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Cleaning your backlinks - ideas and suggestions
tedster




msg:4450201
 3:37 am on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

With all the "over-SEO" and "webspam updates" recently - and especially with the flood ov WMT notifications about backlinks - a lot of webmasters have their attention on what they can do practically to make Google happier about their backlink profile.

The general SEO blogging community has recently begun pumping out ideas and articles. While we do not usually approve links to blog articles here (unless they are by a Google authority of some kind) I feel it's a good idea to start looking at some of the ideas being shared. So this thread is an exception to our normal rule. Let's use the general SEO community to help everyone out, here!

Some of these approaches look pretty darned good to me, and they mirror the kinds of steps I've worked out with several clients who had some real success.

[edited by: tedster at 3:53 am (utc) on May 7, 2012]

 

netmeg




msg:4451564
 11:16 pm on May 9, 2012 (gmt 0)

Seriously, some of us are going insane here with their business shut, and they can't look to a guy in next cubicle and see that what they preach AGAINST is exactly what Adwords is REQUIRING?


I'll ignore the ridiculing tone of your post, but hello? AdWords doesn't require that. They require relevancy of ads to keywords and landing page; nowhere do they require rote repetition of keywords. You certainly don't have to put keywords in h1 tags, page titles, landing page URLs and 6 to 12 spots in your content in order to get a decent Quality Score.

(Personally, I noindex my PPC landing pages, but it's certainly possible to have effective PPC pages that also rank in organics)

indyank




msg:4451620
 2:28 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

You certainly don't have to put keywords in h1 tags, page titles, landing page URLs and 6 to 12 spots in your content in order to get a decent Quality Score.


Hmm...All these advises look topsy turvy and funny to me now..Sorry, i will have to disagree and draw your attention to their guide. [static.googleusercontent.com ]

1) Having the keyword in title, h1 and landing page url should definitely not be spam. It is spam only if the keyword or their synonyms are repeated aggressively. Otherwise it very natural for a person to include the main keyword for the page in the title and h1.
2) Having those keywords in 6 to 12 spots of your page content should be fine as long as it reads natural to users.
3) Having those same keywords in alt text of images should be fine as long as it accurately describes the image. Otherwise we aren't helping Google images.

Having keywords in all those tags and places should be fine as long as it is fine for users. Google and the guys over there are inventing their own spam definitions and attributing them to users. Larry probably has to find some better work for these guys as otherwise they invent their own work and do a lot of crap.

[edited by: indyank at 2:38 am (utc) on May 10, 2012]

indyank




msg:4451622
 2:33 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

But then penguin (and even panda to an extent) is about links and the anchor text.But i will have to admit that the above kind of new extreme interpretations, in the name of de-optimization, are floated around by the popular SEO bloggers than Google or their fellows.

indyank




msg:4451625
 2:45 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

The bottomline is it shouldn't be keyword frequency (no. of times used) or keyword density that is used to judge spam but keyword stuffing and unnautral uses of keywords. You can still use keywords appropriately in title and h1 tags, alt attributes, url and content.

[edited by: indyank at 2:49 am (utc) on May 10, 2012]

netmeg




msg:4451626
 2:47 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Ok, read what I wrote, please. I'm saying if you have all these things PLUS a bunch of exact match anchor text links, it's going give off just a bit of a whiff. And if you have a multiple instances of them, or many of them, it's going to look worse, and if the links are on sites that aren't in your niche, it's going to be still worse. It adds up.

You don't wanna believe it, that's fine by me.

gouri




msg:4451627
 2:52 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think you're spot on about the aggressive anchor text. If your anchor text is an exact match for your page title, part of your URL, your H1 tag and half a dozen terms in your content, that's probably going to look unnatural. Particularly if there are a lot of them.


The anchor text in my forum signature links are an exact match for a part of my URL, and these backlinks are many of the links to the page.

If the URL, for example, is buildmetalwidgets.tld many of the backlinks going to buildmetalwidgets.tld is metal widgets.

I think that this might be seen as over optimization.

