Blog Networks, SEO and Unique Content

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates have certainly done a number on the minds of SEO experts. Search engine optimization is always a moving target, but following more than a year of consecutive earth-shaking updates, the Google battering ram has essentially destroyed many blog networks. Individuals that were invested in these networks have seen the floor fall out from underneath them, with entire sites devalued and nothing left but ashes.

As with any Google update, all is not lost. Unless, of course, you persist in the bad practices that got you and your sites penalized by the search giant in the first place. If you own multiple blogs covering the same topic, then you may own a blog network. Fortunately, there are two cures that can fix this problem and put your blogs back on the road to recovery. First, we’ll define and examine the blog networks of old. Second, we’ll go over the cures. Lastly, we’ll discuss how following a tried and true fresh content pattern can get you back within the good graces of Google.

The Bane of Blog Networks

Traditionally, blog networks were created to help people build a linking strategy that would raise these blogs collectively. Essentially, there would be one central blog and from it spawned several smaller, but still significant blogs.

For instance, if your niche was cars, your main blog might cover concept vehicles. You would then set up additional blogs and point your links back to the main blog as well as to the other car blogs in your network.

Because you were pressed for time and content, you simply took articles from your main blog, spun them and published these articles to your linked blogs. The content may have been differentiated enough to pass muster, but the dead give away were the many links between the sites. If Google didn’t get you for spun articles, they slapped you for excessive inter-linking and devalued your entire network.

Curing What Ails You

The easiest way to handle Google’s slap down of your blogging network is to simply walk away. As in shutting everything down and turning off the lights.

This option, although the easiest one to do, isn’t necessarily a good one for you. For instance, if your main blog is excellent, the subsidiary blogs may be giving you SEO heartburn. Instead, your two options are as follows:

1. Drop the linking strategy. You’ve been linking to your blogs like crazy and this practice must stop. What you need to do here is unwind all but one or two links including the links in your sidebar and within your pages and articles. That’s a lot of work if your blogs are sizable, but you’ve been penalized. And your choice is death by default or rescuing your blogs.

2. Examine your content. Once your links have been fixed, then examine your content. Do this step first if you believe that you’ll be deleting pages instead of fixing them. There is no sense fixing links if those pages will be going away anyway. At this point, you may want to use Copyscape to fix what ails you. If your content is coming up more than 5 percent alike, particularly with your own blogs, then it is time for you to do some serious editing. Plan to trash articles that are not worth resurrecting, but fix those articles that are unique, regularly visited and have comments. Don’t rush the process as you don’t want to incur further problems down the line.

Once you complete these steps you should visit your webmaster tools page and confirm that your sites now follow Google’s guidelines. If they do, then you’ll need to apply for reconsideration, a process that can take several weeks for reevaluation. Moreover, you will need to apply for each penalized site and perhaps include an explanation to describe to Google what happened. Google already knows why you were penalized, but they want you to admit your transgression before restoration is possible.

The Fresh Content Solution

With your blog network fixed and you back within the good graces of Google, you can move on just as if nothing happened. Well, let’s get real here — to move forward you need to offer up high quality, unique content. That means you’ll have to write more often and more diligently, something that may not be possible if your time is limited. The solution is an easy and very practical one: accept guest articles.

There are two ways you can curate or obtain guest articles — one is hard and the other one is easy. Use both, but if you’re like most people you’ll go easy on yourself more often — after all, who has the time?

1. Hard — Create a new page on each of your blogs and call that page “contribute.” On that page, explain that you welcome guest posts. Tell your readers what kinds of articles you will accept, how long each article should be and include style information such as anchor links, sub headers, bylines and the rest. Share an email address for people to contact you or update your contact form and link to that for forwarding to you. Once the requests come in, you will have to answer each one, outline your article topic, wait for the article to be written, receive and review it and if and only if it is acceptable, publish it. Now that’s a lot of work!

2. Easy — Fortunately, there is an easy way and that way is offered right here on Content BLVD. Simply by registering your blog and having it accepted as part of the Content BLVD inventory, you can begin to request articles from those that have already been written as well as topics of your own choosing. When an article has been approved for your site, then you’ll be given instructions on how to publish it. Simply review the article, set it up on your blog, add in a related photograph and fill out your keywords. Hit publish and a uniquely written article of at least 600 words is now permanently part of your collection. That’s it! Oh, yes, it is free too.

Your Blog Network

Of course, we are not advocating that our readers form a blog network, given the problems that they can pose with Google. But, our recommendations to the current network owner can be applied to any blogger, especially the individual that is looking for high quality, fresh content and simply can use some assistance in getting this done. Content BLVD is here to help, so sign up today to get your blog considered!

Mike is Co-founder and CMO of Content BLVD, a marketplace where product companies and YouTubers meet to get more products into more videos. He's written for, been quoted in, and kicked out of many fine establishments.

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Posted in Building a Better Blog, Creating Content

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