A few months ago I was testing a number of more what I call “old-school” methods of link building. With more and more focus on social signals and the occasional paid link penalty that gets publicised I wanted to test a range of methods which worked well 12 months ago but may not now be a viable option.
One of these methods was to use a closed network, there are a few around but one I got recommended was called SEOLinkVine. I’m sure there’s a few of you what want to ask – what is a closed network? Essentially its the method whereby a group of websites, either owned or managed by a company can be used to push content out. These networks often vary in size and you don’t get visibility as to where the content can be published, until it goes live! Usually there’s a cost to get access to this network but then you can distribute quite large amounts of content and links relatively quickly.
So I signed up (£54.19 per month) to SEOLinkVine, their sales page is quite funny to read with “testimonials” saying things like:
“I received the top spot in Google for both of them after a few weeks!”
“We now enjoy a permanent #1 spot on Google!”
“we’ve seen our ranking increase on our top 10 keywords from pages 7-10 to pages 1-3 in just a few short weeks”
You get the idea.
Maybe a few years ago some of these testimonials were true but given the current climate with Google and it’s many Panda updates I was sceptical to say the least.
So once I’d signed up with my hard earned cash for the sake of a test I started to submit my articles. The CMS is very much like when you create a WordPress blog post, you enter in your article title, body text, links etc and then chose the category that is most relevant. The final part of the submission process is whereby you choose how many times you want your article published on the network, all you need to do is enter a number.
What seems to happen is that your content will get sent out to bloggers + websites and they then get to choose if they want to post your content, makes sense otherwise people could just blanket spam all kinds of rubbish.
I had a writer create 10 articles from scratch on a number of subjects and then submitted them to the network, I was concious that by publishing the same article on different blogs the majority of them would be discounted by Google anyway. Over 45 days I managed to get 49 articles published on various blogs, according to their internal “stats”.
Now the website that I tested it on was very new and had no links from anywhere else so I knew the test would show a true representation of the quality of links generated by seolinkvine. The initial results, I have to say were quite good, I managed to get to position 11 for a keyword with a UK exact match of 1000 in about 20 days, I started getting organic traffic from this ranking too.
Then, about 35 days into the test the site suddenly vanished from the results and I subsequently lost all my traffic from Google;
So, why the drop? Well the quality of the blogs my content was submitted to looked pretty questionable. The content on all of the blogs was 100% from the networks, little written from the bloggers themselves, therefore the topics were quite varied and often irrelevant. There was little web design involved on the sites too, in fact about 98% were bog standard templates that come with WordPress, there’s was only 1 site which actually looked like it was taken care of by a human being.
I’m not surprised Google dropped the rankings, the quality of the links are very low and with Google’s Panda updates in full swing I’m willing to bet a lot of the sites are now discounted in the algorithm anyway. Simply put, this test has proved in my opinion that SEOLinkVine is not a method I’d recommend using. The only way I can see closed SEO networks being any use these days are if the sites are high quality and have few members – so if anyone has access to any of these I’d be happy to try it out