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Google Bowling - Can We Fight It?
Italianseo




msg:3677879
 6:57 pm on Jun 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hey Guys..

I am new here and just had a question about a problem we had with a clients site. We started to notice links to the site that were mixed in with adult content and pharma like Viagra. looks to me like forum spam. Is there anything we can do to undo this? Maybe there is somthing that can be done on our end? blocking the ips? redirecting the pages?

What is the best defense against this? it has affected my clients google rankings

Thanks

 

drewlewis




msg:3678290
 5:39 am on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Are they links to your site or are they just using your site name as a drawing card? There has been a lot of forum spam lately.

To get a feel for the problem, Google "yourdomain.com" and "A spam term being used".

For one of our sites there are over 236,000 listings in Google's index - scary

[edited by: engine at 10:06 am (utc) on June 19, 2008]
[edit reason] No urls, thanks [/edit]

tedster




msg:3678473
 11:10 am on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Even if you block IP addresses or redirect pages, the links that point to your website are still there, and they're on other sites that you can't control. Those links will have whatever effect they have with Google's algo.

There is one thing that protects a website against Google Bowling - a solid backlink profile of its own. The more your "real" quality backlinks grow, the less anyone else's malicious actions can affect it.

[edited by: tedster at 6:12 pm (utc) on June 19, 2008]

Italianseo




msg:3678533
 12:26 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

To answer your question drewlewis..

Its a mixture of both.. some link to our site some are linking to other sites in bad neighborhoods.

drewlewis




msg:3678598
 1:35 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Italianseo - If you can determine that the links contain malicious content ( Trojans Viruses ) you can request google remove them from their index. But the numbers are large.

Tedster - Even with thousands of backlinks, it is hard to fight a spambot posting hundreds of thousands of back links. Since the attack started a year ago we are down 7K visiters a day on the site I am referring to. The only good news is that there are very few ads on the site and it's not really a "money" site for us.

[edited by: tedster at 5:34 pm (utc) on June 19, 2008]

Italianseo




msg:3678634
 2:05 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Ok.. But I was wondering if removing them from the index would positively affect us?

will it fix our issue or will it just be gone from the index but counting against us?

idolw




msg:3678647
 2:14 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

how would you remove them from the index?

netmeg




msg:3678660
 2:22 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

You can't remove them if they're not under your control.

I noticed a similar thing with my events site. Last year I started to see some really weird things in my logfiles. I followed one back, and it looked like someone's dating profile; the way it was written looked almost but not quite machine-generated - one of the lines was "Meet me on the beach for <event name linked back to my site>. I found this exact same profile spammed across thousands of myspace profiles, dating sites and other social networks - the weird thing was that mine was the only link in it. For a while I was afraid the search engines would think *I* did it in an attempt to promote my site, but I guess they're smarter than that, and it doesn't seem to have affected my rankings any. I don't know to this day if it was some kind of spammer gone wrong, an attempt to get me into trouble, or really some loser lothario going for quantity instead of quality. There's still a few hundred listings in Google for this; most of them seem to have dropped out.

Italianseo




msg:3678947
 7:41 pm on Jun 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Im sorry I did not make myself clear..

I did not mean that I would remove them from the index but rather if google removed them if I was able to get them to do so.. would the bad links still affect us or not? Basically if the links are out of google index do they still count againt you because they are still linked to you?

CainIV




msg:3679246
 5:03 am on Jun 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is one thing that protects a website against Google Bowling - a solid backlink profile of its own. The more your "real" quality backlinks grow, the less anyone else's malicious actions can affect it.

Yup tedster is spot on here - a diverse, quality source of backlinks helps protect against this. The more quality backlinks you have over time, the less percentage of new links there will be pointed at you in comparison to existing links. The more trusted the website is, the more 'iffy' inbound links it can absorb.

I wouldn't spend time trying to remove links, I would follow tedster's advice and instead build forward - a website that offers unique information and services, and builds quality links.

Chasing what others do is like chasing the puck in hockey.

goodroi




msg:3680242
 2:43 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

tedster is spot on correct. you should develop a healthy link profile.

if someone is trying to sabotage you (in my experience 95% of the time it is not deliberate sabotage) remember that all links are not equal. if you have established high quality and well trusted links you will be able to withstand a good amount of poor quality links.

pageoneresults




msg:3680255
 3:14 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

You should develop a healthy link profile.

Tell that to the small business owner who is trying to compete with the big boys. I'm serious, the poor small business owner is left to sift through whatever scraps come their way. Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far between.

One of the consistent patterns I see is smaller websites coming under fire from this type of stuff. Here you are chuggin' along one day and then all of sudden traffic starts to drop for no apparent reason. If you are Internet savvy, you may be able to start performing research and find stuff like the above, or you may not. Most will not find it and just chalk it up to being penalized and/or banned and/or caught up in some sort of filter, with no real idea of what may have caused it.

