Weekly Chop Shop: Is Google Taking Arms Against Link Building?

Weekly Chop Shop: Is Google Taking Arms Against Link Building?

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google and link buildingIt’s good to be the queen.

Yesterday, I decided that I needed a better way to keep track of what’s going on in the world of online marketing and how it could potentially affect Traffic Generation Cafe, and voila! a new series was born.

In my Weekly Chop Shops, I will share the posts/videos/social media updates I read during the week on the latest and the greatest in the online world.

This week’s spotlight is on Google’s latest fight against link building and, more precisely, blog networks.

Since it seems to have affected Traffic Generation Cafe, this topic is now near and dear to me and here’s the scoop.

What’s in the News?

If You’re Overdoing SEO, STOP it Right Now!


Google spam team head Matt Cutts attended the SXSW a week ago. During his panel, he announced that Google is working on an update that’ll specifically target those websites that indulge in overdoing SEO. Signs of Over-Optimization I know this is what you actually want to ask. You want to know how much SEO is too much so that you can identify whether your site is overly SEOed.

The Closing of BuildMyRank and Link-Building News


Anyhow, regardless of my own recommendations, the fact remains that Google de-indexed yet another blog posting network. What Does BMR’s Demise Teach About Link-Building? Some will say that it’s just a matter of time

Unnatural Link Warnings and Blog Networks | SEOmoz


There was only one time when link building was the easiest, least challenging part of my SEO work. I was a link network spammer, relying upon services with

We saw some pretty major changes as Google decided to aggressively target private blog networks through deindexing and forced quite a few of them to close their doors, including BuildMyRank, a network we had used quite a bit lately

Blog Networks Dropping Like Flies – Is The Sky Falling? | PotPieGirl


So – blog networks are dead now, right? That means the sky is falling, right?

Well, if you know me at all, you know I do NOT subscribe to the whole “sky is falling/end of the world” mentality. Changes happen, we go with the changes – that’s how we roll, right? So let’s talk about what’s happening with this massive deindexing of paid blog network sites…and what it means to us.

Is This The End of Link Building? Blog Networks Speak Out!

www.fromideatoempire.com     3/22/12

The fear police are out and about this month with billy clubs and tear gas. Comply! Comply!

I hate fear mongering, and right now, the “FEAR FEAR FEAR” mantra is being shouted screamed from the rooftops and too many folks are buying into it unawares. Add to that mess a lot of smug jerks who claim to have it all figured out (“I told you so…”) but are just as misinformed and we’ve got a DEFCON Level 9  pile of confusion, self-aggrandizing and B.S. stew.

Link Building Do’s and Dont’s

So, what’s the bottom line?

Do we stop link building altogether?

Or find better ways of doing it, preferably in lighter shades of gray?

Linkbuilding Like a Nerd


Use this number along with link quantity to evaluate your linkbuilding success and identify new opportunities. 2. Quality – Different search engines have different names for the metric used to evaluate link quality. For Google

Our SEO And Linkbuilding Strategy Part 2


We’ve laid out our ultimate guide to linkbuilding for niche sites, discuss 2012 strategies and the future of linkbuilding, and give a step-by-step guideline for our current linkbuilding process.

Outreach Letters for Link Building [Real Examples]


Outreach letters are a primary element in any quality link building campaign: If you’re not getting responses, you’re not getting links. It takes a lot of trial and error to find what works, which can be difficult for new link builders.

