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A Lot Going on Online

Google Unnatural Link StormI’ve been spending a little time reading about the latest Google fallout. It appears Google is penalizing and de-indexing sites that used “unnatural links” to improve page ranking. By unnatural links, they are referring to paid for backlinking strategies and/or backlinking networks.

It sounds like Google prefers sites to develop natural backlinks. In other words, if you write good and engaging content, folks will naturally link back to your sites. I wrote a post on my backlinking strategy a little over a year ago.

Not Much to Say

I feel for the folks who were affected by the latest change. It’s a blow to wake up one day to see all your hard work flushed down the tubes. However, I fully believe those who take the time to evaluate and learn from the situation will come up with an alternative way to make things work.

There’s not much I can say about backlinking that I haven’t already said somewhere on NJFM.

For folks who haven’t heard, here’s what I’ve said about backlinks:

Crystal Ball

Looking into my crystal ball, I see an uptick in emails offering guest posting options. Currently I receive about 2 or 3 guest post requests a day. Additionally, I fully expect to receive an increase in requests for reciprocal links. With the demise of popular backlinking networks, folks are looking for alternatives.

FYI, as a rule, I don’t accept guest posts or participate in reciprocal linking strategies. I give one way links to sites I admire and respect and do not Weathering the Stormexpect a link back. You see, this is still my hobby and I treat it as such. If your hobby were building model airplanes, would you want someone to build one for you? No, because the joy is in the creation.

Going Forward

The Internet is fickle and old timers have learned to weather the storms. This is just another storm to be weathered. If you were affected by this latest Google change, I’d be interested in hearing how you intend to weather and survive this particular storm.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Crystal March 23, 2012, 10:53 am

    My BIL called this one right years and years ago. Back when he built the original Horn’s Jewelry website, reciprocal linking seemed like it might be an effective way to generate traffic. After some serious thought, however, he decided it was a bad idea. So I guess it only took a little over a decade for him to be proven right.:)

  • Anne Baley March 23, 2012, 12:28 pm

    Google is definitely promoting slower, more passive growth instead of bloggers and website owners actively promoting their sites. While it might be frustrating to see how long it takes your site to get a good amount of traffic, I look at it like I do my garden. The quick-growing, leggy sprouts are the least healthy ones in the garden plot. It’s the slower-growing, stocky plants that stick around and produce the best results.

    Sometimes just doing a little bit of promoting work is better than doing a lot. And writing great content is the best “fertilizer” your site can have.

    • Felicia March 23, 2012, 12:46 pm

      Anne, I love your gardening analogy and couldn’t agree with you more. It’s especially timely since I’m trying my hand at growing a vegetable garden for the first time. 🙂

  • LM March 23, 2012, 6:34 pm

    I’ve never at any time agreed with the “building your own backlinks” strategy. I always felt like creating new content was a better use of my time.

    This is what all the Share buttons on the top or the bottom of a post are for afterall……so your readers can Like, Share, Tweet, Stumble, etc. posts that they like for you.

    This is what natural backlinks are all about and it’s the way it should be. I just never seemed to see it any other way, despite that the popular method was doing it yourself.

    What a pain. Setting up all those accounts and wasting time planting links everywhere. Sure, has it worked in the past for people? Yes. But now look at the ramifications of not having natural backlinks. Google…The Almighty Google (sarcasm intended) decides after all these years that forced backlinking is a no-no.

    So, it was better all along to let the readers dictate whether posts or a site was worth sharing. Is it slower growth that way? Sure. But, one of my newer sites last year had a post go somewhat viral because people were sharing it on a large message board and debating it with each other and Tweeting it, etc.

    I had nothing to do with that other than writing the content that created the buzz to start with. I had no idea though that it was going to get picked up the way it did. So, overnight I had all these backlinks.

    • Felicia March 24, 2012, 6:42 am

      It’s funny how some articles are picked up and others…well others just sit. I guess that’s the nature of the Internet.

      Keeping that in mind, Google probably finds it unnatural to have tons of backlinks to everything we write. I think the 80/20 rule of article popularity holds true. Of the hundreds if not thousands of articles I have online, about 20% of them get any regular traffic.

      On the same note, I’m always amazed when an old article or post suddenly gets popular. I guess some seeds just take longer to sprout than others.

      If I were in it strictly for the money, that would frustrate the heck out of me. It’s a good thing I like what I do. 🙂

  • Ignatius March 23, 2012, 7:53 pm

    Google has kind of a Whac-A-Mole game going with the people who want to get high rankings with undeserving websites. Every time Google engineers figure out how to knock down one strategy, a new tactic pops up.

    I agree with you and Anne that skipping the games and just creating quality websites is the best long term strategy, but there’s no doubt in my mind that people will keep coming up with other ideas to beat Google.

    My traffic and income are up after the changes this month. I’m still a very minor league website owner, but it’s always nice to see the stats go up.

    Felicia, I hope you enjoy your vegetable garden. There is nothing better than picking fresh veggies from your own garden for your meals.

