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This 144 message thread spans 5 pages: < < 144 ( 1 [2] 3 4 5 > >     
Overstock.com's Google Rankings - Too Good?
CanadianGuy




msg:4252180
 2:02 am on Jan 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ladies & Gentlemen of WebmasterWorld,
I'd like to propose a review of Overstock's SEO success in the last 1 - 2 years. Whoever has participated in O's SEO, I have to commend you! Before 2010, you would almost never find Overstock in the top 10. Now they dominate in just about every vertical they compete in. What did they do?

 

tedster




msg:4267587
 9:04 pm on Feb 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Makes you wonder why their new push is to extend the brand with "O.co"

mhansen




msg:4268031
 5:17 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Makes you wonder why their new push is to extend the brand with "O.co"


Good question for sure... they already dominate the full-word targets.

ratzker




msg:4268041
 5:26 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

My guess is for link shortener reasons. It is 301'd anyway.

bears5122




msg:4268049
 5:40 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you look at the links going to the sub-category pages, it's painfully obvious to see where they get their links from. We are all capable of deciphering how one acquires such links.

This shouldn't be a surprise though. Most of these large online retailers have hired SEOs over the years and they are doing many of the same things we all are (albeit on much larger budgets). Difference being that Google doesn't seem to care about them doing it unless the NYT writes a piece on it.

pageoneresults




msg:4268053
 5:47 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Difference being that Google doesn't seem to care about them doing it unless the NYT writes a piece on it.


After the recent JCP fiasco, I'm expecting newspaper reporters to be the new point of contact for reporting Google Spam. What JCP was doing is amateur compared to some of the other stuff that takes place. For example, the 1,000,000 documents that I've been looking at that sit on host names (multiple domains) and take up 5, 6 sometimes 8 of the top 10 results. Google have a long way to go before they have any control over the more severe spam.

Links? Pffft, child's play.

CanadianGuy




msg:4268065
 6:03 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WOW MHansen. That is a story I can empathize with. I'm not sure what we'd do if faced with the same challenge. That also really emphasizes the impact of Google's branding emphasis.

While we're digressing about OS, hopefully you can find some consolation that OS is still unable to consistently maintain profitability.

netmeg




msg:4268075
 6:20 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Re O.co - they better be careful, I wouldn't want to be in the room for an Overstock/Oprah death match...

Planet13




msg:4268080
 6:26 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Overstock is pretty much beyond the link influence thing, from an external standpoint.


I don't understand this statement.

Couldn't the same thing have been said about J C Penny last year? That they were beyond the link influence thing?

Building links sure seemed to help their rankings out last year, no?!?!?!

pageoneresults




msg:4268094
 6:35 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Couldn't the same thing have been said about J C Penny last year? That they were beyond the link influence thing? Building links sure seemed to help their rankings out last year, no?!?!?!


It appears that is the case. My gut instinct tells me that once you've reached the "brand status" external links come naturally and you don't need to do no stinkin link development like this. But, after looking at JCP and now OverStock, there's a weakness there that I didn't think existed at this level. If low quality links like that can influence brand results to that degree, then I think the tweak Google did a while back for brands was a bit too much. They are giving way too much weight to brand links, no matter where they appear.

Planet13




msg:4268097
 6:42 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

If low quality links like that can influence brand results to that degree, then I think the tweak Google did a while back for brands was a bit too much. They are giving way too much weight to brand links, no matter where they appear.


Thanks for the clarification. That would seem to be a good hypothesis, considering all the talk lately about brands dominating the SERPs.

mromero




msg:4268100
 6:50 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

tedster why not consider moving "delicate" topics to the supporters forum. Obfuscating and beating about the bush is such a waste of time.

tedster




msg:4268121
 8:13 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Many "delicate topics" are discussed in one of the Supporters forums, but it's wouldn't be very nice to our non-supporters to have them participate in a public thread and then take that thread away.

With regard to anchor text and big brands - or really any site that has strong backlink equity - I've noticed recently that lots of keyword anchor text in backlinks isn't really needed to compete on non-brand terms, however SOME seems to be. I also see some signs that the same may be true for smaller businesses, but too many smaller business go out and hammer on keyword backlinks unnaturally and then they get wiped by Google.

