|Paid Links - If I was Google|
I've noticed many of my competitors buying paid links on off topic sites, in the wrong geo location and on every page of '000 page sites. Those links appear to be being given the same value as on topic, correct geo location, in useful places for users links. This can't be right.
If I was Google I would discount any link that was virtually never clicked and/or which had a higher than x% bounce rate. There would be no need to try to find brokers networks or sites selling links the system would just learn which links to value in ranking and which to disregard.
Would this work?
No it would not work. We would just figure out how to increase our bounce rate on links. Actually, that'd be kind of fun :).
What if Google is already doing what I'm suggesting and all you link buyers are just stood in a shower ripping up dollar bills.
The only difference is you can't sense what the fluid is hitting you and it could just be yellow stuff being taken by the folks selling them to you.
"The only difference is you can't sense what the fluid is hitting you and it could just be yellow stuff being taken by the folks selling them to you."
Actually an experienced link builder very often can tell if the link was worth nothing especially if it cost you a penny :)
lol you can RESIST the whole "link buying/selling" issue all you want (out of some odd self-imposed morality about right and wrong? what MC says? life?) but at the end of the day, the REAL link buyers are so far ahead of Goog, it isn't even funny.
As much as I say DON'T believe Goog employee pronoucements, smart business people ALWAYS have contingency plans... just in case they aren't bluffing.
Rest assured, for every bought link you notice, there are 2-3 that look "real" to you AND Google.
(let alone the linkbuyers Plan B's and Plan C's that would be instituted if Google ever did something so inherently silly as what they claim they are doing)
My point... get over it or join the game. It's silly to keep complaining about THE EVERYDAY MARKETING that happens in EVERY OTHER commercial enterprise...except Search Engines?! Yeah, right!
You miss the point the web is supposed to be useful to people.
If links are useful then they are clicked if they are not clicked they are not useful. If a link results in 100%, or some other high % bounce rate then you can put a value on the usefulness of that link and weight it accordingly.
That way it wouldn't matter if the link was bought, extorted or given freely Google could give it its true value.
PS I don't blame link buyers or seller defending their actions. After all there's no law against it and if a search engine makes rules for inclusion its up to them to police the rules they have made. Google is singularly failing in this regard. I also don't begrudge the success that link buying gives some sites, what bugs me is the effect it has on other sites that previously got there the hard way.
|You miss the point the web is supposed to be useful to people. |
I hear this "argument" bandied about quite a bit. And yet I see NO proof that bought/sold links have affected the QUALITY of the SERPs in any substantial way.
In fact, I think most people would agree that the SERPS are relatively the same or BETTER than they were 3,4,5 years ago.
As miamacs would say (have to shout him out since he did it to me :) a GOOD site with bought links will always outperform a mediocre site with bought links, all things being equal.
|what bugs me is the effect it has on other sites that previously got there the hard way |
lol sorry but this is the old man's argument and has been used by every generation since the beginning of time!
It's an excuse to NOT adapt.
I don't give more credit to the person who runs/bikes/jogs/rides a horse across the country for some odd reason.
We have cars and planes now for that and they are much more EFFECTIVE.
Nor do I give credit to the guy who gets his ice delivered to him by a ice quarry in a block that he has to pick out by hand.
I'll take my freezer cubes, thank you very much!
At the end of the day, only a handful of people are going to create a MYSPACE or EBAY or FACEBOOK, that makes billions without really even needing to advertise.
I'll make my usual analogy.
Who makes a better burger?
McDonald's or the neighborhood diner down the street?
Yet McDonald's makes MORE money...
This is business which doesn't necessarily mean the BEST gets to the top, in fact, rarely does the "BEST" dominate a industry... the most PROFITABLE usually does and buying links is generally very PROFITABLE.
>>>>You miss the point the web is supposed to be useful to people.
I'm not sure it's he who's missing the point. Google exists primarily to send traffic to my website so I can make money. I assume this is the case and proceed accordingly.
Your shower example is funny enough, except it's invalid. Link buying works, and works like crazy. People who are buying links are spending X and earning X+Y, where Y is many multiples of X. They're not throwing their money down the drain at all - they're getting showered with money.
