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14-15 May 2013 Update: Who Got Hit for "Paid to Pass PageRank"?
kumar89




msg:4575220
 11:48 am on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

2 of my sites got hit. one we dont sell any links but accept guest posts from reputed writers.

Mod's note: Changing date in thread title at poster's request from "March 15 update" to "May 14/15 Update"....
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 7:13 pm (utc) on May 22, 2013]

 

tedster




msg:4575271
 2:41 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've heard from a few people that this kind of thing started happening in March. It really isn't a total surprise - Google did talk about it earlier as something in the works. They apparently want to devalue and/or penalize any kind of PR-passing link that isn't a natural and freely given backlink.

In other words, if your site gave some value to the linking site, then I guess any link should be nofollow. Seems pretty harsh to me, especially if they are trying to do it by algorithm.

diberry




msg:4575278
 3:21 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Kumar89, have you checked to make sure none of these guest posts also got posted elsewhere, creating dupe content issues? Or looking like a link network?

I hope Google isn't treating all guest posts as unnatural links, because that's pretty draconian. Guest posts can be of high quality, with an author's link to a site that your readers may be thrilled to discover.

netmeg




msg:4575288
 5:01 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I expect it depends on how it's implemented.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4575291
 5:30 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I hope Google isn't treating all guest posts as unnatural links, because that's pretty draconian. Guest posts can be of high quality, with an author's link to a site that your readers may be thrilled to discover.


My rule of thumb is this: if the article is good enough, it deserves to be published on a site that will earn the article's author a decent amount of organic click-through traffic to his/her site, therefore it shouldn't matter if a link is do-follow or no-follow (since they'll win targeted traffic), and therefore might as well be no-follow to be on the safe side. If the purpose of a guest post is primarily a link building exercise, then it's obviously an unnatural link.

Martin Ice Web




msg:4575312
 7:46 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

tedster,
if all webamsters do a nofollow to all the links because they are anxious to be marked as a link farm. What has google won by their strategy? Before all links have been followed, now all links are nofollow. I think they game their own algo with this strategy. Its like i want to be first in a marathon but first i will shot me in my feed.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4575321
 8:15 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Martin, I agree - nofollow used to mean you aren't really sure about the site you're linking to in terms of trust. Very simple. Nofollow was created in a time when links couldn't really hurt the linked-to site. However, since Penguin, and Google's apparent need to micromanage how we link out, nofollow is now a safety-first measure whether you trust the site you're linking to or not. Most blogging platforms default to nofollow - totally against what nofollow was originally about. What do Google achieve? Paranoia. A crumbling SEO market that shift to PPC. It looks like they achieve more Adwords revenue and a share price north of $900.

purplekitty




msg:4575325
 8:38 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

So "good" website owners are now nofollowing, or being advised to nofollow, all their outbound links because they're worried about getting hit with a penalty or something from Google.

Isn't that the opposite of what Google should want? Ya know, since their algos supposedly determine who is where in the serps based on incoming links? If pretty much everyone starts nofollowing outbounds, where does that leave Google's algo?

Doug10




msg:4575339
 10:12 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

We didn't get hit on 15 March, and we don't sell links. What makes you think it was links related? Do you have any evidence? It's an interesting topic, and I agree with the posts suggesting Google would be shooting itself in the foot if everyone were to start nofollowing all their external links.

So, what's the evidence for a 'paid to pass page rank' update?

diberry




msg:4575351
 10:47 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

So "good" website owners are now nofollowing, or being advised to nofollow, all their outbound links because they're worried about getting hit with a penalty or something from Google.


Cutts says to just nofollow links you're going to make money from, and even in a lot of those cases Google can tell and will just treat it as nofollow on its own. So I only no-follow affiliate links.

But I'm starting to rethink the value of no-follow at all. It's only for Google, but they won't tell us clearly when to use it. Fine, then - how about we just employ best practices, like actually alerting visitors when a link is an affiliate link (as the FTC says we need to do anyway)?

purplekitty




msg:4575364
 12:29 am on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)


Cutts says to just nofollow links you're going to make money from, and even in a lot of those cases Google can tell and will just treat it as nofollow on its own. So I only no-follow affiliate links.

