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Why does google still value "bought links"
Website is up on place 2 after buying lots of links
baron13




msg:93241
 3:47 pm on Oct 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

I have found a new website in the serps in my business. This site was nowhere 1 month ago and now this site is on rank 2 in google. And if I take a look at the backlinks I can see more than 9000 backlinks from only 4 different domains. Why does google still count bought links?

 

Patrick Taylor




msg:93301
 2:13 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

... not to mention that Google is an advertising stream itself

True, but presumably Google relies on the fact that people go there primarily for natural search results before they see the advert.

Incidentally I recently did a Google search for "printing firms mytown" and the only bona fide printing firms I could actually find were those who were paying to advertise - the right hand column. The 'natural' SERPS consisted mostly of irrelevant spam-ridden junk - presumably sites who spend money on completely off-topic paid links. Yahoo wasn't much better, and interestingly on page 2 of SERPS I found an April 04 Webmaster World thread about Google indexing Flash where I had posted a comment about the poor results for printing firm searches!

bobothecat




msg:93302
 2:59 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

printing firm searches

Perhaps it's not a 'dollar-search'... can't say it's something I've personally did a search for - could be a lot of others haven't either?

hugo_guzman




msg:93303
 4:27 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

A savy text link buyer in that region would surely solve that problem.

And if he/she does attain top billing in the natural search results (by purchasing link ads) is he/she really hurting search? No. That would actually help SERPs.

So you see "acquiring" backlinks can actually improve google's natural search if done properly (and responsibly).

Green_Widge




msg:93304
 5:11 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The most important point here, that seems to be missing from this discussion, is the fact that no one is going to buy a paid link for a product they don't sell, or for a product not worth any money to them. So, with that as a starting point, I don't see the use of a paid link for spamming purposes, unlike the autogenerated links spammers get from blogs, guestbooks, link exchanges and the like. So, to me, a paid text link tells me that the guy who bought it is serious about his business and I have a good chance of getting what I need from his website.

On another note, I get over 50% of my traffic from paid text advertising. I've been on the web since 1996 and have excellent placement in the search engines (Before and after my text ad campaigns), BUT, like I said, I still get over 50% of my customers through paid text advertising. So, no one out there can tell me it is anything but advertising with a bonus called anchor text.

If you want to stay on what you consider to be the "High Ground" and spend your time and money doing something else, I applauded you and will continue to do so as I take your business to my bank.

andsieg888




msg:93305
 6:12 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ok one last time.....I have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM with people buying text links or trading text links, I just don't think it should influence serps.

Sure in the scneario that Hugo just mentioned where the serps are dominated by spam buying links could help improve the quality of the serps but in genreal it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense for a search engine to rely on a sites advertising to determine the relevance of a site for a particular key word.

Right now G may not have the technology to determine what links are paid for or bartered for and which aren't and as a result, they count these links in their equation for determining serps because they don't have a better method.

With that being the case I totally agree from a webmaster's perspective that it makes sense to buy links and as I said before I don't have a problem with it, it's called running a business.

Since at the moment buying text links in the right place with the right anchor text can be very profitable and it seems probably even more so than participating in adwords for a keyword. It would suggest that the market for adwords and text links are inefficient. How long can this last for especially as larger companies start to join the fray?

Ok....maybe this is a topic for another thread but I just wanted to throw it out there.

Patrick Taylor




msg:93306
 6:20 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The most important point here...

... is that Google apparently is not able to do what it would like to do, which is not to reward paid links. It reminds me of the village green example, where all the villagers are entitled to - and do - graze their cow. The problem is that the green is too small for all the cows, so the end result is no grass for anyone. The villagers - or human nature - is too stupid for the villagers to compensate a few not to graze their cows on the green, when that way, everybody would benefit.

Webmasters who pay for links with the sole intention of gaining Google PR are no different to those villagers, as my 'printing firm' example shows. Anyone who is looking for a printing firm won't easily find what they want in Google. They will just go somewhere else, probably not the World Wide Web. I'm not saying this is a morally good or bad thing in itself, but that it has possible longer term consequences that could make your online business less successful than it would otherwise be.

