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Google has updated "Can competitors harm ranking?" help article
suzukik

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 8:39 pm on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google has updated a help document about so-called Negative SEO.

Can competitors harm ranking? - Webmaster Tools Help [support.google.com]

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.


Previously they said, "There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index." The phrase is now gone.

 

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 4:59 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

And then they put it right back on the webmasters:

If you're concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question.


Like it's even remotely plausible to contact thousands of "webmasters" who allow obvious spam links on their sites. I know from all too personal experience that these webmasters are either too clueless to understand the problem, or their sites exist solely for spamming purposes and they don't give a carp.

Planet13

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 5:02 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for posting that.

Kind of strange; there was a blog post by google a few months back about some changes to the algo that mentioned an aspect of page rank (or linking) that had been altered, and that announcement had everyone guessing that links were being "devalued" one way or another.

Yet a few months later we have something of a mea culpa about the INCREASED VALUE of links - either positive or negative, as witnessed by this change to their help document, and by the Penguin filter, and by google's action against iAcquire.

Me thinks that they are possibly having a bit of difficulty tuning their algo in regards to page rank.

HermanMunster



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 5:06 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

The bottom line is that if you can harm your own rank with bad links, so can anyone else. Until Google invents a brain implant that can remotely determine intention, that is. They will call it "Knowledge Suck"

Kendo

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 6:00 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's really a simple problem to solve and I don't understand how they miss it...

Simply ignore any suspect/bad links. Only count good links.

Is this to easy a solution... why get pedantic and ruin it?

onepointone

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 6:58 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's really a simple problem to solve and I don't understand how they miss it...Simply ignore any suspect/bad links. Only count good links.


I would say that obviously G, a lot of time, can't tell "good" links from "suspect/bad links."

So we see all these penalties and blustering.

I'm just guessing, but my idea is that G can do a lot of things we never suspected they can do, and can't do a lot of things we take for granted they can do...

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 8:14 am on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would say that obviously G, a lot of time, can't tell "good" links from "suspect/bad links."


but if they can punish you for these bad links, why cant they ignore them instead? it seems to be a choice they've made to weight it that way

MamaDawg

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 1:14 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I can't help thinking of the thousands of SMB /small organization / hobby sites whose owners don't have a clue what Webmaster Tools is, more less who's linking to them or how to find out.

@Londrum - Agreed. If Google thinks it's a bad link, why not just ignore it?

Atomic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 5:07 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my mind, if anyone can harm anyone's ranking, all results should be suspect and Google has a major disaster on its hands. And so does every webmaster suffering because of it now insulted by being asked to do Google's work for them.

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 8:21 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

Mmm that's some tasty lip service!

AndyA

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 9:44 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

MamaDawg wrote:

I can't help thinking of the thousands of SMB /small organization / hobby sites whose owners don't have a clue what Webmaster Tools is, more less who's linking to them or how to find out.


Add to that the ones that do know about WMT, but don't have the time or knowledge to deal with it. A person who volunteered to put up a site for an organization or create a hobby site probably doesn't have hours to spend asking other sites to remove links that are considered bad.

One wonders how compromised Google's SERPs really are. They can't (or won't) determine which site original content belongs to, they credit other sites for your image because they hotlinked to it, and they credit (by penalty if Google thinks it's from a bad site) websites for all the links pointing at it.

Instead of dealing with this in a way that would make the SERPs better for everyone, they serve up less than the best results because of these compromises. The solution doesn't seem that difficult. In WMT, ask which domains are allowed to serve images for your site. If a domain isn't listed, it's not an authorized image link. Ignore links from bad sites, period. They don't count, they just disappear from the link graph. That would put an end to link buying, and negative SEO.

Before long, most images would correctly load the site they should be attributed to in Google Images, and sites that exist only for linking purposes will die off, because no one will waste their time with them since there isn't any benefit from doing so.

Google has the resources to do this.

Scurramunga

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 1:02 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Instead of dealing with this in a way that would make the SERPs better for everyone, they serve up less than the best results because of these compromises. The solution doesn't seem that difficult. In WMT, ask which domains are allowed to serve images for your site. If a domain isn't listed, it's not an authorized image link. Ignore links from bad sites, period. They don't count, they just disappear from the link graph. That would put an end to link buying, and negative SEO.



Adsense accounts have an allowed domains feature, so why not ?

Play_Bach

WebmasterWorld Senior Member play_bach us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 1:55 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

> Adsense accounts have an allowed domains feature, so why not ?

Yeah, but it took them four years to implement it. I railed about it here (as did others) in 2005, but it wasn't until 2007 that AdSense finally gave publishers the allowed domains option.

Scurramunga

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 2:58 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah, but it took them two years to implement it. I railed about it here (as did others) in 2005,...


Yes, I seem to remember those threads.

... but it wasn't until 2007 that AdSense finally gave publishers the allowed domains option.


