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Sell links, lose trust, drop out?
glengara




msg:3339910
 9:47 am on May 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Link sellers can lose trust, such as their ability to flow PageRank/anchortext." - Matt Cutts.

That mightn't be seen as a particularly serious consequence by sellers, unless of course it also applies to internal links.

For many sites the loss of internal "juice" would have some pretty serious consequences...

 

Quadrille




msg:3342826
 9:35 am on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can tentatively agree that one can maybe get a very limited view on themes with some basic word lists, but deciding that someone bought a link unless you monitor their bank/paypal accounts is kinda a weird and unbelievable claim.

Google never said they can detect all paid links, or all link sellers. They simply never made that claim.

Clearly, they couldn't be sure a 'run of text' link on a cr*p site was paid or not ... but a cr*p site is a cr*p site,; such links won't matter.

And wholesale linking from quality sites would stand out like Britney in a nunnery.

I reckon they can be fairly confident about spotting a goodly number of paidlinks ... and an even better number of linksellers.

Yes, the clandestine selling will continue; of course it will. But that will be one more reason for a site to slip, and no-one will know why. And if it's banned, and cleaned up *except* for the paidlinks (because the webmaster thinks he's fooled Google), it'll be inviting an even closer inspection.

Of course it won't stop paidlinks completely; but it will make them a significant risk. And selling paidlinks an even more significant risk.

reseller




msg:3342855
 10:26 am on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

glengara

Thing is Reseller if ALL links on a page/site with "unapproved" paid links are discounted it would hit sellers where it hurts, their rankings...

I wish you are right. However, I read something else in Matt Cutts post [mattcutts.com] of 2005:

Reputable sites that sell links won’t have their search engine rankings or PageRank penalized–a search for [daily cal] would still return dailycal.org. However, link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext).

As you see link sellers are neither going to lose their ranking on Google nor their PageRank!

I.e the lose of ability to give reputation mightbe limited to outbound paid links.

Its therefore I called Google proclaimed action to penalize backlinks sellers as farce ;-)

Quadrille




msg:3342920
 11:48 am on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Reputable sites that sell links
.

Not the same as a disreputable site selling links.

oneguy




msg:3342929
 12:03 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

>Not the same as a disreputable site selling links.

I'm glad they can tell the difference. I, for one, welcome our new link determining overlords. I would have thought they would give little credit to a disreputable site just for ermmm... being disreputable.

Seriously, I just wish they would work on their algo instead of telling webmasters what to do.

I don't really understand why, and maybe it reflects on me more than Google, but this talk about how a webmaster should link seems to have a threatening tone instead of an informational tone.

glengara




msg:3342937
 12:18 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

*..the lose of ability to give reputation mightbe limited to outbound paid links.*

That's my point, as it's difficult to determine simply discounting paid links has little discouragement value, so sellers can keep selling and buyers will keep buying...

Quadrille




msg:3342939
 12:20 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Inserted after to give context:
I don't really understand why, and maybe it reflects on me more than Google, but this talk about how a webmaster should link seems to have a threatening tone instead of an informational tone.

Not at all; webmasters are free to do exactly as they like; all Google is saying is that if they want to dine at the Google cafe, chucking cutlery at other diners is not acceptable behaviour.

And it's ALL to do with the algo. They've been working on a 'cutlery throwing detector', apparently.

Webmasters who choose to continue throwing cutlery may find they may only enter the Google cafe if they consent to having their cutlery in plastic, and their throwing arm restrained, while they are in Google's building.

Webmasters, as always, have a choice. But do you really think Google should be expected to do nothing while the lager louts disrupt things for the straightheads? Really?

[edited by: Quadrille at 12:23 pm (utc) on May 18, 2007]

oneguy




msg:3342961
 12:40 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Webmasters, as always, have a choice. But do you really think Google should be expected to do nothing while the lager louts disrupt things for the straightheads? Really?

Of course I don't expect them to do nothing.

