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Can a 13-year-old site recover on Google after a year of loss?
berrysharpie




msg:4619379
 7:14 pm on Oct 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

For 12 years our site ranked fine. We had our up's and down's like anyone but never to this degree. For the past year, our 13th year, we've been hit hard in the most important areas of our site and we have scoured through the site for the past year searching for anything that could be wrong.

We do not have spam, we have a ton of content and yes, we have we a nicely built affiliate store. Before everyone jumps and says the conspiracies about Google and anti affiliates, our competitors which are affiliates are all still ranking fine.

We had a number of link changes a year ago when we plummeted and we had 301's for a long time which all eventually were switched to 404's. We were advised that 404's were not a problem, if you wanted old pages to go away, 404 was the best way to go. Not to mention, if we couldn't have exact 301 content to content pages, then they could do more harm than good. So, when we had to make a large number of link changes, we knew we would never be able to get good matches across so we went with the 404 route.

Now, it's been a year as of next month. At this point, we are wondering if anyone has ever seen year long hits by Google ever recover. We seem to be fine on Bing and Yahoo but, as we are seeing, not enough people use that to keep us afloat.

I guess we just don't know how much more effort to put. It seems a terrible loss to loose a 13 year old site which is our baby but if Google is just never going to recover us and we are just being hopeful for no reason, then we end out looking the idiots.

If anyone has seen recoveries after this long, then we will gladly keep adding content and babying the site. And paying for a server we can no longer afford.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Kris

 

berrysharpie




msg:4619435
 1:47 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I forgot, before I have to sign off for the evening....

Does it count for anything that during the past year, when we first tanked for the store pages, they didn't even show up when using quotation search but in the last 3-4 months they are slowly popping in with quotations?

Could that be a possible sign of anything?

Robert Charlton




msg:4619437
 1:58 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

berrysharpie - I think it would be helpful to have a clearer time sequence from you, when you dropped, etc...

a) to get a sense of how what you did with your redirects might have affected your results
b) to help determine how your drop might have also related in time to any algo changes in Google.

I agree that you seem to be too concerned about 404s. They're natural, assuming you intended to drop the urls for which they're returned. It's also natural, btw, for 301ed pages to remain in the index for a while.

What might be worrisome about a lot of 404s is that you might be throwing away a lot of link juice. Before you did your redirects, did you check to see which pages on your old site had good quality inbound links worth preserving?

Generally, the best way to preserve that link juice is to 301 either to an equivalent page or a close match, or to a category page under which individual pages might belong.

What you don't want to do is to 301 all of your pages without good matches to the home page of the site. If there are a lot of redirects to home, that can be seen by Google as spammy.

Also...

- have you avoided "chained" redirects?
- have you properly canonicalized your urls?
- have you made sure that the urls in your site's navigation are the new, correct urls... not the old urls that then require redirection?
- have you double-checked your server header responses to make sure that your redirected urls return 301 responses and that they arrive at the desired destination url?
- do your pages load quickly?
- etc.

Much else to be discussed, like whether you have enough orginal and useful content within your site to keep your visitors engaged on your site. This is very important in an affiliate site.

I've seen affiliate sites that try to drive traffic to their affiliate links as quickly and as aggressively as possible, and that's most definitely a negative signal to Google. The quality of the affiliate pages you're linking to might also be a factor. But being an affiliate site by itself is not a negative signal.

berrysharpie




msg:4619439
 2:15 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Robert,

This started August 11th, 2012 which was around 7 days after we switched from one affiliate provider to another. There was almost an immediate decline but it really hit around the 7th day. We were doing fine before that switch.

We had set up redirects trying to match well and we went to the Google boards asking if that looked pretty good what we had done. We were told pretty quickly they weren't direct enough and that Google would likely respond poorly. So we were told to redirect to the upper level pages where they would have naturally come from (closest match). We did that. Then we were told it would really have been better to do 404. So, we did. We did the second 301 approximately 1 month after the initial change, then we did the 404 about 2 months after that. Nothing changed for the better or the worse since the first 7 days of our initial change.

The only recent change we have seen is the quotation searches. That's it.

We did watch out to not "chain" those 301 redirects. We cancelled the first ones to switch them to the new ones.

I was just having a discussion with my partner in all this and he helped refresh some of those original steps.

Maybe that's still part of our overall problem. Too much at the beginning and Google got mad and hasn't forgiven us yet.

Also, we do not rush anyone into our store. Our site is mostly about our content and we've even been told we might be too subtle about our store by our site visits. We always preferred it that way since we were getting the sales from the natural search. We figured why badger people when they are looking at content. We aren't pushy people.

Thanks for the input. More for us to look into.

SevenCubed




msg:4619447
 2:52 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Much else to be discussed, like whether you have enough orginal and useful content within your site to keep your visitors engaged on your site.

