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|Google Backlinks Culture|
The inherited weakness in Google ranking system
It looks like that at present everybody is talking about backlinks. savvy and novice webmasters and even the SEO gurus keep preaching backlinks. Our good friend Matt Cutts also very focused on backlinks these days. Not to talk about yours truly whom keep posting messages related to backlinks ;-)
Sometimes it helps to step back and rethink the situation of backlinks. How and why we have ended on paying so much attention to one factor related to ranking pages on Google and ignoring to some extent a very important factor in the existence of our sites; to cover our sites visitors needs and provide them with pleasant experience.
In fact we have ended up in a very poor culture governed by backlinks and links baiting. No more talk about quality contents. Some times ago contents was a king. Today only "well linked" content rank on Google regardless of the quality of that content. Maybe we together with Google have killed the king and have announced instead "Dictator Backlink" to govern Google's serps.
The problem with the backlinks culture is that it encourages primitive thinking about a website presence on the internet as well as a website ranking on search engines. Almost everything could be explained nowadays by the presence or lack of backlinks ignoring the rest of the so claimed more than hundred factors which decide ranking on Google's serps.
It mightbe also therefore we see a huge growth in the number of SEO gurus. Some of those gurus are nothing but backlinks puppets. Backlinks all what they know and preach.
Maybe Google has based ranking on its serps on a very fragile backlinks system that can't protect itself and very difficult to mandate and police.
In such situation, we as human need somebody else than ourselves to blame, of course. As such I'm blaming it on Google ;-)
Or should I blame it on the webmaster communities that haven't been successful in educating their own members as well as those blogger happy SEOes who keep preaching backlinks and links baiting?
Well said Reseller - I like your directness which challenges the "backlink culture".
Google has allowed us to play "chicken and egg" to get sites into position. But more importantly it is calculating the real voter's value - the user experience.
I think we're moving away from dependence on "backlinks" and i predict that far better user data [ as you eluded to ] will progresively come into the equation. What I am observing is a progressive dilution or elimination of many backlink practices over the last 18 months. It's much clearer that Google is targeting this area.
So if some of our good community is still focusing on old practices, then time is getting shorter. Best to move onward and upward.
|In fact we have ended up in a very poor culture governed by backlinks and links baiting. No more talk about quality contents. Some times ago contents was a king. Today only "well linked" content rank on Google regardless of the quality of that content. |
I don't think that's true, and I also think Google is getting better about determining (or at least making a good ballpark estimate) of which links are signals of "quality content." That's why we see agonized posts here from people who can't figure out why their rankings have headed south despite 20,000 inbound links.
I also don't think a "backlinks culture" is as big a problem as a "content is just filler" culture. A lot of Webmaster World members are willing to invest time, skills, and even money in SEO, but how many are willing to make the same kind of investment in professional editors and writers, even though true "quality content" might result in more backlinks from sites that are trusted by Google?
|...but how many are willing to make the same kind of investment in professional editors and writers, even though true "quality content" might result in more backlinks from sites that are trusted by Google? |
In an ideal world, this is how it would be, but the answer to your question, IMHO, is probably very few.
It doesn't alter the relevance of reseller's comment though. The old mantra 'content is king' is hardly ever mentioned any more while Webmasters chase their tails worrying about links rather than producing the good quality, unique content that would attract natural links.
the best article I remember about backlinks:
Link Development vs. Traffic Development [webmasterworld.com]
For either those who have missed it and those who might have forgot it.
|It doesn't alter the relevance of reseller's comment though. The old mantra 'content is king' is hardly ever mentioned any more while Webmasters chase their tails worrying about links rather than producing the good quality, unique content that would attract natural links. |
That's inevitable at a site like Webmaster World, where SEO and e-commerce are core topics, and where content (whether editorial or sales copy) is of secondary interest to the typical members. I could point you to forums on writer-oriented sites where linking and SEO hardly ever get discussed.
There is a big difference between natural links and unnatural. Natural links are ones that are not placed or influenced by the webmaster of the site being linked to. Recently Google has downgraded a lot of links and a lot of webmasters found themselves in the -950. Oh well. This shows us that google is moving away from ranking serps on back links which is good.
One thing I have learned when it comes to penalties, never take advice from a person on webmaster world who is in a penalty themselves.
Content is easy to do. In fact in some cases we have robots making it. Backlinks are harder to fake. That is why backlinks rule.
|Content is easy to do. In fact in some cases we have robots making it |
Isn't that called scraping? ;)
>>> Content is easy to do. In fact in some cases we have robots making it. Backlinks are harder to fake. That is why backlinks rule.
