We have seen in the last year or so the search engines tighten their belts on what link types are allowed and what type of content is permitted.
About a year ago, many articles were de-indexed from the web as they had no worth and little readability. This was a good thing. We have now seen Google apparently de-index most of the pages from private blog networks. On one level, this is a good thing. It has stopped an easy way to acquire links which were paid for. On the other hand, some of these blog networks had a long-term business plan to provide quality articles, which they thought would work. However, Google didn’t think so and have stated that this was done as these type of blog networks were manipulating the results.
I think we have to look at both sides of the picture. These private blog networks were in place to essentially manipulate the organic listings. As in the case of buildmyrank.com, you submitted 150 word article with a link. If it passed build my ranks quality criteria, it will be posted on one of the blogs in the network and you gain a link and a bit of passed down PR. So to build links on build my rank, you had to write daily content for each link or get someone else to do it for you. This seemed okay on the surface, but the resultant blogs had tons of 150 word articles on totally separate themes. This is where most of the problem lay. Non-themed blogs, full of unrelated content. Only there to gain link juice for its paid-up members. If these type of blogs were the main content of the web, we would only see short content, only there to get link juice.
However, if you look at any news website, it is full of unrelated themes, with varying lengths of articles. Because the blog networks content could be about anything and not about current news, it was also seen as negative. Although the article submitted were usually short, networks such as build my rank only allowed content which read well, had proper punctuation and grammar.
The other argument is that a lot of people built links with the best of the blog networks, as they thought they were legitimate links. Paid for, yes, but you still have to put in the work to write content and hopefully have it but live. Now all those links are gone and we have a knock-on effect. Businesses and SEO people have potentially lost work and rankings. Dropped placings for businesses means less sales. Should search have this much control?!? These networks were in it for the long term or the best of them were. They wouldn’t have gone down this business route otherwise.
Lastly, as it was recently pointed out, SEO in principle is manipulating the results. I don’t know one company who have built a website with any intention of promoting it online that have just built the site and left it there, hoping people will just come across it. If you have a wonderful product or service that everyone is talking about, then you may organically promote yourself from people naturally linking to you. However, most businesses employ an SEO person or agency to promote their website online. In some way or other, this is manipulating the results. Just as paying more than the next person per click, manipulates paid search engine advertising.
If this de-indexing of the blog networks is to make sure the lengthier, more in depth, theme related content reaches the top of search then fine, but the mass de-indexing does seem a bit Big Brother like and a making example of.
But this is really all academic at this stage. The search engines rule the roost and we play by the rules. If you are promoting yourself online, then the same basic principles apply as they always have. Get quality content out there and lots of it. This will take you time and money, but over time it will work. As social signals are playing a bigger part these days, you can also get busy in this area. But obviously, this will depend on your business type.
A webpage is of worth when it is seen as quality content that has some age and has been referenced or cited many times, i.e. linked to. Cover these areas over time and you should do well.