That concept keeps getting repeated over and over again here at Webmaster World without anyone truly going into much detail about what they really mean by that. Now every time I see it thrown out it has a mechanical ring to it. I'm not singling Robert's repeat of it out but this might be as good as time as any to lay this one to rest. By laying it to rest I don't mean it's not a valid assumption, I think it is, but by definition what is "useful content"?

Does it mean useful to the visitor simply as a means to answer a question? Does it mean "useful enough" to satisfy a need to populate a page with words in the hopes of gaining traffic for affiliate sales, advertising, etc...

If there is already an elaborate thread somewhere here at WW that discusses the topic in detail then I would appreciate being pointed to it. At times I'm away for months and can miss large swaths of new developments.

I think it would be highly relevant to the OP but if not I would like to nominate Robert to create a spin-off thread from his statement so we can get into it up to our elbows. I'll participate in it actively. Maybe as a group we can finally fillet this herring.

I already have an opinion, based on recent first-hand experiences and observations, about "useful content" but I'd rather hear Robert's first.

What say ye Robert?

berrysharpie




msg:4619449
 3:25 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't mind a topic like this myself actually. "Useful" is a tough term to deal with. We put our information up because we believe it to be useful. Our visitors have often written to us thanking us for the information, etc. In 13 years we've never had an email that told us the information wasn't. We've been pretty pleased to be able to say in 13 years most our comments or emails have been quite positive. Some have said add more about this or that and we try.

But I am sure that there have been some visitors that have felt otherwise but just not said so. So the term is not easy since everyone is so different. I've seen sites that seem 100% useless in my opinion but they rank.

So although a topic like that might get a lot of feathers ruffled, it might be a good one to just get out there.

Robert Charlton




msg:4619462
 6:20 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Too much at the beginning and Google got mad and hasn't forgiven us yet.

There's actually a lot for Google to figure when a site makes multiple changes then undoes them. Google might need to take a while to parse through the many levels of its many databases to interpret what's going on. Some of these databases I'm sure are not kept in unison, but rather are updated cyclically or sequentially.

Also, when a site has made changes and has gotten bad results and then switches back, one thing that might be of concern is the patent discussed in this thread....

Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4486158.htm [webmasterworld.com]

It's not absolutely clear that the patent has been implemented, nor that it applies to what you've done... but if, say, you had massive redirects to home, and they were seen as spammy, and the rank modifier kicked in to see what you'd do in response to an unexpected rank modification... and your timing was such that it looked like you were responding by undoing what you'd done because you were trying to manipulate rankings... then your multiple changes might have hurt you algorithmically (ie, beyond the kind of confusion your many changes might have produced). This is conjecture... I wouldn't lose sleep over it because there's nothing you can do... but, in general, you don't want to fiddle with things too much.

This started August 11th, 2012 which was around 7 days after we switched from one affiliate provider to another. There was almost an immediate decline but it really hit around the 7th day. We were doing fine before that switch.

Did this entail a complete realignment of outbound links as well as site structure? I suspect that this is something which would concern Google much more than it concerns Bing/Yahoo, as IMO Google is looking at the structure of the Web and relationships among pages much more deeply than Bing is. I'm thinking it's not like you just rearranged pages on a site... you also rearranged what those pages mean in the context of the rest of the Web, and those channels need to be rebuilt. That's my assumption, at any rate.

Nothing changed for the better or the worse since the first 7 days of our initial change.

You don't say whether you'd used something like Majestic to check your backlinks prior to making changes. As I mentioned previously, this may be an important factor. It is possible that you lost a bunch of link juice when you dumped your 301s.

"Useful"

I've just gotten back from PubCon, and I have miles to go before I sleep, and even longer before I catch up, so this excellent suggestion for a separate thread will have to wait, but here's my quick answer....

Essentially, I use the word "useful" as guides to both the writer and the site architect.

It is about anticipating the many possible reasons someone might have visited your site in response to a query, and providing content that will help/ satisfy/ educate/ entertain, etc that visitor (actually, those visitors)... providing enough content to motivate them to come back, to recommend the site to others, to link to it, etc.

Does it mean useful to the visitor simply as a means to answer a question? ...

If answering a question, perhaps you also need to anticipate the most likely follow-up questions the most probable visitor(s) will have.

...Does it mean "useful enough" to satisfy a need to populate a page with words in the hopes of gaining traffic for affiliate sales, advertising, etc...

Words are part of the craft you use... it would be silly to pretend that they don't exist, and that there aren't mechanisms that Google uses to determine relevance, but, the further I look into these mechanisms, the more I understand that the actually utility of the page is what naturally populates the page with the proper vocabulary.... Semantic space and "life-space" seem to be that closely aligned.

