|User profiles ranking for competive term|
I've been observing results for some very competitive terms (read: spammy) and noticed something very unusual in the last several weeks. Apparently there are user profiles with very extensive bios that are starting to rank. Not first page, but page 2 and 3.
I'd kind of get it if the profile was extensively optimized, but it isn't. The title is off subject. The content is nearly unreadable. The site it is posted on is off topic. (A movie site profile in a financial search, for example) In essence, it's exactly the type of page that big G should hate, especially for very competitive and commercial queries.
Is anyone else seeing this sort of thing? And perhaps more importantly what will be done about it?
Welcome to the Webmaster World forums, armondhammer!
It could be that the person who owns that profile page has been building lots of links to it.
And then from that profile page, they have one "legitimate" link to their money page.
They do this to avoid building spammy links directly to their money making site, since they don't want their money making site to get penalized.
So they use the profile page as a "buffer" between their spammy links and their main site.
So the first thing I would do is take a look at the backlinks to that site.
Another scenario is that particular profile page has been hacked, and has lots of links to lots of other sites. Again, someone would probably build links en masse to that profile page, as well as inserted relevant text that only googlebot sees. So you can try to view the google cache for that page and see if is different than the page that appears in your browser when you view that profile page.
I have checked out the backlinks - it's as you'd expect, but with a lower volume than you'd predict. Lots of perfect anchor text, either from other profiles, or from private blog networks.
It's most startling to me in light of the crackdown on blog networks, and the recent postulation of devaluation of anchor text as a signal. These two seem to be all that it has in it's favor. It seems so blatant that I'm literally startled that it's slipping through the search quality filters.
My prediction / question is that Google has to notice this sort of irrelevant thing. It's clearly not going to serve the searcher, and it's influencing the main site as you'd predicted. It's one big ball of spammy badness. Personally, I'd like to help make that happen faster, but was wondering when I could expect Google to notice.
Thanks for the welcome - I was going to put something like "long time reader, first time poster" but thought it would be off subject. Been in the industry for a long time, but rarely post in forums.
I've been seeing something like this as well, except the regular page is profiles.example.com/members/?user=johnny yet since the page has canonical, profiles.example.com/members/ is ranking. So it's thinking that all user pages are profiles.example.com/members/ and getting a very healthy ranking.
This is nothing really new and those profiles will in due time be knocked off the face of the map.
maybe its just to do with the "brand boost" thing. the site that the profile is on is a major site (in another field) and built up loads of "trust" with google.
if one of their pages then has the correct words on it, regardless of the subject matter, it will end up ranking for that term.
its no different to wikipedia ranking for every single search. some of the pages that wikipedia ranks for are rubbish, but the overall brand is so strong that they get boosted to the top anyway
profile pages - negative seo'ers like to build spammy link wheels directed at the lowest quality pages on your site, perhaps aiming at profiles is the low rung on the totem?
The theory being that if your site gets to page one for a profile it's very likely to receive a quick trip to the back of the line upon human review and may take some of your site with it.
Give it a month and it will be gone, or at least never rank page one. And if it does, well, it will be gone two weeks later.
I tend to agree with the brand boost theory. In the examples I'm seeing, they are posted on sites that would like have some elements of trust, even if they are off topic for the search. And many of the queries are in low trust categories.
I agree that they'll be killed eventually. It's just odd to see such irrelevant results in trophy term searches. I'm actively monitoring how long "due time" will be.