Google Whips 1000s of Blogs for “My 7 Links Challenge” Link Scam

Link scam and Google Google recently announced about  its search engine algorithm change to fight against Blog/Link Networks which are involved in un-natural cross-linking and violating its webmaster guidelines.

A link network scam called “ My 7 Links Challenge ” started by a travel company TripBase.com, which took the entire blogosphere (1000s of blogs) in to a spin by involving them for unethical link exchange between bloggers around the world.

Now 1000s of blogs and websites including TripBase are under the search engine giant’s scanner for involvement in one of the biggest link scam by bloggers till date. Surprisingly, not only newbie bloggers but also many famous and highly ranked blogs are involved in this scam.

Why bloggers exchange links: To promote their blogs in Search Engines, by gaining link juice.

Why “ My 7 Links Challenge ” is a SCAM?

If a link network or club exists for the purpose of creating cross-link between themselves (blogs) and other websites, then it violates Google’s webmaster guidelines. Because, their main motive is to promote their blogs in the search engine ranking by gaining huge number of links from fellow bloggers, without having quality posts/articles. Which Google never likes.

Why a travel company like TripBase.com (Flights, Hotels, Cars and Vacations service provider) is interested to promote bloggers, completely deviating from its main business? It’s simple – to gain more links from innocent bloggers to promote its site in the search engine ranking.

Link Scam of 2012: TripBase.com started a scheme, where bloggers publish 7 posts as 7 links on their blogs, and nominates another 5 bloggers to join the contest by giving 5 links to them. Then the nominated 5 bloggers carry forward the process and choose another 5 bloggers to join the contest by providing links to them. Its like an MLL ScamMulti Level Link Scam.

In the process, not only the participating bloggers but also the organizer (here TripBase) gained huge number of links, to push up their rankings in the search engines.

Why Google de-index or ban these sites?

Google’s search engine algorithm change for this time is not an usual one. It had employed its top SE specialist engineers for months together to develop this fraudulent link detecting mechanism. Which is implemented since mid April 2012 and will be continued now on.

Google has recently eliminated a link network called BuildMyRank.com for violating its webmaster guidelines. BuildMyRank management immediately shutdown its service and provided refunds to their customers, after Google de-indexed a majority of their network as Mar 19, 2012.

Main reason: Artificial search engine promotion by gaining huge number of links unethically/violating Google’s webmaster guidelines. There by pushing blogs with quality content (less links and not involved in link scam) down the search engine rankings.

Google is sending warning messages to webmasters

Recently lot of webmasters are getting warning messages from Google for violating the guidelines for links, and the vast majority are bloggers engaged with unethical link distribution practice to promote their blogs in search engine rankings.

Fate of the bloggers involved in “ My 7 Links Challenge ”

Google presently evaluating the depth and seriousness of the link network manually, after getting several complaints. Involved blogs might be penalized, and downgraded in rankings of their blog posts. Few blogs might be completely de-indexed for their prior involvement in other unethical linking practice.

Are you an innocent blogger/webmaster participated in -  My 7 Links Challenge? Bloggers, whether involved or not are most welcome for constructive comments.

Comments

  1. says

    Hello Nandita,

    You have made some huge assumptions regarding those who participated in the 7 links challenge. While I did not, I believe that most who did saw it as an interesting way to learn about some new sites.

    People who create automated junk traffic use blackhat methods to generate 1000s of links using trackback spamming plugins and other unethical tactics.

    Bloggers who manually write a post and spend much time deciding which of their favorite seven links to share are NOT generally bloggers who have lousy blogs and spammy content.

    How can you say this: “without having quality posts/articles” – did you visit any of the posts linked?

    We have got to stop automatically believing everything some powerful entity spins out in the media as gospel and use our powers of discernment.

    There was nothing black hat or unethical about those bloggers wanting to share their favorite sites. Did they get links? YES. Was that the PRIMARY REASON for participating? NO!

    It is about time we stop giving Google the power to decide what is ethical and what is not because when it comes to evil they take the cake! If you don’t believe me, check out all the research in the post that I linked to this comment.

    Bloggers need to get serious about supporting each other and small business and stopping efforts to take away our ability to post on the Internet – or no will be able to even FIND your blog IF it is even available online!

    • says

      Hi, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      1# All the bloggers participated in the – My 7 Links Challenge link scam are innocent and their motive was good (please thoroughly read my article), but unknowing they were violating Google’s webmaster guidelines about links, and the ringmaster TripBase.com’s motive was completely 180 degree opposite with ill motive to fool Google and using these bloggers as prop :: That’s why it’s a scam.

