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




msg:4084072
 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]

 

bears5122




msg:4084166
 4:13 am on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I disagree mike. I've seen many examples of sites that purchased links heavily and unnaturally and when they got rid of them, saw their rankings shoot up. Google will tout the party line by saying competitors can't hurt you, but I don't buy it. Seen way too many sites with penalized with nothing shady on-site but a ton of really bad links pointing to them.

walkman




msg:4084170
 4:21 am on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

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.


Horrible advice, you will be penalized and only a manual review can bring you back up. They are not bound by any absolute certainty" standard, if it looks like bought links, you're out, and you have to prove to them that they are not bought!

brinked




msg:4084188
 5:30 am on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

mikeclover, you are 125% wrong.

I used to seek out backlinks to buy exhaustingly. I kept getting penalized. My rankings would go from top 5 for 10 high traffic keywords to page 5-10. At first I thought it was because I wasn't varying my anchors or my backlink profile wasn't diversified enough. But no...it was because these sites I was buying from were suspected link sellers (having off topic links on their pages, etc). Google didnt so call "penalize" my site to the point where they removed me from google entirely...but pretty much said "ok, we suspect your buying links..so your site will take a hit"

I have 12 years+ doing full time SEO and I have owned and/or operated over 50 websites and from my experience YES you can be "penalized" by google for buying links. I have been penalized for other crazy crap as well that I discovered through much trial and error.

Alby




msg:4084299
 3:00 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

mikeclover, you are 125% wrong.

YES you can be "penalized" by google for buying links.


I normally don't post much on Webmasterworld any more, but now I just have to speak out.

Brinked is spot on.

What Google is doing is amazingly irresponsible in my opinion.

The fact that Google constantly repeats the statement that "What a competitor does can't hurt your rankings" doesn't make it any more true, and by now almost everyone is aware that it is a lie.

Unethical webmasters are killing off competitors by the hundreds (or maybe thousands) on a daily basis and Google does nothing about it. People's lively hoods are getting destroyed by no fault of their own, and Google doesn't seem to care.

It is so easy to take out a competitor by posting a large amount of low quality footer links from unrelated websites. It has happened to two different websites that we have in the last two years, and it is practically impossible to get your rankings back.

The sad things is that this would be a relatively easy problem to solve if Webmasters were allowed to use Google Webmastertools to "block" links by basically saying: "These are sites that we do not want to be associated with in any way, and links from these sites are not something we have been part in creating." However, by allowing this Google would have to admit that bad incoming links does hurt your site. So instead Google just pretends that everything is fine, at the cost of Webmasters.

People who are repeating Google's mantra "Incoming links can't hurt you" are either not actually looking at what is happening or are in uncompetitive industries where this type of behavior is still rare.

mikeclover




msg:4084307
 3:17 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Links are the natural and/or unatural process of getting ranked on the web. 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. Yes being in bad neighborhoods will get your rankings dropped eventually. Our sites write unique content all the time, but the only way a site will get to the first page of google without buying links is if that content is based on a 80 year old lady getting kidnapped by a purple alien.

[edited by: lawman at 12:35 am (utc) on Feb 22, 2010]

walkman




msg:4084314
 3:31 pm on Feb 21, 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


Fine, just don't say Google doesn't penalize you for buying links, because they do.

helpnow




msg:4084316
 3:35 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

mikeclover - ah, no. You do not have to buy links to get to #1. For competitive terms that drive traffic and convert into sales. There are some here that know me and who I am, and I can assure you, I have never bought a link, and they could concur. Not a solitary one. And I have plenty of #1/#2 rankings.

Now, on the other hand, I am tempted to agree with you that you will not be penalized by bad links, but I am not certain, and have been lurking this thread with some interest.

These are 2 different issues. Yes, links are the lifeblood of the google universe. But when you say you can look up any site in the top 10 (?, and not just #1 !?), and you can see they are all buying links, well, from someone who is in the top 10 all over the place, and in a lot of #1 spots in many different niches, ah, no, you do not have to buy links to get into #1.

Guaranteed.

