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Does Google Punish Link Buyers? or just Link Sellers?
mikeclover

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 11:25 pm on Feb 20, 2010 (gmt 0)

( moved from [webmasterworld.com...] )

Google will not penalize a site for buying text links, they penalize the site selling links, which devalues any links on that site. Sites getting penalized for buying links is a myth. There is no way google can tell if your link is paid unless they check your checking account. They will filture your rankings if you do something unatural like buy 10,0000 links in one day. I would not get too caught up in the link buying myth, becasue all the top brand companies buy links. If google was running around penalizing everyone for this,then the entire web would go down, including yours. If your not buying links then you are not on the first page for hight traffic keywords. It amazez me that everyone worries about this, you however dont want links on #*$! sites, or bad neighborhoods. If your rankings dropped all the sudden, then your links got devalued or you did something really stupid, like buy 10,000 links all at once.Remember, good content, off page links, at a normal rate = good results, time and time again. I am not talking about leased links, I am talking about links that are permanent, there you have a trade secret, most dont want you to know....

[edited by: tedster at 8:55 pm (utc) on Feb 21, 2010]

 

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 9:43 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Most of what I observed was last summer, and maybe Google has taken a different tack now. I'm sure they still hate paid links, but the approach may be different. After all, a change in this area wouldn't be the kind of thing they're going to announce on their blog or anything like that.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 9:56 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Maybe Google secretly sets up their own fake link selling operations, similar to police stings, to entrap potential buyers.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 10:50 pm on Mar 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

domaingamer,

what you're describing sounds like a thin affiliate penalty and not a link selling penalty.

You are right in the sense that some thin affiliate websites seem to never get penalized, thats can be attributed to the fact that they are using methods to hide being a thin affiliate site from google, or maybe they were already penalized and have recovered from whatever penalty they were in.

I monitor several industries and there are 2 different thin affiliate sites that have managed to not get hit with penalties, they might get hit for a few weeks but then they always return.

Dont assume anything, just because you were selling links doesnt mean google penalized you because of this. Look at your site as if you were a regular visitor, do you see any potential problems that maybe google would have picked up on with a manual review?

domaingamer



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 12:08 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I understand what you're saying regarding the fact that thin affiliate sites can get banned and I wouldn't doubt it. I'm only giving my specific example across 30+ websites. Many of my other sites that weren't selling links were also thin affiliate sites and didn't get banned. I assumed that the thin affiliate sites made it through because they weren't selling links. Now maybe that's coincidence, but I surely wouldn't be ruling out a link selling penalty occurring. Just like I won't rule out thin aff sites getting penalized - but I don't think I've experienced that based on my set of circumstances.

As a side note, I consider MFA sites thin sites, but would be surprised if they got regularly banned since they are very much helping Google and it's really not in Google's best interest to ban them. Unless maybe you get a bit too high and mighty in your rankings and incur the wrath of some brick and mortar companies that also just happen to be large AdWords spenders.

Whitey

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 10:04 am on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's a few years ago , but I've seen sites purchase paid links in a large scale network and both seller and buyer were penalised on the specific sites . With the links removed by both buyer and seller the sites came back. It was a a warning shot , so I'm not sure what would happen if the incident stayed around for a bit longer.

Maybe a more severe penalty - i don't know.

robdwoods

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:27 pm on Mar 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

I can go look up any site that is in the top 10 and see that all of them are buying links, I cant prove it, but sites typically dont jsut radomly put a link for keyword on there footer, or sidebar. This is all I am saying


I would tend to agree. Some of my competition buys links and not even in a very careful way. You have to be pretty obvious about it or be buying them from sites already flagged as selling them to get caught, but you CAN get caught. They currently aren't getting caught and the link buying is working but that doesn't mean they won't get caught. I would never buy links to a domain that you can't afford to throw away and start fresh or where your business can't stand a lengthy absence from the SERPs. Having said that, based on the very very obvious patterns in my competition's links and anchor text (98% of their incoming links from the same two non-brand related keywords)I'd say that Google isn't nearly as good at detecting paid links as they say they are and you have to do it egregiously to get their attention....or have someone "out" you, and even then I'm not sure Google pays much attention to those spam reports.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 2:51 am on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

This may not be new to anyone but I just noticed MC has made another call for link spam reports (posted on March 3).

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 5:56 am on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

That sort of jumped out at me because he didn't just ask for reports about "paid links" - it was any kind of "link spam".

Whitey

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 7:17 am on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Here's the link [mattcutts.com ]

robdwoods

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 5:11 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Can competitors harm ranking?
There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.