    • Felicia March 24, 2012, 6:48 am

      Good hearing from you, Ignatius.

      My vegetable garden is currently in the planning stages. I realize I can’t evolve from a city gal to a self-sustaining, off the grid type of gal overnight. 🙂

      My first list of items to grow included over 25 veggies. I had to whittle my list down to about 5 or 10 veggies/herbs. Once I successfully grow those, then next year I’ll increase my garden. It’s sort of like online writing. I’ve got to learn the basics and test it out so I don’t overwhelm myself.

  • Samantha March 24, 2012, 12:22 pm

    I write because I love to write. One of the things that I absolutely hate about writing web content is wasting oodles of time on backlinking in the hopes of generating traffic. It feels so unnatural.

    I’m glad that Google is taking steps to frown upon self-promotion but given the immense amount of traffic driven through social media I’m not sure how this move is really going to drive a change in behavior.

    It’s also interesting from a business standpoint. Google generates revenue through its Adsense program. SEO marketers are really good at generating high CTR. By penalizing sites that are very good at SEO strategies, I wonder if Google will see a drop in their own returns on their Adsense program.

    I’m sure they have super-genius number crunchers that have already thought this through, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    • Felicia March 25, 2012, 7:42 am

      Samantha, as far as you and I go, I don’t think this move will change our behavior much at all. However, there are folks who will come up with a different strategy.

      I can’t begin to wrap my brain around why Google does what it does. All we can do is what we do as best as we can and the rest will have to take care of itself.

  • Ken Muise March 24, 2012, 2:04 pm

    I’m gonna’ have to leave some fields fallow for a while and cultivate the ones that are already sprouting and reaping.

    Wow..that was a weird comment to leave on NJFM. Hope all is well with you, Felicia, and all your readers.

    • Felicia March 29, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Dunno why your comment ended up in my spam folder.

      Fallow fields is the nature of the internet. I’ve got a few fallow myself.

  • cashflowmantra March 25, 2012, 7:17 am

    I read a little bit from some of the internet marketers and noticed that one of the blog networks where links are submitted for random distribution to various blogs had all those blogs de-indexed. I can imagine there is quite a bit of consternation among those trying to make a living doing internet marketing.

  • D. Heath March 28, 2012, 7:16 pm

    It seems a bit more difficult to get backlinks if you’re newbie because competition is so fierce. It definitely helps to be an established brand. I do understand what Google is trying to do – let the best sites float to the top. I did get my second backlink but then I changed my domain name again! So I’m no longer changing my domain name.

    • Felicia March 29, 2012, 12:17 pm

      My recommendation for newbies is to concentrate on quality content. That’s about the only thing we can control. The rest is always in a state of flux.

  • Bill Swan March 29, 2012, 11:56 am

    Once again a fad comes and goes (although this one took longer to go). There are seriously more ways pitched about how to get traffic than there are people actively writing I think.

    Funny thing is (and I’m showing age here), Google is this era’s AOL. Way back when AOL ruled they were able to crush sites and income by changing their rules as people found ways around them. The mighty AOL had the ability to block your site from its subscribers (which then were huge numbers). Now, Google is the same thing. In time, even the G will be replaced I’m sure.

    • Felicia March 29, 2012, 12:20 pm

      I remember using AOL for a fleeting moment, until I realized I preferred to have my internet straight up. I didn’t like their filtering system.

      As far as showing age, when I first got online, I used Prodigy. I’m not even sure if they’re still around.

  • Kim April 28, 2012, 1:13 am

    I think it’s just crazy sometimes. The site I ghost write for, which is well designed and very nice by the way has gotten hammered by Penguin. However I have an old site, that I consider personal… on Proboards. Our little site which no one has even posted on for months started getting 80 to 150 hits a day after Penguin. Can I do anything with this? It’s a free site with their ads on it.

    • Felicia April 28, 2012, 12:17 pm

      Kim, I’m not familiar with Proboards. If you can put your own ads or affiliate links, you might be able to benefit from the increased traffic. Or, you can modify some of the content and add appropriate related links to your own sites. Just a thought.

  • rnhealthinfo April 28, 2012, 10:41 pm

    Wanted to say hello, I remember you from our e how days:) and reading your blog now is great! I’ve added it to my blogs I read on my site, hope that’s ok with you. Peace and have a great month!

    • Felicia April 30, 2012, 3:14 am

      Ahh, eHow. The good old days! Thanks for stopping by.

  • Edward G Gordon May 1, 2012, 7:06 am

    Hi Felicia,

    You’re right about Google. They really do make life difficult for the small webmaster.

    I’ve actually taken my own sites down for the time being. I’m using the time to revamp and revitalise my approach – which avoids anything to do with Google at all.

    Best advice I was ever given was to “ignore marketing tips and stratagies and do it your own way.” I think it’s valid here.

    Anyway, I’m still here and hanging on lol.

    • Felicia May 3, 2012, 6:42 am

      Glad you stopped by, Edward. I was wondering what happened to you.

      Good to know you’re still hanging in there.

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