To say otherwise is FUD.

mikeclover




msg:4084322
 4:07 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Helpnow, you msut be an acception to the rule. I do have keywords I rank for in the top 10, but they are not competitive. In a nut shell that is what this thread is all about.Google rankings and SERP;s. I am just trying to get rid of the paranoia in this thread. I have been doing this for years as well. I think the main problem is this virtual world is ran by software that is created by humans, and humans are not flawless. I dont worry about links, I worry about the ethics of a comnpany so big. They have the power to do what ever they want in their virtual world. When prompted me to hammer this link issue is the comment from Bears5122. I would quit worrying about getting penalized for links. I can look at multi billion dollare companies in my sector and they are doing jsut fine with there link buying for 10 years. If your site can get ther based on Good content, that is wonderful. Most cannot do that though.

mcskoufis




msg:4084323
 4:09 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I have been penalized for other crazy crap as well that I discovered through much trial and error.


This is unfortunately part of the SEO learning lifecycle.. You have to go through difficult situations to then realise the full extent of consequences your actions can have.

helpnow




msg:4084327
 4:17 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

-grin- mikeclover - I wasn't saying you could do #1 with content alone, oh, no worries, we agree: we all need links. Google = links. Buy you don't have to BUY links.

brinked




msg:4084337
 5:01 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mike,

Google will not penalize a site for poor backlinks. That is because google has another word for this...its called filter. Your website will not be banned from google for buying links, or lose all your PR...thats googles definition of a penalty. But if googles algorithm or manual reviewers detects a suspicion of paid links...you might be very well be FILTERED.

Here is the perfect example...Years ago I owned a myspace website. It ranked top ten for 4 very competitive keywords. I wanted to go after the #1 spot of course so I tried a site that places your link on many different website pages. I did 100. The links were placed (with varying anchors) on 100 different pages on 100 different domains with a PR of anywhere from n/a-3.

In about a month, my site dropped to the 10th page of google for every single keyphrase I was optimizing for with this link campaign. I couldnt figure it out at first. Then I remembered the link campaign...I cancelled it and I kid you not less than a week later my SERPs were restored.

This is just one example. I have MANY experiences just like this.

poor quality backlinks especially in bulk will more likely hurt a new website than it will a well established one.

BTW I buy backlinks every day, I pay google to run my ads, and some of those visitors have websites who decide to link to me. I pay an SEO company to create stupid nonsense viral campaigns just so people can talk/link about how stupid and/or funny it was.

I pay writers to write controversial blog posts so people will link to it. So yes, I buy links in many kinds of forms.

[edited by: lawman at 12:38 am (utc) on Feb 22, 2010]

brinked




msg:4084345
 5:27 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Alby,

I feel for you. The really messed up part is that its the smaller websites that get affected by this the most. A small website with a handful of backlinks, if a competitor buys some stupid "5 million blog comment links" package for that site, it totally ruins their backlink profile and makes google believe they are buying links even if they are not. When google sees 1000 backlinks and 995 of them look un-natural, the 5 legit backlinks mean nothing. Google wants you to believe that they "disregard" any un-natural looking backlinks but that is misleading. I am very passionate about this because I have seen this too many times for it to be coincidence.

tedster




msg:4084346
 5:28 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

A few years ago Google changed the wording about whether competitors can hurt your rankings. Here's what they say at the moment:

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

[google.com...]

Note the addition of the word "almost". I guess Google doesn't want to worry people about those situations where a competitor's actions are not harmful, where Google catches what's going n and ignores it. When I'm analyzing backlinks, I do see a lot of attempts at competitive disruption that are a fail.

But, the change in wording is an admission that there are some things a competitor can do that might hurt your rankings. If I remember correctly, the change came along with the war on link buying.

domaingamer




msg:4084377
 7:11 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Brinked, your example of getting penalized sounds a lot using some of the very populuar automated link buying services. I personally have destroyed websites that I own by selling links w/ those services. Each site got a sort of -30 to -50 penalty for every single keyword. Even typing in the exact match domain name keywords wouldn't bring the site up.

To me if I could destroy my websites by selling these types of links, it makes sense the receiver of these links would also have some issues. Especially since if you don't know what you're doing, you get a huge influx of links at one time and typically from sites that are at best loosely associated with your own site - so they probably aren't on topic.

