that overall, this is a good thing. We all use and rely on search engines and we want the ‘best’ results coming up top and not the most SEO’d results so we all stand to benefit. The trick is to make sure you are doing SEO that helps you rank and will not suddenly see the rug pulled out from under your feet. If that is a hard pill to swallow, it is likely an indicator you have been doing too much of the wrong kind of SEO.


If you are expecting problems, know you have problems and want to tackle them proactively, have questions, or I can help in any way drop a comment below or hit me up on Twitter (heck, if it’s sensitive, you could even fire me an email).




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