An Update on Link Networks

Back in December I did an in-depth review of some of the best link building services around. When I say link building services I mean systems that allow you to generate content for a link, so article marketing systems, blog network systems and content spinning systems.

I have used and promoted many of the networks I reviewed, one in particular was Linkvana. I promoted this service due to the fact the content on the network was 100% unique, the links were minimised and relevant and the blogs were on average 3 years old and had good PageRank.

However I have recently cancelled my Linkvana subscription and would advise anyone else to do the same.

There are a few reasons for this;

1) I have recently noticed more and more of the blogs within the network are being deindexed

2) A lot of the blogs that were indexed are becoming less relevant

3) I really think it is time to focus on quality

As well as an SEO consultant I also do a fair share of niche blogging, therefore link networks such as the one above have always been helpful when attempting to rank a niche website. However, more and more I am noticing these niche blogs are losing rankings, traffic and authority.

My belief is that Google is clamping down on niche sites with low quality inbound links regardless of the anchor text those links supply. For example, only 12 months ago you could pick a niche keyword, fire 500 anchor text links at it and get it to rank first page pretty easily, this is becoming harder and harder.

What Do I Do if I Have Niche Blogs or Sites?

Don’t get me wrong, you can probably still get a niche blog to rank using ‘cheap links’, I simply believe it will continue to get harder and harder.

My first bit of advice would be to stick to article directories for building your anchor text links, ones I particularly like are;

Just to name a few…..

Secondly, I would also suggest making use of the Unique Article Wizard, this allows pretty good coverage and the links tend to be from more relevant websites as well as article directories.

Quality Over Quantity

Niche sites are one thing but building a solid online business is completely different. You want your online business to be safe in the Google index for years and years not just for the next 12 months, therefore link building for a business has to be based on quality.

What Is Quality

I think when we are considering what makes a quality link we need to be thinking about the following;

Relevance – This for me has always been a big factor. The sites you are getting links from need to be relevant. Put yourself in the user’s position, if you were surfing a website about SEO, you would find it strange to see a ‘dog clippers’ website link stuck in the corner. I can’t imagine for 1 minute that this goes undetected by Google and have no doubt it will pass very little weight.

PageRank – Even though toolbar PR is not an effective measure of success, you can still use it to determine the quality of the page you are getting the link from.

Outgoing links – Yes if a page is flooded with tons of outgoing links you are very unlikely to get any real value from it.

Anchor Text – This is still a major factor, however as I have warned before, make it look natural. Use variations; use your domain name as well as using the target keyword.

The Problem

The problem is very simple, how do we get these kinds of links? Links like this usually come at a price and paid links are bad, right?

This is a whole other topic and for a different post.

My parting advice would be this;

Every website needs some form of optimised anchor text, stick with article marketing for this type of link, but don’t forget it all needs topping up with some quality PageRank passing links.


Tim Grice is the CEO of Branded3, a search marketing agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

Latest posts by Tim (see all)

18 Replies to “An Update on Link Networks”

  1. Hello Tim,
    I consider this article to be a good outline for most of us that’s can lead to developing an action plan, and I need an action plan for my new domain. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have been very wary of following the crowd into some of the “in” places that offer links. Luckily I had guessed that article directories would be a safe haven to collect links.

    I’m curious to know if getting a relevant link from a post is just as good as a relevant link from a site. Example: If I have a general directory with 20 categories and one of those categories has to do with automobiles. I then get a link from a site about “green living” but there is a post on that site about converting sweet potatoes into bio fuel for cars. (This is a true example).

    Would a link from the post about converting sweet potatoes into fuel for cars going into a post on my general directory about the new Ford Mustang be a good quality link? I hope I made that clear enought to understand…

    On another note…I was doing some research for an article I was going to write. I normally would look at the top 5 or 10 sites that are listed for the main keyword of the subject. To my utter shock and surprise the number 1, 2, and 5 site on Google has the exact same (and I do mean exact) article listed. The post that appeared in the number 1 position was on Ezinearticles the other 2 sites were just generic sites.

    With blatant copying and not even a small attempt to change and make unique the content, it is no wonder that Google is cracking down in many different areas.