A more appropriate analogy would be the tech person who stays at home with no friends and misses the party that everyone's at because they're afraid they might get asked to dance by a girl. Meanwhile everyone else is out getting ripping loaded at the party.
[edited by: wheel at 4:45 pm (utc) on June 27, 2008]
If I was Google, I would start taking the Paid Link spam reports seriously and start punishing blantant buyers and sellers in a harsh way. Its time to put a stop to this scam which effects honest sites, period.
|Google exists primarily to send traffic to my website so I can make money. |
I know many site owners think that way, but Google certainly doesn't run its organic search that way. I'd say we will succeed to the degree that we can shed that view of organic Google results. It helps with blood pressure, too ;)
Sid, your idea of discounting links that are seldom clicked assumes that Google has more data than I think they do. Wouldn't it also be subject to clickbot spoofing?
If I were Google and I decided I just had to stop paid links from affecting the search results, I would probably have been very quiet about my plans. I would just flag all suspect links with a zero weight and not say anything about it publicly.
The big fuss that they kicked up, and the uneven handing out of penalties, have both worked against their purpose. That just drives the best of the link marketplace deeper into invisibility. Now my way might have been politically difficult, too - challenging the big link brokers without any storm warning at all. But they did give the big boys a quiet back channel warning, anyway, well ahead of time. Without the public "ethical" tone that Google lectured us with, the market would have had much less severe a reaction.
Zero weight for a paid link, but no penalty, seems fair to me. And there is a lot less of a "restraint of trade" aura to it, as well. I've seen evidence that Google has been zeroing out at least some suspect links for years. So why not do just that, and let the marketplace adapt as it will? Then, in a natural process, only those links that send real traffic would be able to command a high fee.
>>>I know many site owners think that way, but Google certainly doesn't run its organic search that way.
In my niche, it's not Google dictating the serps. It's me, thank you very much :). As long as I stay below the radar that should continue to be the case. More seriously, I really don't see the organic serps as 'organic' anymore. There's few commercial searches where things are natural on the front page.
Tedster, you've nicely summed up the poor handling of paid links by Google. So why did they take this route when they're normal routine is as you've suggested - just fix it and stay quiet? My suspicion is that they are currently unable to fix it via the algorithm, and perhaps don't even see a way to do it in the future. Thus the decision to use a FUD initiative.
|Tedster Sid, your idea of discounting links that are seldom clicked assumes that Google has more data than I think they do. |
I was thinking about this idea when I was looking at my Google Analytics data. I'm sure that you are right at this point, they don't even have a mechanism for collecting the data at present. I just thought it might be a good way to start a debate.
There's clearly a culture difference between those of us who had an off line business that we brought online and those that have built virtual on-line only businesses.
For us it would be better for Google to say link buying is OK, that would at least give us a level playing field with website owners who don't give a stuff and think "if we get caught with this site we can always make another one".
Either Google has to find a way to police their rules or they need to throw away the rules so that people who worry about breaking rules don't need to worry any more.
Paid links work plain and simple my only problem with buying them is that buying links is a never ending story once you start you pretty much have to keep it up or face possible exposure if all of a sudden you lose 500 links at a wack.
Then you need to keep adding new paid links as the older ones are devalued so the cycle begins, but then again as wheel pointed out it makes the money to keep it up.
I don't buy links and really don't see me getting into it but I do see it works and sadly enough is works to well.
One day G is gonna figure out the paid link thing and when they do the post in the G forum won't be very pretty.
Simply take the weight of any links out of the algo... why guess if they were bought by the site owner or if a competitor bought them or submitted them to a site trying to devalue their competitors' site ;)
Links are the chink in the armor of the algo..
|If links are useful then they are clicked if they are not clicked they are not useful |
I think this is far too absolute. If an authoritative or reliable source cites another source there is inherent value there, whether people actually use the cited source or not: think important academic papers or links from sites like the BBC.
IMO the utility of a link really comes down to the 'reliability' of the person that created the link: what opinion that person has of the destination of the link, and how valuable that opinion is.
