Yesterday was the first ionSearch conference. Google gifted the conference with big news and there was certainly a buzz. Imagine a conference in which SEOs spent a lot of time discussing how to remove links and whether they should.
Just at the end of last month Google successfully cracked down on link networks. These are networks of sites that simply link to each other and to those sites hungry for “cost effective” links. The technique was beloved of some SEO agencies. As a result of the crackdown some large names like BuildMyRank simply decided to stop trading.
That bit of SEO news, though, was a good few weeks ago. More recently Google has started to email thousands of webmasters that the search engine had found poor quality links to their site. These warnings went to big brands as well as SMEs and hobby sites.
One twist is that these poor quality links did not just seem to be restricted to paid links – although these were certainly hit. Google also included links from poor quality sites as reason for concern. Brands cannot always stop poor quality sites linking to them.
Is Google following up their warning with action? The answer, in many cases, seems to be: YES.
I talked to many SEOs at ionSearch who were on the ball. They had the situation in hand and they were dealing with it. Of course, a good number of SEO strategies are unaffected. Typically those strategies which not only concentrated on following Google’s guidelines but which also looked at a wider range of positive quality signals are fine. In fact, sites using these strategies may now be at an advantage while competitors pivot. I was urging SEOs to adopt a multi-signal approach to their work.
Some SEOs simply need to get these dodgy and unnatural links removed – and quickly. But how?
Already agencies and brands are offering payment to have links removed. In some cases this seems necessary – at least it seems unlikely a site owner will be uninspired to edit their content unless you make it worth their while.
Certainly, if an agency has a history for paying a site owner, like a blogger, to add links then it is no stretch of the imagination to assume the site owner will also demand payment for removing the links. It’s another editorial change. It’s time and work.
I am worried.
Educating people that they can create a set of poor quality sites, slap a bunch of links pointing to a target website and then sit back and wait for the emails offering them money to remove those links seems like a very foolish thing to do.
I say “foolish” but I’ve already conceded that it may also be necessary.
Are we about to create a monster?
Will the future of SEO now include “negative SEO” – where digital marketing dirty tricks include attempts to fool Google into thinking a competitor site is up to no good? Will we see specialist link removal agencies?
Am I right to be concerned? What do you think the future holds now?