As for taking my business to your bank... you are welcome to any business I would have had if I had become a PR link-buyer. I would never think of it as mine in any case. Good luck!

dvduval




msg:93307
 6:54 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I buy links sometimes because I get placement on a high traffic site in my industry. Please don't try to say it only about PageRank.

WebGuerrilla




msg:93308
 6:55 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

What I think is much more cynical is the pretence that an honest and open advert is the same as a bought link and that the latter is therefore acceptable.

Larry and Sergey never made any distinction between the two.

The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine [www-db.stanford.edu]

2.1.2 Intuitive Justification

PageRank can be thought of as a model of user behavior. We assume there is a "random surfer" who is given a web page at random and keeps clicking on links, never hitting "back" but eventually gets bored and starts on another random page. The probability that the random surfer visits a page is its PageRank.

If your goal is to truly model the behavior of a random surfer, then all links avaialble to that random sufer should be part of the equation.

Patrick Taylor




msg:93309
 7:08 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

With respect, this paper is from a different era.

andsieg888




msg:93310
 8:15 am on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebGuerrilla, your point is well taken but looking at the link you provided you will also notice that the paper clearly states that not all links are created equal:
2.1.2 Intuitive Justification
"Another intuitive justification is that a page can have a high PageRank if there are many pages that point to it, or if there are some pages that point to it and have a high PageRank. Intuitively, pages that are well cited from many places around the web are worth looking at. Also, pages that have perhaps only one citation from something like the Yahoo! homepage are also generally worth looking at."

This is also evidence by the fact that links from link farms carry little if not negative value when determining page rank.

This leads me back to the point that bought links, advertising, are not a useful way of measuring a page's relevance. And if the day comes when it is technologically possible for google to determine what is a 'bought link' I would expect that it would not command the value of a 'natural link'.

The Contractor




msg:93311
 12:02 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

creepychris, I'm not sure if The Contractor is saying what you think he is.

Nope, he is posting my feelings exactly ;)

The most important point here, that seems to be missing from this discussion, is the fact that no one is going to buy a paid link for a product they don't sell, or for a product not worth any money to them. So, with that as a starting point, I don't see the use of a paid link for spamming purposes, unlike the autogenerated links spammers get from blogs, guestbooks, link exchanges and the like.

Exactly, so whose links are more relevant - lay money if someone pays for a link they actually offer those products, service, or information much more frequently than those in link exchanges.

... is that Google apparently is not able to do what it would like to do, which is not to reward paid links.

And what makes you think Google is trying to do anything with paid links/advertising any more than what it would do with link exchanges? So I take it you heard this from Google?

This leads me back to the point that bought links, advertising, are not a useful way of measuring a page's relevance. And if the day comes when it is technologically possible for google to determine what is a 'bought link' I would expect that it would not command the value of a 'natural link'.

As stated above: I will lay money that a paid link/advertisment is much more targeted and reliable for a products, service, or information. A natural link....hmm.. I know of professors at colleges, teachers at educational facilities, librarians, and people that work for State Government sites which have linked to friends sites for the "sole" purpose of PR. So the "natural" links you see may not be as "natural" as you think...hehe
There is no way that I see in which Google will ever be able to count only "natural" links as you would be surprised what you can buy that look completely natural.

ortelius




msg:93312
 1:03 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

How do I find a reputable seller of Links?

Patrick Taylor




msg:93313
 1:37 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

And what makes you think Google is trying to do anything with paid links any more than what it would do with link exchanges? So I take it you heard this from Google?

I read it here, on Webmaster World (so it must be true). But I've deleted your reference to advertising because, as I've said above, I believe there is a big difference between a paid link that is presented as if it was a natural one and an honest open advert, and in any case Google sells advertising and long may it continue to do so.

Regarding so-called natural links, I'm sure you're right about corrupt employees of academic establishments, just as I've come across ones that have refused a link to a commercial website because it would be an abuse of a public resource.