  3. Hi TT,

    I intentend to do a course on link building strategies soon, simply need to find the time. I noticed on your blog recently that a your links had slowly increased, still no PR update until around april now so yu won’t see aPR difference until then.

  4. @Pchef,

    As always you make some good points and the question about in content link is interesting.

    1- Google is supposed to put more weight on ‘editorial’ links as these look more natural. Links in footers and site wide links are more likely to be manipulation and therefore are supposed to be less effective. Saying this, I have seen hundreds of sites dominating Google with sitewide, anchor optimised links so as yet Google aren’t backing up their threats, for a change πŸ™‚

    2- Whether or not Google will rank duplicate articles largely depends on the authority of domain they are published on.ezine articles and a few of the other big respected directories will both have identical content indexed and sometimes ranking, this is why it is a good idea to submit to them. Some of the spammy article directories don’t have the same privledges.

    Thanks for the comment it raises some good points.

  5. Hey Tim,
    Interesting post as I had read a couple other items recently questioning the value of Linkvana. Seems like the tide is turning.

    Regarding your point #2 above you state “…Google will rank duplicate articles largely depends on the authority of domain they are published on.” If I read this correctly it indicates that you believe that it is OK to submit the same article to multiple article directories without any changes or spinning. How does the Google Duplicate Content Penalty play into this? My understanding has been that duplicate articles will be ignored or even penalized by Google.

    This may just be a misunderstanding on my part regarding submission of identical or near-identical content to multiple article directories, so any clarification would be appreciated. Thanks.

  6. Hi Mike,

    Yes in my opinion Google is becoming better and better at clamping down on such networks, so even if it works now the chances are it won’t in the future.

    You make a valid point about the duplicate content and I guess there are two things to clear up with regards to it.

    1) The Duplicate Penalty

    First thing is the talk of a penalty. Google’s view on duplicate content is straight forward, if two pages possess the same or similar content then the most authoritative domain will keep it’s page in the index and the other pages are tossed into the supplemental index, or basically never to be seen again.

    2) Duplicate Indexing

    Google still does add duplicate content to the main index, however there are a few rules that go along with it. All around the world news articles are been published on similar stories, using similar headlines and content, some even borrow content from other news sites. All this ‘similar’ content is not cast into the fire except for the most authoritative sources item.

    If you have a domain with ‘exceptional’ authority, ie alot of link equity and editorial references. Then you can get away with publishing duplicate content. Certain article directories have the sort of link equity we are talking about, not many but some do. These pages even though they may have duplicate articles, will be indexed regardless as Google views them as authoritative sources and therefore useful.

    This is why I advise to publish to the most authoritative. If you want to publish to some of the less authoritative then I suggest spinning. Goarticles, ezine, articlebase etc…. these sites always seem to be indexed regardless of duplicate issues.

    Hope that helps.

  7. Tim,

    Those sites are getting deindexed because they were caught in the “paid links” scheme. People are ratting each other out because the ones who got deindexed wantes to get back into Google.

    Article marketing is only good if you are writing quality content that people will either link to or publish it. If the article gets buried in the archives, it will just be PR 0 which gives you no juice.

  8. Since that is a paid service, Google eventually found out and started cracking down on people “buying” links. Then, people who got caught would start ratting people out so they can get a chance to get indexed back much faster in Google. I would just stay away from any link building services like that.

  9. Hi Kai,

    The linkvana network has always been pretty clean and they have strict rules on unique content and and links. It’s almost like a paid article directory, sort of. It was always helpful for getting those important anchor texts and great for building links to niche websites, however like you say it looks like Google has had enough.

  10. @Kai,

    I here what your saying but we have found links to be of worth even on PR0 pages. Yes it’s nice to write articles that get republished, but even those articles sitting on deep pages carry a little juice and if you get enough will increase keyword rankings. We recenlty moved a site from page 5 to top 5 of Google based on article marketing and anchor text alone and the key phrase isn’t exactly short on competition.

  11. It would be very useful to have a list of, say, top ten or top PR article Directories showing whether they are DoFollow or NoFollow and also whether they accept duplicate content, such would be the case if we submit the weekly recommended new article to 5 or 10 directories without changes.

    For instance, Buzzle specifically states; Duplicate content not allowed.
    With buzzle, by the way, I fond it excrutiatingly slow to navigate around their site — but maybe it’s my computer.