Building Awesome Relationships For Links, Likes, and Love


Link building isn’t really link building. It’s relationship building. Links are just the proof of the relationship, as are the tweets,

Ranking in Search-You aren’t going to beat them at their game


And the fact that ranking is such a slow process and that link building for SEO has no measurable benefit in terms of ROI, makes those that chase algorithms look kind of silly and amateurish. Especially now, in this day and age. The biggest irony to this article is that most

What to do When Link Building is not enough to


Winning the SERPs is getting tougher these days, as search engines are getting more intelligent along its continuous evolution, plus the fact that bigger sites/brands in most industries are investing more and monopolizing this

Building Links with Brand Evangelists


Enter the brand evangelist. He or she is no different than the rest of us. They wake up every morning, go to work, and eat three square meals a day. They go online and read the industry blogs that you read, follow the industry

Watch This Webinar

Michael from $100KResults did this excellent webinar on the topic: learn more about the “what’s”, the “how’s”, and the “what now’s”.

Is Google Playing “Favorites”?


A few months back, I wrote a post on how Google works where I attempted to come up with a reasonable explanation of why crappy sites somehow rank above good-content sites.

I shouldn’t be saying “Google” and “reasonable” in the same sentence.

Here are more opinions:

How Google Makes Liars Out of the Good Guys in SEO | SEOmoz


This past week I gave the keynote presentation at Searchfest in Portland and I hit on a few themes that seemed to resonate with the audience, and with Rand. So I wanted to share them here.

Google’s Hypocrisy Exposed


So a few days back in my Google Webmaster Tools I’ve noticed the message that every webmaster fears – I call it the “message of death”. Yep, Google sent me a notice of unnatural links

Winter Is Coming… | Ed Dale’s Blog


The last search winter hit in the summer of 2006 and didn’t thaw until 2009. It started with the decimation of the adsense review sites. Most of you won’t remember the fatal summer Google teetered on becoming unusable – every search term was littered with adsence looking to make every click a winner. It was horrible and Google needed to act.

Marketing Takeaway

Stay informed.

Read what others say.

Then decide what’s best for YOUR business.

traffic generation cafe link building

Image Credit: Superb photo by Ashot Gevorkyan


PS I Need a Favor

I was recently nominated for “Top 25 Tech Moms – 2012″.

Might as well make the effort and actually make the list, right?

But not without your help.

All you need to do is click on the image below and click on the “VOTE” button as shown with the big fat red arrow in the screenshot.

That’s it!

No logins or registrations.

Just my THANK YOU for taking a second to do this.

tech mom nomination


traffic generation cafe comment below

Google+ Comments

81 Comments (click here to leave a comment)

  1. Ana Hoffman

    Makes a lot of sense, Stacy – some sites loose traffic, thus others (hopefully the good ones, like yours) benefit from it.

  2. Ana Hoffman

    Definitely agree, Oliver.

    To be quite honest, there’s no such thing as “white” SEO. Google doesn’t really want us to do any kind of SEO; just build links naturally.

    So every time we actually work at building links, we technically go against the grain.

  3. Yep. Google’s at it again. When I was first started studying SEO, it all seemed a lot more straightforward and clear cut than it is now..How many big changes and updates have Google applied to their algorithm over the past year? Too many for comfort.
    While I have no objections to making the web a better place and removing spam, I do have a problem with the fact that the rules of the game seem to change as quickly (and drastically) as they do these days.
    *rant over*

    • Ana Hoffman

      So far, all the latest changes seem to push spam to the top. I hope Google sees what we see in the results; i.e. rubbish.

  4. As for Google Favorites the first thing should be to check if they have an AdWWords acoount and second how much they spend with it.

    Sorry if I haven’t been here for a while but I don’t receive email updates anymore even if I’m still subscribed. Mah!

    • Ana Hoffman

      I’ve been delinquent with my email updates – life keeps getting in the way, go figure. lol

  5. Jerald Brzezowski

    I hate to admit it, but it was “just a matter of time” before BMR got deindexed. And I should have seen it coming, but I invested quite a bit of time and money into putting up a lot of posts on that network. They were far from spammy, and any reader would do well to have read the content – but I guess that didn’t matter when the network was overrun with crap posts about nothing. Do you think it’s safe to use any link-building “networks,” or should we all just stick with tried-and-true (moreso) methods like article marketing? I’m reluctant to spend much effort on anything at the moment, given that so many 100% whitehate, legit sights are dropping like flies in the rankings after the recent updates.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I was actually surprised that it was BMR that was hit this badly, Jerald, over any other network that allows a bunch of spun nonsense posts.

