FastCompany.com posted a pretty interesting read tonight. In it, they reference the BuildMyRank (BMR) blog post, where the BMR founders basically say “It’s been fun, but we’re closing shop…until we can figure out WTF happened to our network.” (Obviously that is paraphrased.) BMR is very well-known in the blackhat world. Don’t ask.
I saw the BMR blog post about a week ago, and I expected to see it referenced on searchengineland.com at some point. And it was. But to see BMR referenced in a FastCompany article – that is very surprising. I’m pretty sure they are the only massive paid link company to publicly raise the white flag after the latest round of Google’s algorithm changes. But they’ll be back. Guaranteed.
Make no mistake: In the past month or so, Google opened up a can of whoop ass on paid link builders, paid link buyers, and paid link networks. Check the forums. You’ll see people talking about lost rankings, emails from Google Webmaster Tools, etc… It’s all because homepage bloglinks networks (HPBLs) peaked in the past year. Everyone was buying them, and they were working.
I saw more paid link companies at SEO conferences in the past year than I saw in the past 5 years put together. It’s like everyone went out and started a few link networks and made a killing – both for themselves and for their clients. It really worked. Ask anyone. And it was an easy process. Grab 100-1,000 domains with some PR. Buy some content. Spin the content. Post it everywhere. Then build some tiered links. Create a few hundred Web 2.0 properties for yourself (on sites like Squidoo), and bam – instant rankings. And then just do a few comment spam blasts on authoritative sites. You know…the usual. And there are some other steps involved. But the point is: Everyone was getting top rankings and making money from this – and fast! No joke.
And as soon as anyone starts making money in SEO, they brag about it. They tell people. And those people tell people. And so on. And so on. And pretty soon, everyone was buying links from ALL THE NETWORKS! And they got greedy. And when you get greedy, you get careless. And when you get careless, you get stupid. And then Google finds your network(s). All they have to do is sit back and take inventory of the sites and connect the dots. But this time, it’s different. Google doesn’t only punish you for buying links. They de-index the link networks *and* they punish you. That makes the links worthless, and it instills fear in site owners, SEOs, and marketing directors. When people are afraid of a worthless commodity, well, it’s not good for those who sell the commodity.
The FastCompany article goes on to say: “Blackhat SEO is a shortcut. It’s a method by which the system can be gamed and the results can be altered. By taking on the spam networks, Google will be able to herd a good majority of the blackhats towards using acceptable SEO techniques.”
Then there is my favorite part of the FastCompany.com article: “Given that they have the power over their own search rankings, it is very likely that this effort will bring and end to the vast majority of search spam within the next several months.”
Seriously? That is the biggest line of bullsh I have ever read. What it should say is this: By taking on spam networks for over a decade now, Google has continuously forced blackhat SEOs to get smarter. It’s a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse. And blackhat SEOs are like the lead bad guy from that action movie you saw last weekend – they never seem to die. They just find new ways of getting what they want through newer, more intelligent strategies.
And now, every paid link company out there is telling their clients that they are going to figure it out. They are going to move to building link networks that are even more exclusive and private. They are going to spend more money to get better content. Links will get more expensive, but they will ultimately be just as effective. It’s just a matter of doing some empirical testing and fine tuning.
Will search spam be dead by the end of 2012? No way. That wasn’t the point of the FastCompany article. FastCompany wrote that article in order to get traffic. They optimized their headline for better rankings AND a higher clickthrough rate. They probably learned that from a blackhat SEO somewhere. Now all they need is links. Or do they?