While it's true that there's a small chance of competitors harming your ranking by buying links to your site there is a much greater opportunity for them to harm your reputation. I've seen link building campaigns against sites that house negative reviews of a company. A competitor will link build against that third party site to make it appear in the SERPs for a search on your brand. There is virtually no downside to the link buying in this case as the company buying them can't be punished by a penalty, only the site housing the negative reviews.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:08 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)


Can competitors harm ranking?
There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.


In one of his blog comments, Matt specifically addresses the issue of competitor A harming Competitor B. I started to provide the quote here, but I am not sure if that is against TOS. Basically, he admits that they work hard to help minimize the potential, but it isn't the highest priority on the to-do list.

So, if you're in a competitive/lucrative niche, it is highly conceivable in my opinion for someone to invest in take-down tactics. It just takes time, money, and some human resources.

Reno

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:22 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

It just takes time, money, and some human resources.

I know we say it here over & over, but once again, all this is possible because of all the emphasis that Google has invested in the power of backlinks. It was a brilliant break-through idea 9 or 10 years ago, but now it has run its course and clearly can do as much damage as good.

--------------------------------

whitenight

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:28 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

I know we say it here over & over, but once again, all this is possible because of all the emphasis that Google has invested in the power of backlinks. It was a brilliant break-through idea 9 or 10 years ago, but now it has run its course and clearly can do as much damage as good.


Not links, Reno.

Non-lazy "black hatters" WILL ALWAYS be able to outsmart Gorg's automation,
cause they usually test strategies more than the 'Plex and "white hatters" combined.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:37 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

Non-lazy "black hatters" WILL ALWAYS be able to outsmart Gorg's automation


My feeling is that G should stop the numeric filters/penalties (-40, -50, minus-whatever-they-are) and rely on a fair and objective means of detecting link quality and use it to minimize/stop PageRank passage from questionable pages/domains. Over time, enough links will have been discounted to relegate undeserving high-ranking pages back to where they need to be. Filters and penalties that deliberately suppress pages (especially domain level) create new opportunities for malicious take-down tactics.

Kristos

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 7:16 pm on Mar 8, 2010 (gmt 0)

ah I remember the good old days of jupiter media. A link on their network would give you 400,000 backlinks and a number 1 ranking in a month. till google spanked them hard.
**sigh**

Whitey

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 10:38 am on Mar 9, 2010 (gmt 0)

G should stop the numeric filters/penalties (-40, -50, minus-whatever-they-are) and rely on a fair and objective means of detecting link quality and use it to minimize/stop PageRank passage from questionable pages/domains


I think they can't , otherwise they wouldn't need to engage FUD. Providing a lethal detterent like a public hanging is enough to make any brand think twice on link buying tactics. In yet all the big SEO agencies encourage it, and all the big sites in competitive verticals that I observe do it.

Me thinks it's life on the permanent edge for many.

Alby

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 3:29 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

G should stop the numeric filters/penalties (-40, -50, minus-whatever-they-are) and rely on a fair and objective means of detecting link quality and use it to minimize/stop PageRank passage from questionable pages/domains.

That would be nice, but clearly Google believe that they are not able to do this successfully. If they did they could actually follow through on their original statement in an ethical and responsible manner: There is nothing a competitor can do to hurt your rankings. (i.e. posting loads of spammy links to your site).

Filters and penalties that deliberately suppress pages (especially domain level) create new opportunities for malicious take-down tactics.

I agree 100%. Google is actually enticing morally corrupt webmasters to carry out these types of attacks for two reasons:

1. They make it easy to hurt competitors by allowing simple link attacks to succeed.

2. The offer no possibility (or very limited possibility) for the webmasters that are attacked to defend themselves.

If Google allowed webmasters who have identified themselves as site owners to disassociate their websites from certain links then malicious link attacks would be drastically reduced.

Reno

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 4:12 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Google allowed webmasters who have identified themselves as site owners to disassociate their websites from certain links then malicious link attacks would be drastically reduced.

You are exactly right, and they have the mechanism in place to make that happen.

Allow siteowners to log into G Webmaster Tools > list all backlinks > check a box next to each link that should be discounted > confirm

That would make it clear to G that the siteowner did not request and does not want those links, and thus, no need for any penalty whatsoever.