When I've done non automated link buys - manual purchases I've not run into the same penalty from the standpoint of the link purchaser. I'm sure a manual review could cause some issues if that's all the links you have, but if you mix in more accepted links - you have a better chance of flying under the radar.

[edited by: tedster at 7:25 pm (utc) on Feb 21, 2010]
[edit reason] removed specifics [/edit]

kevsta




msg:4084423
 9:04 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mikeclover - I have to disagree with this too.

"If your not buying links then you are not on the first page for hight traffic keywords."


we have multiple clients ranking for competitive keywords and multiple sites of our own, and nobody has bought any links, ..ever.

it can be done, it obviously just takes more planning and work.

[edited by: tedster at 9:06 pm (utc) on Feb 21, 2010]
[edit reason] moved from another location [/edit]

Whitey




msg:4084429
 9:15 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Link sellers certainly run a risk , yet i've see nsites that have been around for years with no problems.

Link buyers - raising your TBPR to silly heights from unrelated sites , over buying or creating a noticeable pattern with paid inbound links etc etc ....

.... it's all running a risk of editorial review , competitor scrutiny , algorthimn changes [ future or current ].

So the moral of the story is , the more you test that threshold , the higher the risk of a problem.

Reno




msg:4084451
 10:13 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

The problem with link buying is the gray zone is gigantic. I certainly agree that if you buy dozens of links in one day you'll no doubt run into some sort of filter. But simply "buying a link" might involve getting a listing on a focused theme website (such as the "All Widget Gallery") that takes the webmaster 20 minutes to incorporate on one or more pages. So that webmaster charges $25 for their time. Is that "link buying"? Yes, you're paying for a link, but in addition, you're getting a text description and possibly graphics. Perhaps hundreds of other people have paid to participate in this same All Widget Gallery -- should Google devalue everyone? It makes no sense. So I'm inclined to think that they use some common sense, though as with anything in life, I have no doubt that a lot of perfectly innocent people have taken a hit for exactly the kind of scenario I've described. It's not a perfect world, and as we all know, Google is anything but perfect.

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

aristotle




msg:4084453
 10:23 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

I've read that some companies hire people to create numerous small "satellite" sites with related content, then link them to the companies main site. Since the company has to pay the cost of creating and maintaining these other sites, wouldn't this be a form of link buying?

brinked




msg:4084479
 11:36 pm on Feb 21, 2010 (gmt 0)

Aristotle, this is very common practice. I do this myself. The thing is, its a pain in the ass. You need to disassociate it from your main site as much as possible meaning different whois info, and it has to be on a different server than your main site.

I go beyond this and I actually buy websites that are related just so I can put my link on them. I only do this if the website is of good quality. What I like to do is find websites that are penalized for over optimization, take it over, change some homepage text and watch its true potential take over. Hit a couple jackpots with this method.

Whitey,

Link sellers do run a risk. And its amazing at how stupid a lot of them are. I can understand selling links..you may be in desperate times for money and your site just isnt making as much as you want so you resort to selling some links. The thing is the websites that are made for the sole purpose of selling links and then they sell links to anybody. A casino site, a lawyer, and a myspace website are not anywhere related! At least sell links to related or even semi related sites. And a lot of them get away with this too which pisses me off.

I have a competitor in one of my niches, he ranks like #5, and as high up as #2 for a very competitive term. He is linked on about 200 different websites...all with the exact same anchor text! He was penalized for 3 months (exactly 3 months...i tracked it) and then came back to the first page. How does google let this guy get away with it? He often gets caught up in the filter but he always returns.

brinked




msg:4084491
 12:12 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

BTW, if you guys want a really useful tip to buy links without directly buying links, this is the best method. Make a great top ten or top 5 list of something that relates to your site so lets say you have a widget app site, make a quality top list of the best widget apps and provide good detail about each one. Make sure the other 4 or 9 are not your competitors, so if your app is about a web based widget, you can talk about 9 desktop widgets or something else thats not directly related this way you're not helping your comp...try to find quality sites but pick ones that arent as good as yours so your stands out.