      I’d stay away from blog networks at the moment. At least don’t use them to build links to your money site; use them as “layer” links.

  6. Ana Hoffman

    Ideally, I’d like to believe that’s possible, Jim.

    However, in practice, even if you don’t gain any rankings from your commenting, you’ll certainly bring in some traffic and build relationships. Can’t imagine a better online foundation than that.

    And thanks for the mention!

  7. Sarah

    A well written post Ana . Thank you for sharing the following breakdowns. All we can do is hope that we are doing things right and that Google doesn’t fault us on anything.

  8. Hi, Ana. I’m very happy to have found your site. I’m a new internet marketer and gradually learning the ropes in SEO. I appreciate all the resources that you have shared here. I hope I can read them all. Google is always very unpredictable and dynamic, and we really need to be updated to keep up with it.

  9. Ali | Writers Blog

    If it’s really the death of link-building, I’d rather be happy. It was the most easy-to-abuse strategy. Also, we’ll get less crappy comments on our blogs now :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      I wish it was that easy, Ali… And I don’t think link building is going away just yet; probably just taking on a new form.

  10. Awesome list. Great selection of links and topics. Very insightful and thought provoking. Specially loved the topic “overdoing SEO”. SEO is not just keyword optimization it is the process of creatively distributing your content amongst various channels, properly developing your website to be validated, testing usability and navigation, etc.

  11. Fortunately for me I don’t use any of those link building services so I’m not at all worried if they all get the chop. I get all my links from commenting, mainly on blogs but on some forums as well.

    Unfortunately due to time constraints I don’t do as much blog hopping and commenting as I used to which has led to small downturn in traffic but hey, that’s life and you have to do what you have to do.

    Great post as usual Ana.

    • Ana Hoffman

      That’s the thing about commenting, Sire – great for networking, but not so great for link building. And yes, it’s time-consuming, yet you have to be consistent at that.

      Happy Easter!

  12. Thank you once again Anna. You just help give me a days worth of reading.
    What I’m hoping for is that the tortoise proves to be the right choice over the hare. Time and persistence along with being smart will serve us well in the long run. My oldest website which if for my local business where I work with people one on one has been a simple honest site that works really well for what it is needed to do, and that is to get people locally and in my niche to find me. It does really well I think because of it’s simple, honest, no tricks and it’s been consistent for the 6 years. My latest two sites for info and online money making our less than a year old and I’m in it for the long haul and hoping honesty and no tricks coupled with time will prove to be beneficial as well.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Slow and steady does win the race in some cases, Steve.

      I feel at such a loss on all things SEO at the moment, I can’t even comment on what I think works and what doesn’t.

      • The online marketing community is so wonderful that I am sure it will be figured out soon. As long as people keep checking sites like yours we should be able to figure it out.

  13. Hi Ana,
    Google sucks, they do everything so companies use Google Sponser link on the side or above in the SERP. The more they can destroy the link building and SERP rankings on the first page, the more be the first page full of Google paid ads instead.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I agree, Lennart.

      I was doing some searching for the new area we just moved into, and the results absolutely sucked. Plenty of paid ads though!

  14. Hi Ana,

    I don’t think I could really over SEO my blog, but one thing I’ve noticed is that Google has made it so that everyone who doesn’t log out of their account does their search in stealth mode. Since you audited my blog, I’ve had a real surge in Google traffic, but 85% of it is “not provided”. The research I’ve done suggests that Google has done this to force sales of Adsense, since Adsense users get access to keyword information. Does Market Samurai provide this same keyword information for my site, if I wanted to use it that way, or will I have to find another way to find out what keywords are bringing people to my site?