You can safely assume that if Adsense publishers had to wait, then webmasters will be waiting even longer.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 5:01 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's a very good idea about the algo just ignoring links it thinks may be suspect rather than punishing them. It makes me wonder if the algo is so dependent on the identification of "bad links" that changing how it deals with them would be like pulling the crucial card out from under a house of cards.

outland88

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 6:37 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

You’re really answering your own question Kendo. Likely Google is pointing the finger at everybody, right or wrong, and getting you to do their work for them. Bottom line is brands may have just as many bad links as a spammy site but are penalized the least because of good links. The problem becomes when you delineate something as a “bad link” and falls into what Diberry is saying. Likely the site using bad links could never recover unless it stripped many links and clearly started using identifiably good links. What is good or bad linking only Google knows for sure. Flip to a new domain and it may take 2-5 years to get quality links without short-cuts. Plus if they’re penalizing bad links somebody can do harm to you. That’s why Cutts, I speculate, answered the question the way he did.

Ultimately the rich (brands) get richer and the poor you know.

Scurramunga

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 6:49 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Likely the site using bad links could never recover unless it stripped many links and clearly started using identifiably good links.


What's to stop a site from receiving more (unsolicited) bad links even if it does succeed in reducing it's existing bad links? It's like bailing water from a leaky boat by using a coffee cup. You'd be embarking upon an exercise in futility.

outland88

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 7:16 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

You'd be embarking upon an exercise in futility.


Exactly.

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 9:21 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

3 days ago I asked about this because of a blackhat attempt to unset my rankings, 120+ domains strong and growing - [webmasterworld.com...]

My rankings are holding, for now, so keep outworking the blackhats Google because the potential damage from your algorithm being fooled are very real.

AndyA

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 1:27 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

diberry wrote:

It makes me wonder if the algo is so dependent on the identification of "bad links" that changing how it deals with them would be like pulling the crucial card out from under a house of cards.


That may very well be the case. Link manipulation is link manipulation, regardless of whether it's the site owner purchasing links to improve rankings, or a third party doing it to take down a competitor. Google seems to have addressed the issue by leaving it up to the site owner to deal with.

Unless Google has access to the PayPal receipt for the purchase of links by the site owner, it can't really be certain who purchased them. Google seems to be satisfied that the way to deal with it is to penalize the site, and post a notice in WMT.

That really doesn't solve the problem, though. As long as a site is penalized, Google's SERPs are compromised. I have seen reports from site owners who state they have never purchased links, they have never outsourced SEO to anyone, and yet they feel their site has been harmed by links from bad neighborhoods that they aren't responsible for. That may not really be the case, but if there's a chance that this could happen, and it seems there is based on changes made by Google to its help documents, Google is acknowledging that its SERPs can be manipulated by third parties.

Ultimately, this is something Google must address. It has the resources and the people to figure this out and make corrections. As long as there are sites penalized for bad links, the search results aren't the best they can be. To allow an otherwise strong page to be buried solely due to bad links, Google isn't providing a good user experience to its users. Users don't care if a site or page has bad links going to it, they likely don't know about the bad links, and they likely will never see them. All the searcher knows is that they aren't finding what they're looking for. They are not having a good experience because it takes several attempts to get the answer, or they go elsewhere to find it. When they do find it, whether by using another search engine, or following a link from another site to the page that ultimately has what they were searching for, they wonder why Google didn't show them this page.

Only when bad links are taken out of the link graph will this problem go away. Google has to find a way to discount or ignore these links so they simply don't count at all, one way or the other. At that point, manipulation of the SERPs due to bad links will stop, because it won't help and it won't hurt, it just doesn't do anything.

Only then can Google truly provide the best user experience to its users. As site owners, we know about things that the typical search engine user doesn't, and they likely don't care about the details. They just want a quick answer, and they don't want to have to dig for it by looking at multiple pages.

When Google returns search results to its users and the page with the best answer is buried because of off page factors, that is not doing what's best for their users. That's a bad user experience.

londrum

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 1:40 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

i think google doesn't mind if a few good pages get buried because of this, because there are so many other ones to take their place. users dont miss them, because they never even saw them. its only the smaller and mid-sized sites that are affected. its never the big ones, so users dont cotton on to the fact that they are missing

google has to balance the resouces it would take to root these things out, against the damage they do to the SERPs. and i think we--with our own pages affected--tend to have a skewed view as to the damage it is doing to the SERPs. normal users probably dont even notice.

diberry

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 3:02 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

i think google doesn't mind if a few good pages get buried because of this, because there are so many other ones to take their place. users dont miss them, because they never even saw them. its only the smaller and mid-sized sites that are affected. its never the big ones, so users dont cotton on to the fact that they are missing


I think this is what Google believes. I don't think it's quite true - a lot of really ordinary computer users have complained about Google to me in the last year, and several switched to Bing (without my prompting) - so I do think webmasters aren't the only people unhappy with the SERPs these days.

