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does google eventually forgive for aggressive link building?
may have gotten penalized - but am now coming back
rich42




msg:3432315
 6:08 am on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Around December of 2006 I did some things that added about 1000 incoming links to my site from various sites of so-so quality.

This probably about doubled the number of links coming into my site. The anchor text / accompanying content was mostly identical.

I wasn't trying to buy links or anything like that - due to my industry, there are lots of directory sites which will freely post info about my product / links back to my site. I used an automated tool to submit to them.

In Febuary of 2007 my traffic from google started dropping - and eventually got cut down to about half what it was.

In retrospect - I think there's a reasonable chance I got penalized for my actions (could of course be algorithm changes / unrelated to the new links). It's apparent what I did might've looked a lot like link spamming to google.

Now things are starting to look up. My traffic is up about 20% over the last two months.

What have other people's experiences been with this? Have other people been hurt by their link-building activities, and then came back?

I'm wondering if Google "forgives" some things over time?

 

Miamacs




msg:3432406
 10:46 am on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

...

In short the answer is yes.

...

The anchor text / accompanying content was mostly identical.

Links of no relevance are devalued anyway, and in your case the identical content might have made most of those referring pages supplemental / drop out of the index altogether, so that 1000 links might look like a lot less if considering which ones carry any weight. But, even if the link profile consists of only 50 identical links, the penalty seems to kick in, though it sweeps through only sectors with fierce competition ( monitored phrases ). Is this site targeting something people bid a lot on in PPC programs?

...

If a site has an unnatural link profile ( like this ) but that link profile normalizes over time ( less than about 49% of same/near same anchor text links ) it gets out of the penalty automatically. Also since some penalties have a certain timeframe, it might be that you've cleared the box just in time for the regular automatic re-evaluation after 6 months. Add that your higher quality links have now aged just enough to bring you the trust you need to clear your domain.

liborson




msg:3432636
 6:43 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hello, this is one of the unclear issues to me as well. Lets say you compare online business to the "old stone age" one :)

In the off-line world, you start new business and as a part of your marketing efforts you do as much promotion at the start to get customers in. You do this, you do that, you spread the news all around so you slowly get customers to get to know your business, its address, its brand, offers, quality, pricing etc. Also, depending on the type of business you run, you may depend more or less on every years season (e.g. selling February ski vacations starts already in September..), weather conditions (at bad weather days more people are likely to stay at front of PCs and do online shopping) etc. etc. - it all affect the way and speed of spending the marketing budget, e.g. amount of your ads outside.

In the online worlds, esp. when looking for achieving top Google SERPs, this is sometimes contra productive, which seems to be more or less not logical. I know that all the spam around is a hard issue for Google, but why - at least it appears to me so - they do not copy the real life in this manner as well? Is it because they think of every SEO for SERPs effort as spam as well? Or because many Google engineers are too off the offline world, when considering the SERPs algo factors? Any other thoughts?

europeforvisitors




msg:3432640
 6:58 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the offline world, do you try to trick the phone company into putting your business name on the cover of its directory? :-)

Google isn't saying that you can't promote your business. It's just saying that, if you want free traffic from its search engine, you should "avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings." That sounds like a fair exchange to me.

tedster




msg:3432641
 7:00 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

My take is that the Google algorithm is based in the academic discipline of information retrieval, and not in the world of commerce and marketing. That makes for a rough fit at times when launching a new e-commerce venture.

liborson




msg:3432649
 7:17 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

to Europeforvisitors - I am not saying that doing unethical stuff should get thumbs up. I am saying, than rather then re-inventing the wheel, listening and following best practices would be helpful much better.

If Google is really so many light years ahead than those guys should be comparing offline and online verticals in its patterns, schemes etc. Then, for example for travel related websites, they should somehow be also able to find similarity in e.g. link building phases to real offline travel world business best practices. They have Adwords huge amount of data to start with first :) This is not only for commercial websites but all of them. Remember the "user search result prediction" drops couple of month ago?

To Tedster - yes, it seems to me too, 120% pure concentrated brain power. Very efficient, very smart, however a little bit as a Small Genius that has not been kissed yet (therefore does not know what outside-of-glass-googleplex partner life is like).

Reno_Chris




msg:3432690
 8:28 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

the Google algorithm is based in the academic discipline of information retrieval, and not in the world of commerce and marketing

Another thing that is often assumed about Google spam fighting algorithms is that they are perfect and 100% accurate. Matt Cutts and others do a wonderful job of promoting the idea that they always catch the "bad guy", and that they are never just flying by the seat of their pants trying to make things work. Respected geniuses never fly by the seat of their pants, right?

