Google Penalizes Another Link Network: SAPE Links

Mar 7, 2013 • 8:33 am | comments (80) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Sape Links & GoogleThe rumors floating around the SEO industry right now is that Google has crushed yet another link network. SAPE links, a link network I honestly never heard of, was the target this time. Any of those using SAPE links were supposedly penalized and downgraded in their rankings over the past 24 hours or so.

We have dozens of threads about downgrades of Google rankings but the black hat SEO forums all seem to point at SAPE Links as the cause.

Black Hat World and Black Hat Group both seem convinced the reason for the downgrade in rankings in Google yesterday was due to having links from SAPE links.

However, others are not sure if it is specific to SAPE or some other link network.

There is clearly something going on, it doesn't seem to be an algorithmic update but it does seem to be a targeted penalty attacking specific link networks and the sites/webmasters that use them.

Here is a list of threads that are complaining about ranking declines at Google Webmaster Help.

A tweet from about a month ago from Google's Matt Cutts kind of supports this. SAPE Links is a Russian link network:

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help, Black Hat World, Black Hat Group and WebmasterWorld.

Previous story: Google: Use pushState Instead Of Hashbang (#!) For AJAX Navigation


Tony Goose

03/07/2013 02:13 pm

Nice Image - this is gonna be news of the day. Would be nice to follow this up with something more solid as the buzz spreads. Thanks for sharing.

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 02:14 pm

I have a question out to Google on this. Waiting to hear back.

Mark Ginsberg

03/07/2013 02:17 pm

Matt Cutts tweeted this about a month ago - Okay, gotta look at some really naughty Russian link selling software now ( - so it makes sense that this Russian link network was eventually hit

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 02:21 pm

Forgot about that, nice find. Added!


03/07/2013 02:44 pm

Now that would be the right thing to make links? As combat SAPE links?


03/07/2013 02:55 pm

I found much info on sape links in English here: No news on the topic there yet...


03/07/2013 03:07 pm

Who cares..... Linkvana, BMR now whatever this one is. If people are still using these networks, complete stupidity. Barry can you please just ask them when the next Penguin refresh is going to be so we can see if we recover or need to go find a full time job? This is crazy, cleaned profile, removed manual penalty, still nowhere in SERP's..... thanks Google!


03/07/2013 03:19 pm

Good. Another one is down. Keep them coming.


03/07/2013 03:39 pm

Actually it's link you posted is just one of many resellers of Sape links.

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 03:40 pm



03/07/2013 04:20 pm

Vern, Vern, when ya gonna learn?


03/07/2013 04:44 pm - here is another opinion on the topic that just came minutes ago from one of the experienced Sape optimizers in Russia.

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 04:56 pm

I am extremely confident SAPE is not safe but hey, I am just reporting what I see here. My opinion doesn't matter. IMO, no link network is 100% anyway.


03/07/2013 05:00 pm

I guess you're right, Barry. But still - billions have been invested in Sape, currently 517 058 421 pages are included in this network. I think it sounds quite impressive. Do you know that Sape have their own tool (CS Sape Master) and a plugin for Mozilla that allows SEOs to filter the backlinks they buy based on over 50 different criteria?

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 05:02 pm

I do not know the % of SAPE link buyers impacted but I am pretty sure SAPE was targeted from what I am seeing out there.


03/07/2013 05:08 pm

Seeing out where? On these blackhat forums?! Please, I have been reading the information posted there and it's phoney to say the least. These people don't even speak Russian, some of them don't even know the URL address of Sape. It's full of speculators there that don't know how to register in Sape yet... I manage multiple projects in Sape with over 200 different kwds and no change in any of them for now... just some improvements :) I also think sth is happening today, but it's not Sape related.

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 05:10 pm

I cannot reveal all my sources, I am sorry.


03/07/2013 05:12 pm

Sure, I understand! No hard feelings. Just throw some light on what the post effect of this "sape related update" is? Drop in rankings? Like during the Penguin update? Lost positions or total deindexation?


03/07/2013 05:23 pm

Barry, when you coming over to the UK for a pint?