However, they aren't just telling link buyers and link sellers what to do. They're telling everyone what to do, and maybe part of my resistance has to do with that.

I can't believe it's only the link sellers and link buyers that don't like this. I'm neither. I have multiple websites and many friends with websites, and I don't really like being told how to link to them.

At the end of the day, Google can choose to include my sites or not. I don't dispute that, but I think some of the resistance might be because Google has such dominance, they would like to tell the entire internet how to behave so their website works how they want their website to work.

What if MSN originally came out with this position? I think there would be far fewer defenders. I guess there would be far fewer people bothered by it too. They'd just say "Pffft, who cares?"

I like google traffic, and will assimilate in some fashion. I want the carrot, but that doesn't mean I have to like the threat of a stick.

pontifex




msg:3342965
 12:47 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am not against or pro paid links, but I do not understand the scientific approach here.

A paid link is in my understanding in its nature a top-sign of quality for the user. People who run sites for "blue widgets" and buy a link for "blue widget" will make sure, the surfer gets happy, wont they?

I mean, if I pay for a link, I want to have a ROI on that spending, so I better make sure the content placed on the target page is good! In my forums and software listings, most of the free links we accept vanish after a few months or 2 years. Paid links do have a target for sure! Paid links are a pro-quality sign by nature! If the target goes offline, the buyer will not pay for the link anymore. That is a tough hard quality sign right on the point - the best we (and the search engines) have, IMHO! If some blackhat spammer uses that technique to gather some PPP links to his spammy neighbourhood, the paid link is not the problem, the spammer is!

That approach by Google to de-value paid links is IMHO the first big mistake in concept I see in their mindset.

I, as a surfer (not a webmaster) rather go to people, who care about their content and sites. I consider that paid link a sign of such character.

Am I blind?

P!

europeforvisitors




msg:3342968
 12:55 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Seriously, I just wish they would work on their algo instead of telling webmasters what to do.

1) It's a safe bet that they're always working on their algo.

2) Would you be happier if Google ignored this forum's constant cries for "transparency" and just started whacking suspected link sellers or buyers without warning? (That wouldn't be an unreasonable approach, since Google has never made any secret of its preference for "natural" linking.)

Quadrille




msg:3343006
 1:41 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

The point is, lest we forget, that Google are not doing this for the fun of it, or to take over the world (sorry, but they're not!).

they are doing this to enhance the quality of their product.

Now, I can fully understand a link seller objecting to that; of course he will. Or she.

But other than them, unless people have a better idea than this - which cannot hurt and may succeed, at least to some extent - what's the beef?

Since waaaay before Google, there has been a 'war' between SEs and those who would game their results. Google has made mistakes ... with hindsight ... but webmasters really have a simple choice; work WITH Google, or work against them.

I seriously cannot see that as a difficult decision - but then, I don't have a better idea on how to clean up the serps a little. And for my sites, which do NOT benefit from paidlinks - they live or die by the rules, I see a clear advantage.

This is not about ethics, or Good Versus Evil - it's about quality, and whether we choose to let people cheat US (by cheating Google) or not.

I don't support Google for fun - I support them if and when it's in MY interest. And By Gum, it is now.

PowerUp




msg:3343047
 2:04 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think devaluing paid links is a way to increase Goog's revenue. If my company have set aside $30,000 for marketing whereby I intend to use $5,000 for buying links and now that I know paying $5,000 for paid links won't do me any good, then what would I do with it? Pump it to Adwords or other ad campaigns of course.

Quadrille




msg:3343054
 2:11 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Except that having 'upset' all these loyal webmasters, that 'spare' money is much more likely to be redirected towards Y! and M$N, or other rivals.

If that were Google's aim, it seems a pretty suicidal one, just as rivals are getting their advertising act together.

But then, we ALL know that Google's pretty stupid, don't we? ;)

oneguy




msg:3343063
 2:15 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is not about ethics, or Good Versus Evil - it's about quality, and whether we choose to let people cheat US (by cheating Google) or not.

