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What To Do? (When Your Competitors Have 1,000s of Spammy Links)
Planet13




msg:4404236
 11:53 pm on Jan 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi there, Everyone:

I just signed up for a well-known backlink checking tool and was AMAZED to see just how many spammy backlinks my competitors have. We are talking somewhere in the area of 40K to 100K (depending on the site) of overseas directories, off-topic link exchanges, obvious paid links, and network sites (many of them are run-of-site links, hence the high numbers). I would not be surprised if they have lots of links on hacked sites, either.

Because they were ranking at the top of the SERPs due to their bad backlinks, they have recently been able to acquire legitimate backlinks organically.

How do you battle this?

To be honest, I am surprised that we rank as well as we do (usually on Page 1 at either #8 or #9), since our link building department consists of me staying up until 3:00 a.m. writing emails to other webmasters asking if they would kindly link to us - and maybe getting 5 to 10 new links per month. And our domain is only a couple of years old.

Ahh... what to do?

 

Donna




msg:4404316
 5:26 am on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Get him subscribed for 2-3 blog networks and then report him to google, ez cheese.

Planet13




msg:4404347
 6:18 am on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Donna

Get him subscribed for 2-3 blog networks and then report him to google, ez cheese.


sounds intriguing, but I don't even know how to do that... how do I get them subscribed to blog networks? What even are they?

Also, aside from an ebay and an ehow listing, the 5 or 6 other sites ranking ahead of me ALL have spammy backlinks. Is google gonna listen to me if I report all of them?

Thanks in advance.

aristotle




msg:4404433
 2:18 pm on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

i prefer to spend my time working on my own sites and not worrying much about what others are doing. Checking backlinks and filing reports takes time that could be better spent in other ways. You don't even know if these spammy backlinks you found are the reason why these other sites are ranking above yours. Google may be already discounting most spammy backlinks anyway, so they may not be a major factor, at least not a big enough factor to spend time worrying about.

Planet13




msg:4404460
 3:58 pm on Jan 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hey there, aristotle;

Thanks for your well thought out opinions.

i prefer to spend my time working on my own sites and not worrying much about what others are doing.

I can appreciate that. The only thing is, after analyzing my site (and having other people look at it), it seems like the main advantage that they have is all those links.

I mean, my site jumped from about #300 to #9 based on content (and whatever natural linking happens when you are around #300 - not much I am guessing). Sot to me, it seems like links have a BIG factor in their holding down the top spots.

Google may be already discounting most spammy backlinks anyway, so they may not be a major factor, at least not a big enough factor to spend time worrying about.

Again, I understand your point. I would HOPE that google does that.

But I have to ask why they would go ahead and punish JC Penny and Overstock for their link schemes if google prefers to discount spammy links? Was it because the link schemes were just TOO clever for google to figure out with their tried and true methods?

And also why would they punish the little guys who buy links? I have had a few people on these boards who lost ALL rankings let me look at their sites, and it seems pretty obvious that they were nailed for their backlinks.

Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. Yes, it would take some time to report them to google, but it would take a LOT more time (and money) to generate a buzz about my site where I would be able to get the amount of natural links that would have any significant impact. And since I DON'T want to go the spammy / bought links route myself, I am not exactly sure which way to go.

aristotle




msg:4404793
 5:03 pm on Jan 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

According to this article [searchenginejournal.com ] last year Matt Cutts said:

"When the New York Times complained about a site with 10,000 spammy links, Google investigated the site and not a single link had slipped through Google’s filter. Only the links Google trusts count."

So if what Matt Cutts said is true, Google investigated a case in which a site had 10,000 spammy links and determined that none of them counted.

Planet13




msg:4404826
 8:10 pm on Jan 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi again, aristotle:

Thanks again for the response, and for the link:


So if what Matt Cutts said is true, Google investigated a case in which a site had 10,000 spammy links and determined that none of them counted.


I would just like to get into a theoretical debate about this:

Yes, I am sure that google does filter links, basically devaluing many of them.


However, I think that we can both agree that we have seen sites that have been banned / given a -950 penalty for link building, right?