      2# Why make a hole, when you are sailing on the same boat? Who told you, we are Google’s customers?

      Always remember – Google is the Mega Mall where you/your products are being sold to Google’s customers/web-surfers.

      If you don’t want to sell yourself via Google, simply de-index your products/site completely by adding Disallow directive in robots.txt file (its very simple and supported by Google only) and stop cribbing. There are plenty of low quality Malls/Search Engines are there like Yahoo!, Bing etc.

      Google has all the rights to kick anybody from its SE, because it is his house, and you must be agree that – Everybody is king in their own house. Right !

      Google bless you. Thanks.

      • says

        What we must all clearly understand is that Google and their complicit buddies who control the major media have used unethical means to monopolize the lion’s share of both paid and organic search.

        Unless we consciously and regularly encourage all Internet users to seek out alternatives to Google, we hand them the power to decide what businesses live and which are killed. Like all con artists, first they handed businesses an easy way to make money and then – after they had their trust and their business – they gradually started stealing from them.

        If you want to believe that this is ok that is up to you. But it is truly evil and not only hurts small businesses – it reduces OUR freedom of choice. See the post I’ve linked to this comment and pay special attention to the red text that explains the screen captures.

        It is not ONLY our freedom of choice that Google seeks to eliminate. Unless we get off this train bound for nowhere, their actions will eliminate all our freedoms – what little we still have today.

        As bloggers we have a responsibility to our readers to thoroughly understand what we are writing about and the consequences of what we recommend to them. We will eventually have the benefit of hindsight and have to live with what we have done.

  2. says

    If you really read the Google guidelines they advocate never doing ANYTHING to acquire any links to make your site visible. If no one ever sees it how could anyone possibly ever find it to link to it?

    We have to stop being so naive and believing all the spin about what Google’s intentions are. Instead, listen to what Google SAYS and what they DO. Their CEO said,

    ” The internet is fast becoming a “cesspool” where false information thrives, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday. Speaking with an audience of magazine executives visiting the Google campus here as part of their annual industry conference, he said their brands were increasingly important signals that content can be trusted.

    “Brands are the solution, not the problem,” Mr. Schmidt said. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”

    “Brand affinity is clearly hard wired,” he said. “It is so fundamental to human existence that it’s not going away. It must have a genetic component.”

    When he says BRANDS he does NOT mean YOUR brand – he means Google’s Big Brand buddies. Every update since that comment was made (just search on any part of it to find the SEOBook post where Aaron Wall quoted him) – Google has consistently slapped small businesses, any site that competes with anything Google does, and bloggers who are trying to make money.

    Get a clue and realize that, as Adam Toporek so wisely wrote,

    “Google is not your friend
    In fact, you are not even Google’s customer.
    You are the PRODUCT Google sells to its customers.”

  3. says

    I participated but I wasn’t in to it for links. I thought it was a great idea to let me glance back a few of my old posts and share them with other fellow bloggers as well as getting to know some interesting blogs. I didn’t know bloggers who participated would be penalized. So what do you suggest Nandita? Should I remove the post? Or it’s too late to do anything now?

    • says

      Hi Peter,

      It’s never late. Not knowing exact rules and consequences are not a reason to be excused by any authority (Google).

      You have to do 2 things to be on safe side:

      1# Remove any outbound links to bloggers if you have given, while participating during – My 7 Links Challenge. Or, you can remove the post also if you wish (optional).

      2# You should contact the fellow bloggers to remove any inbound links received as a nomination while participating in – My 7 Links Challenge.

      You are never late. If you are a serious blogger simply follow the above 2 steps to be on safe side.

      Happy blogging :)

      • says

        What good will removing the article do? It has been live for months, and will be well embedded in Google’s index, I am sure ‘offending’ sites will now be well known to Google.

        Question from me: do you hold any personal grudge against the starter of the challenge, or anyone who has participated/benefited from it? Why slag of such a good blogging idea, with no evidence from Google?

        Not meaning to be rude, just want to understand your point of view.

        • says

          Bloggers have to quit kissing up to any fascist entity that believes they own us and everything we do. If Google slaps us so be it. Someone must stand up to them while we still have enough freedom to do so or the Internet as we know it will cease to exist and even the illusion of freedom most people currently believe they have will be gone.

          Nandita, are you fully aware of what Google is doing? I hope you will read a different post I’ve attached to this comment that explains the implications of allowing them to control what we see and don’t see.

          I am sharing this post for the third or fourth time now – and then I will return to see your new comments and share this post again.

