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Our audit of paid links from PR-penalized sites
grant

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 5:19 am on Nov 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was really blown away by this.

One of the SEOs I work with finished an audit of links he bought on sites that had a toolbar PR drop (or even elimination). I'd appreciate it if we don't divert this post into a discussion of the irrelevance of toolbar PR.

(We did the audit so as to remove links that appear to be wasting money).

Here's the shocker:

A site launched a few months ago had all of its links purchased on TLA.
25 links were bought. 20 of them had the PR hit.

But it hasn't effected the site's ranking.

Planet Ocean reported last month that the toolbar update was "cosmetic", but I fully expected Google would be negating the link juice.

We're still pulling our link buys in anticipation of Google negating the link value.

But I'd like to know if anyone else has observed a loss of efficacy in paid links?

 

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 7:26 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

"You are stating they hit no sites for selling links/pr."

Actually we are not saying that. We are saying that the number of websites who are realistically filtered from passing value is quite obviously low in comparison to the number of sites that lost visible pagerank.

Some sites got hit I am sure. My sense is that a VERY small percentage did and certainly none of the ones I have or currently work with.

trakkerguy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 8:36 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

webmasters who buy links through Google Checkout

Ha! good one. How long before you get penalized?

Sounds like a good test to run and write an article on for linkbait.

Imagine the arguments we could have over cause and effect.

James45

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 11:45 am on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

When the toolbar update happened I noticed that most of the pages I purchased links on were devalued. Within a week or so the keywords I was getting traffic on ceased. So, whatever they did, they certainly hit some of my paid links and their corresponding keywords. Not every keyword/paid link was affected.

It's hit or miss with paid links. We have no idea which sites google has decided to target. 3 months of waiting to see if you got a loser site selling ads tends to be expensive. Which is probably what google wanted in the first place.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 1:44 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

We have noticed a drop of 2 points corresponding to high ranking sites that pointed to us being devalued on one of our sites.

No drop in the SERP's yet, but if link juice drops, then i expect any pages we have at 5 levels deep may disappear off the map and drag the overall strength of pages down. ie The potential to mess up our PR distribution is a high likelihood.

Links that i see as highly contributing to the fall are :

- conflicting page theme to footer links theme
- conflicting page theme to navigational position links [ left and right side of page ]
- poorly admininistered directory pages with links not organised by theme
- links with tell tale identifiers clearly indicating paid statu

I can see that not all paid links have been caught, but clearly the intention has been fired in the 2nd salvo [ the 1st was Matt's warning earlier in he year ].

Google has been able to isolate source pages and sites from passing PR / link influence for some time depending on where the links appeared. The consequence was for some of those sites to be de indexed through lack of PR strength.

I think that there may be the capacity for manual intervention in some test areas and e - market verticals by Google editors or QC staff. The "report" and offendor campaign via Google SiteMaps may still be part of the overall experiment in key test verticals.

Folks relying on pure original content are likely to be least affected as G still seems to love original content.

......

About 8 months ago we were tempted with the thought of buying links from a broker. All of those links were PR 2/3 + . Approx 75% of those offered are now "grey toolbar". Many of the other sites look as if they were closed down. Luckily, we didn't proceed with the purchases.

I'd be interested to hear from other folks "audits" of inbound links, but I've long believed that the effect of external linking is being severely curtailed.

Good original content, internal linking and a few very good quality genuine links should be all that's required in the long term for the majority of sites.

[edited by: Whitey at 1:45 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2007]

jdancing

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 5:29 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my case, links I have purchased are 'in content' of the websites who are selling these monthly links to me.

We went to links in content earlier this year with great success so far. I want nothing to do with footer and sidebar links which are too expensive, too easy to spot, and may or may not pass link value.

Links in related content are much cheaper, next to impossible to spot, and IMO have a much greater chance of passing link value.

I started a thread detailing my strategy here: [webmasterworld.com...]

Still many link buyers and sellers are demanding footer and sidebar links because they allow sellers to quickly ramrod their keywords on any page making them easy to buy and sell.