But will their dissatisfaction add up to an element Google ever notices? Probably not. Google will probably be more concerned about things like other engines getting bundled with browsers or mobile OSs, and those probably ARE the bigger things to worry about.

This is why government intervention is the only thing that could fix a lot of our troubles, and even that's pretty unlikely since it would require (a) the government bothering to do anything and (b) the government doing the correct things. One suggestion made at the hearing last year was to make the algo open-source - I bet that gave Google a heart-attack.

Google just has no incentive to algo perfect. It's done fine for their profits being half-ass all these years.

BaseballGuy



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 3:34 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google just has no incentive to algo perfect. It's done fine for their profits being half-ass all these years.


Yes, however if there is even a slight kernel of truth to the statement that's being thrown around:

Google manipulates search results for Adwords profits.

Then both Matt Cutts and Larry Page have an ethical duty to inform the public as such. Otherwise they are doing something extremely unethical....by profiting unethically on the back of the goodwill that "old Google" created throughout the past 15 or so years.

This type of business model Google has now (destroying the search results by cutting off the nose to spite the face) is not a long term strategy that's going to work.

Mobile is a failure, never in a million years would I purchase something over my phone....I would rather wait until I get home to view it.

More and more people (laymen, non technical) that I speak to have mentioned the lack of quality in the Google search results over the past few months.

SEO is not Google's enemy....Google is their own enemy by over-engineering the algorithm in an attempt to come after an invisible boogeyman. Kinda like how the TSA approaches their security theater in airports. Both heavy-handed, both over-reacting, and both highly ineffective.

I have learned something in my years on the planet....if you want to see a guy who doesn't know what in the hell he's doing, you watch him over-react and fail miserably along the way.

AndyA

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 3:46 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some webmasters have recently reported an increase in referrals from other search engines, and there was a report here a few weeks back from one source that Google was losing market share to other search engines. While this may not indicate a trend that will continue, it may be the beginning of weakness in loyalty among Google users.

I've often wondered how much of Google's search market share is due to webmasters searching Google for their rankings. I'll bet it's a hefty percentage. If some abandon Google and focus on other search engines, it seems that could have a significant impact on Google's overall market share.

The fact that a page, once located on the first page of Google SERPs for a search term later disappears and can't be found has to result in a bad experience when a user can't find it again. I've seen this in some of my own personal searches. I know that page exists, and it's frustrating when it can't be located again. Other users are likely experiencing this as well.

Add to that Google's legal problems in the news and privacy concerns, specifically the issues with Street View gathering information it shouldn't have, and there are valid reasons to look elsewhere when searching. More people are becoming aware of privacy issues. If Google doesn't understand this and take steps to preserve their market, users might decide to make a change. When that happens, it may be too late for Google.

By allowing others to influence rankings of a site they don't have ownership of, Google is no longer in control of its search results, they are allowing outside influences to impact its algorithm. Because of this, the quality of the SERPs will continue to decline, eventually getting to the point where Google will be forced to do something different. We know there are those who will take advantage of this weakness, and that will become more prominent as people discover they can manipulate the results in this manner. It's not going to go away on its own.

Atomic

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 5:53 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

By allowing others to influence rankings of a site they don't have ownership of, Google is no longer in control of its search results, they are allowing outside influences to impact its algorithm.

And search engine optimization becomes search engine warfare. Well done Google. Well done.

tantalus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 8:09 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

"i think google doesn't mind if a few good pages get buried because of this, because there are so many other ones to take their place. users dont miss them, because they never even saw them"

And there's the rub for google.

Facebook just needs to institute it's own SE and google loses nearly a billion users in one fell swoop.

It doesn't even need to be great, it just needs be well integrated into their platform and most importantly convenient. (We'll always choose convenience over value, as I am sure convenience meals will testify.)

Who knows maybe google is the new alta vista. No wonder they are worried.

Apologies if this is too off topic

viggen

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 8:38 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

A few years back everyone tried to get good links for his site; Google didnt like it, now everyone is trying to get bad links for other sites, kinda a bizarro world...

<sarcasm>It is so great now, a few years back i had to check my outsourced linkbuilders work if they got me some half decent links, now i dont have to check anymore and saves me so much time, i just point them to all competitors on the first result page, let them create one mega cross link scheme between all of them, lean back and hope they get them really bad links, i hope Google is proud of themselves...</sarcasm>

nomis5

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 9:04 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Surely it's only a matter of time before Facebook launch their own search engine. All the rubbish about how F can increase earnings is truly just that, rubbish, They can't. But their users will trust them enough to use a F search engine and that's where the money is. It's only a matter of time.

netmeg

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



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 9:18 pm on May 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

People have been predicting the demise of Google for a long time.

jkdt0077

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4457938 posted 7:18 am on May 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

@netmeg, yep and one of these days they'll be right

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 ( [1] 2 > >
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