Unfortunately, these formulas and algorithms are simply mathematical simulations based on certain assumptions, and simulating real life with mathematic formulas and code is not as easy as it sounds even for the true genius. Sometimes the assumptions and formulas are well tested, sometimes they are not. I really think that folks should view Google algorithms (both spam fighting and site ranking varieties) more in the same light as we view weather prediction algorithms. Sometimes they work accurately, and sometimes they don’t.

We all know of spammy, low quality sites which are ranked highly by G. and we know of examples of high quality good sites which are ranked poorly. These are plain and simply failures of the G. algorithms to accomplish the goals the programmers set out to achieve.

As an example, in November of 2006, I launched a new hobby related website. I had participated for several years on a handful of forums related to that topic, and I had made friends with forum members as well as the forum owners. Since my website was of interest in that hobby, when I launched it, I inserted the URL of the site into my signature on those forums. No problem at all and I received many favorable comments on the site from the folks on those forums. I had naively hoped that those links would help me begin to build traffic to my site. I had not bought links or done anything that is spammy or violated any of G’s quality guidelines – so I had no worries. Unfortunately in the eyes of the G. algorithms, I had done evil and was caught in their net. Over they years, I had made literally thousands of posts on those forums, and what Google saw was a fairly new website that suddenly had over 4000 links pointing to it, all new in a matter of less than 24 hours. Such occurrences are identified by the algorithm as spam, and the site receiving those links is designated as one that should receive very little or no trust. Sites branded with low trust rank get very limited traffic, and the links pointing to them are highly discounted. I have been trying to dig myself out of a “trust hole” ever since.

Google algorithms, while representing a wonderful effort on the part of the programmers and engineers, are often questionably accurate. They may be better than the results of the older generations of search engines, but they are not nearly as perfect as Google’s spokesmen and promoters would have us believe. There is more than plenty of room for someone to come along and build a better mouse trap. Until such time as the algorithms are improved and better search results provided, we will just have to live with the quirks, burps, twitches and other oddities that are served up by the search engines. We have learned of the true reliability of weather predictions, and so in the same way we need to accept as something we cannot really change, the imperfections of Google.

Chris

digitalghost




msg:3432696
 8:47 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> In the offline world, do you try to trick the phone company into putting your business name on the cover of its directory?

In the offline world listings aren't based on some set of vague quality guidelines (algos) either. Ya pays yer money and they add your listing. On another note, you can't trick the phone company into putting you on the cover, but businesses have been abusing the alpha sort for years. Surely you don't think there are so many business named AAA Whatever because it's such a catchy name? Same technique worked quite well in the Y! directory of old too.

>>does google eventually forgive for aggressive link building?

Certainly. I've helped people recover from bad linking strategies. You'd be surprised at what a few good links can do.

>>The anchor text / accompanying content was mostly identical.

That's something I certainly advise against.

europeforvisitors




msg:3432744
 10:38 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

In the offline world listings aren't based on some set of vague quality guidelines (algos) either. Ya pays yer money and they add your listing.

Sure, and you can buy AdWords if you want the Google equivalent of the Yellow Pages.

What you shouldn't do (unless you've got disposable domains) is rely on Google for free traffic when you're trying to subvert its algorithm.

digitalghost




msg:3432747
 10:48 pm on Aug 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Subvert? [google.com]

Um, yeah.

Fact is, if you're running a business you shouldn't rely on free traffic, period. Gaming Google's weak algo for free traffic is just gravy.

You can do absolutely nothing wrong and find your site buried in the SERPs. The rules that count are the rules of the algorithm(s), not the blathering about guidelines.

europeforvisitors




msg:3432861
 2:38 am on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Gaming Google's weak algo for free traffic is just gravy.

Sometimes that river of gravy dries up, if we're to believe the original post in this thread.

digitalghost




msg:3432871
 2:51 am on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>Sometimes that river of gravy dries up, if we're to believe the original post in this thread.

Yep, it can dry up up even for folks that follow all the rules. See Above. Or just continue that one-note tune, got old for me the first 300 times you repeated it.

Can you answer the question in the first post or would you just like to cut and paste the Google guidelines here?

Whitey




msg:3432919
 4:35 am on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

If a site has an unnatural link profile ( like this ) but that link profile normalizes over time ( less than about 49% of same/near same anchor text links ) it gets out of the penalty automatically.

I think the key is to have a diversified link profile with different "channel" sources , build up patterns , link texts and make sure they are on topic links. Monitor each channel by directing them onto different pages so that you can measure fluctuations accurately.

Google has the ability to easily pick up un related links from referal sites and stop PR and link text from being passed over. Sometimes those pages will have their PR stripped, not that you can always see this until several months after the event, since toolbar PR is greatly delayed and may indeed be inaccurate .