Investing money on boosting the commercial success of a website isn't the contentious issue. Buying advertising is no different in that sense from paying a lot of money for a well-designed website. Anyone who wants the web to develop would surely say these are to be applauded - more investment: more success. No issue either with link-buying per se, if the purpose is to buy traffic coming through those links. But when Google's SERPS are disfigured by irrelevant pages with artificially high PR, it does damage to everyone in the long run. I'm sure Google is fully aware of this (from what I've read here) and because it has a bigger stake than most in needing to maintain the quality of its search results - more so now than ever before - it would surely not reward anything other than natural links if it knew how.

I don't see how Google will ever be able to detect some paid links. The whole link thing has got out of hand anyway, so Google will instead be getting better at recognising natural links in context - and yes, I think I read this on Webmaster World.

The Contractor




msg:93314
 1:44 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

How do I find a reputable seller of Links?

Well I would search for your industry words and online advertising etc. Maybe someone else can respond to buying "links". Paid inclusion into niche directories of value and also through Yahoo, MSN SB directory etc are also options... although Yahoo depends a lot on your business type etc. to be of value IMHO...

The Contractor




msg:93315
 1:57 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

But when Google's SERPS are disfigured by irrelevant pages with artificially high PR, it does damage to everyone in the long run.

Do you really believe they are being disfigured by paid links or are they really linking schemes/exchanges across huge networks?

I seriously doubt there are that many people paying say an avg. of $30-100 each for 1-10 thousand links let alone some of them costing that much monthly. I suspect what you are seeing is link exchanges or link networks... not paid links as you refer to them... I know of many sites that pretend to be "real" directories etc offering some unusually high priced advertising/links just so no-one signs up. They are in fact a disguise for a large link network of sites they have interest in.

Again, no-one including you has yet addressed my questions about link exchanges or networks - why? Do you ever link sites that you are involved with? If so, why do you do it if not to game the system? Oh, and please don't answer - it's for the visitors... or your anchor text would be the URL not the keywords...

Edited: Also, I hope you are not including those "we'll put your link in the footer of 8,000 PR 6 pages for $800" as a paid link - those fall into the link network schemes.. nothing else.

hugo_guzman




msg:93316
 2:11 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

The best place to start looking into this market is to do a search on the term "text link". The industry leader is in the top 5 of the natural listings (can't mention the name in this forum)

Patrick Taylor




msg:93317
 2:41 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm just about at the end of my contribution here. My view should be clear enough.

I'm sure Google's SERPS are skewed by more than paid-for links - it just happened to be the topic of this thread.

To answer what I think is The Contractor's question about what I do personally (not that any individual policy has much relevance to the topic) - I link from my personal website to a handful of other-owned websites. I can't explain here why (without contravening TOS). Just accept that it's a natural and informative thing to do. I don't ask any of them to link back - it's their decision to make without any pressure from me. Most don't. I own a hobby site that I link to for the same reason, on which I give myself credit with a link back on the footer of every page - though only one page has it hard-coded. Those links back could be said to be un-natural, having nothing to do with the hobby site topic, and the one hard-coded link could be said to be (in a small way) skewing Google's SERPS. Defence? Zilch.

Good luck, and goodnight!

beren




msg:93318
 2:45 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

This thread keeps getting detoured by "realism" talk of how Google operates, when the originator was complaining about their rankings and how they could be better.

Think of it this way:

If you could have the ideal search engine, what criteria would it use for SERPS?

I think most of us would agree that links to a site should be counted as a "vote" for that site's credibility and authority. Links should count for at least part of the ranking algorithm.

In an ideal world, however, natural, unpurchased links placed to help website users would count more than purchased links. An unpurchased link should count more as it is an untainted vote for the site.

I don't know enough about search technology to know whether (in the real world) it is feasible for search engines to distinguish between unpaid and paid links. I suspect it is difficult, but Google is pretty clever at uncovering things so they may have techniques for making the distinction.

Arguments about Google taking advertising money are irrelevant. We're talking about search engine rankings, not a particular business's revenues.

And yes, counting paid links the same as unpaid links does "distort" the rankings in some way and lead to poorer results for the user.

If a new search engine came along that did discount paid links, it could potentially come up with better results than Google. Google and the other engines should be trying to improve to meet and beat the competition.

Search engines are better than they were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and even 2 years ago. It's reasonable to assume that they will continue to improve, and one way they can improve is by giving more weight to unpaid links than to paid links.