Also, if using buildmetalwidgets.tld as the signature link instead of metal widgets, I think that may also be over optimization as the URL contains keywords that the page is trying to rank for and the URL would then be many of the backlinks going to the page.

[edited by: gouri at 3:09 am (utc) on May 10, 2012]

Leosghost




msg:4451632
 3:08 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Gouri, if it was your competitors site, their backlinks, their "sigs", their forum profiles..

If you could see all of that, as clearly as you can see your own..would you say.."Hey!, that looks pretty spammy, over optimised and manipulative to me"..?

If the answer is "yes, you would say that"..

Then that is probably the way it will look to a search engine, whether it is your site, or your competitor..

From what you've said..I would consider a site that has links like yours, to have been waiting for a fall and living on borrowed time..

gouri




msg:4451635
 3:17 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

From what you've said..I would consider a site that has links like yours, to have been waiting for a fall and living on borrowed time..


@Leosghost,

If the on page content is good, and I work on the forum signature backlinks (perhaps by not including them so that there aren't too many instances of backlinks with a phrase that the site is trying to rank for), do you think that traffic can improve.

I feel that I have been affected by Google Penguin.

[edited by: gouri at 3:30 am (utc) on May 10, 2012]

indyank




msg:4451636
 3:25 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you had a wikipedia like title - "Baseball Cards" and have a lot of exact match anchor text in links, Penguin might still not be affecting you provided you have a decent number of anchor text variations in a few other links.

People linking to you with your page titles is natural to me. But that is my opinion and if the new "spam definition" innovations by the google spam busting guru think that is not natural as well, no one can help.

For People having this problem, the best solution is to have "google's natural ttles". So change them to something say "All about baseball cards", "Fun with baseball cards" or whatever. Titles and H1 tags are something with in your control and you can alter them to comply with the new guidelines of Google Gods if you want traffic from their search engines.

Ps: For me, having title as "baseball cards" still sounds good but google has reserved them for their buddies lies wikipedia and others and it is unfortunate others couldn't use the same. You just shouldn't rank higher than them and if you do, you would invite their wrath. It is all absurd but that is what it is all about these days.

gouri




msg:4451637
 3:29 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you had a wikipedia like title - "Baseball Cards" and have a lot of exact match anchor text in links, Penguin might still not be affecting you provided you have a decent number of anchor text variations in a few other links.


If "Baseball Cards" is in a forum signature and every post contains that as the anchor text and you don't have a lot of anchor text variation, would it be better not to have a link with "Baseball Cards" as anchor text in the forum signature?

indyank




msg:4451639
 3:36 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Gouri, if it was your competitors site, their backlinks, their "sigs", their forum profiles..

If you could see all of that, as clearly as you can see your own..would you say.."Hey!, that looks pretty spammy, over optimised and manipulative to me"..?

If the answer is "yes, you would say that"..


Leosghost, Do you think that the users whom Google is said to care about will be looking at them so intensively. It is just the competing webmasters and the SEOs who look at these kind of stuff in the name of "over optimization". Several normal users wouldn't even look at those signatures. But you are right that google seems to be doing this for webmasters and SEOs (their "jalras") rather than for their users.

Ps: "Jalras" are those who move around with the google gods, praising them for everything and behaving like fan boys. "Jalra" is a Tamil colloquial word like "kola veri di".

[edited by: indyank at 3:47 am (utc) on May 10, 2012]

indyank




msg:4451644
 3:45 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

If "Baseball Cards" is in a forum signature and every post contains that as the anchor text and you don't have a lot of anchor text variation, would it be better not to have a link with "Baseball Cards" as anchor text in the forum signature?


1) You can make alterations to your titles, if feasible. See examples above.
2) Get more natural links. Links with anchor text as the company or person's name, "here" etc.