I'm not sure how useful number of clicks would actually be. Similarly with bounce rate, this would simply favour certain types of links over others, without regard for other (admittedly harder to measure) indicators of quality that IMO are more valid.
|Links are the chink in the armor of the algo.. |
Links are the algo to a certain extent. Sure Google has grown beyond it's original PageRank algo, but it's still what everything else is based upon. Not only their algorithm, but their USP as well.
[edited by: Philosopher at 7:29 pm (utc) on June 27, 2008]
|There's clearly a culture difference between those of us who had an off line business that we brought online and those that have built virtual on-line only businesses. |
For us it would be better for Google to say link buying is OK, that would at least give us a level playing field with website owners who don't give a stuff and think "if we get caught with this site we can always make another one"
You must be kidding right?
I'll bring up the whole argument I'd give EFV in the ole RECIPROCAL link days.
Watched a Manchester Game lately?
Who are the sponsors?
Are they sporting outlets?
They are banks and insurance agencies!
What do THOSE things have to do with football/soccer?
Did you ever see the PONTIAC commercial co-sponsored by GOOGLE to
go to GOOGLE FIRST and then type in pontiac.com?
lol, get real man, cars and search engines are SOOOO topical... -.-
On one hand you want the "playing field to be even" and then say,
"if we get caught with this site we can always make another one"
What exactly do you think makes the "playing field even" on the internet?!
The simple fact that a Mom and Pop can throw up a website on a shoestring budget and get to the top of the SERPS through:
A. having a UNBELIEVABLE SITE/CONCEPT
(see above. Not likely unless you have a TRULY genius idea that 1000 people a lifetime have....ie EBAY/DIGG/FACEBOOK
B. trading/buying/bartering/creating link bait for links that cost you virtually NOTHING compared to the ROI.
Either way, your argument doesn't hold weight OFFLINE or ONLINE.
Marketing, advertising, customer perception makes money/businesses. Period.
You want to have the "Best" site? Go for it.
I've done it. I have enough "pure" white hat sites that i've poured my sweat, love, blood and tears into that dominate niches.
But they TRULY are the best of the best and I have gone 2-3 years withOUT touching them and they still rank #1 or #2, depending on whatever new "natural" links I get and whether wikipedia is getting links at the same pace.
It goes without saying, these are NOT ecommerce sites or national clients.
If I'm running/optimizing for a business, the goal is to MAKE MONEY, not get gold stars from the fictionalized teacher I've created in my own mind.
My competitors that buy links are the EXACT SAME strategic business partners that Google has aligned with.
Are they trying to get "gold stars" for having the "best" paper or are they trying to make REAL money...you know, the kind that buys stuff in the OFFLINE world?
Oh yea, they ALSO have back-up domains of back-up domains.
Real OFFLINE businesses have subsidiaries of subsidiaries that sell the EXACT same product with a different label.
As usual, when Google made the first PRONOUNCEMENT OF DOOM about bought links, I was one of the lone voices saying what Tedster now acknowledges.
Of course, it was FUD...and it had LITTLE to do with the algo or the QUALITY of the SERPS.
It had everything to do with .....Marketing, advertising, customer perception and keeping investors and the media convinced they were "not being gamed"
Unfortunately, some business owners fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
I've lost count of the timer, but I'm sure we are around 1 year since the PRONOUNCEMENT OF DOOM.
How much money have you lost because you were "certain" Google would crack down on bought links the next day?
[edited by: whitenight at 7:39 pm (utc) on June 27, 2008]
The problem I see with any attempt on Google's part to penalize paid links is they have no way to tell whether it was the site owner that bought them. True Google bowling may or may not be real now, but start penalizing paid links and the floodgates open up. It would be *way* more cost effective for me to buy nasty links to my competitors' sites than to focus on making mine better, but my stint as king of the SERPs would only last until someone bought nasty links to my site. It would be pure pandemonium and the end result would be Google having even less control over the SERPs than ever before.
It's been said a million times before, but here it goes once more: if Google does anything to 'bad' links it will be to simply negate them. Seeing a penalty levied for bad inbound links will never be the case.
All this talk about what can be done to bad links seems a bit moot to me though (not that I don't relish the debate). They can't seem to tell the good from the bad for the life of them.
|Paid Links - If I was Google |
Just don't count links period. Use another metric that is less susceptible to manipulation.
