This past week saw some pretty big announcements from Google, and, as you might guess, its causing quite a stir in the SEO community.

The melee started on March 20th when Matt Cutts, Google’s head of Search Quality, made the bombshell announcement at South By Southwest that Google will be “aggressively targeting” blog networks whose purpose is to create backlinks.

This means if any of you out there have bought links from “private” blog networks like Linkvana and Build My Rank, then you’re about to see your links go bye-bye.

In fact, Build My Rank got hit SO HARD, they had to shut down their business…http://www.buildmyrank.com/news/its-been-a-great-run

The take away here is this: if you are spending money to buy links from well-known, well-marketed link building services that provide links from “private blog networks”, you need to play close attention what is happening with that network.

As if this first announcement wasn’t exciting enough, the very next day Google introduced a new penalty to its ranking system that targets sites “Overly Optimized” for SEO.

“What about the people optimizing really hard and doing a lot of SEO? We don’t normally pre-announce changes but there is something we are working in the last few months and hope to release it in the next months or few weeks. We are trying to level the playing field a bit. All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – those making great content and great site. We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect. We have several engineers on my team working on this right now.”  – Matt Cutts

I’m willing to bet that these two announcements are causing concern among my readers and Niche Site Mastery members. Therefore I wanted to share with you the opinions of a few other smart marketers (that have no vested interest in my training products).

To hear what Shane Melaugh, co-founder of SECockpit has to say regarding the first announcement, check out his latest Sunday Update Video.

Regarding the second announcement, I’d like to offer up the following quote by Matt Kadish of www.qualityscoresecrets.com

Right now, this appears to be focused on how Google is looking at backlinks and off-page SEO.

We already know that Google has changed some of the factors of how it evaluates backlinks.

We also know Google has devalued article directories AND blog networks.

So it’s clear that their first line of attack on “Over Optimization” will be on the off-page SEO front.

My guess is we’re going to be seeing a lot of changes coming down the pipeline with how Google evaluates links coming into your website.

The BIG one will be Anchor Text.

This is the big tell-tale sign that links could be “artificial.” So right now, I’m recommending staying away from using keywords in your backlinks.

Instead, use terms like “Click here,” “Check this out,” your website’s name, etc. This will make the backlinking much more natural.

Social Signals will be playing a large roll in backlinking, so you want to focus on getting backlinks from social media, more than anything. We’re talking Facebook, Twitter, and of course, Google+ here. I’m willing to bet Google will not be attacking these sites anytime soon.

Also important to note is that on-page optimization should no longer be “perfect.” You can see this just from Matt Cutt’s comment.

For now, I’m gonna say don’t worry about keyword density, H1 tags, H2 tags, or bolding your keywords in your content.

I’d say, if you use a plugin like SEO Pressor to help with your on-page optimization, that having a score between 60% and 80% is where you’d want to be. However, still pay close attention to your Title Tags and your Meta Description Tags! Those are still important.

As a niche site owner and owner of a membership site that teaches people how to build niche sites, Google’s decision to destroy BMR’s business has the potential to have an impact on mine if I don’t do anything to adjust my strategy.

Notice that I italicized that last part of the previous sentence.

With Every Change Comes Opportunity

The reality of this business is that we are technology entrepreneurs (as much as we are marketers), and as such, the only constant on which we can count is change. If having to deal with change scares you, then you are in the wrong business.

Some people are crying the sky is falling, yet others are (more accurately) saying that this has happened before and that it will continue to happen again in the future.

Think back to when Panada was first released. Many were saying that the end of free traffic from Google was near. They were wrong.

Now people are saying the same things all over again, and, like before, they will be wrong again.

Does that mean that you don’t have to change anything in your SEO strategy? No, of course it doesn’t. You will have to adapt your strategy to play within Google’s rules…but that shouldn’t come as a surprise to you!