I don't support Google for fun - I support them if and when it's in MY interest. And By Gum, it is now.

I applaud you for putting that down so clearly. Seriously, I do.

If I were a link seller, I'd feel the target on my back right now. Even though you're not a link seller, there's still probably nothing to keep Google from algorithmically deciding that you are. If that happens, I don't imagine that Google would come out in your defense, publicly or privately.

EFV - Maybe something is better than nothing. I'm not sure. I agree that nothing is required. They aren't particularly transparent now, weren't before, and probably never will be. That's why I see FUD mentioned above. I don't think they need to be transparent, create the illusion of an even playing field, or do most of the things I see people asking for. Their website is theirs, and they'll delist anyone who asks.

If they really wanted to be transparent, they would say exactly how to avoid getting caught up in any link selling filters they have in mind. Putting rel=nofollow on every outbound link might make you miss whatever filters they have in mind, but it will probably also tank you in the serps. That's not "natural" at all. I don't expect them to ever be transparent, or to ever verify much that isn't already very common knowledge.

To glengara, the original poster, I'm a little surprised they aren't telling link sellers that they can expect to be hit with the biggest hammer possible.

Discounting only the identified paid links impacts the buyer more than the seller, and it's the seller G wants to discourage.

Seems like they want to discourage both to me.

europeforvisitors




msg:3343075
 2:22 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think devaluing paid links is a way to increase Goog's revenue. If my company have set aside $30,000 for marketing whereby I intend to use $5,000 for buying links and now that I know paying $5,000 for paid links won't do me any good, then what would I do with it? Pump it to Adwords or other ad campaigns of course.

Or maybe it's a way to increase Yahoo and MSN's revenue, since link buyers who've been whacked by Matt Cutts & Co. are more likely to go sulking to Google's competition than to spend their money on Google AdWords. :-)

Seriously: It isn't all about you, me, or the guy next door. Real businesses with long-term goals understand the importance of product quality. Google has nothing to lose by slapping down greedy site owners who try to manipulate its search results; it does have a lot to lose if it doesn't try to maintain the quality of its product.

tedster




msg:3343078
 2:24 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Putting rel=nofollow on every outbound link ... will probably also tank you in the serps

Why do you think that? Google would be intentionally creating a double-bind if that were true, and I seriously doubt that they are.

pontifex




msg:3343081
 2:28 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, i figure it is sarcasm, but just to be clear: I am not selling links AND google IS pretty smart.

But the right way about taking paid links vs. natural links into consideration would be to change the algo as they like, but also spin off a new product "commercial web vs. semantic web". Relating the anchor text of a link to the content of a page to the SERP position is nothing more than "semantic web 0.2beta".

The "semantic web" as defined by a lot of smart minds out there is nice, but even with meta data on pages not nearly 1.0.

If Google would go beyond smart and be visionary again, they could use the data produced by paid links to create totally new commercial rankings or even create a service to register as a "link seller" or "link buyer" where you post your domains and get an extra flag as "commercial interesting" for consumers. That flag costs you per year and would even create more income for G.

They now hang just in their pre-2003 mindset and are happy that they got the index cleaned pretty good compared to earlier versions. The next generation of data organization and searching needs more than another algo tweak, it needs to take the triple nature of the web (inform, consume and entertain) into consideration. I only see Google focus on "inform", but consume is not less important for a consistent growth of the beast - <rant> and accepting 200 subdomains from an auction site as "good for consumers" can not be the solution either</rant>.

Another 2 pennies,
P!

europeforvisitors




msg:3343092
 2:39 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

If Google would go beyond smart and be visionary again, they could use the data produced by paid links to create totally new commercial rankings or even create a service to register as a "link seller" or "link buyer" where you post your domains and get an extra flag as "commercial interesting" for consumers. That flag costs you per year and would even create more income for G.

