|I have been working on an (outsourced) link exchange program for the last 6 months, using the term "widget" mostly for the incoming text. I thought I was being a good SEO. |
Link Exchange is not bad as it is building partnership but doing bad link exchange is not good as it will hurt.
There could be other problems causing your site to drop in the SERPs. Have you validated those 1000 pages? are they indexed in Google? do they have "supplemental results" after the listing? Are your pages missing a title and description in the listing? Have your pages dropped in Rank recently? If all of the above are ok then I would worry about link exchanges.
Have you validated those 1000 pages?
are they indexed in Google?
Yes, they all used to be in the top 10, now they are all 100+
do they have "supplemental results" after the listing?
Are your pages missing a title and description in the listing?
Have your pages dropped in Rank recently?
Yes (see above)
If all of the above are ok then I would worry about link exchanges.
Oh - I am!
Thanks for your questions, Lorel!
I have a sneaky feeling you could be right, rehabguy.
I benefited from this update, and was wondering why. A main reason was that many other sites dropped off. There is a good possibility that they had link serious exchanges, while I had very few owing to laziness, and general dislike of asking for links.
It seems unlikely that Google would punish link exchanges per se; after all, reciprocal linking has been around since long before the days of PageRank, and it often makes sense organically: For example, the Eastern University Library might share links with the Western University Library, or the Sons of the American Revolution might link to the Daughters of the American Revolution and vice versa.
What seems more likely is that Google would ignore or sandbox links that meet certain criteria, such as:
1) An unusually large number of inbound links (compared to the average for the type of site or page), especially a large number of inbound links that have been acquired in a short time;
2) Anchor text that's identical with the search keyphrase, especially if the keyphrase is on a "money" term;
3) Other site characteristics that hint at SEO.
Certainly it wouldn't take a team of geniuses to be skeptical about an affiliate page for a "money" term that has acquired 1,000 links overnight. The page wouldn't have to be penalized; Google could simply block inbound PR from those 1,000 links or phase it it very, very slowly.
Mind you, that's just a what-if scenario, but isn't speculation what this thread is about? :-)
I thought this was an issue before Allegra though.
I remember reading that recipicol links were valued less than one way links.
Does any one have a site where they concentrated on a "round robin" link exchange?
A -> B -> C -> A
I think that would shed more light on this idea.
I currently have a theory related to what you might be seeing:
Pehaps, if too high a percentage of your incoming anchor text is identical, that anchor text will get devalued. I base this on the observation that certain sites that get most of their value from a few sitewide links on other sites have suffered over the past several months - these incoming links generally have identical anchor text. It also explains why some sites are not ranking for their company name - which is the most common anchor text to link to certain sites. This could be one cause of getting placed into the sandbox, but like most people, I have no "clear" idea of what has caused sites to get sandboxed.
I think the key word you used in describing your link exchange program is "outsourced". There's nothing wrong with outsourcing, per se, but in link exchange and SEO it can be very dangerous.
Can you tell us anything about your contract and what techniquest were used? For example, did you pay $x per link? If so, I think it's inviting trouble because it could lead to all kinds of spammy techniques. Did you have some kind of quality control to make sure you weren't linking to bad neighborhoods? Were they on-topic link exchanges? etc.
I'm actually seeing just the opposite. The large educational site I run, which links to like a gazillion other educational sites on different topics most of which link back to it, is unshaken in Google. So are all the other big educational sites I've checked.
Meanwhile, little esoteric hobby sites dedicated to particular, obscure, not-at-all popular topics are buried three pages down behind sites that contain the individual words in a query separately (such as an author's first name and last name *separately* in a long list of names). It's making it very hard to use Google to dig up new content sites to feature on our educational site or to add to the ODP.
Whatever's gone wrong with Google, it can't possibly be an "overoptimization" penalty or something like that this time. Completely unoptimized sites on topics no SEO has ever cared about in his life are getting totally hammered. I'm hoping this just has something to do with a number of pages not being completely indexed this crawl, or maybe some problem with indexing free hosts (a lot of the sites I'm seeing go missing seem to be Geocities and Angelfire pages).