Adam Boulton

03/07/2013 05:24 pm

Great, now we know what kind of links to send to competitors. Thanks Google. Just kidding =)

Barry Schwartz

03/07/2013 05:31 pm

No clue. When I do, I am sure I will mention it here.

Stanislav Stavsky

03/07/2013 05:41 pm

99% of commercial projects in Russia are buying sape links. There is no chance to penalize or ban all sape buyers' sites. The SERPS would become empty in this case Sape is built in ecosystem of Russian SEO Internet marketing either white or black

Adam Boulton

03/07/2013 06:25 pm

And this is why I advise people to just start fresh when they get hit by a penguin update (re-using content on different domain). Too many un-knowns.

Kevin Gerding

03/07/2013 08:05 pm

Hopefully Google starts sending out the unnatural link warnings. Once the moaning and groaning from those start, it will help confirm SAPE has been targeted in a public way.


03/07/2013 09:59 pm

This is some hideous disinformation. 99% of SAPE sites unaffected. I thought more of this website. Lots of sites that have never touched SAPE links have bombed though.

Dario Petkovic

03/07/2013 10:49 pm

Google wins - I only do SEO customer asks, otherwise paid advertising.


03/07/2013 11:10 pm

Ok, even if Google hits Sape, what about other similar networks? There are many of them, so of them are listed by this guy


03/08/2013 06:00 am

Looks like SER is another podium for the google PR team (unless this was simply for linkbait). Sape is alive and kicking, no problems here.


03/08/2013 06:29 am

My money is on Barry and his sources as he's been spot-on quite a few times when it comes to G. It still never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many networks get taken down people still buy into the promises that they are "100% safe" and some think signing an NDA will guard afford them some protection. Then when they do get hit, and they will eventually get hit, they cry "FOUL" and blame G.


03/08/2013 07:44 am

And based on how Google has acted in the past they won't care that 99% use this spam network. They will still penalize the lot of you!

Muhammad Adil

03/08/2013 09:21 am

Good job Matts. Keep removing all spammy things from search, so we can get some space to rank better on Google :D Lol

Govind Singh

03/08/2013 09:34 am

one more attack from google.......plzz save me from google

Liam Fisher

03/08/2013 09:37 am

Am I the only one wondering why the 'Google' on Mario's hammer is backwards, rather than upside down?


03/08/2013 09:47 am

It's funny to hear that Sape is 100% safe. Simple adding ? parameter to any URL with a Sape code will show whether it has it or not. There are US niches where 9 of top 10 websites use Sape for their SEO. It's strange that Google allows that as 99% of their backlinks are irrelevant, hidden by CSS, from footers and with bad neighbor links to casino and pharm.

Stanislav Stavsky

03/08/2013 10:09 am

Google has ~30% of search market in Russia, and can not afford to drop a lot of quality sites out of SERPs. Yandex's algo is much more sophisticated in case of paid links - they try to fix ecosystem making paid links market less and less profitable, without loss of relevance in it's SERPs. And for the past two-three years, Yandex has achieved great results in this area.

Inessa Hyder

03/08/2013 10:12 am

Actually we don't care so much about Google, for russians Yandex is the king. If Google wants to kill his russian branch - no problem, nobody cares


03/08/2013 11:04 am

Then you have nothing to worry about.. Unless Yandex goes down the same route!


03/08/2013 11:47 am

Then why is your care factor above zero? It is like me saying I no longer rank on Bing but I still rank in Google! Why are you even in this conversation?

Inessa Hyder

03/08/2013 11:54 am

Just to show you that Google is not a king everywhere as you used to think.

Stanislav Stavsky

03/08/2013 12:02 pm

As for me, I'm here, in this topic, because I love Google and widely use it (as well as Yandex). And I don't want to see irrelevant SERPs one day.

Raido Tamar

03/08/2013 01:13 pm

A lot of Eastern Europe countries black hat SEO's use and also some Scandinavian ones. So it's very known network here (I live in Estonia). And it would be quite big step against Eastern Europe black hat SEO. So I hope this news is true. Unfortunately there is quite many Russian alternatives for As I know its the biggest but there is many who would replace it quite quickly.