Why would a site be "commercially interesting" to users because it bought or sold links?

Kufu




msg:3343114
 3:10 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is indeed FUD.

If Google could reliably pick out text links algorithmically, they would not be asking for people to report link buys.

oneguy




msg:3343120
 3:12 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Putting rel=nofollow on every outbound link ... will probably also tank you in the serps


Why do you think that? Google would be intentionally creating a double-bind if that were true, and I seriously doubt that they are.

I don't have a site I want to throw away testing it, but I see it like this. 1.) People have used it since the beginning trying not to pass pagerank to recips. So, I'd imagine that a site with an unhealthy amount of outbound nofollow links would indicate that they are very aware of Google (building for search engines) and also trying to funnel or hoard pagerank. 2.) It's just not "natural" in a majority of spheres, so my (generally worthless) gut feeling is that you could expect a normal site out there to have zero nofollow links, or a certain sweet-spot proportion. Your normal quality websites will have some number of outbound links in proportion to the size of the site.

I'd just be surprised if it didn't throw up fishiness flags like 100% same inbound anchor text would. I have zero evidence, but also no need to know since I've never nofollowed anything, and don't see a need to on any current sites. Where I do allow user submitted content, people go through a captcha and email verification to be able to place links. The site is for users, and not easily abused.

I could also see nofollow links eventually used as a sign of quality too. It could indicate that people think a site is worth advertising on. It could indiate that a website wants to play ball Google's way. Maybe they turn the knobs that way, and everyone will add a certain percentage of nofollows.

I don't see the dislike of paid links as only a quality issue. I'm not sure they like a paid link market out there that they don't have a piece of. I'm fairly sure they don't like fielding complaints about it. Reducing that sort of noise is probably in their interest.

Quadrille




msg:3343145
 3:32 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is indeed FUD. If Google could reliably pick out text links algorithmically, they would not be asking for people to report link buys.

You need to keep up with events; they explained why.

They want to refine and develop the algo to better pick out paidlinks.

I could design an algo that would find 25% of them - and my tech knowledge would drown in a thimble.

And that's why they are getting help; it's to nudge up the catch rate. they don't need 100%; just enough to make a significant difference, at this stage.

FUD? Yes; and with very good reason. Until the revisions work though. Then FC ... and what's the opposite of 'doubt'?

[edited by: Quadrille at 3:33 pm (utc) on May 18, 2007]

pontifex




msg:3343175
 4:03 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why would a site be "commercially interesting" to users because it bought or sold links?

I don't know about your opinion about spending money, but if I do (work related), I try to get a ROI.

To get my return of invest, I better offer something, that converts or I will spend more money than I earn. Then I am broke and gone from the market (and I took my bought links with me).

So, if a company spends money on bringing traffic to their site, it better be converting into money or they are broke and gone sooner or later.

Once you have to pay to get the traffic and you can afford to pay for a long period of time, you earn more money than you spend and you are commercially interesting for visitors, because you sell so much, that you are still around! I call that "conversion ranking".

So, if you have not won the lottery, went public on or burn VC, a paid link is a sign of quality not the opposite!

Paid links only make sense for the buyer, if his traffic converts. If its not converting, no traffic will help!

That is, why I do not understand the link buying problem. It is wrong by concept to de-value it! Rather count conversion - that would make sense!

That is also the root of the problem for Google - they can not count conversion (for all sites they spider), so they must count links. For ranking, that is just ok, but not perfect.

2 pennies,

P!

Quadrille




msg:3343186
 4:09 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

a paid link is a sign of quality not the opposite!

Rather a broad generalization for my tastes; but beautifully argued. :) It may of course be a total 100% cr*p site that is spending the wife's bingo money on one last desperate fling.

However, Google's users are SEARCHERS: they are don't necessarily want QUALITY sites in their seps - they want RELEVANT sites.

So the perfect (!) logic simply doesn't apply.