Yeah, I get that's what Cutts is saying, but people are running scared because they believe they were hit by Penguin and virtually no one has seen recovery, so I've seen a lot of scuttlebutt by webmasters to err on the side of caution and just nofollow everything.

And really, I can't say as I blame them. Once I figured out how to nofollow sitewide, instead of going through and nofollowing this and that, I just nofollow everything. It's not like it's going to hurt me...well, anymore than I've already been hurt. My only concern with that was how it was going to affect me with Yahoo and Bing. Hasn't been an issue as far as I can tell.

tedster




msg:4575375
 1:49 am on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

So, what's the evidence for a 'paid to pass page rank' update?

An excellent question. There is some scant evidence of that intention from February 23, but not for determining whether it's an algorithmic update or a new manual penalty action. Given that the timing followed closely on the penalty that Google handed out to Interflora my inclination is to think of this as a manual penalty and not an algorithm update

See Google's blog arcticle, A Reminder-About Selling Links [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com] from Feb 23

I also note that this current thread has not seen anyone joining in about such a drop for their sites on March 15. Our regular March Update thread does have a lot of buzz about SERP shifts on March 15 - so something did change - but there's nothing in that discussion about paid links at all. So let's be wary about building a new myth here without a solid established basis.

ColourOfSpring




msg:4575413
 8:43 am on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Cutts says to just nofollow links you're going to make money from, and even in a lot of those cases Google can tell and will just treat it as nofollow on its own. So I only no-follow affiliate links.


The problem is that many webmasters are genuinely linking to external pages - not for payment, but because they (shock!) think the pages they're linking to are of interest to his/her visitors. The original reason why people used to link out - because they wanted to. Think of a blog entry where you're citing a number of other external pages to back up your blog entry's point. Technically, you should not bother with nofollow if you trust these links, and frankly 95% of the time you're going to trust the pages you actually WANT to link to. However, a lot of "sensible" webmasters are nofollowing everything because if you looked at the blog entry with cynical eyes, you could allege that those links could be paid-for links. What if the sites you link to DID get caught buying links from OTHER sites? Then Google's algo might assume they also bought links from your site (when they didn't, you linked freely and simply because you wanted to) - WHAM - you're hit with a penalty. False positive? Join the mountain of sites who've been hit with a false positive penalty. And so webmasters essentially nofollow everything.

paulfitz




msg:4575437
 11:36 am on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I don't sell any links on ANY of my sites but most of them are in decline since the 15th. Some substantial losses.

atlrus




msg:4575449
 12:56 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

As I have always said, using a no-follow simply tells Google that you are selling links. If this was my algo, I would certainly make it question all your [website's] outgoing links, because why trust you to be honest with the no-follow, when I don't trust you in general?

Ask yourself - would I link to this website for free? If yes, then there is no problem, it benefits your visitors and puts money in your pocket.

Anyhow, I have a few websites ranking only through paid ads and I haven't seen a drop in March, which would indicate that the websites I advertise on still pass juice without issues.

So I only no-follow affiliate links.


There are much better ways to block ALL search engines from following your aff links, even with simple html.

diberry




msg:4575468
 2:11 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Join the mountain of sites who've been hit with a false positive penalty. And so webmasters essentially nofollow everything.


I already did. I have a blog just like you describe, linking to people to reinforce my points or give readers a chance to read more in-depth about a part of my topic at someone else's site. I don't know if that's why I was hit with Penguin, and I refuse to nofollow those links in either case.

Rather than nofollow links in an attempt to regain Google's abusive love, I would rather accept life without Google and look at my other traffic sources. A lot of the traffic Google took from me with Penguin has actually already come back, just not from Google. It's getting easier and easier to live without Google. If Google reverses Penguin on me, I'll have more traffic than ever. If not... well, in a year, at the rate it's going I expect I'll still have more traffic than ever, it just won't involve Google much.

The only thing that sucks is if you're wanting to sell your site. Then of course no one wants to see Google penalties. But if you're getting enough traffic to sell a site for a decent amount, I think Google usually flips over to recognizing you as a brand and the penalties just waft away.

It's just so much BS.

purplekitty




msg:4575469
 2:16 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Rather than nofollow links in an attempt to regain Google's abusive love, I would rather accept life without Google and look at my other traffic sources.