    And ArticleBase, as I mentioned once before here, I’m sure is a NoFollow site.

    Could you say whether such a list is readily available ?

    Lastly, do others feel it is very time consuming filing an article on the directories, even when all the various box items are pre-prepared (I do mine by copying my first posting on e-zine) ?

    Thanks for any enlightenement, Jim R.

  12. Hi Jim,

    Everyone has there favourite directories but you might want to check out this link;

    They are all dofollow and of a decent quality.

    I personally like to use the unique article wizard for my distribution, then I will simply post a unique copy yo goarticles and ezinearticles, and sometimes articleblast.

    Doing article marketing is time consuming, but to be honest I don’t really know many ‘white-hat’ link building techniques that aren’t. You have to think about what makes a good link as well, I like to look at domain metrics, if the homepage of a site has a PR5 or above, getting a link from that domain, even on a deep page is high value, that is why I like using high PR article directories.

    Link building is a pain I know, but if you dedicate 4 – 8 hours a week to it you will benefit in the long run.

  13. Obviously I can only speak from experience but I don’t see huge amount of value in article marketing these days, especially for competitive keywords. Most of the links end up on PR0 pages buried deep in the site. I am not saying they don’t offer much value but if you are going up against sites that are doing a lot more aggressive tactics to gain high PR links, you really are going to be wasting your time. I like article marketing for building link variety, so use it for non-optimal links.
    Another good technique is using UAW to point links towards articles on a site like Ezine. This can give your articles a little extra juice. I got a couple of articles up to a PR3 using this and some other social tactics.
    I am not saying article marketing shouldn’t be used but I don’t think it will ever be enough to rank for a semi competitive keyword (I could be wrong).
    Articlebase is nofollow but still worth using to build a natural link profile (not all links you get would be nofollow).

    Dependant on the Niche, sometimes you don’t even need a site, hubpages are pretty good for this. I also recently seen a GoArticle outranking lots of sites to be number 1 for a really competitive keyword (it did have an excellent link profile).

  14. Hi searchbrat,

    I think you are right in what you’re saying, article marketing alone is never going to win you a competitive niche, however I still like to use it for building deep links and yes pointing the odd one back at deep pages. I think you can rank well using article marketing but you are going to need more to dominate in a competitive niche.

    Before I changed the title and focus of this site I ranked first page for “seo consultant” using nothing but articles, so it is possible.

    I think you have hit on a very valid point with building links to links, I use this technique often. I may have a link on a deep page of a trusted domain, however it may not be indexed. Fire a couple of articles at it and social bookmarks and before you know it you have an anchored link, PR3 on the deep page of a PR7 homepage domain.

    As you say I know of pages on goarticles that outrank TLD’s in the most competitive industries, not particularly a huge link profile but one full of quality, thanks for the input.

  15. Hi Tim, First time commentor, long time reader. great blog by the way.
    Looks like i have to agree with you regarding Linkvana. I have been a member for 1 year and i have noticed the vast majority links are now gone. I have kept some of the urls in the network in a spreadsheet that i have links on and they are now not even in the index.
    Care to elaborate on what you have found with this issue

  16. Hi Adam,

    I had a linkvana account for 4 months to see if it could deliver a rankings boost, however what I found is that 75% of the websites were being de indexed and even after 400 links to one domain we failed to have movement on one of our sites.

    The content on these sites is dreadful and with 1 single link in every post it becomes very easy for google to filter out. If you want a cheap way of creating links each month I suggest finding some bloggers who except content or sponsored posts (not the large networks) and get your links in there with decent or syndicated content along with links to other sites as well as your own.

    Anyway, good to have you on board with the commenting! πŸ˜‰

  17. I had a linkvana account for 4 months to see if it could deliver a rankings boost, however what I found is that 75% of the websites were being de indexed and even after 400 links to one domain we failed to have movement on one of our sites.

    The content on these sites is dreadful and with 1 single link in every post it becomes very easy for google to filter out. If you want a cheap way of creating links each month I suggest finding some bloggers who except content or sponsored posts (not the large networks) and get your links in there with decent or syndicated content along with links to other sites as well as your own.

    Anyway, good to have you on board with the commenting! πŸ˜‰

Comments are closed.