With contextual links, if my money keyword is "Snake Oil" it is a bit harder finding that link in content. But I can put a "Snake Oil" link on the footer or side bar of any one of 100s of sites in a few minutes. However, I doubt that a Snake Oil link in the footer of some PR6 technology site will help me.

jakegotmail

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 6:04 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

When the toolbar update happened I noticed that most of the pages I purchased links on were devalued.

How did you gauge this?

Were they off topic pages these links were on?

Links that i see as highly contributing to the fall are :

- conflicting page theme to footer links theme
- conflicting page theme to navigational position links [ left and right side of page ]

I agree, I watch 500+ sites that have sold links on them. Out of those 500+, 3 dropped to PR 0, all had off topic, spammy links in the footer of the homepage.

- links with tell tale identifiers clearly indicating paid status

You would think this would be easy. But doing this algorithmically could have too many links being devalued that were not sold links. Collateral damage is high when you look to devalue links based on stop words around links. This one is a bit tougher, and once again, have not seen a lot to point out this is in full affect.

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 8:20 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

The point is G has declared a Fatwa on paid/bought links and history shows that in time Gs' "FUD" quite often turns to wailing and gnashing by those who ignored it.

Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 9:53 pm on Nov 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Links in related content are much cheaper, next to impossible to spot

Some are easier than others .... be careful, it's a temporary advantage and well understood by Google.

Google understands snippets of content coupled with common promotional terms well. From this it can distinguish a pattern of linking to a particular site. Matt has delivered the warning.

Any site that buys links is a target .... the more the easier it is to spot for Google, and for them to go after the source.

fom2001uk

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 1:57 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

The big clue here is that the recent PR downgrades were "across the board".

That speaks volumes for me about G's ability to pinpoint paid links ;-)

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 2:07 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Any site that buys links is a target .... the more the easier it is to spot for Google, and for them to go after the source.

Well, problem is the biggest buyers are biggest companies.
In travel I see this popular web 2.0 site buy links everywhere.
In money i see this 1 billion pounds worth comparison site pay for links.

Go figure.

AlchemyV

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 4:36 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

All i can say is that none of my sites have been affected for the competitive SERPs.

In my view, this is clear scare mongering and I'm sure Google will be less rewarding towards sites that obviously sell links.

Ultimately, Google does not always know if a site linking to you has been paid for. How can it always tell?

Also, most if not all people I know in competitive SEO buy links so if most of the net is doing it, how can Google drop your sites without dropping the rest of the SERPs?

I won't be changing anything, that's for sure.

wheel

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 6:39 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google has made its feelings clear. You're welcome to take its words as a warning or as PR fluff, as you choose.

Truth.

I believe that we're seeing the calm before the storm. There was a three step scenario pointed out above; I think there's a fourth step:
1) warn people
2) drop Toolbar PR. you were warned again.
2a) wait for the fallout and analyze (Google folks do their analysis of what happened when they dropped the TBPR).
3) Drop the PR passing ability of the sites that had their TBPR dropped.

They've done all of the above, except actually (apparently) stop the PR juice from flowing. Why would they not do that?
1) they're not going to or
2) they're planning on it.

The only reason I can see why they wouldn't be planning on actually hitting the sites is because it will alter the SERPS for the negative. There's possibly lots of good sites in good industries that have links from sites that had their TBPR dropped. They drop from the SERPS, maybe the serps aren't as good. If that's not the case and they are planning on it, by next year there's going to be a lot of squeaky white hats very very happy.

Hey, don't they normally do a real kick-ass update shortly before the Christmas season? Wouldn't this be an appropriate one?

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 8:31 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

After all this kerfuffle about bought links they're going to have to hit rankings or they'll be seen as the latest incarnation of the Duke of York...

MarkWolk

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 9:22 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

After all this kerfuffle about bought links they're going to have to hit rankings or they'll be seen as the latest incarnation of the Duke of York...
Not at all. Pages that used to sell links to pass PR still deserve to be found for their content. That way, they are simply prevented from passing the PR; that is that had been worrying Google for several years.
Whitey

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 9:49 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wheel .... spot on

idolw

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 10:04 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

well, problem is that in my industry top 1000 results come from people buying links.
and there is finance, pharm and gambling where competition is even harder. these guys probably buy links from google direct ;)

so, if everyone is buying links in huge volumes, who should be penalised?

glengara

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 10:30 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's an interesting question, they either give up completely or take it a lot more seriously, faffing around with TBPR just doesn't cut the mustard....

