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Competitor ranking with links from sites they own
Joshmc




msg:4261447
 10:49 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

Last week, a competitor that is normally on page 3 to 4 on Google has started to rank number one or 2 for a highly competitive term. When i was evaluating their backlinks, 85% of the 20 links they have are all from blog / low content sites they own. When I say low content I mean one post on a blog with a unique url over 6 months ago. The other 15% are from low quality directories. I thought Google was trying to get rid of this type of spam links, not reward them... Anyone else seeing anything like this?

 

wheel




msg:4261459
 11:47 pm on Feb 1, 2011 (gmt 0)

All the time, use it myself thank you very much. Works great. And remember, that doesn't invalidate the content or usefullness of the site that is ranking.

I personally prefer to have a stable of high quality sites to give myself backlinks from but there's a variety of things you can do:
- lots of crap sites as you've described. I haven't personally seen this in a long time, but I'm not surprised.
- build out related but different sites in the niche and drive backlinks to them, get them hosted etc distinctly. Makes for valid backlinks and as long as Google can't connect the dots they should look good. I've got a widget site in my niche and a forum in my niche. Both are great sites on their own. I give myself links from them.
- buy dropped domains in your niche, rebuild them somewhere else. Maybe even let sit somewhere with content on them for six months or a year. I've actually got a whole bunch of pr4-6 websites with content on them that were dropped a couple of years ago. Today they're not dropped sites, they're pr4-6 2 year old sites.
- buy existing dormant websites. Go looking for dormant websites in your niche, offer them some small amount, see if they bite. If they do, leave the site as about untouched as you can and then drop yourself a link.

Final option is to watch your competitors beating you and do nothing about it.

Also, I disagree mostly with your thought that Google is trying to get rid of these types of spam links. All the evidence points to the contrary. They're rewarding them more than ever. We can complain, or we can learn (I personally like to do both). If generating your own backlinks works, then do it smarter than your competitors.

dderoeck




msg:4261525
 3:30 am on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would have to agree with Wheel wholeheartedly. This is a very effective method of attaining links, and personally see nothing shady about it.

If you provide value on these linking sites, this to me just good SEO.

Dan

Joshmc




msg:4261794
 6:03 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Very interesting, I appreciate your replies and will look into doing more stuff like this for my own site. Thank you.

Simsi




msg:4261904
 9:29 pm on Feb 2, 2011 (gmt 0)

Makes sense to me that if the target page is going to be of interest to the readers of the referring page then it doesn't matter where it comes from. On topic, relevant, useful.

optimierung




msg:4262200
 12:14 pm on Feb 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

When i was evaluating their backlinks, 85% of the 20 links ....


IMHO it is not possible to know all inbound links even if you are the website owner using GWMT because only part of them are displayed by G.

Therefore we are not able to judge definitely the "link reputation" of any website.

Your opinion?

mfwalden004




msg:4262201
 12:20 pm on Feb 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Nice point optimierung. You nailed it

Joshmc




msg:4262332
 4:58 pm on Feb 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

@optimierung I agree 100% that I am not able to judge all inbound links it was simply a percentage of what I saw which I thought was interesting for two reasons. 1. That they had such a large jump seemingly over night and 2. because the keyword was so competitive. I do realize it all has to be taken with a grain of salt and that their could be killer links I dont see but this all happened right around when google was talking about content farms and those drops so i though it was interesting...

optimierung




msg:4262731
 11:56 am on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

@ Joshmc

BTW which tool do you use for link analysis of competitors?

internetheaven




msg:4262777
 1:47 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

All the time, use it myself thank you very much. Works great. And remember, that doesn't invalidate the content or usefullness of the site that is ranking.


Amen! Preach on!

I'd rather see 10 quality sites in the top 10 ranking by low quality methods, than 10 low quality sites ranking by quality methods. If the content is useful then laying a foundation with some links from your own sites/blogs is truly harmless.