    BTW Your daughter is growing fast!


    • Ana Hoffman

      I know, Google Analytics is becoming less and less usable, isn’t it, Lou?

      I wrote a post about it a while back: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/semrush-review/.

      I also checked your blog on SEMRush, but no keywords came up; possibly either because your domain is so new or the keywords you are ranking are not very highly searched.

      So far, I haven’t found a way to see what keywords are bringing traffic to a site, but I am looking into it.

  15. It is good to see that Google is making changes and for the good. The links which you have shared have really made me think about the SEO activities I use for my blog. Thanks for sharing them! But I think now all bloggers need to concentrate on natural linking, only then they are going to get the desired results. I am excited to look what effects this going to show!

    • Ana Hoffman

      Natural linking has always been the best way to get links, David; yet it’s the most “out of our control” way and that’s not a good thing when competing for the top ranking spots.

      I provide quality info, and yet I still don’t get enough natural links to get me anywhere.

  16. I would have to imagine that this is not the end of the world for generating lots of backlinks quickly. The guys and gals that were capable of creating these techniques and making them available to the massess will find a new way, an even better way to create a ton of high quality backlinks. I think this issue is a temporary setback that will create new opportunities.

  17. Hey Ana,

    I have to admit that I’m actually kind of happy about the general sense I’m getting from these updates (possibly not a popular sentiment and maybe I’m being naiive) – because it seems to favor genuine links such as those via guest posting, genuine relationships between websites and comments?

    One thing I’ve always been fascinated by is the idea of link-wheels. I’ve never done this because it always seemed a bit complex, but also seemed to be gaming the system somehow. Then I guess you would argue, if everyone’s doing it, you have to too.

    Even worse than that to me is article spinning. Even Pat Flynn who is really well respected and genuine has an article on how to do this, but I never felt comfortable with the idea. Not sure what you thought of that but presumably the recent updates would punish the kind of links gained by this practice too as I think they are mostly in blog directories.

    The problem with all of the above in my humble opinion is they can all easily be bought.

    Am I right in thinking that links via comments, guest posts and genuine relationships are still valued?

    take care & best wishes,

    • Ana Hoffman

      I can definitely see your point, Alan, and in the ideal world, I’d love that to be true.

      However, no matter what Google does, small business owners like us will always be up against folks with brilliant minds who will figure out how to game the system whatever changes Google might bring or people with deep pockets who can afford to hire the brilliant ones to help them do the same.

      I think networking, guest posting, etc. is GREAT to create another (maybe even more reliable) traffic stream.

      And yes, links from those activities are still more valuable that whatever spammers can come up with.

      Unfortunately, those links alone will most likely fall short when it comes down to beating competition for Google searches.

      Truth is, if we want to compete, we are forced to match our efforts to the sites on the first page.

      • Hey Ana,

        fair point. I guess that is the point if we want to compete and your point is that I’ll never be able to compete unless I’m willing to do more than just commenting and guest posting – or at least it will be very difficult to.

        so it sounds like I either need to just accept that or start learning the latest traffic/link building techniques in line with the latest Google changes). For the moment the former seems much less stressful to me ;-)

        thanks as always for your help & advice,


        • Ana Hoffman

          You know, Alan, there are plenty of great blogs out there that never worry about SEO and still get a great amount of traffic from their networking alone (take Danny Iny, for instance).

          I have all the confidence that, if that’s where your heart is, that’s what you should stick with.

  18. Looking forward for the Weekly Chop Shops.
    With regards to hunting down link networks, I am sure that sooner or later, other networks will hit some filters, too.
    And these filter will greatly affect hundreds of SEO businesses that build their “SEO-skill” around BMR-like businesses.
    Am I happy about it? Yes I am.
    I am sure that Google is just trying to make it fair for users.
    And the concern of the users is what runs their business – relevancy to terms that we put in that tiny search box.
    Now SEO becomes even more harder and exciting. And we need to stay informed. Through the Weekly Chop Shops, perhaps?

