This is one of those recurring subjects in SEO. It’s part of the whole “white hat/black hat” debate you might be familiar with.
Last year Google unleashed a change to its ranking system, called Panda, which is designed to reward quality and penalise rubbish. And paid blog link networks are the most recent target of this system, with Google having trawled the web and de-indexed a lot of them. These private networks create links through blog content, but the links are paid for, which makes them similar to link farms, which were disgraced and de-indexed some time ago.
Any type of site that accepts low quality content with a high volume of links is going to be penalised. Google is now favouring well written content (even, reportedly, looking at spelling and grammar). Backlinking is great for SEO, but any low quality, indiscriminate linking is not going to go down well with the ranking overlords at Google. The context of the page or blog with the link on needs to be relevant, it needs to be high quality. The SEO industry has been banging this “quality” drum for months, and yet private blog link networks have stuck around.
At Venn, we don’t use these networks, but if you do, or if you think the agency working for you does, don’t panic. You will likely see a drop in rankings when the site, along with your links, are removed, but your site shouldn’t actually be penalised, and you can build the ranking back up by focussing on quality content.
It’s possibly a tricky judgement call though. At what point does a large blog with a lot of guest bloggers who it gives a couple of links to become a “Junk blog”? Venn’s tips are, look for some sort of consistency of subject matter, well-written posts and beware of options that allow you to pay to post any old content. This could mean the blog owner isn’t very discerning about the content they allow on their site and their blog could end up turning into a junk blog full of low quality, paid for posts.