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Report paid links - new in Google Webmaster Tools
Oliver Henniges




msg:3366164
 9:19 am on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

This morning I discovered a new tool on the frontpage of my webmaster central account -- Report paid links.

When has this one been added? I only take a look at my sitemap-account every few days. What are the consequences?

[edited by: tedster at 4:53 pm (utc) on June 13, 2007]
[edit reason] remove secure https url [/edit]

 

supafresh




msg:3366546
 5:06 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just noticed this today too

jakegotmail




msg:3366560
 5:25 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't have webmaster tools set up can someone do me a favor and report these paid links:

[google.com...]

trakkerguy




msg:3366565
 5:38 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nice. I need to figure out how to "buy" that link for a few sites :)

supafresh




msg:3366458
 3:14 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

Report Paid Links in Webmaster tools -- oooh boy...

I never noticed this on my dashboard before is it new?
Its a link on the right hand side.

We work hard to return the most relevant results for every search we conduct. To that end, we encourage site managers to make their content straightforward and easily understood by users and search engines alike. Unfortunately, not all websites have users' best interests at heart. Some site owners attempt to "buy PageRank™" in the form of paid links to their sites. Buying links to improve PageRank violates our quality guidelines.

Google uses a number of methods to detect paid links, including algorithmic techniques. We also welcome information from our users. If you know of a site that buys or sells links, please tell us by filling out the fields below. We'll investigate your submissions, and we'll use your data to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.

[edited by: tedster at 5:41 pm (utc) on June 13, 2007]

zafile




msg:3366597
 6:19 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Cool!

Web sites full of links with or with out a brief description are a waste of bandwidth.

The Yahoo directory and DMOZ are more than enough.

night707




msg:3366600
 6:23 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Nice one!

That Bryn & Page are now teaming up with ugly snitches just shows, how desperate they are to survive with their faulty algo concept that is producing so much crap results for loads of popular search terms.

They will receive complete catalogues from all links selling sites and thousands of publishers and advertisers are bound to get finished with a 950 penalty.

Tough for all those, who bought links inside directories or from regular publishers. Now this will earn them penalties.

randle




msg:3366606
 6:29 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

We'll investigate your submissions, and we'll use your data to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links.

I don't work in the buy/sell links space, but I think a lot about how in the world their going to accomplish this.

If site A, links to site B; what signs would there be to enable them to accumulate the data necessary to tag that link algorithmically as paid? I don't think they would be making such a push for volunteers to submit information if they already had good identifiers.

The whole paid link issue is a real dog on a bone with Google; their just not going to let it go.

plumsauce




msg:3366645
 7:09 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)


I thought they could do everything algorithmically?

At the very least they should pay a bounty :)

Let's see:

adwords,
adsense,
adsnitch.

europeforvisitors




msg:3366659
 7:16 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think they would be making such a push for volunteers to submit information if they already had good identifiers.

For all we know, they could be using "paid link" reports simply for QC purposes, in much the same as they use human evaluators to help in setting paramaters for spam identification.

Oliver Henniges




msg:3366674
 7:31 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

> I thought they could do everything algorithmically?

It is a reasonable approach to train a neuronal network with human input. The final goal would still be a scalable something.

To my opinion this is just another step in the same direction, which started with implementing the webmaster central at all last year: Google is seeking communication with and the help of "trusted webmasters." Whether things are fine at present, or whether communication is too uni-directional, is another matter. I'm sure our comments on this issue are carefuly followed by the google insiders, even if they don't contribute by posting feedback.

> At the very least they should pay a bounty :)

The visitors google so kindly sends to my website, and the profit I make from their requests are comparable to a whole van of bounties every month. I tend to get fat anyways at present, so I am quite happy I am not paid in sweets.

Robert Charlton




msg:3367003
 2:21 am on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

For all we know, they could be using "paid link" reports simply for QC purposes, in much the same as they use human evaluators to help in setting parameters for spam identification.

That's been my guess about what they're doing. It's made a lot of webmasters who aren't necessarily buying links, though, feeling that they could be sabotaged by competitors.

On the other hand, if that possibility weren't being dangled out there, the inhibiting effect of these reports would be lost.

Oliver Henniges




msg:3367306
 11:26 am on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

> they could be sabotaged by competitors.

