Paid Subscription SEO Schemes Can Hurt Your Google Rankings
Before you read further in this article, you should make sure you understand the difference between page rank (a search-term-independent number between 1 & 10, higher is better) and Google ranking (a search-term-dependent number between 1 and infinity, lower is better).
If you are clear on that, then let's get on with our SEO saga...
I think it was about a year ago when I first received an e-mail from an internet marketer promoting a "3-way-link" Google-rank-boosting scheme.
The premise was interesting.
For a monthly fee of about $50, the service added some pages of outgoing links to each member website.
The outgoing links pointed at other member websites.
The premise was that no two websites would point at each other (because it is assumed that Google discounts reciprocal links to a value of zero in it's ranking algorithm), so all the incoming links that each member website would get from other member websites would result in the Google rankings of all the websites going up.
You might think "there's something wrong with this picture".
So did I, but then I noticed that one of my competitors (who sells a worthless e-book that helps no one) had now out-ranked me on Google, and all the links I could find pointing to his website seemed to come from a paid scheme like the 3-way-link scheme I read about.
So I decided to sign up for the $50 per month subscription SEO program.
When I signed up, for the search term I decided to experiment with, I was ranked about 100th on Google (meaning that I would come up at the end of the 10th page of Google search results for my chosen keyword).
The SEO service added links slowly over a period of a month or so, so it took some time to measure the results.
I tracked my Google rankings over a period of a month and found to my pleasant surprise that I climbed from position 100 to position 17.
I stayed at about position 17 on Google for the next month or so.
I also tracked the page rank of the pages of the other SEO service member websites that had links pointing at me.
Most of the pages had a page rank of 0.
The newer ones tended to have a page rank of "unranked".
About 3 months into my $50 per month subscription, my Google ranking for the search term I was attempting to optimize dropped in just a few days from 17 to about 300 (way below where I had been before I started paying for the subscription SEO service).
I checked the page ranks of the web pages of other members which had links pointing to my website, and I found that all those page ranks had gone "backward" from 0 to "unranked".
Google had figured out how to detect link pages generated by the subscription SEO service, and they were punishing the members of the service by giving them crappy Google ranking for their coveted search terms.
I immediately unsubscribed myself from the subscription SEO service, and within a week or so I was thankful to see my Google rankings come back up to what they had originally been for the search terms I cared about.
Since that time I have engaged only in non-paid SEO practices such as article marketing, and I have obtained much better results than I ever got through the paid subscription SEO scheme.
Once Google figured out how to automatically detect the web pages generated by the subscription SEO service, the paid subscription service actually became a detriment to all its customers' Google rankings.
You might expect an "ethical" service to stop charging its customers at that point and move on.
Did the subscription SEO service do that? Nope, they kept right on charging all their customers $50 per month.