Be Careful With the Blog Networks

It seems that this week one of the most successful service selling links on private blog networks on Blackhatworld has been hit. I am talking about Ghost Rank 2.0.

Read the full article here (and Charles Floate’s interview with the owner Leith here)

Personally, I don’t believe that you should build a blog network and start publicly selling links. Maybe I am just too paranoid but unless you make everything possible to cover your tracks you shouldn’t brag about how you are cheating Google. At least not online.

Low quality blog networks are not hard to figure out, really.

Let me tell you about my experience with such a network. It dates back to pre-KontentMachine times, around two years ago.

So these guys were selling links on several forums. People were giving testimonials how awesome they were and how their network helped them get first page rankings. This is when I decided to try it out.

To be honest, I was amazed at the results of just a dozen of links. I saw great improvements in the rankings and thought I found the Holy Grail of link building.

The network grew extremely popular and at that time these guys were giving link reports. As you can guess, the hit followed shortly after.

Back to the low-quality blog networks. When I investigated the websites they were putting my links on I was amazed at how similar they looked. The only difference was in the background color, the position of the sidebar and, of course, the content. Other than that it wasn’t too hard to find several common elements (a.k.a. footprints) and find them all out.

It was a heavy blow, customers started posting negative reviews in the sellers’ threads. Websites were dropping hard in the SERPs, mine included.

The owners tried to save the network by:

  • Stopping the link reports
  • Adding new blogs or at least that’s what they told us.
  • Claiming that everything was OK and only a few of the blogs were hit. Which wasn’t true, of course.
  • Sometimes acting arrogantly towards their clients. A BIG no-no!

Finally, their sales thread was closed and I don’t know if they managed to recover. I am looking at their website right now and they are still using testimonials from the times before the network was hit.

What I am saying is that you should be really careful if you are trusting blog networks selling links. You don’t know where you links will be placed (only after you examine your backlinks) and you don’t know if the websites in the network share common footprints or not.


The truth is that building your own private blog network is not such a hard thing to do. If you have the time and resources to do that I recommend going through those tutorials:

And for this one you should have at least 30 minutes:

Ultimate Expired Domain Guide

There are some paid courses but I believe with just these four you will have everything needed to get started.


If you have anything to add do not hesitate to comment here. I would love to hear what you think of private blog networks and what your “secrets” are for building them.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience, and esp. for the links to more pertinent material. Had hoped Hummingbird, the “new” Google update would set matters straight further but so far I see some strange sites ranking high whose authors cannot even write proper English. I’m going to try the free trial of Kontent-Machine now, when I’ve set up my new site structure.

  • SAPE style links are ok if you know the risk. Even the sellers (the responsible ones anyway) tell you right out front that one day they WILL be hit and your site is very likely to be heavily penalized for using them when that day comes.

    There is also this idea that using these links for second tier linking is safer. It is – but only a little. Google trace the “landing page beneficiary” of links. A sape link pointing to a random article, WEB2 or WIKI page in your first tier is citred as a safe way to use these. It’s not. Well not completely.
    Google stupid, they look for the link on that page to a commecial landing page and work out that THAT is the beneficiary.

    There is a recent prescident for this.

    Up until 2009 ago interlinked “link rings” worked very well, then it became clear that Google were quite happy to play “follow the trail” and uncover and demote entire structures. Demoting all the nodes of the link ring AND the benefitting site in the process.

    That’s when most people moved to link pyramids or trees.

    In the past 4 years we seem to have forgotten that Google will follow a link trail to see where the real benefit lies. Using paid link networks like SAPE and before that BMR and others (which I got hit with 2 years ago) as well as others is a risk no matter where you put them. Slightly lower on your second tier, but by no means completely safe.

    Private networks WILL be outed at some point, and those sites seen to benefit with outbound links from the outed sites will almost certainly get the UL notice and spend 3 months to a year as “website non gratis” in the Google index.

    If you are happy to take that risk, maybe a site in a temporary niche (say a product with a limited shelf life etc) then they have real power.

    If you have only 1 or 2 websites and they are you only source of income. Sites you expend a lot of time and effort on over months or years. Then using these links is a really stupid idea – one day your site will be out of the index and you will be out of income for months – maybe years.

    Buy private links only with your eyes wide open. Theyu are not a permanent solution and their will be a big price to pay – a lot more than the links actually cost!


    • Georgi

      Absolutely. The best way to do it is build your own private mini network and never overuse it, just a link here and there. Those types of links should never be the main strategy for ranking.

  • Tyler

    Thankfully I had been buying expired domains and building out my blog net during the Sape Boom. Now I’m ready to dominate in the Bust backend 😀 Kontent Machine is great for 2nd tier content to nail my blog network posts with.

    • Georgi

      Smart man 🙂 How many blogs do you have in that network?