    • Ana Hoffman

      If it’s not blog networks, it’ll be something else, Marlon; I am sure of it.

      Harder? Yes. Exciting? Not so sure about it. lol

      Thanks for coming by!

  19. Aiden Clinton

    Thanks for the good roundup of stories. As for Google, the message seems to be clear: they want you to _have_ links, but they don’t want you to do any of the world involved in _getting_ them. Sometimes I feel like the big G’s policies are intentionally left as nebulous as possible just so anything they like can be changed when it suits their current business strategy.

  20. Hi Ana,
    I guess it all comes back to, what you and I have been talking about over the last couple of days, relationship building rather than link building.
    The more time and effort you put into actually building relationships with people the greater the chance you will have of natural links being created.
    You have a vote from me.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Thanks, James!

      What I’ve come to realize is the fact that even when you have great content and run a fairly popular blog (like mine), I still have to work on my natural linking, i.e. sometimes ask my readers or other bloggers to actually link to a particular post.

  21. Interesting series Ana!

    These surely need to be bookmarked and read through the weekend with a peaceful time in hand. Yes, heard a great deal about what Google’s up to and the coming days are surely going to make people wonder what it’s up to.

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful links, which sound wonderful as I have just about read very few of them.

    Have a nice weekend :)

  22. I have read quite a few of these don’t over do seo things the past week or so. I still have yet come to a conclusion to what exactly is too much. I don’t think I am over doing things and will likely keep on doing what I have been doing, but it is something to keep an eye on.

    • Ana Hoffman

      Truth is no one really knows, Ray – I doubt it that even Google does. lol

      I am with you; I am not planning on changing how I do things around here.

  23. Hey, you’ve got my vote.

    I feel bad for the people who had their blog network links de-indexed, because a lot of those people were struggling against competitors with far bigger link building bugdgets and were just finding it difficult to get anyone to link to their content the traditional way.

    It seems like a lot of people who are sort of in the “top tier” of Internet marketing get there by linking to their “money sites” from their own domains slowly and over a long period of time. Not only is that hard to compete with, but it also seems like it’s really hard for Google to detect because I still see a lot of really spammy sites at the top of the results pages for certain keyword phrases.

    • Ana Hoffman

      You are so right, Jack – it’s not easy at all to break into most markets these days.

      As much as Google would like us to think otherwise, quality content doesn’t matter.

  24. You have my vote, Ana.

    Enjoy that all expenses paid world cruise!

    As to the Google’s ” War on Unnatural links” this has caused a fair amount of alarm, out in parts of the web-o- sphere.

    Apart from the closing down of certain Blog networks, it appears that many people are getting that ” Unnatural links detected” message in their Google webmaster tools…..

    What some people have said is that, even sites not engaged in this practice, are also receiving this message.

    Google may just be blasting out these messages, hoping that they will catch people who they in reality ” have not detected”.

    As far as Google’s attack on ” Over SEO” you would have to wonder where Google is really taking this! I put a scathing comment on a quite large site, regarding this. Mainly as I think, with all due respect that, they are just kidding themselves.

    There are methods being used that are ” Ultra Black hat” and I am quite certain Google will not pick up of them….and these methods are used by some individuals who are respected authority types……as well as those with new sites who have gone ballistic with link building…….

    Yet, people doing simple on page optimizations, may incur the wrath of Google, as they could be seen as having ” over optimized” their site(content).

    • Ana Hoffman

      Yes, it seems like Google is just stirring the water up to see what comes to the surface, Daniel.

      And we are left to pick up the pieces, as usual.

  25. I’m happy about the upcoming google changes. It’s frustrating to see crappy sights ranking higher than mine only because they have paid to get an unnatural amount of shady links.

    • Ana Hoffman

      I am not so sure that Google will ever get rid of those kinds of sites, Claire, whatever updates they put forward.