What Google is showing just now, though, seems to be low quality pages with low quality ranking methods ... not sure why ... that would mean that people will end up clicking on the adverts that take up half the page and now look almost identical to the organic results. Surely Google doesn't want that?

wheel




msg:4262782
 1:56 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Well there'd certainly be some profit in having top quality ads and low quality content.

PayMePerClick




msg:4262817
 3:06 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think this is gray-hat manipulation at best. I've seen one group of a sites (an active network, if you will) buy hundreds of domains and offer essentially the exact same product/service but for different niches. Like if I sold socks, I would have site for sock sales for soccer players, sock sales for mothers, sock sales for children, etc. But in reality, it's the same provider selling the same service and they are all sending links back to eachother. It's absurd.

superclown2




msg:4262833
 3:43 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you try buying expired domains with good back links they will cost you a lot of money and links to them will start to decay immediately. This is a valid method if you have deep pockets and are prepared to accept a gamble.

I recently checked up on over a thousand domains that I listed about 18 months ago, all with PR4 or PR5 and all snapped up at domain auctions. I would say that 99% of them were down to PR0 or PR1 at most, but the ones that kept their pagerank had strong .edu backlinks. I suspect that this is because so many pages are posted on .edu sites by people who move on to other things so the backlinks are never checked. Needless to say sites with lots of these links cost lots of dollars!

shoreline




msg:4262837
 3:54 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hey Joshmc,

I had the same thing happen to me, a site that has been #1 for years on a few key terms and in Dec I noticed it drop to #2.

The #1 site has a .org that is an exact duplicate of their .com on the front page and a few internal pages. There is no unique content whatsoever on the .org. If you click on a menu item of the .org, it takes you instead to the .com.

Inside the header of the .org's main page is an base href= pointing to the .com. The other duplicated pages do not have a base href (or 301, 302, etc)

The .com has one main link pointing to the .org

Both the .com and .org are pr3

It looks as if the .org has pushed the .com to the top even with duplicate content.

Loophole in using a base rather than a 301?

I'm still researching this and will write back when I find more, but I had to share my frustration when I read the title of this post!

maximillianos




msg:4262839
 4:00 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

We have seen this work for our competitors for years. One did get busted a few years back. They had created essentially a link farm of sites. Fortunately they did a bad job of covering their tracks.

One anonymous tip to a high profiler blogger and they wrote about it. Next thing you know Google takes notice and they were ousted from SERPS. A year later their penalty is lifted and they are back in business.

Oh and this particular site also scraped tens of thousands of pages from competitors to seed their site. All their work got them very popular very fast and even a one year penalty can't slow them down now. With stolen content and a link farm they were able to acquire real links over a few years. During the penalty they clean up their act. Remove link farms. Remove stolen content. Submit a request to be re-added to Google. Finally get back in and now they are going up in SERPS like a legit site, even though they scammed and stole to get there and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

So moral of the story. Bad guys will always win. Even if G kicks then out, it is not permanent. They will cry their way back into SERPS and go back to gaming Google again and again.

wheel




msg:4262847
 4:17 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

So moral of the story. Bad guys will always win. Even if G kicks then out, it is not permanent.

let me fix your quote:

"So moral of the story. SMART guys will always win. "

Don't equate google's guidelines with morals or ethics or good or evil. Equate them strictly with risk tolerance.

MrFewkes




msg:4262853
 4:28 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

All you have to watch out for is your network should have tonnes of IP addresses - a random selection of topics - different whois to be on the safe side.

The more sites you own the better you will do in the serps.

