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Cleaning your backlinks - ideas and suggestions
tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 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

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 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...]

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 2:05 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that link Netmeg. From the interview, we now know that recovery is possible and Penguin is iterative, like Panda.

Jez123

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:41 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have just found some seemingly dodgy links (amongst the masses of otheer links I also don't recognise, I mean my site is 11 years old!).

In a popular backlink checker that I use there are about 20 links from sites I don't know but when I click the link to go to the site there is nothing there and no google cache (bar 1 of the sites) but 4 of them have a blog type site but with no content just 5 or so links including mine. Only 1 of these is cached in google.

As long as these dodgy looking links are not cached they present no problem, do they? If it weren't for the popular backlink checker I would not even have know about them. So why is IT picking them up when they are not cached?

gouri

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 8:06 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

As long as these dodgy looking links are not cached they present no problem, do they? If it weren't for the popular backlink checker I would not even have know about them. So why is IT picking them up when they are not cached?


I see some pages in the SERPS that have backlinks going to a site that I am working on, but these pages do not have a cache version.

I have sometimes read that to have the effect of a backlink, the page that it is on needs to have a cache version, and I have also read that a cache version is not necessary, if the page is in the SERP, it can have an effect.

What have you guys observed or heard regarding this?

Thanks.

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 8:52 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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


Mr. Cutts declares Penguin to be a success that accomplished exactly what was intended, so I guess it must be true. Please.

np2003

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 10:27 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

My friend had a negative SEO campaign against his domain. He was spending $90,000/month on Adwords. Got the WMT message. Penalized a few weeks later. He replied saying he could do nothing because the links were not his. He ended up disabling Adwords because he couldn't afford it. The natural serps was supplementing his high Adwords spend. This guy is pretty mad... and to think you can bring down your comeptitor if you're willing to spend $300-500 on blackhat xrumer/forum blasts. Google has introduced a new industry - Negative SEO is here to say.

canuckseo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 11:13 pm on May 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's a thought for the techies watching this thread.

Would there be a way to use .htaccess or something to block traffic (including googlebot) from the identified "sketchy" links? I know you can do some blocking by IP, useragent etc, but could one block the referrer and any traffic one gets from it - send them to a 404 page maybe?

And even if you could do this, would it help in getting those "bad" links removed or would it do more harm than good? IE would returning the 404 there cause more harm if the link is to your homepage for example?

theseanstewart



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:58 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The only way to control that would be to point your links to internal pages that are actually 301 redirected to the intended page. You could then "disable" the links by pointing the 301 elsewhere.

Jez123

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 7:51 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

The only way to control that would be to point your links to internal pages that are actually 301 redirected to the intended page. You could then "disable" the links by pointing the 301 elsewhere.


To a competitor? :-D

scooterdude



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 11:52 am on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)


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

[searchengineland.com...]


This interview could be interpreted as saying that

a, G makes it very hard for 3rd parties to harm your site with links and other nasties.

b, However, G did not say that beening an SEO engaged in link building will not result in a G ding,

c, ergo if links are affecting your rankings, an they ain't saying either way, it can only be your doing cos all those links where generated by you as per 2 above

Consistent, no :),

maybe, maybe not

Okay, I might be rambling , but it kinda made sense when I started typing :)

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 1:52 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it's kind of fun to at least speculate on what measures Google has in place trying to protect the innocent site from "negative SEO" link buying.

In addition to looking at the whole profile in ways that make backlinks not as big a deal for ranking as they once were - (trust me, you can rank with barely a sneeze in the links area these days). I'd also bet that THEY are out there buying links and engaging in types of "industrial spying" on what the marketplace is like for this kind of crap.

For those reasons I'll bet that certain "bought link profiles" do not get penalized at all - just ignored. That's what Yahoo used to do, for example. I don't put a lot of effort into "cleaning backlinks" - none for sites that are doing well. But I do put a lot of effort into locating content needs in the market niche.

If there's a kind of information that is not written up well anywhere online (or not all). you can bet I want to identify that, create a bang-up page or section, and the then market that content in all kinds of ways. The good backlinks and social mentions will usually begin to appear naturally, and that is the best defense anyone can have against the crap-colored hats out there.

A basic backlinks cleaning is still a good idea for any site that seems to be under-performing in search traffic, and especially those that get a warning message in WMT. A Resconsideration Request then follows with the details - including full disclosure as well as an honest list of those links the website didn't create.

scooterdude



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 2:47 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Having decided o render on to the G the things G demands, Say I developed a site choka with lovely editorial, i.e textual , written content, loved by all who read it, and then proceed to give me referrals for it

What would you recommend when G decides to reward said site with obvious link penalties, there a few threads about this out there including one of mine, okay, they could be flukes , but any recommendations greatfully received

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:16 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Tedster wrote:
If there's a kind of information that is not written up well anywhere online (or not all). you can bet I want to identify that, create a bang-up page or section, and the then market that content in all kinds of ways


That will usually work for a while. But in my experience, eventually someone will take all of your content and create a new wikipedia page out of it. Within a short time this wikipedia page will displace yours at the top of the SERPs and take most of the traffic. That's what has happened to at least a dozen of my articles.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:29 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

But then wikipedia is a model site for google you know...no!

ps: the mysteries of wikipedia and their relationship with google...

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:59 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can write a Wikipedia page yourself, you know?

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 4:05 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Interesting blog post over on the WPMU site; apparently they got socked bigtime for WordPress theme links - they had a ton of them, and managed to get a direct response from Matt Cuts that the backlinks were devalued, hence their traffic was devalued. I didn't link to it cause I am never entirely sure when it's allowed.

