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Is Googe Devaluing "Social Content" Links?

 6:26 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's not a big secret. Webmasters looking for a ranking boost have been using "web 2.0" tactics for quick link building. Even folks with long-established sites began to dabble in this trendy area. It sounds pretty innocent, doesn't it? The question is being asked even by major corporate web teams.

While this trend mushroomed, I've been wondering how long it might take for the Google algo to defend against this kind of link, which really is not the kind of "earned vote" that they most want to reward. So, has the time arrived?

Here's a quote from Googler, Stefanie Ulrike Dürr, that reads like a clear warning to me.

A more recent method is link baiting, which typically takes advantage of Web 2.0 social content websites. One example of this new way of generating links is to submit a handcrafted article to a service such as http://digg.com. Another example is to earn a reputation in a certain field by building an authority through services such as http://answers.yahoo.com. Our general advice is: Always focus on the users and not on search engines when developing your optimization strategy.


Who knows what rough beast, its time come 'round at last, is slouching toward Mountain View to be born, eh?

What do others see? I suspect (but cannot prove) that less PR is now passing from "web 2.0". Perhaps something even more intense is afoot? Are websites now losing position who have built their rankings with a significant amount of social content linking?



 6:59 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's hard to tell if it's linkbait or just a great article picked up by a visitor and posted there. I think Goog is just trying to scare people into not doing it. If one bookmarks your site, that seems like a true vote, so I am not sure how will google separate link-bait from a real vote.

I suppose if they hand check they could tell for the most obvious cases, but still, that's limited.


 7:09 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

The primary value in sites like Digg is exposure to thousands of people, some of who are bloggers who find specific content worthy of being linked to.

Some of the people linking to the sites are bloggers who feel the content is worth linking to and link to it and you'll pick up some RSS subscribers. If your content isn't good enough then none of that will happen- meritocratic, right?

What happens if your site happens to be authoritative and Yahoo Answer people keep dropping links to your site? Is Google saying they have a surprise for you?

If Google is going to demote the abuse of the practice, how would they analyze inbound link patterns to spot abusive link baiting? Could they take into account spontaneous bursts of links to specific content, and compare that with the rate of link acquisition to the rest of the content?

Or would they automatically devalue clusters of links associated with Digg and other community based sites?

Interesting blog post.


 8:31 am on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

More Google scare tactics.


If it's such an uncontrollable problem, why are they announcing to the world?

If they already have a solution, why are they announcing it to the world?

I've been wondering how long it might take for the Google algo to defend against this kind of link, which really is not the kind of "earned vote" that they most want to reward

Can you please explain to me how this is not an "earned vote"

My goodness, the Almighty MC gave several posts encouraging "natural" link-baiting with good content.

This is all getting so ridiculous. Please stop the madness!

Someone tell Brin and Sergei to come up with a new algo and be sure not to release the main ranking component to the world... incoming links.
(cause none of us non-google PHDs webmasters would EVER figure out why certain sites rank better than others)


 6:12 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

Is Googe Devaluing "Social Content" Links?

Can't say if they are actually doing this or not, but...

In order to protect their PR-centric ranking algo, IMHO, they should devalue - or, at least, keep under check - any 'platform' that has the potential to be abused for artificially inflating a site's link popularity.

Some such generally recognized (and devalued) platforms that readily come to mind are FFA pages, link farms, guestbooks....

May be Social Content (or Web 2.0) is next in the queue?


 10:18 pm on Dec 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure anymore if they need to devalue them any more than they already do. They're pretty much worthless unless as martinibuster stated, the information is so great that they'll get picked up ( naturally ) and spread all across the net. For then it might happen, that within this cluster of citations, there're one or two links of "value". Not that this would be the goal... and even if it gets achieved as a sideeffect, it's pretty well deserved then, isn't it? :P

Info on a web 2.0 site has no weight other than let's say...
...an article in an offline fanzine that has its readers overlaping with other communities... no Google related importance at all.

The reason for me saying this is...
Google is not about the number of IBLs anymore, position in their serps rely heavily on TrustRank whether they'll comment on this or not. And so is Yahoo! search.

Without clearing the threshold for it you won't be on the SERPs.

So aside relevancy and PR, it could be TrustRank that could be passed, but...

Web 2.0 sites have NO TrustRank. They won't gain any. Mysterious isn't it ;) ... Meaning they will pass on relevancy ( although not a too clear one for they're usually swarming with off-topic content even if the actual information is relevant )... they might pass on PR, but most of the pages don't have much ( usually none to be precise ). So they're more or less worthless from a SERP score point of view, but clearly a great idea for telling people about something. That's what they're for!

I guess most of you know... but this was news to me back then :P...
...that with TrustRank ( which i'll call this even if the trademark and the patent was "dropped" )... Google and Yahoo! have pretty much gave themselves a license to offset results for queries, query types, or for a single domain as they wish. It's not gonna make a site top 30, but without it a site can NOT be top 30, unless it's outside of one of the main Google languages. They can set and reset the hubs, and even filter out domains not to gain or pass any of it.