Absolutely. I've given this quite a bit of thought over the last few days, and that's basically what I feel. The idea of 'quality' content just can't be defined. Fact is, I've got both more and better content on some of my sites than any of my competitors, but Google counts that for basically squat. And in this same environment I've got to go aggressively after links to compete.
|Content is easy to do. In fact in some cases we have robots making it. Backlinks are harder to fake. That is why backlinks rule. |
With real content, you don't have to fake backlinks. You don't even have to go looking for them (at least in my experience).
Quality content, titter. It is the utopian google dream in a perfect world of people linking because it is linkworthy. How many times have I seen on this forum "but I make quality content and some MFA sites ranks above me"
The reality is we live in a commercial world and you need links more then you need content. Google does not know if your content is quality, it is just a machine that indexes the words and has no idea of what quality is.
|but I make quality content |
Many sites aren't as good as their owners think they are. If they submitted the same "quality content" to a newspaper or magazine they'd get laughed at, thrown out and told not to come back.
EFV's point is, and Webmasters will do well to listen, that if your content is "good enough" then other sites' Webmasters will link to it without even being asked to do so.
In an earlier not-so-commercial time, this was the premise that Google's algorithm was based on. They treated links as a vote by one Webmaster for another Webmaster's site (page, actually).
Let that stand as a lesson for those who ask questions like, "How good is good enough?" and "Why won't people link to the content that I paid to have written?" The answer is that among a sample of Webmasters, the content was not useful enough -- or well-written enough, or unique enough to bother linking to.
Worry all you like about precisely where G and Y and MSN and Ask draw the line today on "good content" -- They're probably not the ones you need to please (today). Your site needs to appeal to other people who know something about your site's subject, and impress them as being link-worthy.
But, the SEs will get smarter as CPU, memory, and disks get cheaper, and you can bet that the the search providers' "Holy Grail" is to approach the ability of the human Webmasters discussed above to pick content that is "good enough."
Those who can't write or don't know their subjects, those who can't figure out what their site's visitors might find useful, and even those with a cynical attitude toward "good content" will find themselves asking, "What went wrong" with their site that was #1 for years but has been in steady decline since "Update 2010-1".
A good solid working definitions of "good content" is the same as that of genuine "good link-bait": If other Webmasters are impressed enough to link to it without being asked, then it is "good enough." And I believe that as time goes on, the SEs will work toward being able to tell the good from the faux; In order for their organic search to survive on a Web driven by commercial imperatives, they will have to.
(Blogs and forums have widened the scope of potential linkers these days, so where I wrote "Webmasters" above, you can also include posters on blogs and forums which don't use <a href="x" rel="nofollow">.)
EFV's point is fine if you have an info site as he does but does not do you much good if you have a commecial site on indsutrial washers as the appeal is just not there. So I think it depends on what you write about whether it is link worthy or not.
I am sure someone could come up with a way to make boring products linkworthy but for me I would actively go and get some links and get it over and done with rather than waiting for people to link to me.
Then again there is more than one way to get backlinks, so each to his own. The main point being that you need them to rank, content on its own 99% of the time will not be enough.
Backlinks are important but don't mean squat if you don't have good backlinks. What everybody should be worried about right now is authority. If you can get google to think of you as an authority you will rank well with fewer backlinks. Even when you say create good content you are still talking about links. Great content can only go so far without links.
|Even when you say create good content you are still talking about links. Great content can only go so far without links. |
Sure, but great content (or a unique selling proposition) can help you get quality links. I'm not just talking about information sites, either: In my sector (travel), newspapers, magazines, and other media sites often link to e-commerce sites that offer unique services, timely products, or publicity-worthy gimmicks. If more commercial sites invested in content--and in public relations--they might not have to scramble for valuable inbound links.
> EFV's point is fine if you have an info site as he does but does not do you much good if you have a commecial site on industrial washers as the appeal is just not there.
I'm not the type to argue, so please take this as a discussion, but given the choice between industrial bolts, washers, and nuts, and industrial fabric cleaning devices, I'll assume that the former is the more 'boring' of the two.