Its a "much gets more" situation - enjoy and manipulate google as you see fit to suit yourself - dont worry about what google thinks - they certainly couldnt care a monkeys about YOU.

backdraft7




msg:4262875
 5:32 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yeah I've been replaced by a scraper / MFA site that includes a banner on the page boldly proclaiming "Link Building by...their name" The site is thin content scraped from our paid site being given away for free on multiple pages littered with Adsense and affiliate banners. At the same time our 10+ year old original content site ranks 2nd to that garbage and traffic has dropped like a rock. False positives? Good job Google.

maximillianos




msg:4262899
 6:51 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

"So moral of the story. SMART guys will always win. "


Well they were not smart enough to avoid getting caught the first time around... =) Unless that was there plan all along... then I'd say they were pretty smart.

wheel




msg:4262915
 8:01 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you're tied to a site, then its a problem. If you remove your emotion from the equation and treat a $10 domain as a $10 bill, then Google's penalizing a $10 investment isn't that big a deal - not if you can get back to where you were quickly with little effort or with relatively repeatable techniques.

The only people that care about getting penalized in Google are those that have too much invested in a specific site. And I could make a point that doing that isn't a very smart idea (despite the fact that that's the model I typically use).

superclown2




msg:4262921
 8:16 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

This thread should have a government health warning on it. some of these linking tricks could not only damage your income but destroy it.

Detecting the fact that a site has links from domains that were previously deleted is childishly simple and sooner or later the search engines will include one more filter in their algorythms and in a split second that could be the end of a lucrative business that was paying the mortgage and feeding the kids. Seeing a stunt that was 'infallable' and 'undetectable' result in a site suddenly disappearing from the SERPs is not pleasant as I know too well from personal experience.

Buying an existing, live domain and putting your own links on it might well work long term and keeping a deleted one on ice for a year or two before using it for linking might be OK, despite the inevitable link decay but these search engine guys are not fools, and I remember threads from several years ago when it was pointed out that they knew what was going on and were warning that they would drop on this when they got round to it. And that's before your competitor sees what you're doing and sends in a spam report. I lost two very profitable sites as a result of competitor complaints, I read all about one person's moans on the Google blog and a couple of weeks later the sites were grey barred and finished along with all the work and investment I'd put in.

Most of us don't make money with throw-away domains, those days are gone now. The only sites that are really profitable are those that we invest considerable time, effort and money in and they are too valuable to be risked by using such obvious spamming techniques.

Copeland




msg:4262930
 8:44 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

All the time, energy, and money spent generating low quality back links is misguided (IMO). Why not instead just invest the same time, energy, and money creating link bait content that attracts great links? The former exposes your site to the substantial risk that Google turns against your tactics and devalues your site, decreasing its asset value if not rendering it all together worthless. The latter strategy limits link development risk and ensures your site will likely retain and grow in value for the long term. Some people simply can't resist the allure of low hanging fruit.

freejung




msg:4262932
 8:49 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

You don't know that's why they're ranking. No backlink tool is perfect. There may be links you don't know about that are causing them to rank despite these tactics rather than because of them.

That said, I really don't think there's anything wrong with linking from one domain you own to another domain you own, as long as you're not doing it in a shady fashion. Plenty of legit businesses do this all the time. You want to avoid _excessive_ interlinking of sites, but moderate interlinking is fine.

The juice ultimately has to come from somewhere. Single pages don't generate enough juice by themselves to matter much. Unless you have a vast content farm with tens of thousands of pages (and you manage to get them all indexed), the only way the links from your own sites will be worth much is if those sites have their own inbound links from external sources. If they do, then you control that juice and you can do what you want with it, including pointing it at your own sites.

The more juice you control, the more important you are, the better you rank.

I think where people run into problems is when they try to do this "under the table" and hide a big network of interlinked spammy low-quality sites from Google, and then they get caught. The problem is not that the sites link to each other. The problem is that they're low-quality and spammy. If you own many high-quality sites and some of them link to each other, that's probably not a problem and will probably help you rank better.

wheel




msg:4262937
 9:08 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why not instead just invest the same time, energy, and money creating link bait content that attracts great links?

Because you don't have to spend the same time and energy if you accept the increased risk. Plus, it used to be a substantial risk. By all appearances it's not much of a risk anymore. People have been doing this for years with no repurcussions.