If you are getting honorable backlinks and you still can have some influence over the anchor text, it really pays off to keep a light hand on the controls.

tedster




msg:4268132
 8:31 pm on Feb 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another point about sites with lots of link equity - many times big organizations have too complex a business structure. They aren't agile enough to get millions of URLs into the index without all kinds of dupe content, server complications, internal cannibalization - on and on.

Overstock.com is to be commended for achieving 10 million indexed URLs. That's no small feat. I know of some major brands that need two years to get management approval just to fix an issue that any affiliate marketer could handle in 5 minutes. This may be because Overstock is a pure web play, unhampered by a parallel business in the physical world. But it still takes a lot to achieve, even so.

I was not following the internal development of the website before this thread, so I don't know if Overstock made any infrastructure changes last year, or reorganized their information arhcitecture, link structure, URL formats, canonical fixes,etc, etc. But those kinds of factors are often the essentials for a big brand to compete on non-branded keywords.

CainIV




msg:4268305
 6:04 am on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

-Sure, 10 million indexed pages helps.
-Sure, internal linking and theme development helps.
-Sure, brand recognition helps.

Again, 70% of it is links. Even a junior SEO can study, analyze and see what is going on there.

Brett_Tabke




msg:4268434
 3:20 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Has CanadianGuy Posted his employer/homepage yet? I think it would only be fair. Aside from Overstock being a competitor, I have quite a few friends playing in this market as well.

Shaddows




msg:4268439
 3:32 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Huh! I was going to say that in fairness, CanadianGuy was innocent of any malign implications on Overstock's SEO strategy. Then I noticed...

Canadian Guy- new poster
Paid Links introduced by...ratzker, a new poster (though registered a while back).

Now I'm not saying this is a hatchet job, but...

ADDED- Paid links lit a touch paper after thread dormant for a month. Hmmmmm.

wheel




msg:4268441
 3:42 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hopefully this isn't a pile on overstock thread. I don't follow them, but from the link that was posted previously in the thread the takeaway here should be tht they have a kickass SEO, not that they're doing something wrong.

If you're getting beaten by them it's not because they're doing something wrong. It's because they're better than you at SEO.

Shaddows




msg:4268449
 3:57 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hopefully this isn't a pile on overstock thread...the takeaway here should be that they have a kickass SEO


Quite. But I note that the main impact is to suggest OS have been underhanded.

I do like the list of suggested links though. No one else on the PDF seems to have provided one.

suratmedia




msg:4268453
 4:03 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Its PR-6 it self, tells the entire story.

ratzker




msg:4268457
 4:11 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am an in-house SEO for a competitor of Overstock in one of their verticals. I have nothing to hide on that front and am in no way associated with CanadianGuy, no offense.

Even so, the examples I gave could not be construed in any other way, Overstock is manipulating their rankings for important Keywords through juice passing link acquisition. I agree that they are doing a great job with on-site optimization and they likely get a lot of links naturally through brand recognition and general marketing practices. That doesn't mean that these links they are acquiring aren't helping them achieve higher rankings.

[antiochseattle.edu...]
[miamidade.gov...]
[utdallas.edu...]
[abac.edu...] listing.pdf

indyank




msg:4268461
 4:19 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wow...

They seem to have lots and lots of .edu and .gov links :) If google coined the term "Paid Links", what shall we coin these as?

"Discount links" as they are not discounted in the SERPS :)

I think Overstock's SEO strategy would be one answer to Shaddows thread...

wheel




msg:4268477
 4:40 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

The link dev being shown in this thread is being portrayed as wrong. To me, it looks brilliant. What you're seeing is not paid linking, it's marketing done right.

Just because you're getting your @ss handed to you on a platter in the serps doesn't make them wrong (actually, it makes you wrong).