Any such report would necessarily be a very very ambivalent thing, and I think we can be sure the people at the plex know this. I doubt any site having bought links will ever be penalized directly. Instead, the maximum of any direct action by hand would be that the paid links themselves will be devaluated in some manner, but I doubt this is really what google is targetting at.

It is much more likely that the reports will be used - as I said - to train a neuronal network or similar structure with the goal to receive some very abstract concepts (pattern recognition) on the level of links-structure, which might help to identify such paid links on newer sites in the future.

But you are absolutely right with articulating the fears of webmasters.

Personally, I would NEVER report a competitor's site: I'd regard this as "doing evil." The egoistic connotation of such an action would clearly outweigh my otherwise honest willingness to help google improve its algo. This ethical ambivalence has to be clarified by google, before that tool will become a success.

potentialgeek




msg:3367326
 11:49 am on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Dunno if reporting is evil. Cheating is evil.

I just wish they'd get a reporting system set up for much more annoying/serious issues, e.g., spam sites. (Flag link in search results, discretely.)

thousands of publishers and advertisers are bound to get finished with a 950 penalty.

Only 950? Try 1,950. It's a more evil cheat...

I wish Google instead would get people to report a programming wiz whom G could hire to get its algo right!

p/g

thecityofgold2005




msg:3367334
 12:14 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would NEVER report a competitor's site: I'd regard this as "doing evil."

LOL

Halfdeck




msg:3367431
 1:44 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Personally, I would NEVER report a competitor's site.

I would report my competitors in a heartbeat. No hesitation whatsoever. As long as I rank #1 and all other sites rank below me, that's all that matters. All is fair in love and SEO.

Miamacs




msg:3367461
 2:01 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

While we're at it, couldn't Google update the LINKS report?
You know, the non-paid links? To one's site?
It's showing 3 month old data for many of the sites I track.

...

As for paid links... why would I report them?

- I wouldn't sleep well at night
- My karma would decrease, which I don't want
- It won't get me ahead of the competition ( no direct effect )
- It won't make the SERPs any more relevant ( see below )
- It'll only make the algo even less predictable ( ... )

... and that's because:

1.: IF it was on a case-by-case basis, I'd have a truckload of reports to make ( not that I would make them ). The links I know to be paid links don't look like paid links, don't taste like paid links, yet they are paid links.

2.: Takes a whole lot of research to learn about why a certain reference has NO VALID REASON to be on a website... even though it's relevant ( as far as the algo judges ).

3.: Should I be reporting THESE, I'd undermine what I call the very foundation of SEO: links from relevant, quality sites to on-topic sites. ( Except that... for me, a human, identifying interests and partnerships in the background is easy. Or not, depending on how well the evidence of the connections are erased. To an algo it's impossible. )

4.: There's no telling parameter-wise what a paid link is.

5.: The only thing Google can track is irrelevant paid links... paid references that don't even have a broad or generic match, yet they are using competitive keyphrases. But... then again, why only paid links?

6.: Counter spam since 2007: Google should(?) / wants to discount completely off topic links, irrelevant links, blatant, bogus references anyway, paid or not. Source Page - Anchor - Target page should be matching in relevance. If it's relevant, then it's OK, you can welcome the page to the SERPs. ( ideally with anchor text left out of the process, and the internal structure of the target decides the thematic weighing )

7.: They're already trying to get this right. Jog over to the -950 thread. That's their failure to do so.

This doesn't make sense.

Reporting a site isn't only bad for karma, but also won't help anyone in any way. Irrelevant paid links they WILL find without your help, don't worry. Only that the collateral will be... again go to the -950 thread and see for yourself.

...

But if there's another view on this I'd be glad to hear it.

Oliver Henniges




msg:3367585
 3:53 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

> LOL
> I would report my competitors in a heartbeat.

In my thinking, competition is a dying concept of the past millenium.
Cooperate or vanish.

Assume, out of the owners of the first ten sites of any given search result five would decide to cooperate (e.g. by moderate topic-relevant interlinking, exchanging products if one has run out of a specific item, exchanging know-how and competence, discussing ideas and whatever), wheres the other five would decide to compete by all legal or illegal means: Who do you think will survive in the long run?