Nothing wrong with link exchanges, and there certainly isn't any devaluation from having them. But that isn't what the first post is about, despite the inaccurate title. Engaging "in link exchange programs" has always been counter to the guidelines and sometimes punished.
As usual, doing things naturally is fine while doing something to pretend to be natural is one road to doom.
|It also explains why some sites are not ranking for their company name - which is the most common anchor text to link to certain sites. |
Most people complaining they're not ranking for their name are *at least* knowledgable enough to be requesting enough links with their keywords to not worry about that being the reason they don't rank for their own name.
OP: How many link exchanges have you done and over how long? I'd go through your link exchange partners with a fine toothed comb if you have the time. Your outsourcers may have (unwittingly) linked you to a network of spam sites... enough links to the network and from the network makes you seem like you're... in the network!
I've had two sites I manage go NO1 for their main keyphrase this update. SEO started on them both 10 months ago.
Both have many recip links, but I vet the sites, so no gambling, porn, viagra, cloaking etc on link partner sites. No sneaky redirects etc
In one category, the site that had been number one for 3 years is gone. ONly realy factor of note is they link with anyone.
Link exchanges are fine.
3 way links are a bad idea. Generally the site giving out the links, links to anyone. You ened up linking to the site with no outgoing links, so no chance they can be hurt, but the site giving out the links, links to all and sundry.
Don't do it.
There is a lot of speculation that the issue is caused by repetitive identical inbound link anchor text. Not 'exchanges' - where the links are reciprocal - pure inbounds which aren't reciprocated.
I am honestly coming to the opinion that at least part of the issue with sites not ranking for their company name or 'tag line' is inbound links from "built for adsense screenscaper sites" and 'directories'.
By definition these sites (where the site has built pages using SERPs as the content for a specific phrase, in order to be able to display adsense adverts) have a link to you - because your site is in their scraped SE results.
And what is the anchor text in a screenscraped SE result? Your page title. Everytime.
I'm seeing hundreds of them. The webmasters of the sites being linked to have no control over his/her inclusion on these scraped page based 'directories'.
Isn't it ironic that this Allegra 'side effects' could effectively be a problem indirectly caused by exploitation of Google's own Adsense program?
I think that Google appears to be penalising the sites whose pages were used in the scraped results. What ever happened to:
|Fiction: A competitor can ruin a site's ranking somehow or have another site removed from Google's index. |
Fact: There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. Your rank and your inclusion are dependent on factors under your control as a webmaster, including content choices and site design.
Same for some directories - it's starting to look like you can submit a competitor's site - and get your competitor's site clobbered. Why doesn't Google do a comparision to say DMOZ - if someone is listed in DMOZ - then they don't get penalised for inbound links using the same anchor text as in DMOZ?
Devalue the 'scraped serp' inbound links to zero; devalue the 'dodgey directory' inbound links to zero; - most importantly fix your adsense program quality control - but don't penalise the innocent 'linked to' recipient!
|Why doesn't Google do a comparision to say DMOZ |
given the interminable delays over there, this would turn the sandbox into cement shoes.
I know this seems off topic but I still think alot of problems with sites losing rank is caused by the 302 page hijacking problem.
The reason I say this is because I have a few sites that are ranking poorly for a few months now and they all have hijackers.
But then about 3 months ago I got an email from someone (They didn't give a name) saying they would like to buy one of my (sandboxed?) domains and they said they were really serious about buying it and wanted to know my price.
So I gave them a high $60,000 price tag and got no reply back?
Then I got another email a few weeks later only they wanted to buy a different domain which was also one of my domains that was hijacked with 302 redirects.
I gave them the same reply.
Then I got to thinking about it and maybe one of the hijackers is hijacking pages and causing domains to rank poorly and then try to buy the poorly ranking domain for a discount?
Then they simply stop the redirects and they have a perfectly good high ranking website that makes them alot of money that didn't cost them very much?