If you thought those inbound referral page links were working and now they are not, you may be incorrectly fooled into thinking your pages are penalised, due to your pages losing strength.

europeforvisitors




msg:3432978
 6:19 am on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yep, it can dry up up even for folks that follow all the rules.

Sure, but it's more likely for people who don't follow the rules, if only because they're running two risks: the risk of bad luck or collateral damage, and the risk of getting caught.

What's more, it isn't necessary to game the system if you have content or a business concept that's inherently useful and therefore acts as natural "link bait." (And yes, that's true even for e-commerce and other overtly commercial sites, though it obviously isn't going to put any money in the pockets of people who have a vested interest in artificial linking schemes.)

whitenight




msg:3433012
 7:08 am on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

What's more, it isn't necessary to game the system if you have content or a business concept that's inherently useful and therefore acts as natural "link bait."

I'd be interested in hearing why you think numerous Fortune 500 companies that have existed long before Google and will exist long after Google is gone, feel the need to "game" the system and "break the rules"?

Surely, they are idiots, yes?
Perhaps, their products, in reality, suck and the masses of people who buy them are merely pawns?

Again, because you start of with the wrong assumptions, you come to faulty conclusions.

(Psst. As always I have to remind you it's about ROI.)

Everything else is really, truly, irrelevant.
Of course, I'm going on the assumption that one is running a business, not a successful hobby site

Here's another hint:
You still haven't explained to me why Keio University has a higher PR than Coca-Cola...
the most widely known word in the world.

europeforvisitors




msg:3433229
 1:29 pm on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

You still haven't explained to me why Keio University has a higher PR than Coca-Cola...
the most widely known word in the world.

What counts is that Coca-Cola ranks #1 for Coca-Cola and Coke.

And by the way, I haven't been talking about "hobby sites." Gaming is a hobby; perhaps you were addressing your comment to Webmasters who play games? :-)

JoeHouse




msg:3433671
 9:09 pm on Aug 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a similar problem

I have a two year old website. I was told by many experts that my onpage optimization is nearly perfect, but in order to get better rankings on google that I needed to go out and get some relevant backlinks to compete for the top keyword phrase in my industry.

So over the last few weeks (3 to be exact) I went out and got about 40 relevant backlinks and used the keyword that I wanted to promote as my anchor text.

The keyword is a very competitive one so I did not expect miracles, however I did expect to see some improvement.

When I went and checked my stats, I noticed that google did indeed pickup most of the new backlinks that I added, but the strange thing was that I actually dropped in rankings on google for this keyword phrase instead of moving up.

Now how can this be? The only thing I can think of is that I recently had a redesign done to my website (about a week ago) and I also changed the title tags to my homepage.

Do you think the redesign and the homepage title tag change is the reason why I dropped in rankings for this keyword?

If I make no more changes to my site and I continue to add quality backlinks with my keyword in the anchor text, will I start seeing some improvement in rankings on google for my keyword?

JoeHouse




msg:3433811
 12:44 am on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Really would appreciate someone with some experience on this subject to reply.

Thank You in advance for your response.

jdMorgan




msg:3433875
 2:28 am on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Possibly too many links all at once in too short a period, identical link-text, and a site redesign to boot. If those 40 new links make up 50% of all your links, then that would certainly register on Googlebot's radar.

Your analysis time-frame is also far too short; Many of these changes won't fully manifest themselves in search results for months. For example, the little green PageRank bar in the Google Toolbar often takes 90 days and more to reflect any changes; It's updated very infrequently. And PageRank is a pretty useless metric anyway -- Not that more is not better, it's just not a useful metric.

Nonetheless, folks tweak a site on Monday, and from Tuesday onward are checking that TBPR every day -- After several months, I'd imagine it gets rather tedious.

Diversify your link text: Consider synonyms and semantically-related phrases. Go slow and steady. Work on improving your site with an eye toward earning unsolicited links from authority sites for the next 90 days to six months, then check the results and let us know how you're doing. ;)

Some folks already have really great sites, and yet are impatiently focused on seeing instant results; To them, I recommend a long vacation in a place with no internet service available. Otherwise, they're likely to obsess on their sites, and tweak them into oblivion. In this business, patience is worth a lot. If you've only got one site to experiment with, then gaining useful data can take years... And by then, the resulting conclusions may no longer hold true.

Best,
Jim

ogletree




msg:3433876
 2:36 am on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

What you did would not cause that to happen to your site. You need to look at other things that might cause this. Did you link back to these places? Are you doing any other things. It may not be a penalty. It may just be your site can't beat the other ones. Look at the sites beating you. Are they older? Are their links older? Are their links from better places.