Submit this story to top related blogs, some even will accept money to review it...if its good quality they should review it. When they publish it, hire a reputable company to get it to the first page of digg and market it. Other sites will then spin the article and make their own list on their blogs and usually keep your site in the top ten. Also contact the other 9 sites and let them know about it and have them promote it on their site. It can be a little costly...but its well worth it.

crobb305




msg:4084517
 1:50 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

brinked,

I have a competitor in one of my niches, he ranks like #5, and as high up as #2 for a very competitive term. He is linked on about 200 different websites...all with the exact same anchor text! He was penalized for 3 months


When you say "penalized", did you see his site in the -40 to -60 range, or was it gone completely?

I have been told that some of those filters are lifted algorithmically in some cases (for a variety of reasons). I know when you're filtered, it's tempting to shoot over a reconsideration request, but it might be best to wait a few months to see if you recover naturally.

I have a site that is -40 to -60 (it fluctuates depending on Datacenter) since January 11. I am waiting it out (as long as possible).

brinked




msg:4084525
 2:16 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

crobb actually...in this case it was hit with a deep penalty...not even showing in the top 100, it was like the dead last page. It wouldnt even rank for its domain.com name

CainIV




msg:4084623
 7:31 am on Feb 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

And never forget the value of being an authority.

One very large authority I see in many markets is actively purchases many, many links - thousands that are labeled sponsored links on higher pr websites that actively display link advertising and rates. Their rankings simply improve month to month for huge one - one, two and three keyword phrases. Anyone who spends time analyzing backlinks consistently every day in ecommerce has likely seen them and their fine body of work :)

A fraction of these links secured for a smaller website would look completely unnatural. But for this authority, they are a small - although laser targeted - percentage of the overall number of links to the website.

So, of course, the way link buys are calculated and applied to websites is also different depending on a likely large number of further factors.

macas




msg:4086555
 6:07 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)


This is just one example. I have MANY experiences just like this.

poor quality backlinks especially in bulk will more likely hurt a new website than it will a well established one.

BTW I buy backlinks every day, I pay google to run my ads, and some of those visitors have websites who decide to link to me. I pay an SEO company to create stupid nonsense viral campaigns just so people can talk/link about how stupid and/or funny it was.

I pay writers to write controversial blog posts so people will link to it. So yes, I buy links in many kinds of forms.


That's actually tricky and clever marketing for your website which does tons of people around internet now, I really do see a problem here after all.

I figure out lately something : Rules are not for everyone , just for small owners and websites, sad thing.

Reno




msg:4086672
 8:57 pm on Feb 24, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's actually tricky and clever marketing for your website...

...and is yet one more reason -- as if we need one more reason -- why the original concept of PR based on backlinks may have run its course. There are simply too many smart people who have designed marketing campaigns that will give consistently excellent results based on clever backlink "schemes". I applaud those folks for figuring it out, and wonder if the engineers at Google can ever keep up with them all...

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

brinked




msg:4086785
 12:56 am on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Pagerank promotes link selling. Sellers build up websites to get pagerank for the sole purpose of selling links. Google should not display pagerank. Why is it even relevant to the average surfer? I don't care about pr at all. At the end of the day the only stat I care about has a dollar sign in front of it.

lavelle72




msg:4087457
 11:26 pm on Feb 25, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google should not display pagerank


Fair point IMO

Bennie




msg:4088371
 10:39 am on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

brinked, loving the commentary, well done for actually doing it enough to understand the FUD that gets thrown around and I bet you can see clear as day the problems that Google has, and how well they do covering it with FUD. PR masters.

To the others, stop polarising the debate to the point where you are right, truth is always somewhere in the middle.

Enjoy advertising without buying links or learning what a crud link, or legit link is. If you just sit back and spout crap you'll never really learn now will ya! But I have no doubt you'll still be in here 'discussing it' cos I can't see you trying, can you?

ogletree




msg:4088400
 2:10 pm on Feb 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Mike the problem with your statement is that your saying big companies are doing it so we should to. Big companies live by different rules. I high authority site can get away with a lot more than somebody else. Your wrong Google does not just filter 10k backlinks from off topic. They can ban you. Like others have said you can get a penalty from backlinks. There is an entire off shoot of SEO now called Google Bowling or negative SEO.

This 89 message thread spans 3 pages: 89 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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