The small business doesn't stand a chance if they are being sabotaged like this, they really don't.

You should develop a healthy link profile.

I think that should read...

You'll have to develop and unnatural and unhealthy link profile to even begin to combat this stuff.

I don't think a healthy link profile is going to do the trick in many instances. If you have an 800 pound Gorilla on your back, 100 pounds of links isn't going to help! It may slow the Gorilla down but weight will prevail.

Here, read this...

The Saboteurs of Search Part II
[webmasterworld.com...]

mfishy




msg:3680300
 4:41 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

There are several things going on which really muddy the waters.

I see some sites are getting crushed by others with heavy blog/forum type backlinks. While the sites have not droppped (in fact ranked better), under manual review it would be an issue.

The other thing that is going on in highly competetive areas is folks are buying high PR links to competitors and then reporting them (obvious ones). Again, I have no idea how this all plays out...

As I have always said, the only sensible thing for google to do is to ignore links they think are not "worthy" of counting. Penalizing a site/page for inbound links is evil and I am not sure Google realizes the lengths some will go to mess with other sites (Thousands of dollars in some cases).

Of course, as tedster says, if you are a monster, like say...Google...it probably doesn't matter if you get 500,000 adult links pointed to your site or not BUT these "bullet-proof" sites are few and far between.

AjiNIMC




msg:3680335
 5:44 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Request to Google

This is a common problem. Lets use the WebmasterWorld platform to request google to correct this. I think Google can add a section in their webmaster console, where you can disapprove some of the backlinks, this will allow you to control your backlinks as well. What do you say?

pageoneresults




msg:3680342
 5:58 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think Google can add a section in their webmaster console, where you can disapprove some of the backlinks, this will allow you to control your backlinks as well. What do you say?

I say that works great for Professional Webmasters. What about the millions of other site owners that wouldn't know what a backlink is? Or how this type of stuff might have an influence on the overall performance of their website?

Personally? I think the scale of this stuff is far greater than many know. Again, me "Tin Hat" at play but I'll be damned if there are not a plethora of topics around here and other communities that all lead back to similar discussions. There is too much of a coincidence. Cause and Effect!

drewlewis




msg:3680362
 6:13 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Let me clarify what I said earlier, technically, the references to our site are not links. But they refer to our site by domain.com in an effort to gain position in the search engines and unfortunately this has been successful for them.

The point made about quality back links is not one with which I disagree or have any argument at all for that matter.

We are not search engine specialists, but rather content providers. So in that sense it's nice to have a few websites in order to try things out and find out what works or doesn't work, but we don't lose any sleep over the traffic numbers. One of our sites, a humor site has been around for around eight years. In that time, a lot of images have been downloaded, many with our domain.com. What worries us is that when people see these images and do a search for our website they end up at a spammer's website, where they are tricked into downloading something they don't want.

We do spend time requesting Google remove these sites from their index. Not because it will gain us any better ranking or position, but because these spam sites contain a Trojan that tricks people into downloading a program by way of a false pop up for a codex. Because we can easily perform a search using our domain and the terms that the spammers use, we can submit large lists for removal. We do take the time to double check the list and make sure that we are not inadvertently requesting removal of an innocent website. I certainly hope that is not a wasted effort.

extremegolfer




msg:3680531
 1:49 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I am hearing several companies have sprung up all across the globe that will buy links on known link seller sites and report you to Google. Unless Google changes its ridiculous full of holes policy on penalizing paid links nothing can be done to stop that.

[edited by: tedster at 2:51 am (utc) on June 23, 2008]

Quadrille




msg:3680538
 1:58 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I'd like to see an example of this. It started as a 'what if' - and now people are 'hearing it' - but I've yet to see an example, and as most of Google's actions have so far been against link sellers, not link buyers, I suspect the risk is overblown - after all, the person doing it would end up penalizing themselves (or their partners in crime, at least).

I'd certainly advise anyone - small business or not - to follow tedster's sound advice and NOT even think about an 'unhealthy link profile' - while you might escape the dangers above, it's almost certainly SEO suicide to go overboard on links, these days.

CainIV




msg:3680542
 2:15 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Tell that to the small business owner who is trying to compete with the big boys.

There's no need to, unfortunately it is the price of doing business online.

extremegolfer




msg:3680596
 4:53 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Rest assured they are penalizing link buyers just as much as the sellers, that is a well published indisputable fact. They have all sorts of "minus" penalties in place. There are several threads about this topic in this forum and many other forums as well. However, the good news is there are still lots of legitimate ways to get links without being penalized.

That being said, Google bowling is the next huge money making opportunity for companies with dubious business ethics.

[edited by: tedster at 2:19 am (utc) on June 23, 2008]

Quadrille




msg:3680598
 5:09 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Rest assured they are penalizing link buyers just as much as the sellers, that is a well published indisputable fact.

