This is just my opinion, and everyone has one, and you may not agree with me, and that is fine. But I think that if I were in that position that has been discussed in the blog post “Take off your cloaks“, and if I were certain that a sweep has just happened, I would check to see if those blogs still have any page rank. If they do, I would go into those blogs and unlink every link that you have already received payment for. And if there are any links in there that you have not been paid for, I would only keep them active until they were paid for and then I would delete them too.
In fact, I would also delete any and every scraped/spun article completely, for Google is not going to allow you to get away with that technique much longer – they WILL catch up to you eventually and once you get de-indexed (banned, blacklisted) it is almost impossible to get it back. I know, I have one blog that apparently was blacklisted (I have NO IDEA why) and I have been trying for well over a year to get Google to take it off of their blacklist, doing everything that their help page says to do, and yet I still am blacklisted. I even moved the blog to a different server, but it made no difference. (Sigh) Interestingly enough, I keep blogging on that blog as if there is nothing wrong and I still get paid opportunities on that blog, so I keep renewing the domain name. I’ll let you know if Google ever lifts the ban on it!
So now those bloggers using these “Black Hat” techniques may very well ask, “Linda, please help me! What can I do?” Well, I’m no expert on that. Really, I’m not. But this is what I did, and hopefully it is bringing me back from the brink of blog extinction.
I started buying new domain names with no PR and started building the blogs from the ground up. And I did a lot of learning about how to build a blog in such a way that the almighty Google would hopefully throw me a reward in the way of Page Rank somewhere down the line. I knew that it would take a very long time for that to happen and I had to be patient. I bought several different domain names and worked on all of them. I tried to work on them equally, but apparently some were “better” than others and some got good PR quickly, some got low PR and took a very long time to improve their PR. But it had to be slowly, over time, as Google is suspicious over anything that happens fast, and I do not want to incur the wrath of Google!
Through a lot of trial and error, and good advice from my good sister N, and a lot of independent reading of things that I found online I slowly started to make money blogging without buying and using the expired domains, without using spun or scraped materials (I never did that, never heard of it before this group!)
I learned that in between each post where I am providing any links (whether do-follow or no-follow) I should put in a post that has no paid links at all. I learned to only use unique content that I wrote myself. I learned to make sure that there is fresh content on each blog more than once a week. I learned to not allow spammers to publish their comments on my blog, for they are trying to steal my PR and that will cost me at the next sweep. I learned to not take any pay-per-click or pay-per-action jobs. They don’t pay me anything and they make my blogs look spammy, which is a huge “turn-off” to any potential advertiser. I learned to not take any banner ads. I learned to not blog about porn, pills, gambling, religion, politics, or to promote any controversial “cause” that is likely to cause any business (potential client) to decide to avoid using my blog.
I have joined local Chambers of Commerces and gone to a lot of their free lunch and learn programs, networking meetings, and met a lot of people who consider themselves to be experts in SEO. When I tell them that I am a professional blogger they sometimes get quite upset and tell me that some of their clients lost PR because they had paid bloggers for back links. And some get very interested in talking to me about blogging for them. It’s all a good learning process.
And I learned that the vast majority of SEO experts, both local and online firmly believe that Google is now taking aim and targeting companies that have websites that have links from blogs that use the spinning/scraped content. And they believe that Google will be penalizing link farms and any website that has nonsensical strings of letters/numbers etc. They are going to penalize them, and they are going to be banning/blacklisting those blogs that use those techniques.
Now let’s think about purchasing expired domains with PR that have expired. Well that sounds just wonderful, doesn’t it? I did that at first myself, being brand new to the entire concept of blogging and getting paid for blogging. I had no idea that anyone would have any kind of problem with that. Until, that is, the company that I was blogging for (which was an Izea company now called inpostlinks.com) sent me an email telling me that one of their advertisers accused me of “cloaking” which was a violation of their Terms of Service, and they suspended my account and froze my payments for ninety days! Well, at the time that was the only company that I blogged for, having never heard of any other company, and I had never heard of “cloaking” before. I was very upset, as I was in a very bad financial position and desperately needed the income! So there were a lot of emails sent back and forth about what “cloaking” is and I learned a lot. Although “cloaking” is different than having purchased a domain with an expired page rank, they explained that they considered it to be a misrepresentation of the true worth of the blog and they would not allow me to use that blog again until the next re-indexing. They said that they considered it to be a form of “cloaking”, which is a violation of their terms of service. Their reasoning was that at the next re-indexing (sweep) Google would give an updated page rank and then it would be OK.
At that point in time I learned that buying an expired domain with existing PR was very risky and I stopped doing it. Whether “right” or “wrong,” “ethical” or “unethical” the consequences of buying expired domains could (and did) cost me money, and I did not like that!
Web hosting can get really confusing and expensive. Who can blame you for signing up for cheap web hosting? You probably did not know that Google has defined some of those cheap web hosting companies servers as “bad neighborhoods.” I know that when I first started blogging I had no idea at all that there were “bad neighborhoods” in the Google universe. As for how to find out what web hosting companies have “bad neighborhood” servers, well I see there are sites that claim that they can check for you. I do not know if any of them work, and for the purposes of this discussion I really am not interested right now in pursuing that. Maybe sometime in the future, maybe not.
But the fact remains, Google, as the all-knowing and all-seeing and omnipotent ruler of the almighty much coveted Google page rank and Google Search Engine Results Page KNOWS where your domain is hosted. When Google does its quarterly re-indexing (or “sweep”) one of the things that it looks at is what “neighborhood” your domain is in. If it sees your website/blog is on one of those “bad neighborhood” servers, then they will at least penalize your website, which reduces the page rank, and at most they will “ban” or “black-list” your website. What that means is that they will put YOUR website on their list of naughty boys and girls that get ignored from that point on until Hades freezes over and a gay woman becomes the Pope of the Catholic Church.
I would like to take a moment to address those bloggers that I have met that have found themselves in the situation where they were convinced that spinning articles for content will help them to earn a lot of money with their blogs. On top of that perhaps they have arranged for cheap hosting for their blog on a hosting server that has been flagged by Google as what they call a “bad neighborhood.” Oh, and they also were told that they could make a lot of money from buying an expired domain name with pre-existing PR and using it to blog for money! (Please understand that I am not being judgmental here, and accept my apologies in advance if you get the feeling that I am being judgmental. I truly strive in my life to not be judgmental.) These above listed activities and situations are some of the types of activities that Google SEO experts call “Black Hat” and Google is trying very hard to find those blogs and penalize them. They are getting better at it, and advertisers are starting to realize that doing business with those bloggers might penalize them, too!
Recently I found myself flooded with private messages from some bloggers that have found themselves in this position and they have been asking me to help them to increase their income with their blogs. After a few questions about their techniques, I determined that these bloggers, whether on purpose, or by accident, were using “Black Hat” techniques. Now I am not an expert by any means, but I have learned a few things that I don’t mind sharing, so I decided to address that situation here in the hopes that this post may help all bloggers to understand what is going on, why it is happening, and what can be done about it. This might be the perfect time to change hats.