I hear ya. If nofollowing my links doesn't do anything for me when the next Penguin runs, I'm taking it off and just calling it a day. Right now, it's become more of an experiment for me to see if that, in fact, is the reason I lost my rankings to begin with. 'Cause if not, I've got nothin' else!

ColourOfSpring




msg:4575476
 3:44 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I already did. I have a blog just like you describe, linking to people to reinforce my points or give readers a chance to read more in-depth about a part of my topic at someone else's site. I don't know if that's why I was hit with Penguin, and I refuse to nofollow those links in either case.

Rather than nofollow links in an attempt to regain Google's abusive love, I would rather accept life without Google and look at my other traffic sources. A lot of the traffic Google took from me with Penguin has actually already come back, just not from Google. It's getting easier and easier to live without Google. If Google reverses Penguin on me, I'll have more traffic than ever. If not... well, in a year, at the rate it's going I expect I'll still have more traffic than ever, it just won't involve Google much.

The only thing that sucks is if you're wanting to sell your site. Then of course no one wants to see Google penalties. But if you're getting enough traffic to sell a site for a decent amount, I think Google usually flips over to recognizing you as a brand and the penalties just waft away.

It's just so much BS.


I very much respect that attitude - I wish more people did as you did, diberry. I've done the same as you for my own sites that got hit by Penguin - I just kept on going despite Penguin. One site of mine gets about 250 hits a day, the only Google traffic it gets is about 10 to 15 visitors who type in the domain name into Google. Been penalised 13 months now. In fact, all my big money sites got hit pretty bad. It was a big worry at first, but I am still surviving a year on from it, and I'm in a much stronger position when I was so reliant on Google. Sorry Google, not going to start over, and I'm happy to make my customers happy, even if I can "only" get new customers through word of mouth instead of Google. If that's the way it is, I'm fine by that.

diberry




msg:4575490
 4:48 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@purplekitty, I'd love to know the result of your experiment! If Google IS just punishing people for linking the way the web was designed for, maybe a whole lotta people will decide they're just done with Google.

@ColourOfSpring, that's real marketing, and that's why you're going to make it. Right now, we're in a very strange situation with Google being so dominant. Imagine if back in the 60s, the only way to get serious traffic was to get mentioned in some big newspaper. Those who got mentioned would think this system was just awesome and they didn't need anything else, and those who didn't would feel desperate. And those who used to get mentioned and suddenly didn't anymore would feel penalized. I don't think marketers have ever faced a situation quite as odd as Google controlling so much of the market.

But all the same, if you are a real marketer, you look to your visitors to tell you when your sites need improving, not Google or any other free traffic source.

crobb305




msg:4575491
 4:52 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm curious to know if the OP meant to say "May 15" instead of March? The reason I ask is because I see a new/similar article on seroundtable asking about May 15. I just want to make sure I/we are looking at the correct time periods, but these may be two different events.

purplekitty




msg:4575493
 4:59 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@purplekitty, I'd love to know the result of your experiment! If Google IS just punishing people for linking the way the web was designed for, maybe a whole lotta people will decide they're just done with Google.

Once we have a confirmed Penguin update, I will definitely post if I notice a change or not.

I'm not doing anything else differently from the last several years, so either that's my issue or there's something else I probably will never know. And instead of trying to figure Google out to regain those lost keywords/rankings, I'm concentrating my time and efforts elsewhere.

netmeg




msg:4575494
 5:04 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Meh. I link out like a mofo, and I only nofollow affiliate links, and I have hundreds if not thousands of outgoing links, and never been pinged by a penguin. But I only link out to strong authoritative sites, too. And given how Google feels about it (regardless of how I feel about it) I don't sell links; the traffic is of more value to me than whatever I'd get for the link.

It's not much point arguing with Google's position on it, they're clear - followed links pass PageRank, and they don't want PageRank to be sold. If you can get more out of your paid links than you can out of the traffic, more power to you. But if you want the traffic, then you gotta play the game.

purplekitty




msg:4575498
 5:40 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

To be clear, I have zero paid links. Never have. My assumption at this point is that Google sees my two sites (same industry, different disciplines) that were hit as a link farm based on what was pointed out to me in the Google webmaster group - I link heavily back and forth between them for people who like both disciplines. That assumption makes logical sense.

I do have some affiliate links on one of my other sites, but that site is still tooling along as per usual with no problem pre- or post-penguin.