If either of the above is not possible, you are left with no choice but removing those forum links. If the forum or its section where those links appear is not relevant to your site, it is better not to have them. This is more so in your case as your site or domain name is unfortunately a money keyword. If it is a brand name like say "Amazon" or "google", I still wouldn't mind leaving those links with anchor text as "Amazon" or "Google" in places that you visit as it is a natural branding exercise.

gouri




msg:4451646
 4:04 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

1) You can make alterations to your titles, if feasible. See examples above.
2) Get more natural links. Links with anchor text as the company or person's name, "here" etc.

If either of the above is not possible, you are left with no choice but removing those forum links. If the forum or its section where those links appear is not relevant to your site, it is better not to have them. This is more so in your case as your site or domain name is unfortunately a money keyword. If it is a brand name like say "Amazon" or "google", I still wouldn't mind leaving those links with anchor text as "Amazon" or "Google" in places that you visit as it is a natural branding exercise.


The forum in which the links appear is related to my site, but as you mention, the URL does contain keyword phrases that the site is trying to rank for, so I think that too many mentions of it probably creates over optimization instead of helping with branding.


tedster




msg:4451649
 4:19 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

keyword stuffing and unnautral uses of keywords

And don't forget, Google can calculate this in ways that are specific to individual market niches, too.

webindia123




msg:4451657
 5:20 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

The best option is to continue focusing on On-page activities and scale down off page activities.

Removal of in-bound links from external sources would not be easy process. Its strictly NO NO from me.

CainIV




msg:4451658
 5:36 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Whitey

What are some of the top things that you could see webmasters doing to demonstrate being a real company / brand. I mean strong things.

Not everyone wants to put their company phone number and registration details up online, but maybe they have to. What else should folks be looking at as "must have's" ?


Increasing brand signals reduces the impact of poor links on a backlink profile so it is easy to make the connection why most businesses should spend some time working on this.

IMHO these are some main areas I think most brands naturally convey in terms of signals. I would definitely look at trying to implement as many of these signals as possible if I wanted to build a brand.

Transparency -

-Real operating business published on the website
-Non-hidden whois published business address matching website
-Google local places page with exact match NAP
-Comprehensive about us page
-Comprehensive privacy policy, terms pages with last modified dates
-Up-to-date copyright statement in footer
-Up to date Last Modified on content pages.

Registration

-Type of company and legitimate appropriate registration in city / state / location of incorporation or creation

Organizations -

-Civic, local associations, memberships (Chamber of Commerce)
-Nationally by trade or niche
-Local, by area

Security

-Appropriate verbiage describing to the user how the website works and how security works on the website
-Disclaimer
-Trust badges

Social

-Registered, active and updated social media accounts with matching NAP

Feedback

-Active real reviews on the website, preferably using Schema to allow SE's to quickly digest the information

-Third party reputable review site engagement

Design

-Unique design and code within the targeted niche

Authorship

-Google plus full page with robust details 100% including link to business and full NAP
-Authorship and profile setup correctly in company blogs. rel="author" in blog posts.
-Usage of rel="author" in the online space needs to be monitored to ensure the match between the author and business is established

Usability

-Tons of very good usability checklists out there so I won't reinvent the wheel here. If you don't have one stickymail me and I can send you the one we use.
-Reduction of bounce rate especially at the homepage, increase of the total number of pages consumed per user visit.

Technical

-No broken pages
-Clear navigation
-Fast loading

Content

-Audit of grammar and spelling on all copy of the website

indyank




msg:4451663
 5:59 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Forget the technicals. Branding for the web can be understood easily as well. Have a brandable name for you business and promote it. That is what you do offline too. Don't tell me "buildmetalwidgets" is the brand name for my business. IMO it isn't and you don't have a name to your business or company.

Coco cola, Pepsi etc. are all good brand names and they promote them. People easily know the type of business they are into from their brand names. But I wouldn't consider "Buy soft drinks" as a name or brand. So, even if you have a domain name like "buildmetalwidgets.tld" get a real brandable name for your business/company and promote that name for your domain.