03/08/2013 01:36 pm

We know, that in Russia Putin is the King ) But is this topic about kings in Russia or about worldwide spammers ?


03/08/2013 01:43 pm

So if the algo is more sophisticated than Google's, who is Sape trying to target with these links? If Google only has ~30% market share, why would Sape waste their time on Google? With a ~30% market share, I would just laugh in Google's face when they would tell me that I have been penalized by them.


03/08/2013 01:51 pm

Agree. It's just the matter of time when more worldwide spammers will adopt same spam methods. Means Google has no other way, than to decrease the weight of the links in the algo.

Inessa Hyder

03/08/2013 04:19 pm

Well, actually the topic is about impact of Google on russian seo in case you don't notice that

Inessa Hyder

03/08/2013 04:21 pm

Actually SAPE works well for Yandex, Google is just a little plus not more, that's why nobody will bother to take off their links


03/08/2013 05:17 pm

Probably you would like it to be, but it's not. "Russian link selling software" mentioned by M.Cutts, affects worldwide rankings, not just russian. Sure Google will fight it since it doesn't allow Google algo to function properly. This has nothing to do with the who-is-the-king conversation, started by you.


03/08/2013 05:19 pm

SAPE isn't a blog network. the update wasn't targeting sape. I know for a fact that on blackhatworld over 800 of the users who use sape have not been effected and only a couple have!! more people who don't use SAPE have been effected. yandex has been trying for over 6 years to combat sape and their algorithms are a lot better than google but even they still haven't cracked SAPE. google has known about sape for a long time but hasn't been able to do anything about it. what makes it different now? google can't suddenly click there fingers and SAPE will be gone, it will take at least a few months before anything is done to combat sape links. to the person who wrote this article I would like to say please get your facts right, all the blackhat forums who are discussing it have already come to the conclusion that the update hasn't effected SAPE links. its okay to post about it but tell people its your opinion. don't just lie and say its true when it isn't at all. also the other sources you "cannot disclose" are probably just your own imagination and "gut feeling".

Gregory Smith

03/08/2013 08:16 pm

Read This Post I Put Together, Around a Month Ago:


03/08/2013 08:37 pm

"This is proof that spammers will never stop" said Gregory Smith and provided link to the spammers network with his referral ID. Speechless.

Gregory Smith

03/08/2013 09:02 pm

Excuse me? I released this news approx one month ago, and that was my intention for posting. Basically to prove that I released this INFORMATION to the SEO community First! What was you talking about a referral i.d?


03/08/2013 09:26 pm

It's quite interesting to see SERPs here in Ukraine without Sape-using sites. In competitive verticals there would be a complete mess. Even cutting off all Sape links without any ither actions woult cause a lot of move in SERPs. Anyway, it's out of Google rules to buy links and IMO it would be very interesting to see changes like this


03/08/2013 09:51 pm

The link to the SAPE in your article contains referral ID.


03/09/2013 04:14 am

Googler is mad that Yandex is kicking Google's ass in Russia


03/09/2013 12:16 pm

An influx of Russian webmasters in Google's Crawling, Indexing, Ranking Help forum this morning.


03/10/2013 12:32 am

I think this whole Sape thing with Google is just propaganda then. This might be a publicity stunt to make themselves seem like they matter in Russia. As for Yandex, I've been reading up on them and it seems like Panda and Penguin is a copy of Matrixnet. I also think you are right about Sape being used for Yandex because this article from back in 2011 explains it: Goes to show that Google is just trying to make themselves seem important over there. BS.

Gregory Lancaster

03/10/2013 01:58 am

My website lost all rankings, and I dont use any link network. Very depressing to see my hard work get crapped on without cause or explanation.

Gregory Lancaster

03/10/2013 03:00 am

That is my situation. Never used a linking network, and I lost all my traffic on March 6th. No idea why, just punished for nothing. Most of page one are subdomains on and


03/10/2013 01:31 pm

You were not punished. Visitors are just not interested in what you offer them on your pages. Why show these pages high in rankings ?


