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Matt Cutts on Link Development
Paid links worthless?
Go60Guy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 4:27 pm on Nov 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

In the Las Vegas pubcon organic site review session, the one question Matt Cutts repeatedly asked those submitting their sites was "Tell me about your back links". In most cases it became apparent that there were a predominance of paid back links.

Matt stressed that obvious paid links offered no boost in rankings, although they do not detract. In short, he stressed that paid links are a waste of money, and that G rewards links occuring naturally. He stressed that G is getting better by the day in detecting paid links.

I know there are ways of crafting paid links so that they will appear to be naturally generated, but the effort may not be as cost effective as developing unique, compelling content which will stimulate good inbound links. At least, this was my take away from that session as well as others in which matt participated.

Take this for what its worth.

 

martinibuster

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 8:24 pm on Nov 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I saw you at my session yesterday and anticipated Matt saying stuff like that, so I wrote my presentation to address that- with concrete tips on how to do it. The title of my presentation was, "Shaking up your traffic without stirring up Google."

Certainly some of my tips would piss them off but there's no way for Google to algorithmically spot them.

Some of the things I discussed is avoiding footprints in your paid links. Anything with a footprint can be algorithmically spotted. So if you have a ton of backlinks and they're all contained within a little box called Sponsor, it can get spotted if Google decides to spot that.

The alternative is to dig out sponsorship opportunities outside of where everyone else is purchasing (and getting outside of the spam neighborhood is important), with some creative searching, of which I gave a couple examples.

Oilman gave a great tip: Offer free hosting for life to a website that hosts a link back to you, "and for less than twenty bucks a month they'll think you're god."

That's the kind of creative thinking that takes a long time to implement but gets things done outside of the realms that are supposedly under siege.

Webwork

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 8:52 pm on Nov 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

What, if anything of value, are paid links an indicator of? Is the answer to that question: "Paid links are indicative of nothing of value to someone searching"?

What if the paid link campaign corresponds to the launch of a new, valuable resource?

What, then, is the value of the resultant "natural links" that might follow a paid link campaign?

Does Google then attempt to track resultant links, resulting from paid links? Is less value assigned to the "unnatural" follow-on links? They're unnatural because their existance was evoked by traffic/visitors to the site initiated by a paid link campaign, right? Does this rule apply to links that arise after a PR new release too?

What if the resultant links of a paid link campaign are a reflection of visits that resulted in people expressing a value judgment about the website they visited?

What if the resultant links are stimulated by a contest announced in the original paid link campaign? Is Google going to algo divine such scenarios?

I could image dozens of versions of resultant links that fall into either "valid votes of quality" or "manipulation".

In between the two scenarios are buzz link posts: I'm posting this link because there's buzz, not because there's quality to be found.

I'm certain Google realizes that there's a hole in their bucket on this issue. Paid links are not an indicia of quality or the lack thereof. They may be the best current indicator of value in certain cases.

A per se rule devaluing paid links, when they might indicate the emergence of a newly launched, high quality website, would be an error, just as tracking follow-on links to a paid link campaign and giving them value "because they're natural" might be an error.

Shippi

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 11:50 pm on Nov 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Does this mean I should cancel all my paid links?

dfud

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 3:18 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Cancel the ones that don't bring you enough traffic to make them worth the money.

adamxcl

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 3:50 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I go with dfud on this one. Paid links are okay if they are advertising links to bring enough traffic. If they just sit there for pagerank or backlink purpose and no traffic, they aren't worth dirt. The only way to give money away on no traffic links is to make the donations to charities and non-profits for a link. Then at least you are doing something for the traffic free money

Shippi

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 4:03 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Whose kidding who? 90% of paid links are little links on boxes on the bottom of sites. I have never got any clicks from my paid links.

But they still give me great ROIS.

I suppose I should cancel them and spend more money on adwords. That makes sense.

dfud

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 4:18 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Shippi, I used to think the way you do. Then one of my clients insisted we reduce the budget. So we dumped all of those paid links that produced no traffic. Our traffic didn't go down. Our pagerank didn't go down. Nothing went down except our expenses.