I'm building high quality links, tough to do. They submit crappy articles and do blogs. Easy, repeatable stuff they can do 100 times for every one of my links. And it works. They spank me in the serps.

And while someone's moaning about the poor quality, they've been enjoying high sales for two years. If they get slapped tomorrow, you're going to go SEE! SEE! the got a penalty. And feel all justified. Meanwhile they're going to laugh their ass off at you because of the money they've got in the bank. They'll take that money, buy a new domain (or more likely have one ready to go) and start over again.

The point about dropped domains being easily identifiable is demonstratably incorrect. I see it work like a charm. I personally own dozens of pr4-pr6 dropped domains. As I've noted, they're now 2 year old pr4-pr6 domains. I'm not using them for anything yet - but they sure as sugar rank and get traffic.

I'm not suggesting this is a tactic the OP should use. But don't discount it over emotion, not when there's lots of people making money quite successfully. The only reason it's discounted is due to feelings that it's 'wrong' and quite frankly that emotion is misguided.

In addition, if you are a proponent of only 'good' quality backlink building techniques and snear at the others, you are quite frankly obtuse. Don't think that Google can't kick your butt to the curb for no reason at all - they can and do this. Uber white hat is no guarantee of ranking anymore - in fact I doubt it's anymore a guarantee of ranking than buying dropped domains. It's a foolish risk if you don't have multiple domains with multiple backlink profiles using multiple techniques. If you don't, then no matter how pure you think you are, one day you're going to wake up with your site gone.

BuzzBomb




msg:4262953
 10:23 pm on Feb 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I echo Superclown2's comments.

There are many comments in this thread that are disregarding the intelligence of google's techs.

Haste makes waste.

wheel




msg:4262977
 12:17 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Looked at the serps lately? Or in the last 3 years?

It's not the purist white hats dominating.

Of course, it's only been going on for 3 years. that could change at any time.

Me, I've given up holding my breath. Go quality or quantity, whatever. But don't pretend that Google favors quality backlinks anymore - it doesn't and hasn't in a long long time.

backdraft7




msg:4262980
 12:34 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

But don't pretend that Google favors quality backlinks anymore - it doesn't and hasn't in a long long time.


No, they clearly favor poor quality back links, even from sites belonging to the perpetrator. I've seen it. I hope this is a temporary issue, but knowing Google it will continue.

There was a comedian at one time, perhaps Steven Wright who said that people should shoot bad drivers cars with little suction cup arrows with a flag that says "idiot" , then when a cop sees a car driving around with a dozen or so of these flags on it, they pull 'em over and issue a ticket. That's how Google should enforce bad site reporting. Enough reports from different IP's pulls the site for review and subsequent flush.

Nah, there's probably a way to game that too.

[edited by: backdraft7 at 12:36 am (utc) on Feb 5, 2011]

BuzzBomb




msg:4262981
 12:35 am on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wheel, I respect your opinions.

I also see your point of view. I even agree that it does work.

I just don't think it's a good long term plan.

Here's some food for thought.

When a reporter asked hockey GREAT Wayne Gretzky why he thinks he had such great success (and he was REAL good) he simply replied:

"Most players follow the puck. I always tried to figure out where the puck was going to go next"

Definitely a good game plan and one that we can all learn from when it comes to SEO.

The cream always rises to the top. Some webmasters might not rank super well today but if one "keeps at it" they will indeed achieve success sooner or later, often times later.

jkovar




msg:4263103
 6:16 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

After reading some of the comments in this thread, I feel the need to mention that 101 pennies will always be worth more than 4 quarters no matter how you look at it.

backdraft7




msg:4263107
 6:29 pm on Feb 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

@jk - well then here's 101 pennies. Fill your pockets and walk around all day with them. For a penny less I'll stick with the comfort of my 4 quarters. LOL

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