03/10/2013 01:40 pm

Have to remind you, that Google never said anything about SAPE. It were reporters, like Barry, who connected changes in SERP with the one month old tweet from Matt Cutts.


03/10/2013 11:20 pm

Yeah, we'll see in time... I said that because in the comments Barry said he's got "sources" which led me to believe that it's someone from Google because what other sources would be credible enough to answer such a question? So in time we will see if it's propaganda by the news sites or by Google.


03/11/2013 08:56 am

I din know what SAPE link is..I have never heard of it frankly.

Andrey mocart

03/11/2013 11:58 am

It is very bad that Google has decided to tighten the nuts, because the site was originally made ​​for the generation of income. Due to this fact, a cycle of money, the more the greater the investment income. All the better for Adsense. If Google and so will continue to press all of the sites indiscriminately, then I think he will soon feel it in the statement that he will. Indeed, part of the webmasters earn Adsense. And increasing PR is a strong argument in terms of revenue. There will be no Google PR is no longer needed. And so what is the point I advanced at Google, if I do not have from this benefit. I'm just going to block access to Google's bots to my site. For example, in a file Robots put a complete ban on access to the site bots. again with a wave of doorways, which do not need PR and whose purpose izvchech profit in the short term due to spam.


03/11/2013 03:01 pm

Вот это бля новости :)


03/12/2013 07:12 am

So, they actually laughed about it =)

NetDost Social Network

03/13/2013 12:45 pm

why you people think that only russian sites are using sape.


03/14/2013 02:09 am

While I never use SAPE, I'm a member of a few blackhat forums including blackhatworld because they also talk about white hat or technical stuff like schema and thus am happy to contribute to those kinds of discussions. I concur with anon that most members did see an algorithm change howeve many ranks actually improved in So I would have to deduce that SAPE actually isn't involved in this especially if there is no change or an improvement for the most part. Kind of sad that this kind of inconclusive speculation is on here though.

Abdul Wahab

03/14/2013 05:04 am

Seriously there will be a huge space of more business for white hat SEOs if Google takes doen Sape and other link networks like Sape.....

Robert Wiley Hughey

03/15/2013 11:32 pm

I'm afraid that some of you are missing the point. This past season, SAPE has been pushing hard, spending a lot of money in other words, to try and acquire American and British clients. This marks a huge loss for them, one which I can't believe they didn't foresee... Interesting info: up until the last I saw it two days ago, SAPE was still pushing hard to accept new customers on several of the forums, explaining that whoever said it was their network was mistaken, that it was just a rumor. I wonder what happens to those people who were pulled in by super-amazing-fake offers here as SAPE might say "see ya around" to American clients... -Robert Hughey

Fede Einhorn

03/19/2013 07:07 am

Google cannot take it down. Just can't. I am still seeing several sites ranking #1 using purely SAPE links (I am guessing that's what it is after checking, for ie:


03/28/2013 10:39 am

yeah true Google can no afford it at all to drop or throw away so many sites

Splendid House

04/27/2013 02:58 pm

I have read the discussion at google forum. I've check google to for the dropping specific keyword and it's found it around page 10-11. So, what I am going to asking is whether this could be solved by using backlink removal in webmaster?

05/06/2013 05:14 pm

is little off topic sry but i want to say alexa is not linked in my site from backlinks any solussion?


05/12/2013 10:23 pm

google is not king, it internet marketing group money cow of internet

Working Nomad

05/28/2013 10:28 pm



06/08/2013 04:31 pm

Sape is very good solution fo russian language

Roman M

06/17/2013 02:17 pm

I am amazed how long SAPE lasted anyway...seemed to easy to be true. And, originally launched with Yandex in mind, I always thought it would bite people in the backside one day when it comes to Google! That day is probably here now...


12/03/2013 03:39 pm

Thanks Gregory Anti-SEO Lancaster. That pretty much sums up 90% of the web. shite


12/12/2013 11:01 am

People must stop using google - measuring website vaule on incoming links quality is the most stupid idea anyway :)

Any Smith

06/23/2014 02:12 pm

This is a good job, if google not take any action then people use more spam links. So if google time to time use update then people always alert and do good works and update related works

blog comments powered by Disqus