Coleman123




msg:4619470
 7:40 am on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Berrysharpie,

On the Webmasters page showing that you have 39,000 404 pages, use the download button and you can get a list of several thousand URL's that way.

If you update the initial downloaded list to 301's I would imagine Webmaster's would soon remove those URL's from their list of 404's. Then you could continue downloading updated lists of their reported 404 pages until you gradually convert them all to 301's.

SevenCubed




msg:4619514
 1:35 pm on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've just gotten back from PubCon, and I have miles to go before I sleep, and even longer before I catch up, so this excellent suggestion for a separate thread will have to wait, but here's my quick answer....

Essentially, I use the word "useful" as guides to both the writer and the site architect.

It is about anticipating the many possible reasons someone might have visited your site in response to a query, and providing content that will help/ satisfy/ educate/ entertain, etc that visitor (actually, those visitors)... providing enough content to motivate them to come back, to recommend the site to others, to link to it, etc.

Fair enough about having to wait. I'll keep my eyes open for it.

I'll reserve my thoughts then until it happens. What I will say quickly though is my approach to content writing is via emotional appeal. We all have them. Needless to say it would be difficult to get people excited about some consumer products that might be promoted via an affiliate site but in many instances the surface can at least be scraped.

One of the main keys for me when writing content isn't about saying what everyone else is saying about a product or service but rather what they are NOT saying. One has to write between one's own lines so that the words are not "talking at" the visitor but the flow is wanting them to dive into the stream and let it take them wherever it shall (to the checkout cart lol).

netmeg




msg:4619536
 2:43 pm on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

(I have a lot to say on useful as well)

But first thing first. If you're worried about paying the bills, then the first conversation you need to have is how you can leverage that 13 years of existence (and presumably sales) into other channels. Do your customers tend to come back over and over? Do you have an email list? Are you active on social? Anything you can use NOW?

Then, yes, you need a site audit. If adding analytics or utilizing a sitemap crashes your site, then something is *wrong* with it. If you just mean that traffic crashed after you added either or both, then there's still something wrong (or you're reading it wrong)

You definitely want to work on your site to improve organic traffic, but that process is usually going to be slow and painstaking, and won't put food on your table while you're waiting. So be practical, and start thinking about other ways to bring in traffic to your site - ones that you have more control over.

If it were me, the very first thing I'd do is get ahold of a spider tool (I believe I've mentioned my favorite in the SEO Tools post here) and set the user agent to Googlebot and do a complete spider of your site, so that you can see it the same way Google does.

berrysharpie




msg:4619541
 3:13 pm on Oct 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

Good morning folks.

Thanks for more input from all of you. We hear each point made and will look into each. We will definitely look into the spider tool mentioned in the SEO Tools post.

We are very social and that is what is keeping us afloat right now. We are just about to launch some more social tools which we, very amazingly, already have a number of our followers willing to help with so that was a pleasant surprise.

We also have a couple other tactics we will be working on with our current following that we believe can help to keep us going until we smooth things out.

Robert, when we switched from one affiliate provider to another, then yes, the outbound links for the store had to change. We couldn't keep linking to the wrong affiliate. So yes, that could also contribute with a sudden clump of links changing like that. It also meant that all of our links inside the site that were "storewide" had to change. We couldn't use the old links as they didn't match at all.

Lastly, as far as going back to figure out what the old links were to redirect them now... They have now been 404's for several months. Whatever link juice they might have had (most those pages were lower pages and didn't have much PR or inbound links) has likely been lost. I could be wrong, but that seems like a move that wouldn't help to take thousands of pages that have no logical home and then trying to make up 301's for them when they likely have no juice left anymore anyhow. Ultimately, at this point it seems the cleaner we can just make the site, the better so the bot can focus less on old trash and more on the content and what does in fact exist?

Thanks again for all the tips. We've been given quite a bit to look into and to think about. We have a few things we are going to work on today for "clean up".

berrysharpie




msg:4624112
 1:41 am on Nov 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I just wanted to post an update on this thread...

I had been working with viral in sticky mail and he gave me some advice towards ideas for my site and we have seen somewhat of a bump in the last two weeks. We are still waiting on the "shopping" area but it's only been a couple of weeks since we implemented some changes. It is nice to see some movement in other parts of the site though!

Nothing more to report now, I will wait another month or so and report again if there have been any significant changes.

Kris

viral




msg:4624114
 2:01 am on Nov 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the mention berrysharpie. Sometimes it just takes a fresh set of eyes to highlight what you already know but have probably missed.

Sometimes 2 weeks is enough to see some real gains after making the changes you did. More typically it will take a month or 2.

rango




msg:4624222
 12:45 pm on Nov 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Stuck in a similar situation with an 11 year old site, trying to recover for the past 18 months.