I have never been concerned with linking out before. I've done it when it made sense and have never nofollowed anything, not even affiliate links, until a couple of months ago when the advice was nofollow your links, you spam link farm!

I'd love to get some of that lost traffic back. So we'll see.

netmeg




msg:4575499
 5:42 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I dunno; I link between my own sites too when it's relevant. Are you positive that's the problem?

purplekitty




msg:4575501
 6:00 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I dunno; I link between my own sites too when it's relevant. Are you positive that's the problem?

No. Not at all. That's why I finally reached out to people who I thought could help me in Google groups. Because for the longest time, I just figured it would all work itself out. But it didn't.

What I observed after I put nofollow on all outgoing links was two days later, all previously watched popular keywords came back somewhat. Then all but one or two went away again the next time I checked them.

I figure it hasn't hurt anything to put the nofollow on the links, so I'm just going to see if it makes a difference once Penguin runs again. If it doesn't, it doesn't. No harm, no foul.

If it does, well...that would be interesting.

purplekitty




msg:4575502
 6:04 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

And I'll add this, until I reached out for help, my outgoing links were not even on my radar as potentially being a problem.

A couple of people there also mentioned it could be a content problem, but two things - (1) I'm not aware of penguin having anything to do with content, and (2) I have plenty of love from users elsewhere to know that that is not my problem. If google sees that as a problem, well, there's nothing I can do about that. At. all. The content is what the content is.

netmeg




msg:4575511
 7:27 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well there could be anchor text issues, I dunno. I haven't worked on any Penguined sites, so I'm no expert for sure.

purplekitty




msg:4575522
 8:50 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yeah, theoretically it could be anything since no one but Google really knows anything for sure. The anchor text idea is the first time I'm getting that suggestion.

Anyway, I'm very analytical in my approach to things and so I tend to look at things based on probabilities.

Looking at the knowns, using WMT, I know who's linking to me, how many links, what pages, etc. and I know what anchor text is being used.

I also know what I've been doing, that I've ranked for these terms in Google for years, and that I continue to rank in both Bing and Yahoo for these terms fairly well on average (obviously some better than others).

Additionally, I haven't received an unnatural links message from Google and I know that I don't have a manual penalty. The only message I've received from google is that I had a large decrease in traffic for my top url (or some such, I don't remember exact verbiage) that I received for both websites, a few months apart, after my rankings for the top keywords vanished.

While I always leave the possibility that I'm wrong because clearly I don't know anything for sure, the only probable explanation of all suggestions thus far is that Google sees me as a link farm and that I have some type of algo penalty applied by Penguin.

The ways I might be able to correct that (if it's that) would be to remove all my links to my other website (which is not feasible since they're there for my users and have value) or nofollowing them (which I've done).

Admittedly, what I think is going on is only an assumption, but it's not a blind assumption. It's based on logic.

If it turns out to not be that, then I have no reasonable idea what it could be. As I've mentioned before, I'm not saying I should rank #1, or even on the first page, for any particular keyword, but to no longer rank at all for some popular phrases that I previously ranked well for defies logic unless you consider that I've got some type of algo penalty being applied for some reason.

tedster




msg:4575533
 9:58 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

As I posted above, while there was a change of some kind on March 15, we have NO evidence it had anything to do with "paid to pass Page Rank". Since no one else has joined this thread with a similar suspicion, I'd suggest that the OP look for other potential causes for the ranking losses. Maybe start by taking a hard look at the sites that are now ranking and asking "what have they got going that my site doesn't."

With so many ranking factors in play these days, it doesn't pay to start with just a handful of assumptions.

mcskoufis




msg:4575543
 10:45 pm on May 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Agree Tedster...

Would like to add to the parallel follow/nofollow discussion that if I was Google I wouldn't trust webmasters what to follow and not follow, apart maybe from blog and forum comment links.

Also I've heard the argument that in some very specialized niches Wikipedia links do count, otherwise those sites would never rank and the person I was talking to is 100% certain they do count.

So I have yet to see such a niche, the ones he mentions don't have any commercial interest whatsoever but he has made me reconsider what Google does with the nofollow attribute on links.

Guess is not the right thread but felt it is relevant to the above discussion :)

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42 ( [1] 2 > >
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