We heard this rumor and checked it out right away. After all, blogs are not only an important source of information and entertainment on the web, but also an important marketing tool.
In fact, Google is de-indexing “private blog networks.” These are networks of blogs that allow you to post a single piece of content at hundreds or thousands of different blogs. A truly private blog network might be set up by one individual, but many of these are paid networks. They’re generally set up as a subscription or membership service, and they offer various features:
- They’ll use content you write, or write content for you.
- They’ll “spin” content for you — that is, change up some words to make it look a little bit as though you have a number of different posts instead of just one.
- They’ll post your content gradually rather than at all 3,000 blogs at once.
- They’ll keep all their client information secret so it won’t be as obvious that you’re using the service.
- They’ll find blog posts in their network that happen to contain your preferred anchor text and use the existing posts to link to your website.
Back when I wrote blog posts for all sorts of blogs all over the world, I often found my posts — scraped, stolen, or perhaps intentionally spread by the clients, whom I didn’t necessarily know very well — on these networks. Usually they had been spun but sometimes a whole blog post would be strewn all across the internet, supposedly as part of a blog but in fact in a collection of unrelated articles at a generic looking blog. Usually they’d turn up during linkbuilding work, and cause me a moment of confusion.
If you’re curious to see what this looks like, SEOMoz has an interesting article which will also give you steps to take to clean up your act if you have been using this technique.
Now let’s suppose that you haven’t been using private blog networks. In that case, this can be good news for you.
First, it means that you are less likely to have to wade through poor quality junk next time you are searching for information. That’s the main point of this update (and most Google algorithm updates).
Second, it means that your high quality, informative blog posts have less competition.
It has been suggested that this might mean that Google is planning to be stricter on blogs generally, and that this is therefore some kind of danger sign for blogging.
I don’t think that’s the case. Here’s why:
- This is a Penguin update. Penguin updates are about unnatural linking. Building a bunch of poor quality blogs filled with duplicate content is obviously an unnatural activity undertaken just for the sake of links. That’s irrelevant to the high quality blog on your company website.
- Google is already strict with blogs. Higher quality content performs better than poor quality content. If you’ve been cherishing the notion that you could slap any old thing up at your blog and get search engine love for doing so, you were being unrealistic.
If you’ve been following the general principles of good SEO — providing a valuable web experience for your customers — you have nothing to worry about.