The number of ways people have tried climbing to the top of the search engine results is as vast as the number of websites competing for attention. Link networks are a popular SEO tool that has gained a bit of extra attention lately—and not in the right corners for their own sake. One of the latest rounds of Penguin updates appears to have targeted link networks, leaving thousands of websites in utter dismay as webmasters watch their search rankings dwindle overnight.
Link networks are vast pyramids of URLs. When a webmaster purchases membership to a link network, a collection of mediocre yet legitimate websites will add content and create seemingly quality links to the original websites landing pages. This adds to the backlinks and gives the original URL an extra boost in the eyes of the algorithms. The link networks then boost the effects a bit further by adding more links on hundreds of poor quality websites and blogging sites. These links are going to the middle man, the mediocre website. By building that websites placement, the links to the original website get even more strength. While it was looked at as a promising tactic to improve backlinks and boost SEO placement, link networks are no longer finding much ground to stand on.
The Problem with Link Networks
Link networks helped SEO placement by mimicking the natural process of backlinking. While the links these networks created where there in quantity, they don’t hold the quality that the search engines are looking for. Google’s Penguin update has been all about quality from day one. It focuses on quality content, quality keywords and quality links. Link networks break one of the fundamental tenets of Google’s SEO bylaws, and Google has since found a way to sort right through the masquerade.
The consequences of using link networks are being handed down on many more than the link networks themselves. Sites who used these networks to dishonestly boost their ranking are taking a hit too. The latest round of placement falls after the last Penguin update provide more evidence that when it comes to building search engine placement with Google, your best bet is often to play by the rules.
Link networks are still out there, and there are many who are trying to change the way existing link networks are set up to increase the legitimacy of the operation in hopes of staying on Google’s good side. However, there is a high risk associated with the use of these tools, and it is imperative that you understand this risk of lost placement and penalty fully before engaging with a link network.