It's not just about thinking positive or negative: I have completely banned the concept of competition from my thinking. I have no competitor. I am a unique human being. My website is absolutely unique. I have no competitor. Maybe there are a few companies who sell some of the products that I sell: Why not seek contact and share markets? I sell product A, you sell product B, both our storage will get leaner and we both skip price dumping. And so on.

Reno




msg:3367685
 5:39 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I need a lot more clarification. Is purchasing a banner on a complementary site a "paid link"? To my way of thinking, that is simply a smart advertising decision that a siteowner may make when trying to find success for their own business.

But even with relevant text links, is Google telling us to stop using a well established promotional tool, that might help us earn the income we need to keep on doing what we do?

My hope is that they will consider paid links to be "Page Rank neutral", neither helping nor hurting in algo calculations. I can live with that as a reasonable approach on their part, as they attempt to return the most useful SERPs for people.

On the other hand, any kind of actual penalty that seriously diminishs a siteowner's position in the SERPs is offensive to say the least, and hopefully will trigger the appropriate outrage by the webmaster community at large.

...................................

europeforvisitors




msg:3367721
 6:07 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, any kind of actual penalty that seriously diminishs a siteowner's position in the SERPs is offensive to say the least, and hopefully will trigger the appropriate outrage by the webmaster community at large.

Q.: Offensive to whom?

A: To the people who buy and sell paid links.

Q: Who else will be outraged?

A: Nobody.

Reno




msg:3367742
 6:25 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Q.: Offensive to whom? A: Nobody

As Google's number 1 cheerleader on this forum, no one expects anything they do to be offensive to you.

To the rest of us that are trying to make our online enterprises a success, it may very well be offensive IF we are punished for purchasing relevant links on complementary websites.

If there is no penalty (ie, page rank neutral), then there is no offense -- I don't think I could have made that any clearer.

............................

jakegotmail




msg:3367747
 6:27 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Q: Who else will be outraged?

A: Nobody.

Cmon EFV. Are you serious. How about the people, even if they dont buy or sell links that don't like being told what they can or cannot do. Google is not the governing police of the internet.

People who don't like seeing a system set up to taddle tell on others?

I have read about 12309823 posts on this topic and have seen plenty of people flat out say, I dont sell links nor do I buy them but this is a bit too "Big Brotheresh"

idolw




msg:3367754
 6:30 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

does it say whether reported sites get banned or the links just discounted?

europeforvisitors




msg:3367790
 6:57 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

Cmon EFV. Are you serious. How about the people, even if they dont buy or sell links that don't like being told what they can or cannot do. Google is not the governing police of the internet.

Yes, and Webmaster World members aren't the governing police of Google. If Google wants to penalize or neutralize attempts to sabotage its search rankings, why shouldn't it have the freedom to do so?

But never mind the philosophical arguments. The question that I posed was who's going to care if Google takes action against buyers and sellers of paid links. The buyers and sellers obviously will care, but it's naive to think that most Webmasters will be upset. Indeed, many Webmasters (those who aren't buying or selling links) may be grateful that Google is trying to ensure a level playing field by discouraging the commercialization of traditional HTML text links. Fact is, most of us aren't "doing what we're told"--we're in compliance with the Google Webmaster Guidelines because those guidelines simply codify the "organic Web" principles that we'd be using if Google didn't exist.

thecityofgold2005




msg:3367880
 8:28 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will be very happy if Google penalises or preferably bans every site in my field that has ever bought a link.

Failing this if it would just get rid of the sites selling inferior products at rip off prices who only manage to get any customers through spamming Google I'd be moderately happy.

The new interface works pretty well btw. It could do with some sort of bulk reporting feature as reporting the links one by one takes ages.

Reno




msg:3367951
 9:29 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I will be very happy if Google penalises or preferably bans every site in my field that has ever bought a link.

Again, what we need is unambiguous clarification from Google about what constitutes a paid link.

Buying a banner is nothing more than a legitimate form of advertising. Same is true of many types of text links. Is that going to hurt us? If so, should we stop advertising our sites for fear that we may upset the web's number 1 search service? Makes no sense.