So then we then have to ask; why do some sites get penalized for links?

My thoughts are:

Certain links that are easily determined to be manipulated links are only devalued, while some links that are better "disguised" (for lack of a better word) could lead to a penalty.

While not knowing what that threshold is, I will speculate wildly that forum signatures, free directory listings, and off topic reciprocals MIGHT be the kind that would be devalued WITHOUT a penalty.

Possibly, the "in content" links that APPEAR to be editorially given might be penalty worthy. However, this would exclude those in content links that appear on article sites, since there is a huge number of those article sites with tens of thousands of articles which have in-content links.

So it might be that the threshold is based on whether the site providing the link appears to NOT be under the control of the target site (or at least the content appears NOT to be under the control of the target site - which would exclude links from article directories since it is fairly obvious that the content on the article directories is provided by the target site).

This is possibly due to the prevalence a few years back of google bowling, where it was cost effective to build a bunch of spam links to a competitor's site. Google took steps to reduce the effectiveness of google bowling, and possibly this is the result of those steps?

anyway, would like to hear opinions from everyone on this idea.

mcskoufis




msg:4404851
 10:57 pm on Jan 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Planet13,

I have seen many cases like yours. I've been also experimenting with such link schemes to see if there can be any real benefit... And I am pretty sure there can be. At least for the time being.

Have been reading some black-hat SEO forums the past few years, so well aware of software and services which enable you to create thousands of fake profiles on "Web 2.0" properties.

The top 2-3 spots for some very popular keywords that I am working on for my clients are dominated by websites with similar backlink profiles with what you describe.

Have a website for a client who wants to be in the top spots and found that building links organically (rather than blasting forum profiles and rubbish directories) I've managed to beat them on many long-tail keywords and some good 2-word phrases.

Organically I mean making sure that the rate of link growth is very close to natural. The people who use these tactics take a risk which might hit them within a few months or within a few years. I am pretty sure that Google gets many reports each week regarding such sites.

It seems to me that the huge number of such links is the cause of the rank and not so much the type of links. Like Google giving credit to a site hitting a threshold of X number of links, regardless if they are "filtered" or not.

This might also be the reason why Google has hired a team/an army/whatever of human SERP reviewers and the reason why some sites get penalized manually or algorithmically.

tangor




msg:4404862
 11:49 pm on Jan 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

But I have to ask why they would go ahead and punish JC Penny and Overstock for their link schemes

These were pre-Panda IIRC... and might be part of the underlying intent of Panda. These days it seems to be more beneficial to have one's own house in order instead of worrying about what the other fellow is doing (though you want to know what they are doing and figure out if that will help or hurt in the long run). But whatever seems to be "working" these days may not work tomorrow.

Swanson




msg:4404893
 3:33 am on Jan 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Simple answer.

Create a new site/brand and do exactly what they are doing.

Think about learning from them and be happy that you found how they were doing it and giving you ideas on beating them rather than worrying about how to stop them.

Yes I admit it is not a great situation - but it is how it is.

They are risking it but winning - tomorrow could be totally different. But if it works now then copy their strategy on a new site of your own and reap the rewards now while the chance is there.

With one disclaimer - only bother if you have the time and can do it quickly and not take your eye of your main business.

Swanson




msg:4404894
 3:40 am on Jan 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

By the way Donna - that advice is bobbins. That will end up benefiting him - blog networks work, thats the problem. Google will not take manual action unless its media related - they will incorporate it to try to perfect the algo, in the meantime the 6 months of links will benefit them.

Better idea - set up that new site and sign yourself up to the blog networks.

Works for me.

Planet13




msg:4404982
 6:24 pm on Jan 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Swanson:

Better idea - set up that new site and sign yourself up to the blog networks.


Just what ARE blog networks?

I googled it and was more confused after looking at the results than before (which happens a lot when I google things probably the site that explained it best was a victim of Panda).

The idea of setting up a different site / business and using the techniques of my competitors IS a tempting one. However, it is the time involved that worries me (and the necessity to "cover my tracks" regarding connections between the legitimate business and the "illegitimate" business).

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