        • says

          @ Christopher

          # I neither have any personal grudge against the starter nor the participants. In the past also, so many company successfully run link networks for own benefit, making innocent participants as props. And, many a times successfully penalized by Google also.

          ## You must have known – How to fix a Google Penalty? No matter, how deeply embedded your unethical links or pages in Google, simply removing the posts or links will do great. Refer this link to brush-up your knowledge http://moneyctl.com/seo/search-engine-penalties-how-to-detect-and-fix-it/

          Thank you :)

    • says

      Thank you for commenting in this post, Peter. That is why I knew most bloggers did NOT do it for links – because that never even dawned on me when I read about it and I regularly teach bloggers how to use anchor text correctly.

  4. says

    these days its very difficult to identify what are correct and what are wrong SEO practices…if one follows google 100% there is hardly any way to create backlinks and get on top of search engines…the main issue is google penalization (in case of sites like BMR what they should have done is only deindex the networks rather than penalizing the websites which were using them). As mentioned by Peter in the above comment, I also participated and thought it was a great idea before the news from google came in..

    • says

      Dear Abhishek, you will be happy to know that – Without having quality backlinks or high Google PR, you can rank high on 1st page of SERPs. If not for highly competitive keywords, but for long tail keywords it is sure.

      While ranking a web page Google considers ‘ N ‘ number of factors and signals, not only backlinks from high Google PR sites.

      Thanks and happy blogging :)

      • says

        Yes Nandita, Google considers many factors for page ranking.
        Some are : Content,Theme structure,xml file,back links etc…
        Even without a single backlink,some websites will get top search rank with their quality content.

  5. says

    Hi Nandita, can I just ask where your evidence for this is. I am not challenging your article, I just want to know what your source is? Is it the Google Blog? Can you let me know a URL.

    Thanks for the update.
    Christopher – Technology Bloggers Admin Team

  6. says

    On a blog we write for there are two such articles. They have been there for a few months now, and nothing bad has happened.

    How did you hear about this, or have you made it up? That’s all I was asking.

    • UKB says

      Hi Chris,

      7 Links Challenge, link network is quite old. All the participating bloggers still holding their posts/pages/links since long time.

      But, the incident/scam was detected by Google recently, after receiving few complaints from webmasters.

      If you have some connection with Google spam detection team, you may very well ask them for clarification.

      Best of luck.

  7. Grant says

    It is always a good idea to check out a website before you visit it for the first time. Many tools you can use. Scamadviser is possibly the best and most up-to-date. Just enter the website URL and see what the result is: http://www.scamadviser.com/check-website/

    By checking the site you will get a clear idea of the site, ownership, registration, online trust etc. Scamadviser is one of the most trusted tools in the internet world for checking the scam or legitimacy of the website. Scamadviser gives you interesting and informative facts on the website you are searching for. Probably you will have almost all information to decide for yourself, whether a site is scam or not. You may share this tool, if you find it worth to use.

  8. says

    I wasn’t even aware of this whole link spamming going on, until some interesting fella left this exact link on my blog. (That is what I call irony.)

    Fortunately it was a worthwhile article, and not someone asking me to increase various parts of my anatomy.

    This article serves both as a warning and a reminder that you should research, and double check whatever lands up on your blog. I keep a tight reign on mine, and I think it’s paid off in the long run.

    Keep scribbling :)

  9. katie parnell says

    Nandita,

    I would also be interested to know what evidence you have for the claim that google has labelled the 7 links challenge as a scam? Do you have a url or an email that you can copy in here?

    I know many different blogs that participated in the challenge and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

    If you take a look at the 7 links rules page there is mention of linking to posts within your own blog but nothing about linking out to other bloggers.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Katie.

  10. says

    I ran across this article while I was doing a search about cross blogging… I had no idea of the 7 Challange nor that it was a scam and frowned upon by Google. What got me even looking was a company contacted me about hiring them at 3,000.00 a month to hire 50 bloggers to promote my site and products… I knew that was a bad idea but thought the general marketing technique intriguing… back to the drawing board for me. Thank you for the info everyone!

  11. says

    This scares me. I’ve participated in links exchanges like this in the past, though not the actual 7 Links Challenge but the mode of linking is still the same. I don’t know if this was the cause why my blog was brought down back to PR1 from having PR2. My blogging inactivity for almost a year might be the great factor for the pagerank loss.

  12. says

    Link Exchange is very dangerous now, whenever you got any proposal in this regards, just check and review about the sender and validate first.

    You can get spam mail generated by the software.

    I just wanted to know about one thing that, if we get link exchange proposal from any good page rank company, should we reply and take action on that?

    Thanks

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