Dump all those links that don't bring you traffic and buy one that does. I bet you wont lose any PR and I bet your ROI will go up.

AndAgain

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 5:49 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I wonder why this thread is so short?

;-)

Imma keep my mouth shut as usual!

AndAgainAndAgainAndAgain

jaffstar

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:10 am on Nov 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I personally never indulge in paid links. I am ROI driven, and its extremely difficult to generate ROI from paid links.

There are ways oont means to get links without paying...sometimes just takes out the box thinking.

Most people are sold into the hype of paid links, and want an overnight quick fix, which they will not get.

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 5:01 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

*In the Las Vegas pubcon organic site review session..*

Matter of interest Go60Guy, was there a specific session agenda, or on what basis were sites reviewed?

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:05 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

I was at that session and didn't get the impression that paid links were as much a concern as wholesale high volume link exchanges, often apparently with unrelated sites.

And if I recall right Matt mentioned more than once that these high volume links wern't hurting the specific sites, but they weren't helping.

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:43 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

*Matt Cutts repeatedly asked those submitting their sites was "Tell me about your back links"*

So was that noticeable to you too Ken?

Just trying to get a picture if MC had an arranged links agenda or whether the different types came up during separate site reviews....

ken_b

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 8:22 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

was that noticeable to you too Ken?

Very noticeable. But I didn't get the impression that links being bought was as important as what kind of sites they came from and how many of them there were.

My guess is that ROS or RON links from unrelated sites, or unrelated networks of sites, is probably not worth the effort for most webmasters.

The real question for me is if these types of links that may not be hurting a site now will come back and bite the site later if left in place. I suspect they might, but that's just speculation at this point.

fom2001uk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 8:53 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

Re-arrange these words.....

a salt pinch this treat of with ;-)

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 9:21 pm on Nov 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

*The real question for me is if these types of links that may not be hurting a site now will come back and bite the site later if left in place.*

Well apart from devaluing "unearned" links, there's always the potential "links scheme" aspect to contend with ;-)

McMohan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 10:07 am on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have bought about 5 relevant links to specific pages of my site. But strangely, about 3-6 months after buying these links, the "next best" pages (which don't have any links bought) are ranking for queries that these target pages are suppose to be ranking, for their respective keywords. This leads me to ask, if paid for links are actully devalued or penalized?

BTW,
1. For an established site (meaning non-sandboxed and ranking for competitive phrases), when will anyone know if a paid-link has made a difference or not?
2. If Google has indeed spotted some links as paid-links, will it only discount ranking benefit or even toolbar PR too?

Any informed guess on these? Thanks.

TravelSite

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 2:12 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Be warned - if Google knows that you're paying for a link on one site - then it knows that you are probably buying links on other sites. Google could decide to begin questioning or penalising ALL your inbound links.

Websites selling links should also be wary. Google could begin with a list of websites it knows are selling links. From this Google could get a list of the websites buying these links. If Google then sees all these sites appearing on your website - then it will begin to wonder if your site is selling links.

Kangs

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 3:02 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

What of reciprocal links that use link exchange software. Can these be detected by G and penalized? I don't have the software on my site but have exchanged links with sites that do.

Go60Guy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 7:03 pm on Nov 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Matter of interest Go60Guy, was there a specific session agenda, or on what basis were sites reviewed?

As was indicated the session focused on organic SEO, and sites were submitted for review by attendees at random. The analysis was wide ranging, and back links were just one part of the mix, albiet an important one.

On site and off site factors were all considered. Content, the nature of it, or the lack thereof, was given emphasis.