The Contractor




msg:93319
 3:54 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm just about at the end of my contribution here. My view should be clear enough.

I agree – I haven't learned anything new and the views of those speaking against paid advertisement or "links" are never going to change. They belong to an elite group that wants everything for free or bartered for. They are the ones that spend their time whining about how unfair it is because suchandsuch.com is beating them because they are doing this or that. They also complain how their site is "so" much better than any other site on the subject and that it is unfair and unjust that they only get a trickle of traffic. Those same people fill my inbox with "I visited your great site and would like to exchange links with you". They are also the ones that think nothing of linking their own sites in a way to game the same system they are fighting/whining about the paid advertising doing, but they only do it because their sites are "special". They will never admit that they create their own link networks or they are gaming the system. In reality they haven't a clue most of the time why one site is outranking them – it's easier to blame it on paid links. Yes, and also if a search engine results do not show their site in the top positions – the search engine is broken, being terribly skewed by the evil dollar. What kills me is "advertising/paid links" that are on the up and up are easy to spot – they aren't hiding. Yet, at the same time I see those against it using small text links at the footer of pages, hiding links, linking all their sites using anchor text their own mother wouldn't give them, and trying to figure out how they can retain PR and screw their link partners… it kills me…hehe

What they fail to see is that the internet is just another medium like television, radio, and print. Advertising is a big part of it and should be in any business model. If any product or service was not marketed, promoted, and advertised whether online/offline it would go nowhere – period. It is not that tough to see links are like any other form of advertising. If you see an advertisement for a product/service in every magazine, hear it on the radio, and watch it being constantly advertised on TV it is still "linked" to the advertisers product, service, or information. The more you see of the same company's advertising the more credibility and authority it brings to it. Why do you think Google does it? Same reasons…

Advertising is going to become much more important in the future. Look at AdWords, Overture, SiteMatch etc. The "free" days of competing are over and the sooner you realize it, the further ahead you will be.

hugo_guzman




msg:93320
 5:23 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hear you brother...

And to the guy who says (quite confidently I might add) that bought link "do" distort search engine results, take the time to read at least the last 10 posts or so.

It clearly explains why "bought" often improve natural search results instead of "distorting" them.

glengara




msg:93321
 6:16 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

IMO G doesn't, and probably won't, distinguish between incoming links.

Any problem with links will come only when the overall linkage pattern resembles a you-know-what.

bobothecat




msg:93322
 10:11 pm on Oct 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think message #79 sums-up this discussion quite well - kudos to 'Contractor' for such a well described opinion!

I agree 100% - shame folks feel everything's supposed to be organic, free or fair... wish every business ran on this model.

Patrick Taylor




msg:93323
 12:04 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

The Contractor:
They...

Who is "they", exactly? Having read through the whole of this thread, I can't find anyone complaining about their site's ranking, nor arguing against advertising.

isitreal




msg:93324
 12:41 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Nice points contractor. Here's a sample:

I just found a [url=http://#*$!#*$!.com/]great site[/url] about widgets [yyyyyyy.com]. They have great prices, and their service was really good. I'd recommend them to my friends.

Are these paid links or real, organic links? Can you tell? If so, how? How can google tell? It can't. Only a human reading that could possibly decide, and even then they'd have to think about it.

Green_Widge




msg:93325
 3:29 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

OK Patrick Taylor, you are correct, I didn't answer the question:

Why does google still value "bought links"

Because the only person who would PAY for a link, is the person who sells the product or has the information you are looking for on their website.

Therefore, Google thinks that page is more relevant that a site that doesn't pay for links, and counts them higher in the SERPS.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Patrick Taylor




msg:93326
 4:50 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Because the only person who would PAY for a link, is the person who sells the product or has the information you are looking for on their website.

Therefore, Google thinks that page is more relevant that a site that doesn't pay for links, and counts them higher in the SERPS.

Makes perfect sense to me.

I'm pleased it makes sense to you, because to me it doesn't - not the way you've explained it.