Jez123




msg:4451679
 6:59 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am seeing very spammy links rewarded in my SERP. The top 2 sites are incredibly bad. I would not remove any links yet. Google seem to have failed and rewarded / penalised the wrong sites. We can only hope that they reconsider and get it right. I have submitted the Penguin form informing them of what they have done to my SERP. I suggest that everyone takes a look at what has replaced them (if that's the case) and submit a Penguin form before removing any links. This is ridiculous. I can't believe google has done this.

craybin




msg:4451705
 8:22 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

If not access unnatural links how can we remove now.

Whitey




msg:4451714
 8:58 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

This thread has some excellent posts. Great positive inputs. Keep it coming. [ sorry for the OT accolades ].

Shaddows




msg:4451715
 9:02 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Re: Anchor text matching H1 and Title*

I am seeing a difference in handline between nouns "Baseball Cards" and verbs "Trade Baseball Cards"

If you include verbs in you anchor text, and the same verb in H1 and Title, you are substantially more likely to have an issue. Interestingly, Wiki doesn't tend to include verbs in their titles, possibly accounting for at least some of the perceived special treatment.

*H1 shifted from a ranking factor to penalty acquisition zone years ago, but even before that we used H1 and Title element for different purposes. H1 we used for internal semantics: "Blue Widgets", "Blue Widget Comparison Table". Title element is usually for external consumption: "Buy Blue wigets", "Compare Blue Widgets" etc.

agent10




msg:4451739
 10:11 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a website that received the initial email in Webmaster Tools back end of March regarding unnatural links. I had like many purchased links along the way, not many at all. I therefore removed EVERY ONE, a quick task, easy. I also ensured that any links to our website from other owned websites of ours included a no follow. My reinclusion was declined. I stated that there are no other links that I had anything to do with. They then sent a personal email listing some links that they highlighted were causing this issue. None added by me and then looking at the "more sites" spreadsheet in Webmaster Tools it shows many many more, where directory sites have added our website probably because we were listed page 1 for major insurance terms for many years until March 2012. The old addage if a few top sites are listed it must be good to buy a listing!

So although discussed in previous posts I can catagorically say that third parties can influence your penalty as we are still penalized and have no option but to wade through the spreadsheet and contact websites to remove links not placed by us, since Google have said until a substantial number are removed the penalty stays in place. Having traded for 12 years you can imagine this is a daunting task.

So my advise is certainly as suggested above to check your backlinks regularly and to contact webmasters who list your website where the website itself looks spammy or is a directory or spun article, we have seen all these examples where links to our website have been added.

I can confirm we have never used an seo company and listed everything that we had done on the site.

Food for thought.

robert76




msg:4451751
 10:35 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is a site with very heavy linking to us. It is appears the primary purpose of that site is to act as an A affiliate, and after the A listings they list other retailers. These other retailers like us are not listed as affiliate links but rather they use the Google Product Search API for links. Therefore, it's Google's own url for the link to us complete with the tracking tag appended to it from our Google feed.

Have gone out to numerous sites in the past year to request unwanted, unnatural links be removed. This was part of Panda clean-up for us. I wouldn't call the links from the "problem" site to be unnatural but the total number of them is of concern to me.

What would you do in this scenario? Leave or request removal?

agent10




msg:4451754
 10:58 am on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Knowing from experience now how third party links can affect your website I for one would suggest dealing with the problem and be pro active about it and insist that webmasters remove links to you if you are not happy with them or at the very least insist they add a no follow attribute.

I certainly will be doing the same with our other higher profile websites incase this were to happen again.

crobb305




msg:4451777
 12:26 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a website that received the initial email in Webmaster Tools back end of March regarding unnatural links. I had like many purchased links along the way, not many at all. I therefore removed EVERY ONE, a quick task, easy. I also ensured that any links to our website from other owned websites of ours included a no follow. My reinclusion was declined. I stated that there are no other links that I had anything to do with. They then sent a personal email listing some links that they highlighted were causing this issue. None added by me and then looking at the "more sites" spreadsheet in Webmaster Tools it shows many many more, where directory sites have added our website probably because we were listed page 1 for major insurance terms for many years until March 2012. The old addage if a few top sites are listed it must be good to buy a listing!