[edited by: glengara at 10:35 pm (utc) on Nov. 23, 2007]

MarkWolk

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 10:31 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

so, if everyone is buying links in huge volumes, who should be penalised?
Those who sell links are being penalized; not those who buy them. It would be too easy to buy links to your competitor in order to harm them if it worked that way.
jdancing

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 11:06 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google understands snippets of content coupled with common promotional terms well. From this it can distinguish a pattern of linking to a particular site. Matt has delivered the warning.

I think you may misunderstand what I am doing. I am not talking about buying links in artificial snippets of text shoehorned onto a webpage or even artificial 'paid for posts', just natural links in relevant content.

For example, if I have a site about banner ads, I find webpages the talk about web advertising and buy various terms related to my site that are already in the content of the page. These are highly relevant links - the kind of links that create the "web".

Despite all the mass hysteria Google has created about paid links by moving average pagerank way down, surprisingly, footer and sidebar links still work extremely well.

However, I believe it's only a matter of time before Google is able to spot unrelated blocks of links on a web page algorithmically, and may or may not penalize the seller, buyer, or both. So I feel it is time to move away from that paid link model just to be safe.

Anyway, to be safe, if I see a webmaster selling footer or sidebar blocks of links (especially if they are being placed by a large text link broker) I will not try to buy in content links from them.

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3509484 posted 1:40 am on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google just updated one of their Webmaster Help pages with comments about both link buying and link selling to affect PageRank:

Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  • Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag
  • Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

    [google.com...]

  • The language that Google uses here could stay the same even if real ranking penalties are assessed for either buying or selling. As noted in grant's audit that began this thread, true penalties do not yet seem to be the case. In fact, even the removal of help (without any penalty) does not seem to be happening right now.

    night707

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 4:59 am on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    The Google pagerank system has always been a joke, easy to manipulate and an open business invitation for black hats.

    As always, lots of quality publishers get butchered and paid link directories still ride on top with PR 7 whilst top notch content ages end up with PR 0.

    potentialgeek

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 6:32 am on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Okay, so if Matt Cutts issues a warning; then the October developments take place; and now Google changes its Webmaster guidelines (Warning #2), are we starting to notice a pattern yet?

    Look, Cutts is not going to be sitting around doing nothing for the next five years. What other pressing spam issues are going to distract him from his current obvious focus?

    Don't forget, too, that Google is always "spying" on your site, collecting data for its site profiles. Your history can and will be used against you at any later date in the "court" of Google's future algo.

    Govern yourselves accordingly.

    p/g

    P.S. On the reciprocal link issue mentioned in this thread. It would be fairly easy to target based on timing. Compare when reciprocal links are first detected. Not too many webmasters are going to agree to give out a link and allow you to wait one year before reciprocating, lol! (Personally I prefer zero link juice from reciprocal linking, similar to the new paid-link PR pass freeze.)

    [edited by: tedster at 8:06 am (utc) on Nov. 24, 2007]

    whitenight

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 9:47 am on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    and now Google changes its Webmaster guidelines (Warning #2), are we starting to notice a pattern yet?

    Google can huff and puff all it wants and Matt Cutts can cry out with boredom about how bad he/they want to "eliminate link buying and selling"...

    But until I see Google start with its own strategic partners and the numerous Fortune 1000 companies that buy and sell links by the truckload get removed and/or penalized in the SERPs,

    then it's either all FUD
    or
    a reason to a bring a mass anti-trust suit against Goog
    or
    an open invitation to have lawmakers "overseeing" Google's ranking practices.

    (editors note - This entire thread is almost a word for word copy of a similar thread from 2 years ago on another forum
    - repeat 2 years ago!?)

    ----------------------
    So let's take this discussion into more logical directions.

    A.) Assuming Google knows ::snicker:: who sells and buys links,
    why haven't they been penalized yet?! What's the hold up?