The solution? Study and learn. Go to pubcon and maybe even meet the folks from O (do they go? I bet they do). Take what they're doing and make it better. We've just learned that offering discounts to educational institutions, if done right, can garner .edu links. What can you do to make that better? (Hint: the answer is not to complain publicly. That doesn't make your site better).

ratzker




msg:4268480
 4:49 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wheel, the problem isn't that we or any other competitor couldn't do the same thing or even something better. The problem is that Overstock likely wouldn't get nailed for it because they are considered a quality result in Google's eyes already because of their brand and because they spend a ton of money with them on AdWords. Nobody knows if that type of bias really exists but if it does, that's what makes this an issue worth mentioning. Overstock is breaking Google's Quality Guidelines and Google may be allowing them to. In the end, Google may be the worst offender of the two.

tedster




msg:4268484
 4:51 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

To me, it looks brilliant. What you're seeing is not paid linking, it's marketing done right.

Hear, hear!

And the only risk involved with this kind of program, as I see it, is one of catching a false paid link positive from the algo - and it seems to me Google fixed that problem last year, for the most part.

indyank




msg:4268485
 4:59 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Overstock is breaking Google's Quality Guidelines and Google may be allowing them to


If you strictly go by google's "Paid Links" definition, these aren't and they break the rule only if google includes these "discount links" as one that violate their TOS.

ratzker




msg:4268487
 5:02 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you strictly go by google's "Paid Links" definition, these aren't and they break the rule only if google includes these "discount links" as one that violate their TOS.


They may not fit the definition of Paid Links but they are "Links intended to manipulate PageRank" [google.com...]

tedster




msg:4268491
 5:09 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

As I see it, Google was essentially the cause of this particular mess. It's not our job to clean it up for them. Yahoo used to simply ignore backlinks that they identified as paid - they didn't hand out penalties and they didn't ask people to report each other.

Along with many others, I'd like to see Google drop the emotional, and nearly war-like, attitude toward paid links. That emotion has not improved the search landscape one bit - in fact, it seems to me it clouds their corporate judgment.

indyank




msg:4268492
 5:11 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

How do you define "manipulate"? If you ask me any link is intended to pass PR and to a few, it may appear to have been manipulated...

What is important is whether google considers it as a manipulation or not.

How about guest posts? You do that to pass page rank to your page? Is that manipulation?

But I do agree that someone from google will be the best to answer this.

[edited by: indyank at 5:13 pm (utc) on Feb 17, 2011]

wheel




msg:4268493
 5:13 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

And that's the point you're overlooking - you're view of this is colored, suggesting what they're doing needs a penalty of slap.

I'm saying there will be and should not be any penalty for this. They are offering discounts to .edu's, they get mentioned, they get the link and it counts.

It's subjective, and for those of us with no skin in the game it doesn't look like they've done anything worthy of a Google slap. In fact, I'm darn right certain that Google, even if they reviewed this by hand, would do absolutely nothing. What they've done is just smart, not risky.

Everything we do is intended to manipulate the serps. EVERYTHING. If what they're doing is too risky for you, then ponder it deeply - how can you take this technique and make it better for your own use? Student discounts? Professional discounts? offer a % of sales back to the university?

That's the first thing to take away - how to thieve their idea and make it better. The second thing to see is a deepeer appreciation for where the line is drawn by Google. JCPenny, hardcore bought links on inappropriate pages. Overstock, mention of their promotion on very appropriate pages.

Not a lot different than advertising your URL in university newspapers that get copied online. Folks have been doing that for a decade.

ratzker




msg:4268503
 5:33 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wheel, I respect your opinion and being in this industry for many years, I see where you're coming from. But I would argue that your view of this is also colored. As an SEO and Link Builder you think what they have done is a good idea and a smart way to build links. That doesn't mean that it isn't a violation of their guidelines or even just a little over the top with all the Keyword stuffed links in these promotions.

I would be happy if these links just didn't count as much as they apparently do, rather than their website being penalized or slapped. I would also be pretty surprised if these would be accepted after a manual review. If Google does accept this practice without Overstock requesting that these links be no-followed than Google would be a hypocrite.

Shaddows




msg:4268528
 5:53 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)

So the question is, where's the line. Links for cash is not acceptable, but links for % discounts in leiu of cash is fine?

What about links for vouchers?

What about links for capital bonds?

Links for negotiable bond?

Links for cheques?

Don't get me wrong, I think OS are in the clear. Its just that I'm currently much vexed with Googles subjective treatment of links (see also my other thread on Paid Link Immunity [webmasterworld.com]

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