Therein lies the conundrum with this whole mess. You were unaware of those unsolicited links, therefore they are naturally occurring for your site. Someone linked to you. Period. Whether those linking sites violate Google's guidelines is a different issue that should be taken up with the linking webmaster. Google shouldn't penalize you, but rather the linking webmaster for PROVIDING anything "unnatural". Like I said the other day, the whole mess created by Google (unnatural links and/or Penguin) seems like a high school or college capstone project. It doesn't seem like anything the original pioneers of Google would come up with in a hundred years. Penalizing someone because they have inbound links? Give me a break. I know it's happening, but it shouldn't.

Google seems to be tolerating a certain amount of questionable links (discounting them), but if your site crosses over a subjective threshold, then the entire site is classified as a spam document. Unfortunately, what the Google engineers are NOT aware of, is that in the very competitive niches (insurance, lending, et al.), there are a few shady webmasters (and even some very active scammers) who will do anything to monetize a landing page. To accomplish this, they will link to authority sites, create doorway pages to their landing page (cloaked to show content to Google with links to authority sites), and they will add authority links to silly forums like Yahoo Answers (among others), all to make THEIR offer look more legit. Trust me, I am finding my site listed on the strangest sites, many of which are now showing "Account Suspended" or return a 404, but Google still shows them as a link in WMT. I've also had my website names used in scams (where the scammer will use a real company name and a fake address). That's the industry and Google needs to recognize this, devote some resources to understanding it (philosophically and statistically) before they start handing out penalties.

Google has created a situation that is favoring the very spam they tried to fight 5 years ago. In deed, the search quality hit its peak in 2008/2009, and has gone down hill since. I say again, if a website links to me without my knowledge, solicitation, payment, or other request, then for ME, it is naturally occurring. If to Google it isn't "natural", then the burden should fall back on the linking webmaster.

[edited by: crobb305 at 1:08 pm (utc) on May 10, 2012]

agent10




msg:4451780
 12:33 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I toally agree crobb305 as working my way through the WMT spreadshhet so many websites are "Account Suspended" or return a 404.

I cannot argue with Google if this is their stance and so I am literally going to every url and then making a comment regarding each one in readiness to email a reply, whether I have managed to email, if suspended etc. It will take me time but I cannot afford not too as this is costing us dearly.

It is a strange situation to be in and if this is theirnew way forward it is so important everybody is aware of this and deals with this as part of their working day.

Jez123




msg:4451805
 1:29 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

What if the offending links are not even shown in WMT? They don't show all by any means. I have tons of links from a newsgroup (back in the day) that has been archived that I posted back in 2003 or so. These show as my highest amount of links from the same site (in WMT). The posts have been archived a couple of times. Would google want to penalise due to those?

crobb305




msg:4451813
 1:42 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

another problem I forgot to mention is scraping, which makes the unnatural link problem even worse. I've found sites that provide legitimate links to me have been scraped dozens of times, each retaining the links. And the snowball keeps growing.

indyank




msg:4451821
 1:57 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

agent10, those links that you have been penalized for are what are called natural links, irrespective of whether they are found on directories or spam sites.That is not your problem at all. Google has to either value them or discount them based on the linking sites. But it is unfortunate that they are penalizing such natural links while paid links that usually occur on high profile sites are ignored. I totally empathize with you and this is atrocious on google's part to penalize you for something that you are not responsible. Most of the times, you might not be able to contact the webmasters of such sites and you don't even have to. Why should you spend for something that you haven't done? These are totally atrocious changes by google.

[edited by: indyank at 2:00 pm (utc) on May 10, 2012]

agent10




msg:4451823
 2:00 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes Crobb305 I have seen this too, so where I have seen this occuring the best way I think is to get the initial website to include a no follow and then just hope the site gets rescraped in time! It loses a legitimate link but can't see a way round it with the new way google looks at the back link profile.

netmeg




msg:4451824
 2:01 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Two week follow up with Matt Cutts re Penguin, Panda, Negative SEO and link.

[searchengineland.com...]

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