Can you imagine the fallout in our industry if Google were to come out tomorrow and announce that they have a new core algo that no longer relies on links for ranking factors? Yeehaa! There would be lots of homeless people running about.
|Can you imagine the fallout in our industry if Google were to come out tomorrow and announce that they have a new core algo that no longer relies on links for ranking factors? Yeehaa! There would be lots of homeless people running about. |
The more important question is: Can you imagine the fall out in Google STOCK! :)
Besides, Page and Brin don't work on the algo anymore. The chances of that happening are virtually nil, but I wouldn't mind if they did.
[edited by: whitenight at 7:54 pm (utc) on June 27, 2008]
|Can you imagine the fall out in Google STOCK! |
I can and I'm sure that is a question that crosses Google's mind each time they review the whole links dilemma. The current algo is flawed and it appears that they are "doing their best" to address the issue without upsetting too many in the process.
Maybe all this recent talk about PR going AWOL is a precursor of what is to come?
|There's clearly a culture difference between those of us who had an off line business that we brought online and those that have built virtual on-line only businesses. |
Hissing, Also wanted to add -
I'm assuming if you have a offline business, then it has a brand name?
That said, you should own
Those are your "test" sites and "back ups" to test with or leave fallow.
Either way, you should NEVER worry about being banned or pi$$ing Goog off.
If you have a brand, then your site doesn't disappear just because it's not in the SERPS. Those who know you from brandname.com can still type that in.
Those who don't know you, should be finding brandname.ORG in the SERPs
(Cause you've been building links and creating a presence just in case, right?)
What you are describing is short term opportunism not marketing or advertising. Its just manipulating the organic SERPS. And its not particularly cleaver and it is very cheap. We can all buy links. The issue is if you are building a business for the long term should you take the risk of getting a -950, or even a -30 penalty.
What we currently have from Google in terms of their self proclaimed rules and the currently ineffective policing of those rules is a situation where site owners who are prepared to take a (admittedly small) risk can do a smash and grab raid on a SERP. They can go to #1 clean up for a few months and by the time the spam team spot them a real business has been badly affected.
In my niche if you are not #1 or #2 you might as well be #30, and 60% of all traffic is for one 2 word term, and that is the main cause of our local problem. Several seriously big offline businesses have been languishing toward the bottom of the first page or on page 2 and have started to think "we've nothing to lose, we might as well be at #950 as here". So they have started to employ one trick SEOs. A few folks who had nothing in the first place have thrown up or in some cases finely crafted sites and done their own one trick. So far I've been able to fight them all off but the time is getting close when I'm going to have to decide if I should take the gloves off.
PS I already spend a small fortune on Adwords, over $20,000 last month.
|What you are describing is short term opportunism not marketing or advertising. Its just manipulating the organic SERPS. And its not particularly cleaver and it is very cheap. We can all buy links. The issue is if you are building a business for the long term should you take the risk of getting a -950, or even a -30 penalty. |
Tell that to all the FORTUNE 500 companies buying links by the boatload.
You've drunk too much Goog-Aid my friend. You might want to go back and read my original posts (and the other posters above) about WHY Google would never implement their bought link FUD campaign.
Short answer - They simply can't do it without totally ruining the SERPs and giving their USERS a bad experience.
(I get annoyed when I can't find Fortune 500 widget company in the SERPS for "widgets", don't you?)
Honestly, all my sarcastic ranting about how Goog is full of it is for YOU and the other BUSINESSES on here that are missing out on what's REALLY going on with GOOG. Not what they want you to believe.
Don't take my word for it....
Look at your lying eyes...
Do bought links work or not?
Do Fortune 500 companies buy links or not?
Has Google started implementing WIDESPREAD penalities for bought links or not? (a few sites out of millions doesn't make a case...it's an anomaly)
Can Goog start implementing widespread penalties for bought links without seriously harming their results (and stock)?
Seriously, you might want to go back and read my original arguments when we first talked about it.
I gave several LOGICAL, BUSINESS-MINDED reasons about how we would still be having the same discussion we are having now.... a year ago... and why I don't expect it to change over the next 2 years.