What this change does mean is that you will likely have less competition in the future than you do now because many lazy people who were just looking for easy-money will now exit this business.  They will go looking for another get-rich-quick scheme so that they don’t have to do any real work.

For those of you who stay the course, you can rest assured that new link building opportunities will present themselves very soon. In fact, if you look around, there are already plenty of new methods available.

The Effect on My Sites

In terms of my own niche sites, Saturday Mar 24th was a new record high for earnings, and as of this email, 24 of the 30 sites that I ranked with UAW/MAN/SimplyPLR & SocialAdr remain on the first page of Google…and have done so for the last week. The week prior saw many of them dip temporarily, and when they came back from that, I saw more sites hit page one than ever before.

Based upon the data at hand, it would seem that the link building strategy that I have been using for the last few months is still working. With that said, I still intend to adapt my strategy to protect my business going forward.

My Updated Link Building Strategy

The link building that I’ve been doing with UAW/MAN is still working so I don’t see a reason to stop using it just yet. If my sites start to drop in the ranking, I’ll adjust as needed.

With that said, I, nor anyone else, has a crystal ball to predict the future, and just because its working this week doesn’t mean it will be working next week – and its for that reason that I’m going to be proactive and update my link building strategy to include methods that I (believe) will be Google-proof for some time yet.

My updated link building strategy can be summed up as follows: more social signals, (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube) a return to hand-built link wheels with non-spun content, private blog networks (owned by me) and a super-ninja way to build large volumes of 100% organic link building.

I will be revealing more details on this strategy in part 2 of this post, so be sure to stay tuned!

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  • http://www.jumbocdinvestments.com/ ChrisCD

    “Google’s decision to destroy BMR’s business”

    Google didn’t decide to destroy BMR. BMR built a business on the pre-text that their linking stratagies were undetectable. Google has said from the onset that people shouldn’t unnaturally gain links (no at the moment, I don’t have the exact quote).

    Google owes nobody traffic. No one should blame Google when they don’t get it.

    I don’t think that was your intention of the post, but too many people want to blame Google for their problems.

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Correct, I wasn’t trying to blame Google; that wasn’t the point of the post.

  • Steve Wyman

    Hi Trent

    Ill be the first to say I dont always agree with your approach or strategies where IM is concerned.

    HOWEVER i do want to say this is an EXCELLENT well considered post.

    Some solid content and a balance view.

    Im concerned about the rush to Synnd that many are taking as i can see that as an easy target (yep google joins synnd and reverse engineers etc).

    The cominbation of articles marketing and SOcialADR together with the process originally created by http://www.josepharchibald.com/ in his Warrior 40 day challenge and later popularised by smartpassiveincome (pat Flynn) is also an essential part of a good strategy going forward. (I think you suggest that).

    regards

    Steve WYman

  • http://www.conqueredriches.com Jamie Hudson

    Good stuff Trent, I’ll be interested to know how the crack down on blog networks affects your niche sites over the next few weeks. As of today, around 60 out of 70 of my sites lost their rankings.

    I used UAW/MAN/AMR/Senuke/Free Blog Links/Authority Link Network/Article Ranks and Backlinks Kingdom…

    I spun my articles in 1 click with the best spinner/spin rewriter and submit them through all networks and submission tools drip feeding links. I barely incorporated social signals besides a facebook page for each site and a badge on site etc.

    However I used Press Releases and some other stuff, my site’s content wasn’t awful either. This one has really screwed me and I’m reaching breaking point. Paid marketing here I come?

    I hope not, I’ve been investigating into more white hat link building since the catastrophe.

    I am considering posting regular content on all niche sites on a weekly basis minimum. Using my custom made wp plugin to “announce” them and then spinning the posts and syndicating through a few blog netoworks (uaw/man included).

    Also building manual web2.0’s and article directories with the lame 1 article – 1 backlink strategy. Fucking bullshit from where I’m standing. Look forward to hearing about your strategy for obtaining hundreds of “natural backlinks”.

