Did Google Use Their Privacy Policy Changes To Find and De-Index Private Blog Networks?

Recent changes to Google’s privacy policy were the talk of the town recently could they have anything to do with the de-indexing of many large sites recently?

Getting Google to notice your website is a lot of hard work at the best of times and a little like trying to get that enigmatic girl across the room to notice you. There are countless different techniques we can use and there’s loads of advice on which of these is the best, but ultimately if Google should change its mind on what it considers the ‘right way’ to promote your site then this is going to result in your effort being for naught.

This is something that blog networks now know all too well. The idea behind a blog network is simple that a number of blogs will agree to link to each other in order to share link juice and to help them to gain more visibility on Google. In rare cases some will even share advertisers across the blogs.

This idea is sound in theory, but in practice it fell foul to the machinations of many a black hat SEO strategist who saw this as an opportunity to quickly ramp up the PR of a new site – simply get involved in a blog network and you’ll suddenly have a ton of reciprocal links from other high-powered sites and Google will take notice.

But Then…

Until just recently when Google, with the wrath of a slighted God, smote those who would try to take such short cuts. Hundreds of sites were seemingly over-night ‘de-indexed’ from Google so that they lost all of their sticking power in Google.

And because so many of these sites were completely reliant on Google for all of their traffic, it is no surprise that several businesses folded as a result (not least the ones that were running the blog networks such as BuildMyRank). Largely this could be seen as a smart move by Google to get rid of more spammy sites, but there certainly were some innocent victims involved – and several sites using blog rolls (just listing their favorite blogs – which often would be reciprocal due to the friendly nature of the blogosphere) were  similarly penalized.

How Did They Do It?

The question though is how did Google accomplish this? And more pressingly could it have anything to do with their new privacy policy? Google has released their new privacy policy which states that information will be shared across their services such as Google Analytics, AdSense, Google+, Search, Googlemail etc etc. The official line is that these policy changes are there to help provide a more seamless experience for users so that they might get recommendations that are more tailored to them etc but could Google also be using this privacy policy (which has been called into question by EU officials as breaching their privacy laws) in order to improve their algorithms?

While there’s no way to know for sure, it’s certainly something of a coincidence that Google chose now to strike all of these blog networks just as they had the legal means to use all that data. And to find and de-index each of the sites by hand would have been a hugely laborious job…

What This Means

As the dust settles there will of course be some very unhappy webmasters and bloggers without a home. In some cases it’s deserved, but in others it’s a genuine shame especially those people who received damaging links completely innocently. Sometimes it seems when Google acts out in such ways with so little warning, that they forget how many people are dependent on their service to make their livelihood.

The most important lesson to take from this other to be weary of the new privacy policy and to be very careful how you build your links is that it’s pure folly to be too reliant on Google for all your traffic. Make sure you have a clear picture of what your business would be and how it would carry on if Google were to de-index you tomorrow. Because it could happen.

This guest post was written by Jeet, of GetLinksPro.

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  1. Interesting. I hadn't connected the recent privacy policy changes with their algorithm change. I guess one lesson to take away from this is don't anger Google in any of their businesses or they will play dirty in their other businesses with you.
    My recent post How To Beat The Google Over-Optimization Penalty

    1. Google had a LOT of data (did you try Google activity report?) about their subscribers, they were dying to share the data within their services 🙂 I am sure they shared a lot of data between other services and search to find blog networks.

  2. quite an interesting point that this post brings up. I definitely think it's possible
    My recent post 404 Pages, The Leaky Sink That’s Losing You Traffic!

  3. It is bad business to depend on Google for your traffic. That is why I love social media!
    My recent post Google Adsense is Great For Your Blog

    1. I too have learnt that the hard way and I have begin to shift my focus to original content and community. Thanks
      My recent post Why Bloggers Need to Be in Good Health in Order to Make Money and 12 Tips for a Blogger to Stay Fit

  4. There are many businesses even today that are built on link services. As google gets better at finding these it seems that more and more people who rely on link building may be disappointed.

    Goog effectively has unlimited resources. What's interesting is that you don't see the link farm owners trying to fight, instead they take the money they made off people and walk away. And it appears that some of them are just building more networks.

    The people who gave them that money are the ones who are suffering.

