Beware Of Link Networks, Google Crushes Two Of Them In The Past Week

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The author's views are entirely his or her own, and don't necessarily represent the views of Ahrefs.

Building backlinks is a necessary part of effective SEO no matter what niche you’re in. However, no website owner should ever resort to buying backlinks in order to improve rankings.

Buying back links is against Google’s webmaster guidelines and any website owner who does it will eventually get caught.

There are some companies out there, called link networks, that have built businesses out of selling backlinks with the promise of getting their customers better rankings in Google.

It may have been a lucrative business model for a while, but Google is now starting to come down on them hard. Google has publicly outed and penalized two of these link networks, which means any sites that have bought links from them will be penalized as well.

Goodbye Anglo Rank and Backlinks.com

Last week Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, broke the news on Twitter that backlink network Anglo Rank had been penalized. To add insult in injury, Matt sent out a tweet mocking them by quoting a line from their marketing material.

Shortly after, Matt offered a word of warning to all website owners:

Anglo Rank isn’t alone in this attack. Matt suggested on Twitter that other link networks are being targeted in this attack. Well he was absolutely right about that.

News recently broke that Google slapped Backlinks.com with a spam penalty, as well as penalizing all of their customers along with it.

In similar fashion, Matt again mocked this link network on Twitter by quoting a line from their marketing material:

There may be even more penalties to come as there are certainly more link networks out there than just these two. In the meantime, stay far away from any company that is offering you back links in exchange for money. If you have been taken by one of these networks in the past it’s not too late to protect yourself.

How To Protect Yourself From Spammy Back Links

It’s not too late to protect yourself against spam penalties if you have patronized one of these link networks in the past, or your SEO company used one to build links for you, or whatever the case may be.

Spam penalties can destroy your rankings. It’s better to be proactive and remove all traces of link spam before Google takes a manual action against your site.

I wrote a post last week covering a video where Matt Cutts himself gives some advice on how to recover from bad back links. He suggests using Google’s disavow tool to mass disavow all back links coming from a specific domain.

Disavowing links from a link network is the best way to protect yourself from any penalties they have been hit with, or may be hit with in the future.

Building good quality back links takes honest, hard work. If anyone is offering you some quick links in exchange money, run as far as you can in the other direction. Links are never easy to get, and if they are they’re probably frowned upon by Google.

Matt Southern

Matt Southern is a marketing, communications and public relations professional. He has a bachelors degree in communication and an unparalleled passion for helping businesses get their message out.

Also in: Industry's Insights, Link Building.
  • Alex Polonsky

    Link networks are just a short term fix, but they’ll always get you in the long run.

    • http://www.mattsouthern.com Matt Southern

      Exactly! Any quick fix in the SEO world is best to be avoided these days. Hard, honest work always wins out in the long run.

      • http://cis-consultants.co.uk/ Darren Br

        Hello. Interesting read. I have a question on this being that I’m taking the first baby steps into SEO. I have put together an affiliate program. All local business who know each other. We chat on aFacebook group and we all engage in each other’s content. Google+ , fb, twitter , etc. basically all and every of the social media platforms. We share the hell out of each other’s sites. Creating lots if linked together backlinks and all engage heavily on these pages. We meet regularly together in my office. My question is this: is this ok? We have new members every day. They introduce theirselves post their links on the group page and everyone shares and engages. Now these businesses have started to do business as a result it’s been fantastic networking. But is this an actual form of link network? Nothing is paid at all. All local and different IPs.

  • Leonid

    And how google facing the fact that it’s the easiest way to get rid from competitors?
    Buy links from marketplaces like mentioned-> claim to google -> The marketplace network and all it’s costumers along with your competitors are gone….
    A very quick way to use google for your own usage…

    • http://www.mattsouthern.com Matt Southern

      Not sure what you mean. Do you mean this is an easy way for competitive link networks to get rid of each other? Google’s eventual goal is to get rid of ALL link networks, so I don’t think any of them are safe. But if that’s not what you mean then please clarify.

      • Leonid

        What I mean is that if I have shoes sale site that ranking 6th for various keywords
        then it’s pretty easy and cheap for me to order links from those networks for my competitors sites and get them out of the business….and increasing my chances ranking higher

        • http://www.mattsouthern.com Matt Southern

          Ok I understand what you mean now. Unfortunately that kind of thing absolutely does happen, it’s called “Negative SEO.” That’s why it’s important to use backlink monitoring tools like what we offer here at Ahrefs to keep track of your inbound links and disavow any that look a little too sketchy.