I dispute it ;) - but that's for another time; point is, large-scale action of the kind implied in this thread do expose the link sellers concerned to Google action. Not necessarily as fast as we'd like, but it will happen.

I don't see any action against Google as being either justified - or at all likely to happen, as even if there proof of Google's indexing choices being unfair, it is quite clear that Google is (a) acting in good faith, (b) trying to target the real frauds.

As with all other Google gaming activities, it's only a matter of time, and will be entertaining when retribution comes. it always is ;)

anon123




msg:3680603
 5:20 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google bowling just sounds fun.

extremegolfer




msg:3680612
 6:32 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can provide several websites that are penalized for link buying from known link selling websites along with the dozens of threads on several forums that in great detail describe the link buying penalty. The link buying penalty has even been coined on several forums including this one;-)

But I do agree with you, it is always entertaining to watch big companies make bigger mistakes;-)

[edited by: tedster at 2:18 am (utc) on June 23, 2008]

Quadrille




msg:3680657
 8:48 am on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I can provide several websites that are penalized for link buying from known link selling websites along with the dozens of threads on several forums that in great detail describe the link buying penalty. The link buying penalty has even been coined on several forums including this one

Sure, but all those threads are 99% conjecture. Because a site is buying links and (probably) has a penalty proves nothing. In most cases, there's plenty of other possibilities. And please note I didn't say Google are not penalizing link buyers, I said "most of Google's actions have so far been against link sellers"

There's always threads analysing Google penalties against Google Gamers, and few of them include much in the way of credible evidence, and as (in most cases) we never get to see the sites concerned, we are getting a lot of assumptions, misinterpretations, and fair bit of plain old fashioned fiction.

But, back to the topic. Do you really feel that it's legitimate to try and subvert Google's index and wrong for Google to try and stop you?

I'm not going to get into a big argument (been there, done that, it's all on record!), but Google's view is that you can do what you like with your site; but whether they choose to index it is a matter for them ... and I think that's a perfectly reasonable and legitimate (ie within the law) POV.

[edited by: tedster at 2:49 am (utc) on June 23, 2008]

extremegolfer




msg:3680870
 4:54 pm on Jun 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

There is a thread on seomoz where Matt Cutts specifically states there is a backlink penalty on a site. The same is state on the offiial Google blog.

[edited by: tedster at 2:53 am (utc) on June 23, 2008]

Quadrille




msg:3681096
 12:22 am on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I really, really am not disputing the existence of this penalty. I know it exists. I know it has been used ... But MC has not said how widely this has been implemented. not even a hint. Or, for that matter, HOW it has been implemented.

Whereas link selling is much easier to identify - ie the people doing the linking. This has to be a disincentive to people faking paidlinks, as the linker is at much greater risk than the the linkee.

And we'd need much clearer evidence that the penalty had been applied to people NOT involved in paidlinks. Clearly, it is intended to be applied to those trying to buy a better serp.

The fact that such 'rival-damaging' is theoretically possible is not proof that it is happening to any great degree (if at all, who knows), and assumes that Google has implemented this penalty with no idea who they are targetting.

While it is certainly conceivble that Google is that stupid - and a gift to the Google-basher - I'd suggest that just because Google has not revealed their methods, it may be unwise to assume they don't have any.

You are obviously convinced that Google is happy to indiscriminently damage innocent webmasters. I am utterly unconvinced.

Let's agree to differ.

tedster




msg:3681129
 1:30 am on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Google bowling is about a lot more than paid links, and the discussion about paid links has been over-done. It does no one any good to get bent out of shape about something when we are only guessing about many of the points involved.

In the beginning, Google Bowling was something bloggers did to aim an unnatural amount of "editorial" anchor text at a url - such as the infamous "miserable failure" campaign. Then the label also got applied to this kind of sabotage where someone tries to disrupt a competitor in Google by aiming bogus links of any kind at their website.

I still feel that the only solution is two-sided. Google must work, as I know they are, to diagnose and disregard maliciously placed backlinks. And webmasters should focus on building a strong site, both technically sound and with valuable content, so they continue to attract a strong natural backlink profile.

I know that Google's "webgraph" can easily spot unnatural link patterns. The challenge they face is knowing whether the webmaster or his competition did the placement.

TrustNo1




msg:3681281
 8:44 am on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

"In the beginning, Google Bowling was something bloggers did to aim an unnatural amount of "editorial" anchor text at a url - such as the infamous "miserable failure" campaign."

That was an example of Google Bombing not Google Bowling.

tedster




msg:3681451
 1:53 pm on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

My apology - you are 100% correct.

ponyboy96




msg:3681475
 2:14 pm on Jun 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

I got some of these type links recently to my site, but they weren't for adult or pharmacy. They came from MFA sites and other spammy type sites. I'm not sure if a competitor bought these links to my site, but it did have a negative effect on my rankings. I went from #2 for a very competitive keyword down to #7.

[edited by: tedster at 2:30 pm (utc) on June 23, 2008]

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