As such, I'd suggest that since the visitors/buyers are likely to be a mixture of industrial engineers and industrial hardware purchasing agents, a good approach would be to provide hardware selection guides, explain the various types of washers and their applications, describe materials selected for each part (e.g chrome-pated carbon steel, stainless steel, etc.), durability of these materials, washer design vibration characteristics, corrosion resistance, size, dimensional tolerances -- all the factors that an engineer would consider when selecting a parts. And even if these parts are standardized across the industry, the engineer looking for a part might have lent his 15-pound paper catalog and applications guide to another engineer two cubicles down... Put all the info where he can get to it fast, without having to hunt down that catalog.
For the purchasing agent, go out of your way to make the purchasing experience smooth and error-free -- that's probably what is most important to them.
Just because a product is mundane doesn't mean that you can't publish useful information about it. I believe that it will turn out to be the most effective future-proofing possible in a world of paid-for and off-topic links.
I don't think the search engines will get to this holy grail soon, but they've made it clear that it is their goal to return the 'best' documents; How they'll get there is unknown, but they've said that's what they want to do, and I believe them... It's just a matter of time.
"but does not do you much good if you have a commecial site on indsutrial washers as the appeal is just not there."
That's the point. Pretending there is appeal is just being deceptive. But still I've yet to see a valuable site that could not get links within its broad niche.
The only sites nobody wants to link to are sites nobody wants to go to.
Linking still reveals valuable content to search engines. The engines just have to be able to discern genuine from deception.
|Quality content, titter. It is the utopian google dream in a perfect world of people linking because it is linkworthy. How many times have I seen on this forum "but I make quality content and some MFA sites ranks above me" |
Crush, I think you're mistaken. Quality content, however one chooses to define it, will attract links because it is linkworthy. The linked page provides further information, corroboration of a point or fact, or brings mutual benefit to both parties.
Any niche is likely to have some MFAs ranking above it, no matter how 'good' the content. :)
|EFV's point is fine if you have an info site as he does but does not do you much good if you have a commecial site on indsutrial washers as the appeal is just not there. So I think it depends on what you write about whether it is link worthy or not. |
That's not strictly true either. A site on industrial washers could be linkworthy for someone who writes how-to fix industrial washer articles - link to where to buy them, and conversely, the industrial washer site will find the how-to fix site linkworthy because it provides further independent information on how to use their product.
Any site which is genuinely useful to another site can be made linkworthy; even the most boring topics. ogletree is right. If your site is seen as an authority site, it doesn't matter whether it's an e-commerce site or an info site like EFV's. You'll acquire links because people trust you. Google likes trust.
Quality content is in the eye of the beholder, but to my eye, it's content that gives me what I'm looking for. Hell, even that well known consumer hotel review site could be considered quality content if twenty reviews tell me the hotel I was thinking of booking is c*&p. ;)
In at least some cases, ecommerce for instance, getting links takes more than good content.
(Notice I said "good" not "quality". Junky content qualifies as having some "quality", so let's be a bit more specific.)
Back to the good quality content and the need for something more, at least on ecomm sites. If you want sites to send you traffic that wants to make a purchase, your system better be easy to use.
Given choice between a two sites selling the same items, one well designed and easy to use site with mediocre content and the other site being poorly designed and difficult to use, I'll link to the easy to use site with mediocre content most of the time.
Why send clicks to ecomm sites that can't figure out how to make buying from them as easy as possible.
Maybe it's just me.
Well what about the well-designed site with excellent content, then? :)
And what if, in addition to making the sale, the site explains that your widget will be happier/better/more productive if you also buy a wodget to go with it?
I don't think this is rocket science: Everybody gets some "instant buyers" and everybody gets some "researchers." If you think of the "researchers" as an opportunity to pre-sell instead of just a drain on your bandwidth and act accordingly, I would expect revenue to increase. For those who have already purchased, think of your content as an opportunity to "upsell" them. Good stuff also makes your site sticky, leading to a degree of customer loyalty.
I don't tout outstanding content as a cure-all, it's just one important part of many that should be done right for best results.
|EFV's point is fine if you have an info site as he does but does not do you much good if you have a commecial site on industrial washers as the appeal is just not there. |
It may be to the editor of INDUSTRIAL WASHER NEWS. But it's your job to convince the editor that your site has something unique to offer, and that INDUSTRIAL WASHER NEWS should run an article on your quick-turnaround custom washer capability, your just-in-time washer delivery service, or your ability to package washers in EZ-Trak(TM) bins with a choice of barcodes or RFID chips.
The SEO community is overrun with marketers nowadays. They will try to convince you great marketing is what online business is all about.