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 4:09 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can write a Wikipedia page yourself

Yeah, but it's not that simple.

Either you can use your pages as resource, or not. If not, whats the point. Thus...

You link to your pages as an authorative resource. Is it? If not, there's no point. But if it is, then you hit the "DMOZ problem"

Does your face fit? Spent some time buttering up the Wiki editors? Paid your "dues"?

I mean, the Wiki stategy probably requires more soft skills than Social Media. And at least people follow SM links- how many people follow the external Wiki links?

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 4:49 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

If there's a comment from any official Google communicator, then a link is definitely OK, netmeg. From what you say, it sounds like this was just discounting the links, and not a true penalty - right?

netmeg

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 4:56 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yep. But it's what I at least would consider a pretty strong authority site, and the drop was really significant. Was their traffic really boosted that much artificially? Whole thing just seems odd.

[wpmu.org...]

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 7:26 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can write a Wikipedia page yourself, you know?


That's true, tedster. Except I don't put as much value on wikipedia as some do. Once I corrected an error on a wikipedia page, but when I checked back the next day, someone had reverted it back to the error. So even if I did create a new page, who knows what other people would do to it later.

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 7:56 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Most people probably agree that devaluing certain links is better than a real penalty, but the result can seem the same as the WPMU case illustrates. In my view this is a better example of the leveling of the playing field Matt Cutts had mentioned, rather than a punishment. Unfortunate for WPMU, but at least there won't be penalties to overcome, affecting future possibilities.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 10:57 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I thought that the Google algorithm had already been discounting spammy backlinks for several years, long before Penquin was implemented.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 11:26 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Using some link tools, I am shocked to see how active the spammers have been at building junk links to one of my sites. Some are hidden links, some on .edu pages, wp themes, etc. Very similar to the WPMU case above. And this led to penalty. Google could really handle things differently.

crobb305

WebmasterWorld Senior Member crobb305 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 11:59 pm on May 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

For anyone who doubts that this is a penalty, try searching a snippet of text, in quotes, from the WPMU post that Netmeg provided. The article is listed last, sometimes in the "repeat the search with the omitted results included" section. I am seeing this on every site affected by this penalty -- and it is indeed a penalty. If links were simply devalued, then affected sites would still rank for exact snippets of their own content.

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 2:00 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

@crobb305 I don't doubt because my site got hit as well due to bad backlinks posted by my competitor, but I was trying not to sound so cynical and taking Mr. Cutts at his word about devaluation in the case of WPMU. That really would be the better approach.

That didn't last long, so back to the cynicism: maybe that's what it will take -- a few big players being penalized unfairly -- to get the Google Gods to reconsider this new bird that can't even fly. They sure don't care about its effect on my little non-profit website.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:32 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can write a Wikipedia page yourself, you know?


Wikipedia is the very definition of over optimization with

1) 100's of internal links and exact match anchor text on most pages.
2) Titles that are mostly nouns as Shaddows had pointed out.
3) No follow of all external links, though calling them as references. Unlike others, Wikipedia editors monitor these reference links very closely. Why do they still nofollow them?

So even if you are a reference on a wikipedia page, not many users would follow those links to the destination, as they cleverly place several 100 links to their own internal pages and hence most users wouldn't even notice them.

Even if you manage to get a wikipedia page for your company that refers to your domain, why would you want it to rank as for any search of your brand (individual or business) you would want your site to rank on top and not wikipedia.

But for individual brands or places, wikipedia ranks most of the time. Search for "United States of America" or "Australia" or "India" or any other country. It is not the official govt. portal that ranks No.1 but it is wikipedia. Governments might not care and might not even deserve to be ranked no.1 in some cases, but a few individual and business brands would want their websites to rank No.1.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 3:51 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yep. But it's what I at least would consider a pretty strong authority site, and the drop was really significant. Was their traffic really boosted that much artificially? Whole thing just seems odd.


But then I see a contradiction in that article. Wouldn't most of those links to wpmu.org be branded even if it were via theme distribution. If they were brand links, they wouldn't or shouldn't have been hurt as he himself claims, no?!

Are Google penalizing or devaluing branded attribution links? That would sound atrocious and crazy to me.

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 7:20 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Most free Wordpress themes I have used have been linked with the name of the theme as the anchor text, not the designer's brand name.

indyank

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 10:10 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Even if they linked back with the name of themes as anchor text, it shouldn't be an issue as long as they are distinct names and not money keywords.

But is google penalizing or devaluing such named or branded attribution links?

n00b1



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 10:28 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

They generally aren't editorially given and come as standard with the theme. I think Google sees any such mass footer linking as something that goes against their quality guidelines. I can understand why.

steerpikegg

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4450199 posted 10:35 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry, but the whole concept of the webmaster having to hunt down and request removal of links just makes me mad. Now there's been talk of lawsuits for companies refusing to remove links as well.

The hyperlink is the core principle of the web and the foundation of the whole idea of sharing information. Imagine the web without freedom to link to anything you like (I'm not talking about hotlinking images or stealing content, just linking to take the user from one place to another) - there wouldn't be one.

For G to even contemplate a move that sees webmasters punished for people exercising their right to use hyperlinks just staggers me. All this is solely to compensate for flaws in their search algorithm and their drug like dependence on links as a measure of quality.

I haven't posted here for months although I still do lurk quite a bit, but in all honesty I have completely abandoned the concept of seo or webmaster guidelines and now do what my users need and want and to hell if anyone, G included doesn't like it.

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