    Also would like to know how you’re using pinterest, everyone’s talking about it but I’ve never come across any rankings proof from pinterest link building alone.

    – Jamie Hudson

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Hi Jamie,

      It sounds to me like you overdid your link building…plus the one-click spin generally produces pretty bad articles.

      Re Pinterest; I’m about to record a podcast with a Pinterest expert in a few minutes, so look for that to be published next week.

  • http://ebookcoveractions.com Harlan Yee

    Hi Trent, there’s definitely lots of buzz around this topic lately. So with these Google changes, how will this affect Master Ninja members using your VA service? You said for now you are still using the existing backlinking procedure in Niche Site Mastery but will your new changes filter down to the way your VAs build backlinks for us that are having sites built by your team? I was going to submit another order but I think I’m going to wait until there’s more information about how the latest changes are affecting niche site builders.

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Hey Harlan,

      Rest assured that any link building strategy that I’m using will also be made available to Master Ninja members. More details on my updated strategy are forthcoming.

  • http://www.nicheincomelab.com James

    Hey Trent –

    Good post. Look forward to seeing your updated link building strategy. I at the moment are building all my links by hand as it looks natural and slow. So none of my sites are getting hit at all. I hope actually from this update that my sites will increase in rank and those using these methods of mass submitting to private blogs will lose rank. We will see if that happens or not though. Could work to my benefit.

  • http://www.keywordsblogger.com KeywordsBlogger

    I think there are two shifts that marketers will have to make in response to this:

    (1) Do even better keyword research. My team has built sites for me that have ranked on the first page of Google within two weeks, with ZERO backlinks. How was I able to achieve this? Simple – by targeting keywords with little competition. Fewer competitors reduces the requirement to have any backlinks at all.

    (2) Start building authority sites. I don’t think “niche sites” (i.e. puny sites with 4 or 5 pages of content) are dead, but Google is going to continuously turn the screws on small sites in future. But if you have a site with hundreds of pages of original, useful, frequently updated content, you’ll probably be safe.

    Bottom line: IMers are going to have to start thinking like real business owners, with a long-term outlook and orientation to serving their customers, rather than just fly-by-nighters looking to make a quick buck.

    Moe

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Moe,

      Well put. I agree completely.

  • http://www.potpiegirl.com/2012/03/the-sky-is-falling/ Jennifer/PotPieGirl

    Trent- great overview and advice regarding all the INSANITY that’s going on right now.

    I totally agree… we don’t quit – we adjust.

    Jennifer
    ~PotPieGirl

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      And with that mindset, I have no doubt that you will succeed :)

      • tom

        OMG you know who potpiegitrl is right?

        She has the success already !! DUH

  • Rick

    I think so many people miss the big picture. They are always looking for ways to game the system. They are always looking for something outside of themselves to blame…i.e. Google or the Big G.

    Few want to put in the time to provide quality content. Here’s Google’s intent in a nutshell (TO END SEARCH) That means when you land on website after you type your keyword(s) into the search box that it answers your question or solves your problem.

    Most marketers are always looking for the next thing to come along that is easy and short-lived. Few start an online business with the intent of being around for 10 to 20 years. Most marketers are lazy plain and simple.

    Instead of complaining why don’t you create content that is worth linking to and spreading by word of mouth. Seth Godin has been talking about this for years but few people seem to be listening.

    The purpose of an online business is to help solve problems and the result is that people are willing to pay you handsomely for doing so.

    We keep focusing on the Google updates which are completely out of our control. Instead of hacking at the branches where no problems can be solved ….why don’t we start to do root level work.

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Rick,

      You mean IM’s will have to do real work to build a real business? Perish the thought!

      Kidding aside, I obviously agree with your comments :)

  • teatree

    Shane Melaugh is wrong in his video when he says that BMR has been “singled out” – and it’s also incorrect that this all started on March 20th.