    This cycle will probably continue until people realize that link building services are a danger to their business.
    My recent post Monetizing With Ecommerce

    1. @David: I partially agree with you. Many blog networks are dangerous, but 'link building' itself shouldn't be dangerous. If I can write a top class post that a super affiliate like Zac doesn't mind posting on his blog and it's also good enough to get you to comment on, a link from this post is a pure whitehat link and this kind of link building and blogger outreach should be part of any online marketer's strategy.

      1. Yes, but that is not actually link building. so that would mean that you totally 100% agree with me then. 🙂

        If you write a post for Zac and he posts it for you, that is not link building. That is a vote of confidence from Zac.

        Link building is something a bit different where you get links that have nothing to do with a real person giving you the nod approval or the same person giving you the nod of approval on 100s or 1,000s of splogs.

        That is the difference!
        My recent post Update On My AAPL Stock Trade

        1. Oh well, I still call it link building. With this update even these kind of genuine methods are threatened. Zac would agree with me that even great sites and blogs that only relied on guest posts, word of mouth and others 'naturally' linking to them have got hurt.

          I agree, splogs are different and I was surprised how Google let them exist in the first place.

  5. All game is depend on back links if we are getting quality back links then then we don't need to think too much about google updation.
    My recent post India Trips

  6. Interesting thinking, Though Google is the Giant search engine and people are now habitual to it… so it means if Google de-indexed your blog or site then you would hardly get any organic traffic.

    I think people should now give more preference to Social Media and build your reputation so that you continue to get good amount of traffic even after de-indexed by Google.
    My recent post e commerce Software and Applications in India

      1. Oh yeah!! I missed this post. 🙁

        I know online businesses depends hugely on Google for traffic and sales, means we're somehow addicted to Google and that's why Google got strong monopoly. I think we should find out new ways where we can get good amount of traffic excluding Google, So that Google penalty won't hurt more.
        My recent post ecommerce Website Design & Development Services

        1. @Aasma: Facebook and twitter have been great for some of my friends. But they don't work for all industries. I have seen a lot people switching to Bing and DuckDuckGo after Penguin update 😉

  7. It's definitely folly to be too reliant on Google for all your traffic, but nobody can deny this is where you can get the most targeted and free traffic on the web. I wouldn't be surprised if Google breached their privacy laws to improve their algorithms. I mean it's their information, why wouldn't they take advantage of it even if it's not very ethical.
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  8. It seems everyone is scared of Google. Why dont we hear stories about Yahoo or MSN. I know they dont bring so much traffic, but its a good idea to focus on the other two major players.. it sucks we have to work on thin ice,
    My recent post Tips before Carpooling

    1. @Edgar: This might be a REALLY good time for Bing to launch a campaign to get people away from Google search. I am not sure if MS is serious about Bing, if they are, they have to lure internet marketing and SEO community at this point.

  9. Great article Zac, thanks for sharing!
    My recent post Kudlow v. Dobbs: CNBC’s New Weapon to Try & Win the Ratings War

  10. Jeet – Great post! I never thought about making a business plan with out Google, however it sounds like that would be the smart thing to do. Your enging line:

    "Make sure you have a clear picture of what your business would be and how it would carry on if Google were to de-index you tomorrow."

    Really resonated with me. Thanks for sharing!

    My recent post Social Media Best Practices: Twitter Edition

    1. @Jenny: Thanks for the good words. Frankly, my own business largely depends on Google 😉 So I think about it more than many others out there.

  11. It is a very tricky and dangerous business when everything is depended on Google. Only solution to get out of this danger is to find other sources to get legitimate traffic.
    My recent post Interracial Relationship Dating Tips (What’s Your Take?)

    1. @Karlhain: I agree with you. Zac has written some really good posts about getting traffic from sources other than Google and he also has a good post on Google adsense alternatives. You might want to check those out too.

  12. Great post, just found it through MyBlogGuest. I guess I always assumed that Google would use all of the information it had available, but if they went out of their way to update their terms it could be a good indication of why the sudden shifts are happening. I'd also seen some of the blog networks and sort of assumed there's no way they would actually help people rank, but now I'm thinking I just gave Google too much credit all this time.
    My recent post Some Tips for Selecting the Right Web Host

    1. @John: I am very happy to see that MyBlogGuest community liked this post. I am sure Google has some genius working for them but a privacy policy change was required for them to share data between services.

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