I really wish these stupid rumors would stop. I have been doing SEO for a long time and have many sites that do well and I can tell you that not only does that not hurt your site it can help a lot. If that were true I could just go do the same thing to all my competitors.

Unless you are a pro you are not going to rank for some great term. Or at least not quickly. Anybody can do it over a year or two with some constant link work and a good site.

rich42




msg:3434056
 8:31 am on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

thanks to everyone for the feedback

no - I'm not linking back to any of these places.

I've building traffic for about 3 years with Google. It's generally been a pretty solid upward trend - until things took a dive around Feburary. (a few months after my link campaign - again I certainly understand that proximity in time isn't the same as cause-and-effect)

I do have maybe 250 or so "iffy" pages out of roughly 1000 (competitor's press releases, pages that were machine translated to other languages). maybe google decided it didn't like them.

while I'm suspicious my link building campaign caused me problems - it's also possible that I just suffered from algo changes that impacted sites with moderate SEO.

It also occurs to me that it may not be so much that I'm being forgiven - but just rewarded for ongoing content development. Ie - maybe I got penalized 50% - but the 150 or so good pages I've added in the last 6 months have impressed Google enough to turn things around a bit.

JoeHouse




msg:3434242
 12:22 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

The thing is I do very well with less competitive keywords. However the keyword that I am targeting and need is the keyword that brings with it all the traffic. With this keyword phrase I am no where to be found.

It's almost like I am being held back on purpose or something. I know that's not really the case but it sure feels like it.

I know of a person in the same business as me, his site is only 8 months old and for this same keyword he is already at number 11.

He was at number 23 in his first 60 days of business.

Makes me crazy....if you look at his site you will have a good laugh but yet he ranks well.

I have been told(SEO qualified people)that my site has more quality links then he, more backlinks, better online optimization, good content and very clean site.

Yet he gets all the google glory and rankings for this valuable keyword phrase. Google really took a liking to his site I guess.

Normally (in my industry) with backlinks, its the website with the most anchor text keyword phrase not usually the best quality backlinks is the site that rules.

I say this with confidence because I personally have taken a look at their backlinks and they link to everything under the sun, even unrelated sites.....and they do very well.

I will admit they do have one or two links that are considered authority links....but overall it appears to be the quantity not the quality that is giving them the great rankings.

I am looking for help to try and move in the right direction.

bsterz




msg:3434251
 12:29 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

I made some SEO-related changes to sites in the past and saw negative effects - and waited - sometimes 6 months - only to see a positive trend afterwards.

The most risky thing is making change change change in a reactive way.

Bill

ogletree




msg:3434559
 5:24 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

There may be more to it than that. He may have a much better site 301ed to his. He may have one or two links that are very valuable.

JoeHouse




msg:3434616
 6:22 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

So let me understand.....

In the world of backlinks....for a specific keyword to be number one on google, it is best to have both more total overall backlinks than your competitor and also the most links for the keyword phrase in the anchor text backlinks plus a few quality authority links to be near the top of google ranking for that keyword phrase? Am I correct?

What if you have more backlinks than your competitor (lots more)however he has more of the keyword anchor text backlinks that you are trying to achieve a number one position for? Who wins out then?

I am trying to figure out the linking value. More backlinks overall regardless of the anchor text to rank for a specific keyword phrase or more keyword phrase in the anchor text?

Which will obtain top ranking for that keyword phrase?

Very interesting. What's the correct answer?

tedster




msg:3434664
 6:45 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's not just a numbers game, IMO - it's quality backlinks that actually build rankings. Look for backlinks in the content section, and on high PR pages with lower numbers of outbound links. Backlinks from pages that rank well on related queries are always nice!

JoeHouse




msg:3434676
 6:54 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

so then why do so many play the numbers game as well? Are both equally important to become number one? Or at list top 10?

europeforvisitors




msg:3434746
 7:56 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

so then why do so many play the numbers game as well? Are both equally important to become number one? Or at list top 10?

1) If you can't get quality links, the tendency is to go for quantity.

2) No.

3) No.

tedster




msg:3434776
 8:24 pm on Aug 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

Right on, EFV. I see urls that are outranking their competition with only 30% of the total number of backlinks.

tedster




msg:3434986
 12:45 am on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

Back more precisely to the topic, a lot depends on what "aggressive" really means in each case. If there's any shady link building that you can undo, then do that. And more importantly, do what you can to encourage very healthy, quality, backlinks. Rather than forgiving your past sins, Google may begin to reward your present virtues.

I'm delighted to hear rich42's opening report. I know that some "infractions" can be recovered from, even if on a graduated basis. The recoveries that I've worked on required a direct reconsideration request after a clean-up, accompanied by a rather full confession.

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