I seen most of the redirects and there are only a handfull of them that are causing the problem. Maybe 20-30 hijacker sites total. Which could easily be run by one person because they are mostly scraper directory sites that get their results from google and yahoo.
They also seem to know what they are doing too because they are very hard to contact and it's very hard to get their host info.
Most of the domains are throw away domains too.
Also my domains that were hijacked were all ranking better than they ever have just before they dropped ranking into nothingness.
All the hijacker sites create directories for money keywords then pull your high ranking pages into their pages from google and/or yahoo's results and then add a PHP redirect to your link out which causes google to index your content under their URL.
Then they email sites after their domain starts ranking poorly and ask the owner how much they want for the domain.
The owner don't know what's going on and thinks they can unload this domain for a couple thousand dollars and just start another one with no problems and no ban's from google.
Has anyone else got an email asking to buy a domain that has been ranking poorly because of the 302 redirect problem? I've gotten 2 so far.
I have observed the same. We have never engaged in off-topic link exchange just for the sake of link exchange. We have limited link exchange to relevant sites only. However, one of our competitors has been exchanging links blindly, and has been getting away with it so far. But now, we can see that our strategy is paying off. Furthermore, we even placed one way outgoing links to highly ranked sites with similar/relevant content to our visitors. And that seems to paying off too, as our ranks have improved recently.
|I still think alot of problems with sites losing rank is caused by the 302 page hijacking problem. |
I agree. I have four hijacked domains that have disappeared from the serps. I haven't had any offers to buy them though.
If your site has lost it's ranking the first thing you should do is check for duplicate content using allinurl: yoursite.com .
I have added random content to all my pages and it seems to have stopped the duplicate filter problem but it's still too early to tell if it has done any good yet.
I think random content rotating on all of my pages will completely stop the duplicat problem if that is what is causing the penalty.
It is definately a penalty because my sites are not banned. I can still find my pages with an inurl:mydomain.com search but the hijacker urls are right there on top.
I also noticed my home page is either not listed at all or URL only for the domains that are hijacked.
But the sub pages are still listed as supplimental results?
The new pages I add to the hijacked site get spidered and indexed in just a few days and are not supplimental results, but they do not rank at all for anything.
I left one hijacked site alone and did nothing to it and it was banned completely after a slow 4-5 month death.
But the random content I added to the other sites seems to have stopped the sites from being completely banned like the other one.
When I search inurl:bannedsite.com I get "Results 1 - 11 of about 4,140" which list's only hijacker urls.
But when I click "repeat the search with the omitted results included." I get "No results for inurl:bannedsite.com
So I added the random content to the banned site and then used mod rewrite to fix the no www problem and 301'd domain.com to www.domain.com
One month later it's now in the index! All of the pages are back! Google is now sending the site traffic again? Not as much as before but could the random content be the key? It must have been a duplicate filter penalty caused by the hijacker urls?
Because I still see the hijacker URL's with an inurl: search but the site is ranking again?
|Also my domains that were hijacked were all ranking better than they ever have just before they dropped ranking into nothingness. |
Are you sure about that Eyezshine?
My understanding was that they had to have higher PR (and mostly should ranked higher too) in order for hijacking to works.
Our site just got out the sandbox after about 10 months and is now back in. Whitehat SEO.
We go stuffed by google overnight on Friday. The reason being (we think) is that after a couple of years we had got another site to agree to anchor text link to us giving us a large number of links in one go.
We have 10 sub-domains dedicated to 10 specialist areas all different, but related, the site in question agreed to place the 10 links on its page borders. The site has about 300 pages. Hence 300 links X 10 = 3000.I believe that google treats sub-domains and main domains as the SAME site hence it considered that all 3000 were to us - obvious SEO lets put it back in the sandbox.
Furthermore, the first time we went into the sand i think was due to the fact that we had worked dam hard on submitting out site to every directory we could find and because we did this over about 3 days again the google filter thought, hello 3000 links in 3 days, must be dodgy!, lets sandbox it!