If you build your site into a traffic powerhouse, should you not sell banners/text links to appropriate advertisers -- to help offset the costs of your own online expenses -- for fear of dropping your rankings in the SERPs? Makes no sense.

Yes, neutralize ALL paid links; Yes, lower the ranking of useless spam sites by various algo means; but NO, do not penalize any legitimate webmaster who choses to promote their business by buying a link on another site that may drive relevant traffic to their door. That can be a smart business decision and should not be looked upon as anything other than that.

...........................................

Miamacs




msg:3367953
 9:30 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

*khm*

EFV, you'd be surprised to know who in the heavy competition of overly watched search terms buy and sell links. We're not talking about the small fish here. With the thresholds for TR being this high to keep out spam and all this fake buzz on getting natural links... I recently wondered who on earth would link to a travel services site "naturally" with phrases like mycity-hotel, and from an authoritative source? Name me two such people. It's more or less paid links, site networks, and heavy heavy advertising that keep these sites at their place. They're not that irrelevant you know. Again I'm not talking about the small fry nobody who tries to purchase a link to a blog... from a blog.

To the rest of us that are trying to make our online enterprises a success, it may very well be offensive IF we are punished for purchasing relevant links on complementary websites.

And this is what can not happen. Not with an algo trying to tell whether there's any kind of special interest in any given link, or it's just a good-will reference to an already authoritative source.

Which brings us back to the fact that a well placed paid link, the ones that worth the most, can not be distinguished from non-paid, ie. editorial links. This whole idea is still stuck somewhere with how TextLinkAds worked, forget it. It's not a small box on the side with irrelevant links to low-qality sites hunting for PR.

It's the *** articles on *** and the reference pages on *** to *** and the personal recommendations of *** at *** and the my friends page on *** and the partners list on *** and the donators, best clients, additional information links at ***... need I go on?

The whole internet is full of COMPENSATED links.
Whether it's a beer, a can of soda, $1, a trip to the moon, a link back, a pat on the head, a promise... what's the difference I wonder. The idea to keep the SERPs clean is cool with me, but that has nothing to do with paying for a link, that's relevance. Not all sectors can live on link juice of hype.

...

If you find a paid link, do some research, and ask whether they would link to your, otherwise just as relevant and high quality site... with a relevant link. ( for free )

How do you tell apples from apples?
You don't.

...

Google filters links that are irrelevant, yet powerful.
That's one of the reasons ( out of many ) on how you can get the -950 penalty.

[edited by: Miamacs at 9:31 pm (utc) on June 14, 2007]

thecityofgold2005




msg:3367978
 9:57 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

The problem is one of the motivation behind that link. We had a long and circular thread about this a while back. A link that is bought as an advert is OK, a link that that is bought to manipulate ranking is not.

In my sector the links I have a problem with are those that have been bought en mass to manipulate the PR part of Google’s algorithm. The sites buying these links are low quality and should not be ranked where they are.

How can Google tell what was the motivation behind a link? In many cases it must be impossible.

This is a problem inherent to the way that Google ranks sites and which has been exacerbated by Googles dominance in search. SEO’s have focussed exclusively on Google and have got very good at manipulating backlinks for ranking.

It won’t be solved until some other search engine, using a different ranking system, gains sufficient market share to make some new kind of SEO manipulation worthwhile.

For the time being I am reporting what I see as paid links.

Reno




msg:3367981
 10:05 pm on Jun 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

This is a problem inherent to the way that Google ranks sites and which has been exacerbated by Googles dominance in search

You are exactly right, which makes me wonder if it isn't time for Google to move away from so much emphasis on Page Rank. That was a brilliant concept 7 years ago -- now, it is an anchor around their feet. A re-evaluation of PR's reliability in Web2007 may be in order.

It won’t be solved until some other search engine, using a different ranking system, gains sufficient market share...

We can only hope!

........................

night707




msg:3368251
 5:36 am on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

That Google now wants snitches in addition to Matt Cutts webspam team simply shows, that their algo concept doesn't work.

Their algo can not even detect tons of MFA link collections and it seems like a joke, that they do not want to invest into a more capable webspam team with some more qualified staff.

There are billions of PR manipulating links on the www and to spot them is fully impossible.

This 40 message thread spans 2 pages: 40 ( [1] 2 > >
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