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Google Takes Down Russian SAPE Links Network

In one of the most hotly debated piece of news on Google-related SEO channels, rumor has it that the search engine giant has taken action against websites caught using a certain link network. The SAPE links network is allegedly one of Google’s target of choice, at least of late. The actual element of surprise here is not that Google should choose to penalize sites that have been building their back link profile via such a network. In truth, the question is why websites continue to rely on such methods in 2013, when, ever since the last update in February 2012, it was more than obvious to anyone that Google would follow their algorithm improvements with a very tangible crackdown. Let us, however, back track in the SAPE case, for the sake of accuracy and of providing as clear a picture as possible of these recent events.

Unconfirmed reports

One of the first reports issued on the SAPE links meltdown came from SEO Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, on March 7. Schwartz reported that several websites that had used an unidentified link network had all been penalized over the course of the preceding twenty-four hours. While black hat forum users were convinced the network in question was SAPE, others suspected a new, albeit more subtle algorithm update to be behind the search ranking demotion wave. However, there is one tweet posted by Google’s anti-spam team leader, Matt Cutts, which also appears to support the SAPE story. In mid-February, Cutts reported that he had to go “look at some really naughty Russian link selling software.” SAPE links is, of course, based in Russia.

Is it all over again?

It was around this time last year that Google took out a similar network, which was in the business of artificially pumping up link profiles. This was happening on March 19, 2012, with official confirmations coming in precisely one week later. At the time, the website in question acknowledged the fact that Google had de-indexed most of its network. Their reaction was surprising to many: they issued monetary refunds to their existing clients and announced they would be shutting down the network effective immediately. The actual surprise stemmed from their blog post at the time, in which they stated that they assumed Google would be coming after them. However, they had decided to keep up their activity even in spite of this evidence, feeling that their services were above those provided by similar networks, which could have earned them Google’s leniency.

Just say ‘no!’ to paid links

The above seems to be the only logical conclusion in 2013. It is absolutely clear by now, to anyone who has even the slightest interest in SEO-related matters, that Google will not take lightly to such sites and blogs. And investing in a strategy like this, only to risk having all your efforts, energy, and money squandered within instants seems near-sighted, ineffective, and superficial. Investing in quality content and guest posting, on the other hand, seems far more sensible – although, it’s true, it’s the kind of tactic you can’t expect to implement with a single click.

1 Comment
  1. Wow, seriously – I can’t believe people are still paying for links in 2013, what with Google and Bing being so vocal about the importance of content and about how paid links are a blatantly ‘black hat’ thing to do. Serves the network right, really, but I do wonder what happened with their so-called clients. Honestly, I would find it only fair if they got penalized, too…

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