    The attack on networks started back in Feb. The best article I’ve seen detailing with a timeline what is going on is the following:

    http://silverrose.hubpages.com/hub/Google-deindexes-blog-networks

  • http://www.radiology-technician-salary.biz/ Dave

    Hi Trent

    Great post! I agree with the above comments about the Pat Flynn approach to a Link building that he describes on his website. I myself will be taking this approach in addition to building links at a very slow and logical pace. The obvious answer that everyone seeks, of which has been spoken of by all sorts of people over the last several weeks in various forms, is to build sites that have quality content and a natural Backlinking profile.

    Trent, I very much enjoy your blog and have listened to all of your podcasts over the past year – keep it up as you are a plethora of information on Internet marketing!

    Thanks

    Dave

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Thanks for the positive feedback Dave. Much appreciated!

  • http://howIgotrich.net Joe

    I think most people want to build an “authority site” but are scared to in case it gets hit by Google. No one wants to put in all that work when Google appears to be hitting the wrong sites.

    If Trent’s sites he mentioned in this post got a boost in the SERPS from the recent changes that surely shows Google hasn’t got it right as these are the kind of sites they should be taking out (niche sites with backlinks from paid services)?

    • Rick

      If you build an authority website with great content that is better than any other content in that niche Google will have no choice to link to it.

      I have 3 authority websites that have been on the first page of Google and have been there through all the updates. They are in positions 1-5 and have remained there because the content is good.

      Google is not the enemy regardless of IM want you to think.

  • http://www.bestmidikeyboards.net Ray

    Trent,

    Great post. Looking forward to how you will adjust your strategy and the podcast with the Pinterest expert.

    Thanks

  • http://buildingakoipond.com steve

    These changes have been a long time coming and rather than see the sky falling I see an opportunity for quality sites to rise in the SERPS while para-sites drop like flies.

    I feel bad for those who spent money buying links and lost them, but lets face it, that is gaming the system. Google doesn’t like being gamed because it makes them look stupid and they are not.

    You can bet they know every loophole there is. Just because they let something go on doesn’t mean they don’t know about it. Now with Panda in place they have the capability to take action on the data they have. If you are not building quality sites be afraid, very afraid.

    I have noticed that perfect SEO has not been working for a while. I use Clickbump Seo which is very similar to Seopressor and have stopped going for 100%.

    I have also lowered keyword density. Google is not stupid and it isn’t 1995. They don’t need a high keyword density to know what your page is about. As you get up to 2% your content starts looking unnatural and forced and will throw a spam flag. I think 1% is plenty if you use LSI keywords too.

    For years Google has been saying “write for people and not for search engines” and this time they mean business.

  • Andy

    Bottom line is that there is always a way to make good money on the web. Always. The strategies you’ll may have to change a bit but this is how it has always been.

    On a side note, I have a gut feeling that Bing will come to play a bigger role in the coming years. If you look at the search engines over the last 15 years… altavista, metacrawler, yahoo, then google… nothing lasts forever. Not saying Google will go bust, far from it, but they may have some stiff competition coming up soon I think. To the benefit of internet marketers and consumers.

  • http://www.freesitetraffic.org/how-to-run-a-private-blog-network/ Jon Haver

    Trent what are your thoughts on people building their own truly private blog networks. With the amount that you love business systems is this something you have considered?

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      Yes, I have considered it and so long as you do it correctly (there are a LOT of details), you can get links on demand. With that said, just build higher quality sites and people will link to them for you. My top authority site has over 5000 links to it. This blog has almost 1000 links. I never built any of them.

  • carl

    trent ,

    do you think it would be better if a company/site like BMR kept how they gained their links a secret ?? surely if someone openly states how they gain their links, especially if promotion in google rankings is mentioned, then google will target them.
    what’s your opinion??

    • http://onlineincomelab.com Trent Dyrsmid

      That is not possible. All Google did was sign up for their service, find all the sites, and then de-index them.