    B.) Assuming Google knows who sells and buy links, why haven't we heard any "rumors" (gotta love the rumors) about Goog alerting the more "trusted" companies by email or their Webmaster Tool console that a penalty will be forthcoming if not corrected?!

    Riddle me this!

    [edited by: whitenight at 10:11 am (utc) on Nov. 24, 2007]

    night707

    5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 10:11 am on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    whitenight,

    it is disgusting, that Google is refusing to invest into a proper communication system with quality publishers who are the ones, that give juice to the entire Internet industry.

    Any junk can clean up big with proper black hat wisdom.

    idolw

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 12:35 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    on the other hand, what does MC want?
    Aren't we all serving google's visitors the right results? ;)

    whitenight

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 12:59 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Aren't we all serving google's visitors the right results? ;)

    Exactly! someone show me the horribly skewed results that are being ruled by paid links in the first place?...

    If Fortune 500 "Buys Links" Widgets Co. come up for a "widgets" search, the customer is certainly happy and therefore Goog should be happy.

    If up and coming company is buying links to rank for "widgets" and shows up for "widgets" and the natural free market forces allow that website to continue to buy "advertising" because customers actually spend money on that site, what's the problem?

    Is anyone purely buying links for true information sites?!

    For a company that has had no problem going from "research-based democratic mom-and-pop" to "hyper-aggressive, capitalistic, profit-grabbers", I find it mildly assuming that Goog even puts up appearances of caring for the "small guy"

    They certainly don't have issues with the "collateral damage" of mom and pops.

    Where exactly is the benefit of targeting sites that sell links?

    Will the SERPS be remarkably better?
    for who?
    The users? or
    Goog's Adwords revenue?

    Please do not look behind the curtain people... the Wizard of Goog is truly horrible to behold.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 4:20 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Where exactly is the benefit of targeting sites that sell links?

    Have you considered the possibility that Google may simply want to deliver organic search results that aren't influenced by other people's checkbooks?

    People who sell links may not like being targeted by Google, but if they're realists, they'll understand why they're being targeted--and they'll be sensible enough to either change their ways or wear better camouflage.

    whitenight

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 4:27 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Have you considered the possibility that Google may simply want to deliver organic search results that aren't influenced by other people's checkbooks

    Sure, as long as Google realizes that the free market naturally weeds out crap and rewards those who present the best product, price, info, service, whatever.
    <gasp, you mean there's a natural algo that's infinitely more precise than their man-made computer algo? :: double gasp::>

    If Goog wants "untainted" research-specific results, they need only wait until Wiki rolls out their new SE and takes a chunk of their market share anyways. ;)

    But market-specific results will always be "tainted" by the pocketbook and/or power.
    That experiment has been thoroughly tested and failed...
    it's called communism.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 4:53 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Sure, as long as Google realizes that the free market naturally weeds out crap and rewards those who present the best product, price, info, service, whatever.

    That's exactly what they want, too: A "free market" of natural links and search results that isn't influenced by bribes.

    whitenight

    WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 5:00 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    One can dream, can't they? Very cute. :)

    As mentioned in previous posts, when Goog really, truly decides to "crack down," it will create a blackmarket where "bribes and pocketbooks" will truly dominate and it will take Matt Cutts et al, with tons of time on his hands, at least 5 years to figure out how to discount those links.

    So I will go back to my original conclusion.
    This has and never had anything to do with "better SERPS"

    It has to do with Adwords, FUD, stock prices, and dividends.

    europeforvisitors



     
    Msg#: 3509484 posted 6:00 pm on Nov 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

    So I will go back to my original conclusion.
    This has and never had anything to do with "better SERPS"

    It has to do with Adwords, FUD, stock prices, and dividends.

    Since AdWords, stock prices, and dividends are strongly influenced by the number of people who come to Google (and keep coming back to Google) for search results, I'd say that it has everything to do with "better SERPs."

    The PageRank formula (Google's unique selling proposition) treats links as "votes," and vote-buying skews the results of elections. Google has good reason to feel that vote-buying is detrimental to its SERPs and its search audience, so it would be surprising if Google didn't want to make examples of sites, SEOs, or brokers who sell votes.

    This 63 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 63 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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