[edited by: whitenight at 8:38 pm (utc) on June 27, 2008]
Marketing is marketing, whether it is online or offline, if a tactic works (good or bad) and the risks to the company are acceptable - then the method will be used. If the risks aren't acceptable, they won't - a simple marketing statergy anaylisis will work this one out. One thing I can guarantee, whether it is ethical or not will play no part! Just take a look at all the TV advertising aimed at children.
Looking at this from a different angle you could claim that every webmasters site is their own business. If they have space on it and want to sell advertising in that space to the customers specification thats up to them. Gawd knows some sites couldnt survive at all without selling advertising links!.
If a customer wants that advert to say "Buy widgets at Wigetville" thats up to them - the customer buys what you sell them and frankly that is their business.
If google start whacking sites that buy paid advertising, next thing you know other webmasters will be gaming google by buying links for competing sites to get rid of them from the serps. I suspect this could already be going on?
The only policy imo google can use is to factor into the algo that links are purchased by millions of websites and where they suspect its not an authoritive natural link just devalue the PR thats passed on - its that simple.
Also, think about it.. if a website is a bag of nails and is just buying links all over the place to rank, it wont have any authority links in its profile what so ever (because authority sites wont link to junk)so as long as that is factored into the algo the google serps will filter out most junk anyway - and i suspect this is the case anyway?
I think google has more issues with large publishing houses using their market weight featuring links to their own sites on magazine websites, news sites and zillions of other connected / associated sites to boost a specific site that might not be that good - its not classed as paid links as such, but its still google gaming all the same imo and this in some sectors is more of a problem than a few mom and pop sites that may have purchased a few links that have probably tripped a filter for something else anyway!
In all i think this whole issue is blown way out of perspective. Google should not be encouraging a nation of website snitchers, they just need to focus on perfecting the algo and lets face it due to the number of filters already in play the serps are 99.9% pure anyway, crikey good blue chip sites doing everything white hat are tripping filers left right and centre as it is!
My opinion is that only really obvious networks and links on pages were ever hit or scrutinized. As well, I do not see any evidence that topical relevance means anything currently in linking / ranking. I see authority and trust as the big factors. This isn't to say this won't change - it likely will, as Google continues to refine the ability for both their algo and manual editors to search out and assess websites.
Link buyers who are not going to be successful use networks, since those leave the biggest footprint.
Others who negotiate by phone and ask websites to link in content are not likely to assessed poorly. Google may be able to do a lot of things, but it cannot assess intention.
|You miss the point the web is supposed to be useful to people |
Who was the person who stated this? The jewelry store in my mall isn't helpful for me, but it is there.
To some people, the web is a platform to earn money, and nothing more.
A (the) major component of the original Google algorithm relied on the assumption that webmasters and page authors who linked to another web site or page did so because it helped users of their page find further information or because it added authority to what they were saying. At that time these links had no value other than being useful to the author and to the readers of that page.
Given the situation at that time this, along with on page factors produced SERPS that were far more reliable and of a much higher quality that Altavista. Mainly because people who had no self imposed morality found out how to manipulate AV's results and thereby ruined the search engine. So Google grew and grew and eventually Brin and Page threw away their own self imposed morality and monetized Google, making themselves $billions in the process.
Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page made a fatal error in their assumptions regarding PageRank. They neglected to realise that if Google was successful it would make links valuable. The very thing that made their results so much better than AV's would be used to manipulate the results so that eventually they would become no more reliable than Altavista's. They would be ruined by people who did not play by the "rules".
To be honest these people (Brin and Page) who many think were brilliant, mainly because they made so much money, were in fact pretty stupid.
Now, in an attempt to try and pull out the needle that is about to burst the bubble, senior Google people are trying to beg people who couldn't give a monkeys to stop doing something that they have no intention of stopping.
The subject of this thread is about how I, for one, wish that Google would find a way to remove the value of links not given because they help users of a page to find further information or because the link adds authority to what is being said. The suggested mechanism may not work but some way to devalue paid links to the point that there is no point in buying them would IMHO improve the results. Changes to the algorithm over the last 12 months seem to me to be running counter to this and sites that are buying links seem to be being rewarded more than ever before.
If Google is going to continue in this direction then I'll have no alternative but to join in whole and spend a few $s on a paid links, but somehow it just doesn't feel right.