  26. “Top 25 Tech Moms – 2012″? Yup probably so :) You have my vote. You’ve put together a great list of resources here Ana, and the last thing I wanted to do was watch an hour and half webinar this morning…. LOL

    • Ana Hoffman

      Why not, right? – testing a new audience.

      Yes, the webinar is lengthy; I haven’t watched the entire thing myself yet. However, it’s great for creating an appearance of value! lol

  27. Nice new series Ana, and one that I will certainly be following :) Got some great articles here. I read probably 2/3 of them and PotPieGirl’s was really awesome. I love the way she was blatant, honest and straight to the point :)

    • Ana Hoffman

      I agree, Francisco – thumbs up from me as well.

      By the way, do you have an aff link for CurationSoft?

  28. Ana, this is very interesting and I love your new series! I guess I’m one of the people for whom this news is not earth-shattering. I have exactly one consciously created tutorial on my blog. One. LOL.

    My big question though, is this: what will happen to the massive lists of CommentLuv-enabled doFollow blogs? I was in GetClicky this morning and noticed that four of them link to me (I don’t know why, but still…)



    • Ana Hoffman

      Not sure about your question on CL blogs, Mitch – I don’t see any reason any of these changes should affect them.

      Nice of them to link to you – whatever the reason! lol

      • Mitchell Allen

        Ana, I was wondering if people would become wary of using CL for link-building. Lots of tips in the wild for getting links, using CL Premium (Feeds, extra link in the website field, etc)

        It’s one thing for Google to not penalize sites for inbound links when the site owner can’t control who links to them. It’s quite another to be the one in control. Isn’t this the reason SEO experts advise people to “vary” the anchor text so that it seems more natural?



        • Ana Hoffman

          I don’t see any reason to stop using CL for either link building or as a blog owner, Mitch.

          Sure comment links are not as valuable as they used to be, but they still are, plus they are great for link diversity.

          As blog owners, we do have complete control who we link out to; the same goes for regular comment links, as well as CL links. With simple moderation, we can still provide the benefit of link building to our readers, as well as protect ourselves from spam.

          • Mitchell Allen

            Thank you, Ana :)

            I’ve got major spam woes – it’s not very simple for me at all. I keep missing the ham for the spam. I had to close comments after x days.
            (Still trying to find the best value for x. Hint: 0 is not one of them LOL!)



            • Ana Hoffman

              Yes, I noticed that, Mitch – wanted to leave you a comment on one of your post from a commentluv link, but the comments were closed.

              That bad, huh?

              Is it mostly human spam or bots?

              My blog hardly gets any spam; go figure.

              • Mitchell Allen

                Ana, I can’t tell them apart. I suppose it’s a mix.
                What’s your secret? :)



                • Ana Hoffman

                  Since you don’t have any posts that are currently open for commenting (not a good thing, Mitch, IMHO; keeps away the readers that otherwise would like to engage), I can’t tell whether you use GASP on your blog, Mitch.

                  If you do, then most of your spam comes from either human bots (some low-paid outsourced workers that copy and paste generic comments) or trackbacks, which have nothing to do with the actual commenting system.

                  So what do you use to protect your blog from spam?

                  • Mitchell Allen

                    Oh! That makes sense. I use GASP, so I’m getting spam from low-paid drones. Sad.

                    I do miss the conversations, Ana, but I am not a blogger. I’m hoping people will read in the same way that, when I make my short stories available, they’ll simply download them and enjoy them.

                    I simply had to find a way to balance my online activities. Spammers actually helped tip the scales. For now, I have to leave them closed.



  29. Phil Boren

    The search engines seem to be constantly dealing with changes to address what they consider spam and/or unnatural results. I have noticed that some blog networks seem to have disappeared, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    • Ana Hoffman

      The only problem is they end up hunting down legit sites and spammers keep finding ways around anything Google does.