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

ken_b

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 4:21 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Allow siteowners to log into G Webmaster Tools > list all backlinks > check a box next to each link that should be discounted > confirm

That might work for a new site, but if a site already has thousands of backlinks, going through the list to approve/disapprovem them would probably be unmanageable.
.

trakkerguy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 4:26 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Allow siteowners to log into G Webmaster Tools > list all backlinks > check a box next to each link that should be discounted > confirm

That would make it clear to G that the siteowner did not request and does not want those links, and thus, no need for any penalty whatsoever


Sounds good, but that may aid in reverse engineering the algo.

Suppose you bought too many cheap links recently and suffer a penalty. Very bad now, but under your scenario, maybe not.

Simply login to webmastertools and check the box to discount the suspect links. Penalty goes away, and you have another clue on what links they will tolerate for your site.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 5:15 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Allow siteowners to log into G Webmaster Tools > list all backlinks > check a box next to each link that should be discounted > confirm


I think this would be the next rationale, logical step of a benevolent search engine to do :)

Sounds good, but that may aid in reverse engineering the algo.


The algo has already been reverse engineered. Most of the users on this forum have already done this, "tactfully put"

It is the percentage of good, honest websites that get nailed with penalties that is the real issue.

trakkerguy

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:44 am on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Most of the users on this forum have already done this. Most of the users on this forum have already done this


Really? Most of the users can tell me how many sketchy links will get me penalized?

Most of the users know everything they need to know about the algo, and couldn't use more clues to help reverse engineer?

Reno

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 3:12 pm on Mar 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

if a site already has thousands of backlinks, going through the list

The question is whether it is worthwhile to help the majority of siteowners -- those who do not have thousands of backlinks -- to be in a better position with Google vis-a-vis their intentions (in other words, these are not links they want); or, does G focus on the considerations of the far fewer siteowners who have the huge volume of backlinks. Both sides have an argument to be made.

As to reverse engineering, it is generally believed that the algo has (at least) a hundred or more permutations, so I guess that some insight might be gleaned from this sort of feature in regards to this specific aspect of the ago (in all likelihood the people who do the reverse engineering have already figured out what kind of links can do damage -- that is why they can successfully attack a competitor). Still, if the experiences of some people on this forum can be extrapolated over the entire web, it seems a beneficial thing to do, to protect the innocent if nothing else. And there was a time when G professed to care about that sort of thing.

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

Whitey

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 1:25 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's a nice idea for webmasters to come to WMT and discount links that appear to be paid for. But it wouldn't be equitable.

There's plenty of websites that wouldn't do that and Google probably won't penalise or discount many of those anyway.

I think Google is just buying time. Links are going to be a lot less of a factor as search continues to develop , with user data combined with content playing a far greater role. At the maturity of that development, perceived manipulation with the use of paid linking will be a relatively lesser consideration to police in many cases.

Harry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 2:35 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'll ask again even if many of guys think it's a silly question. We don't all have the same skills and good answer would be appreciated.

If you sell a banner that links to your client, is that considered link bait or whatever Google despises? How do you then sell direct advertising on your properties?

Thank you very much.

tedster

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



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 6:42 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Make sure that paid ads do not transfer PageRank - then Google is happy and your ads send traffic. What Google is against is buying ads just for the purpose of increasing your ranking, rather than buying ads because they generate traffic (or perhaps brand awareness).

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 7:32 pm on Mar 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Harry, just add rel="nofollow" to any text links, or even banner image advertisement links to be safe. Even though it may clearly be marked "advertisement" google is a stickler and wants you to follow there rules...pretty messed up but thats how it is

Harry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 4:22 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks a lot guys.

CainIV

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4084419 posted 7:53 am on Mar 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Really? Most of the users can tell me how many sketchy links will get me penalized?


No, that is your job. My quote referred to most users on this forum knowing how to reverse engineer the SERP's.

Most of the users know everything they need to know about the algo, and couldn't use more clues to help reverse engineer?


My point wasn't particular people could use more help or not. My comment was in context and reply to the notion of Google allowing webmasters to selectively select (or rather deselect) links from the Webmaster Tools interface in order to send signals to Google that they are aware of, and do not approve of particular links.

Make sure that paid ads do not transfer PageRank - then Google is happy and your ads send traffic.


In a black and white world this would work great, but unfortunately it isn't practical anymore. We all know how 'fuzzy' the topic can be.

For example - why should a paid ad in context in a well written article on an authority blog or news website be blocked from passing pagerank?

-To adhere strictly to the Google guidelines?
-To lower risk for the idea behind 'paid' - even if it is unlikely undetectable in this case and will help the business?
-To play fair?

This is the part that is difficult to understand for many business owners online.

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