Links can be, so presumably are in some cases, bought simply to increase PR and with it, a higher ranking irrespective of relevance to what the user is actually looking for. Someone buys a "blue widgets" text link from a high PR page about anything - red widgets, whatever. This person, though, is actually selling green widgets - all they want is more traffic, and traffic from people looking for blue widgets is just more grist to the mill. Of course they might also have bought "green widgets" text links but the blue widget ones may be better value - who knows?

Apparently Google is not able to distinguish between bought and non-bought links, so it doesn't "think" anything one way or the other. To say that it thinks it's more relevant because it's a bought link makes no sense at all.

nuevojefe




msg:93327
 6:44 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Patrick Taylor,

It seems that your major gripe is sites buying PR that are spammy. Is this correct?

What about those that buy on topic links?

Perhaps the key for the SE's are to put the focus on relevance into overdrive, that way paid or not, links are not given full weight if they don't fit into a similar topological landscape.

WebGuerrilla




msg:93328
 6:46 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

so presumably are in some cases, bought simply to increase PR and with it, a higher ranking irrespective of relevance to what the user is actually looking for.

Are you suggesting that this happens often enough to be some type of problem? Maybe if we were still in 1998 when everyone was making buckets full of cash from CPM banner advertising. Back then, it was all about generating pageviews.

Not the case now. SEO is all about ROI. Smart people don't buy links for blue widgets if they don't sell blue widgets. Instead, they buy links that describe exactly what they offer.

andsieg888




msg:93329
 8:46 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Spam is spam and will be treated as such, I don't think anyone here will disagree that in ideal world google will give as little relevance to this sort of thing as possible.

When I do a search I hope the results provide the sites with the most relevant content and not the sites with the biggest advertising budget.

Here are a couple examples where I believe legitimate link buying can have a negative impact on the serps:

Example
Site A has basic info about blue widgets and how to purchase them. Whereas Site B has in-depth info on blue widgets, customer reviews as well as a host of other info about blue widgets.

Both sites have relevant content when it comes to blue widgets, Site B though would be a much more useful site for those interested in learning about or purchasing blue widgets. But because Site A has spent a bunch more money on buying links they place higher.

I realize many will respond: nothing is for free and Site A is just participating in the real world of business but when i do a search for a product I don't want the site with a better business model I want the site with the most useful and relevant content realted to this product.

Example 2:
Site A has an extremely strong point of view on purple widgets(maybe it's there product, maybe it's the competition or maybe it's against their religion to use purple widgets) So they embark on a massive campaign of targeted link buying, thus allowing their site(s) to rank highly in the serps, possibly even dominating the serps with multiple sites.

In this scenario sites with a large advertising budget will be able to out rank many equally if not more useful sites purely on the basis of their advertising budgets.

This would likely effect any major US industry with a large advertising budget as well as most politically sensitive issues and a whole host of other areas on the net. So I don't think it make sense to have serps

Buying textlinks to improve PR is a legitimate business practice and something that many savvy webmasters should at least consider, but I hope the day comes when it is technologically feasible for google to minamize the effect that advertising links have on serps.

Patrick Taylor




msg:93330
 9:14 am on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

nuevojefe: Perhaps the key for the SEs are to put the focus on relevance into overdrive, that way paid or not, links are not given full weight if they don't fit into a similar topological landscape.

Given that there is nothing that can be done to prevent un-natural linking (link swaps or paid links purely for PR gain), I very much agree with this suggestion. Anything that improves the relevance of search results, whether paid for or not, is a step in the right direction.

Of course some areas of the web are big business, and its unrealistic not to expect normal legal business practices to find their place. But when I search for a digital camera, or a plane ticket, or a printing firm, or whatever - that's what I want to find at the top of Google: quality 'high street' results and not irrelevant timewasting back-street junk that is harmful to the web experience. I'm for the web.

As it happens, I would prefer it if a paid link was recognisable on a page for what it is, just like an advert is, so that the user knows what they're clicking on. That's a user confidence thing, mainly.

beren




msg:93331
 12:11 pm on Oct 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Patrick Taylor: I don't think it's worth arguing in this thread anymore. There are obviously trolls here making statements just to provoke. And one guideline of internet message boards is: don't feed the trolls by responding to them.

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