Myspace is most certainly held back from gaining TrustRank. So is livespaces. I kind of can relate to these decisions too.

But seeing all this i just can't believe there'd be a REASON for them to even think of watching these social networks any closer.


Unless they're trying to scare people who already know, or don't care that these links, articles won't count for seo, however the sheer number of people picking up the information, and spreading it on the net OUTSIDE the untrusted domains... might very well matter.
Information, reviews, links, citations appearing randomly... for the article, site, product, service,... joke... whatever... was so great that they post something about it out of empathy... so that they can relate themselves to this information... and feel like as if they've contributed to it in a way :P ( i'm doing it, you're doing it, Google lives off of this ;D )

And once the word is out, there's no way you can track this back, but...

I'm with whitenight on this.

Why would anyone want to? Why?
There's your most reliable quality filter ever!

People "voting" with no... none... zero benefit for doing so, simply because they liked something and want to relate themselves to it.
This is how the net has worked since day one!
No, make that this is how society... no... this is how INFORMATION works.

You know... if Google really does anything else about this matter than having someone comment something scary about it at random...

They're more paranoid than most borderline webmasters on this forum :P

You can't limit the flow of information.
If tomorrow a major newspaper was to publish an offline-only article with the cutest thing in the world that as a matter of fact had a website... and it'd get a lot of links from fans of cute things from all around the world, REAL quick... what then? Nothing. Nothing at all, it should be at the top of the SERPs for cute pretty soon. As it deserves to be there!


 4:04 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

As social content by definition is user-generated content, I assumed that links from social content sites were using nofollow and as such those links shouldn't have any value anyway.

3 months ago I decided to add links to social bookmarking sites from the pages of user-generated content on one of my major sites. The links would allow my users to easily submit these pages to social bookmarking sites.

I thought it would be good for organic, natural traffic. 3 weeks after I added the links this site was penalized by G and lost 95% of it's Google referrals. The only explanation I received from them was that it was due to 'buying links to manipulate PageRank'. Since I have never bought links in my lifetime, it is very possible that what got this site penalized was a sudden increase in links from social bookmarking sites.

I didn't think it could possibly be an issue, again assuming that these links would be shielded with nofollow tags, but it sure seems like this is the most likely explaination of the penalty.


 6:25 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think 2.00 caused much of a blip in the google algo.

Link exchanges 1.0, buddy blogs 2.0.
PR releases 1.0, blog feeds 2.0.

2.0 is a source of traffic that is not totally dependent on search, link values should be considered, measured and exploited, rather than focusing on their effects on Google search results.


 7:36 am on Dec 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Now that I think about it, I like to see this happen and then let all the REAL bloggers of the world comment on it.

Unlike silly webmasters, many 2.0 bloggers don't breathe and die over Google's adsense program or rankings. (such idealistic foolishness, huh?)

And last I checked, much of mainstream media goes to BLOGS and Social Bookmarking sites for their up-to-date info. Not Google news.

Geez, some silly bloggers might even get the idea that Google was engaging in monopolistic predatory practices by claiming articles voted upon in a DEMOCRATIC fashion should be discounted.


 4:59 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

What happens if your site happens to be authoritative and Yahoo Answer people keep dropping links to your site? Is Google saying they have a surprise for you?

Actually, the reference outlinks in Yahoo Answers all get nofollow slapped on them already, which I wish I'd known before I spent all that time on there giving them content for free.


 5:56 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

looks like christmas already online.
so much communication from the plex...


 7:40 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I remember Matt Cutts including link baiting among his "SEO advices." There, he openly encourages such baiting tactics:

I see something along the lines: "Damned if you do, damned if you do not."
Or, the motto for the Google: Favored today damned tomorrow!


 7:41 pm on Dec 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't think 2.00 caused much of a blip in the google algo.

Link exchanges 1.0, buddy blogs 2.0.
PR releases 1.0, blog feeds 2.0.

Nice sensible post on the subject, minnapple, and good to see around here where it sometimes seems as if the Google/Web 2.0 pixie dust is at its most effective.

Random Google flunkie: "Don't participate in schemes to artificially inflate your number of links - unless it's with Digg, cos that's like way cool, man, and no-one outside the US and the SE industry has ever heard of it."
Random SE conference speaker: "Reciprocal links are dead. I told you that decades ago. Blogs are the way to go. You get to link to your mates and your sites and they link back to you...errr, maybe I'll get back to you on that."


 6:28 am on Dec 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I thought it would be good for organic, natural traffic. 3 weeks after I added the links this site was penalized by G and lost 95% of it's Google referrals. "

? - So if you "promote" via these social bookmarking sites then your going to get a penalty? What if these sites drive you traffic? Could it be called the "traffic penalty" - This is just a joke.

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