Now I'm not saying spending 2 hours writing a spam script that generates 3K uniques/day doesn't work. It works. I got money in the bank to prove it. That's 100% "marketing" and zero content.
But take a look at how, for example, game companies dish out their products. They have a product development phase and a marketing phase. They spend 12 months building the game, then they market the game using High Def trailers, demos, interviews, conferences.
Webmasters need to realize to market something, you first need something to market. That's where great content comes in. And if your product is really amazing, word of mouth will spread like wildfire.
But I do write good content, 30 years professional experience, detailed knowledge of the core subject, readers and my peers who often congratulate me on the ability to clearly express complicated ideas in simple terms and all that counts for squat against a clutch of manipulated back links most of which have been bought or spammed and are aimed at machine generated pages that are totally unintelligible. Why I bother I just donít know. The dark side is very appealing at times.
The Google PageRank concept was fine at the beginning (especially when measured against primitive AltaVista) but very quickly it became overwhelmed by us guys manipulating it.
Ultimately, it is user experience that should be the biggest ranking factor.
Using backlinks / PageRank alone will never give an accurate reflection of user experience because it's usually not the users creating links.
It's now a question of how do Google (or a competitor) best measure user experience and factor it into ranking.
There have been loads of methods of doing this discussed on these forums in recent weeks and Google is obviously already experimenting with some of these.
I like the wikiasearch idea because it is the purest form of user voting. Whether it will ever achieve the critical mass it will need to succeed I don't know.
Great content gets you unsolicited links which do not follow any specific pattern and that's best kind of link you can ever get. When I get those, the pagerank of the site offering the link is somewhat irrelevant.
I've seen honest homegrown sites with lots of unique and valuable content just languish in the serps, mainly because their owners don't have a clue about optimization or promotion, and, in many cases, don't care. Those sites should be higher in the serps because they are useful. And perhaps oneday they will be higher, but unsolicited link acquisition is a very slow process. And I continue to see sites with bad content, no content, and rippedoff content do well with lots of garbage links. Those same sites are much less likely to get unsolicited links and hopefully they'll start to fall in the serps at some point.
My own approach has been to constantly write content and constantly be in a state of running link building campaigns the old fashioned way. And this typically makes for an average 60 hour workweek, week in and week out, and makes it nearly impossible to operate more than a handful of sites. Frankly, I don't think most webmasters are willing to do this, not for a month and certainly not for years on end, and accepting the reality that this is a required, continuous, nonstop process.
|EFV's point is, and Webmasters will do well to listen, that if your content is "good enough" then other sites' Webmasters will link to it without even being asked to do so. |
Maybe. Or perhaps they'll just scrape it - or better still - put something like it but orginal enough to pass muster on their site. I have clients in competitive industries who will NEVER link to a potential competitor, no matter how good their site. If they see something they like on another site they'll get me to do something similar on theirs.
Burger King restaurants don't have signs telling you where the nearest MacDonalds is. They're too busy selling their own burgers.
"If you build it, they will come" is a good philosophy and a good start to any website. But, just like the real world, you need to put yourself about a bit too to get interest going and keep it going. That's what links represent.
|I have clients in competitive industries who will NEVER link to a potential competitor, no matter how good their site.....Burger King restaurants don't have signs telling you where the nearest MacDonalds is. They're too busy selling their own burgers. |
Burger King doesn't rely on the charity of the local library or media to bring traffic to its doors, either. It buys TV and radio commercials, runs ads, distributes coupon flyers, etc., because it isn't under the illusion that the job of the library, newspaper, or 10 p.m. TV news is to supply it with customers. And if the folks at Burger King do want to get free publicity, they sponsor the library's summer "Reading Camp" program or come up with something clever that the newspaper and 10 o'clock news will want to cover.
>>>>My own approach has been to constantly write content and constantly be in a state of running link building campaigns the old fashioned way. And this typically makes for an average 60 hour workweek, week in and week out, and makes it nearly impossible to operate more than a handful of sites.
I personally believe this is the best approach - BOTH content and link building. I'm in the business of selling people on linking to me (so I can rank in the serps). Content is the product I'm offering - but unless I sell it nothing happens.
Sure some folks get buy without the link building, but that's not transferable to many industries. And some do the link building without the content and that works fine to in some cases too I'm sure - it just doesn't fit with my style of link building.
Do both and you've got sites that will eventually crawl up the serps and stick. Do both, and long term you can beat sites that don't do both.
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