In conclusion i think a number of factors are at play here but i am 100% certain that the algo contains some sort of formula relating to link volume / time as a factor to sandboxing.
|Furthermore, the first time we went into the sand i think was due to the fact that we had worked dam hard on submitting out site to every directory we could find and because we did this over about 3 days again the google filter thought, hello 3000 links in 3 days, must be dodgy!, lets sandbox it! |
In conclusion i think a number of factors are at play here but i am 100% certain that the algo contains some sort of formula relating to link volume / time as a factor to sandboxing.
The only thing that touches my nerve is insisting on the "sandbox" term which originaly was only "new domain/time delay" theory and gradually evolved into all possible variations.
It has been all about linking from the beginning.
The release of the "sandbox" comes always coupled with the PR updates. It takes a few days for the SERPs to stabilize due to re-calculation of PR and linking filters which probably use the same, apart database.
It seems however, that the filters don't have significant influence on the PR itself.
One of my sites that was slammed by Allegra doesn't participate in link exchanges. It links out to quality sites in the field, and has non reciprocal inbounds from folks who like the content.
Another of my sites that was unaffected by Allegra has dozens of on topic link exchanges.
less than 4-5 of my 300+ inbound links are exchanges.
If there is one thing that I have ignored, it is linking. Submitted to Dmoz, if that counts and got in. Other than that, I have not focused on links. One or two here and there as opportunity presents itself.
I also have very few exchanges - maybe 2% of the total links. Most are one way.
Personally, I do not think the sandbox is triggered by getting to many links too fast. It may have more to do with time than anything else.
|From diamondgrl: Can you tell us anything about your contract and what techniquest were used? For example, did you pay $x per link? |
Yes, I paid $X per link, but to a provider that used on-topic sites for the exchange. However, some of the pages had hundreds of links, and therefore might be considered spamming site(s).
I just plan to suspend this activity for the time being while I tweak other factors to see what the culprit is.
Thanks goodness for Yahoo and MSN in a time like this. I actually get alot of referrals from the Yahoo Shopping feed that is keeping me in business.
Google needs to get it together - I'm not happy with their organic search results for personal searching reasons, either!
|Yes, I paid $X per link, but to a provider that used on-topic sites for the exchange. However, some of the pages had hundreds of links, and therefore might be considered spamming site(s). |
If I were Google, I'd cast a very skeptical eye on any page with hundreds of links--not necessarily because it was part of a link farm, but because the links were almost certainly placed for SEO purposes or to pay back favors rather than because of their value to the user.
|Google needs to get it together |
If they nabbed you for an "outsourced link exchange program," it sounds like you're the one that needs to get it together. :-) Seriously: Their Webmaster Guidelines are quite clear, so why blame Google for taking defensive measures when businesses try to manipulate SERPs through link-exchange programs or other "artificial" SEO techniques? Google has a corporate obligation to protect the integrity of its core product: search.
I don't get how a site can be penalized for incomming non-recipricol links...
I have managed to get about 12 recipricol links over the last 5 years. However, when I search for who's linking to me I get 9,140 results. Most of these are SERP scraper sites/Adsense scraper sites. Are you telling me it is possible that I get penalized for these 9000+ links?
|If they nabbed you for an "outsourced link exchange program," it sounds like you're the one that needs to get it together. :-) |
You ain't kiddin.
This was actually my first attempt at a link exchange program in over 6 years of business - I thought I was being smart to invest my money in link exchange work rather than blow $500/week on Adwords.
Although I still don't know if my link exchange activity has anything to do with my (rather significant) drop, it also hasn't helped me as far as I can tell either.
So why continue to do something that doesn't work?
I guess I'll focus more on product line expansion and off-line marketing. Adwords/Overture is just too expensive on a PPC basis for my market at the current time.
I always appreciate reading your posts, europeforvisitors, thanks for your feedback!
One reasons I'm in the "organic" camp (Jeez, I sound like an old hippie) is that I'm a believer in the old line that "By the time you've heard about the latest thing, it's probably too late." I'd rather be safe than sorry. :-)
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