Try to see it from the POV of the searcher; leave the webmaster to one side, he'll still be there when you get back. ;)

[edited by: Quadrille at 4:11 pm (utc) on May 18, 2007]

menial




msg:3343187
 4:11 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why would a site be "commercially interesting" to users because it bought or sold links?

Why would people click on Adwords ads then? Maybe Google should put a note by each Adwords link - "Don't click because they paid us to be displayed here."

arieng




msg:3343191
 4:14 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Putting rel=nofollow on every outbound link

I hope this thought process doesn't become to relevant. What good does it do Google or anyone else to have an Internet where are links are either no-followed or discounted to not pass page rank?

europeforvisitors




msg:3343208
 4:49 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Why would people click on Adwords ads then?

Because the ads use compelling text to offer something people want to buy (not because the advertiser paid for the ads).

menial




msg:3343214
 4:52 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Because the ads use compelling text to offer something people want to buy (not because the advertiser paid for the ads).

It's strange because my Adwords ads have grammatical errors and don't even describe the landing page at all, but they are still happily being listed (for a higher price though).

matrix_neo




msg:3343236
 5:23 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

Would you be happier if Google ignored this forum's constant cries for "transparency" and just started whacking suspected link sellers or buyers without warning?

If google does that then there would be no black hat and white hat, everybody will be trying aggressively to break the google algo many will succeed as well. Which is not good for the Google God either.

simonmc




msg:3343264
 5:39 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that people just follow the hype. lETS FACE IT. ..... 99.999999% of the worlds populatation don't even know who google are. 99.99999% of people searching the net do not have a website. 99.9999% of people with websites have got no idea about search engine rankings.

Stop allowing google to flatter yuo. They don't give a **** about you and your site.

thecityofgold2005




msg:3343271
 5:46 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

The problem here is using paid links to increase PR and gain benefit in the organic search rankings.

Advertising using Adwords or any other paid link program is a different issue and no-one is arguing that there is anything wrong with it. That’s where nofollow links come in. If you are buying links for advertising purposes you will not have a problem with nofollow.

The fact is that a lot of sites have been buying links for PR manipulation purposes and not advertising. This gaming of the algorithm is what Google is trying to stop.

Google wants a neutral internet, structured as if Google did not exist. Personally I think this is impossible whilst using any algorithmic search, but there you go, sadly I am not in charge of Google.

europeforvisitors




msg:3343280
 6:01 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

The fact is that a lot of sites have been buying links for PR manipulation purposes and not advertising. This gaming of the algorithm is what Google is trying to stop.

Google doesn't need to stop PageRank selling and buyng altogether; search results will benefit if the practice is merely brought down to a more manageable level. By giving fair warning of their intentions, Google's search engineers are accomplishing two things:

1) They're creating a deterrent effect that won't discourage everyone but should help to discourage the casually reckless; and...

2) They'll come off looking like the good guys (and the smart guys) in comparison to arrogant SEOs and Webmasters who ignore public warnings, continue trying to manipulate Google's search results, and discover that they aren't as clever as they thought they were.

Sounds like a "win-win" formula to me.

matrix_neo




msg:3343282
 6:01 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

The problem here is using paid links to increase PR and gain benefit in the organic search rankings.

Great. The actual problem behind the whole issue is poor search results (manupulated) according to google. When people talk about adwords they talk about the poor sites that are displayed through adwords on the first page. We all agree adwords links does not pass PR.

For example I make a crappy website and try every thing for a year to rank in google, and I fail because the great google knows my site is a crap, and now I pay a few dollers a click through adwords and displayed in the first page.

How my site suddenly become qualified with out any changes?

Is that site of mine on the first page not a reason for poor result overall? If anybody say no, do you think my ad will never get clicked if no then google is not sending traffic to a poor site for some dollers? And cant we do the same?

It is pure business, some where every body have to sacrifice. If ranking by links are so important for google then they must sacrifice some PR of which they dont have control.

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