Swebbie

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 10:51 am on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Writing content for distribution to related sites seems a good strategy for concerns about the "naturalizing" of inbound links. It satisfies the search engines' desire for human editing (presumably no webmaster is going to put up content that sucks, especially if it includes links to a site that also has content that sucks). And if you're smart about it and vary the link text sufficiently, you won't trip any anchor text similarity filters that may be in place. I think the days of link exchanges helping rankings more than a tiny amount are long gone. It's got to be one-way and as natural as possible, imho.

karnb

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 11:26 am on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

would a link to a prize you are offerring from a website listing prizes be considered a paid backlink?

viggen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 12:34 pm on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Paid links worthless?

Depending on why you bought them...
A quality reference link within the content that is on topic, could be worth allot of money...

regards
viggen

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:10 pm on Nov 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

"And if I recall right Matt mentioned more than once that these high volume links wern't hurting the specific sites, but they weren't helping."

This is either disinformation or an outright lie. I know of many sites that are firmly on top of profitable niches and the VAST majority of their backlinks are of this type.

"Be warned - if Google knows that you're paying for a link on one site - then it knows that you are probably buying links on other sites. Google could decide to begin questioning or penalising ALL your inbound links.
Websites selling links should also be wary. Google could begin with a list of websites it knows are selling links. From this Google could get a list of the websites buying these links. If Google then sees all these sites appearing on your website - then it will begin to wonder if your site is selling links."

Google can't even be bothered to respond to daily spam reports filed over several months about sites that engage in outrageous amounts of hidden text. Google "knows" nothing.

What are most listings in yahoo? Paid. Should you be penalized for a paid yahoo listing? What about a paid listing in the generally reputable directories like gimpsy, joeant, and botw? Should you be penalized for these? If you have backlinks from pay-for-inclusion directories that started out as dmoz clones, should you be penalized? If so, how does google differentiate these pay-for-inclusion directories from the ordinary dmoz knockoffs?

This is pure supposition, fantasy, and superstition.

McMohan

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 5:27 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Be warned - if Google knows that you're paying for a link on one site - then it knows that you are probably buying links on other sites. Google could decide to begin questioning or penalising ALL your inbound links

Well, I will buy a link each for my good friends ranking in top 10 in Google :-)

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:00 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Be warned - if Google knows that you're paying for a link on one site - then it knows that you are probably buying links on other sites. Google could decide to begin questioning or penalising ALL your inbound links.

Doubtful at best both from what I see and and from common knowledge. Anyone could create a sponsors section from their own pages, place links to ten competitors on those pages, then report to google. You are suggesting then Google will devalue the inbound links for all of these sites?

I think sometimes that many SEO's overreact based on what they hear. They want to cover all the angles, which is a good thing.

Keep in mind, in most thing keeping it simple yields great results.

Marcia

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:15 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Another fine product from the Webmasters Fun FUD Factory. :)

Why wouldn't they just de-value outbounds from tacky sites known to be selling links and be done with it? It doesn't hurt them any how people choose to spend their money. It isn't expensive in terms of processing resources, and could be a good source of research for them long term. I understand they're very fond of gathering statistics on things and enjoy playing with webmaps.

joeduck

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 6:34 am on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Why wouldn't they just de-value outbounds from tacky sites known to be selling links and be done with it?

My understanding was that they do this, PLUS they look for any paid links at all and try to assign zero value to them. Matt indicated that they don't tend to penalize sites for buying links, they just don't allow the links to help the sites.

I took away the idea that they have increasingly robust ways to assign values to links, and that they tend to assign a zero value to paid links. Based on many SEO peeps who indicate paid linking "still works well", it appears to me they may not have found those paid linking arrangements.

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 7:55 pm on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Well, I will buy a link each for my good friends ranking in top 10 in Google :-)"

And if it works, I'll buy a few other fellows a dozen links each. All rounds on the house!

You're right. It would be TOOOO easy to dispatch your competitors to oblivion if this was true.

ownerrim

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 2864 posted 7:57 pm on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Based on many SEO peeps who indicate paid linking "still works well", it appears to me they may not have found those paid linking arrangements."

There are paid inclusion directory sites popping up every five minutes. I don't know how they would track it all.

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