There’s been a lot of talk recently about the Google Webspam team monitoring your emails and the lengths Google will go to hunt blackhat SEOs following posts by God of SEO and Agent Blackhat. The findings and correlations that they expose are problematic.
While I do agree that their findings and correlations are problematic, I strongly believe that for most SEOs reducing the amount of information you give to Google will not really slow that Webspam team too much. Sure, you can avoid Chrome, use foreign IPs to connect all your fake Google+ accounts and stop using GMail. I just don’t think it matters all that much.
Without going into too much paranoia about dealing with multiple IP addresses & tracking cookies, here are just a few issues I have with those asking for an exodus from Google. I’d love to hear how wrong I am, because I seriously lack knowledge about online privacy and security issues.
Sending Emails to Gmail Accounts
If you stop using Gmail to prevent the Google webspam team from reading your emails, you have to realize that you should also avoid sending and receiving any incriminating emails from people using Gmail. For link builders, this seems like a possibly impossible requirement just to avoid being caught by Google. What would stop Google from identifying one link seller using Gmail and destroying all his clients efforts, while keeping his site alive as a honeypot?
While I understand the paranoia, I just don’t think it makes sense. Someone really needs to do a case study comparing response rates using identical emails from different providers.
The easiest way for the webspam team is to identify individual link builders is check for similar backlink profiles between websites. Depending on the level of automated link building tactics used and the variety of niches of your sites, it may be quite easy to identify a loose network of sites that should get penalized by looking at similarities.
This doesn’t really have anything to do with the issues raised about the disavow tool. Most good link builders and link brokers know how to make their individual links look natural by placing them on contextually relevant domains and surrounding them with semantically relevant content. The problem happens when a link builder becomes lazy and decides to use the same domains over and over again for the same client.
Yet, I’m not sure how many SEOs spend the time to ensure that they are not building quasi identical back link portfolios for their sites. Someone should make a small tool for this in the future, because I haven’t found any good ones.
Using Multiple Personas & Retiring Them Early Can Help Mitigate The Risk
Let’s say one of you link build for a variety of travel clients and you’re abusing guest posts like an idiot, do yourself a favor and create multiple personas. If you never use the same persona for different client, chances are you might only get one of your clients penalized if Google decides they don’t like your persona’s guest posts. If you’re smarter, you’ll also vary personas depending on the quality and risk of the blog ensuring that better links don’t get caught by a simple “John Doe ‘guest post'” Google search.
In any case, the smartest thing to do is to never abuse a domain for links and never do shady guest posts. Being smart and listening to Google is always the safest route, even if it usually doesn’t get you actual results in the short term. It’s really the only way to save yourself from dealing with the Google webspam team.