Recently I had some insight from inside Google which has really made me think a lot more about user-metrics than I would have before. Chrome data is being used heavily to decide on rankings (to detect excessive affiliate links, number of direct visits were the two specific things mentioned)

Improving your metrics to bring in more return visitors seems to me a good idea at this stage.

I've got a lot of things to do on my site. Improving the design and stickiness is very high on the list.

Good luck. I know what it's like.

berrysharpie




msg:4624332
 9:24 pm on Nov 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hello Rango, It is terribly frustrating!

To be a little more specific, as it might help but again, I still want to wait for a couple more months to feel positive as it's still far too early, Viral looked through my site and pointed out a few things that I can't believe I missed. But, after staring at your own site for so long, sometimes it's easy to miss some important things.

So, the first thing that was pointed out was that I had forgotten to put rel="nofollow" on most links pointing out of the site. Most primarily, in our store! Again, our store hasn't really seen any change yet but it has only been a couple of weeks since I added the rel="nofollow" to those links. It's important to also point out that before we made our big change that made us tank, we did have the rel="nofollow" on those links. So it was something we had completely forgotten during the change. This could or could not have an impact in helping the situation but it certainly was something that we had meant to have and we are grateful for Viral to have pointed that out.

The other thing which is a bit more embarrassing is that we really felt we weren't being at all "pushy" about the fact that we had a store. We had a mini store at the bottom of our pages and we also had under our main menu bar, a smaller menu bar that directed to store pages.

Viral suggested that we maybe remove either the mini store at the bottom or both the mini store and the menu bar. These links could have been overpowering the balance of the content pages.

Well, we decided to remove both. This is where we have seen the strongest impact so far. Our site popped back up for one of our main keyword strings that we had for 13 years. The other main keyword string hasn't responded yet but we don't want to tinker too much yet as removing those links was a big change so we don't want to cause too much stress at once. We are glad we went ahead and removed both the mini store and the menu store right now as it is nice to see something positive occurring.

Again, we need to wait. But, it is important I believe to look at your own site and question if you are in any way causing an imbalance of your content vs your money making area.

We still aren't making any money, but it's nice to have the content areas moving. That feels good after a year of absolutely no movement whatsoever.

I really appreciate viral taking a peek and pointing out these things to me. Fingers are crossed over the next couple of months we see some further change.

I will post again if/when we see more changes or if nothing more happens just to keep others informed. It would be nice if this helped others as well!

Thanks

Kris

viral




msg:4624352
 11:55 pm on Nov 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Berrysharpie has explained what happened.

I will just add that the most important links that "weren't nofollowed" are the affiliate links. Berry had these nofollowed to the original affiliate but forgot to add the tag when switching to the new affiliate company.

It is pretty crucial that if you are in a similar situation as berrysharpie that you definitely nofollow those links.

If you think about it Google has come down hard on blog networks that pass pagerank so why would they not come down on your site when you are passing pagerank to an affiliate site that really doesn't deserve that link juice.

berrysharpie did have links to other sites that she considered relevant sites. I pointed out that the sites you dofollow link out to you need to trust implicitly (Matt Cutts has highlighted that a number times). While the sites maybe relevant, you need to go over these sites you "dofollow" link to with a fine toothed comb and make sure they aren't doing anything underhanded, otherwise Google will once again think you are part of the problem and not part of the solution.

If you haven't got the time to make sure the site you are linking to is all above board (and I mean the whole site not just the page you are linking to) then either don't link to them or "nofollow" link to them, just to be safe!

I have client sites that had been penalized by Panda and all we did was run a script that converted all "dofollow" links to "nofollow" links and they recovered within a month or so.

It is such a simple message but one that often gets overlooked because we are usually focused on getting links or on structure of the site.

This might not be everything that Google finds problematic with berrysharpie's site but it is a start.

I read stories here at WebmasterWorld all the time "I have a site that has ranked well for 10 years and all of a sudden it is gone from the serps". Inevitably the discussion seems to turn to inbound links and structure and updating content. Yet rarely do you hear :

Your site is 10 years old, with 10 years worth of outbound links. Have you tried vetting all those sites you link to? If not have you nofollowed all those links?

It is such a simple message and one that is relevant to every aged site on the web today.

Just because Google trusted the site you linked to in the past doesn't mean it will always trust it so to be safe.

"nofollow every outbound link"

Cheers
Viral

rango




msg:4624353
 12:10 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure no-following really solves anything though when it comes to this part of the algorithm. Certainly on our site, every link that's no trusted has been no-followed since the day that option was made available to us!

Google is using data from Chrome to work out if you are an affiliate funnel. Whether the link is followed or not actually has no effect on this part of their algorithm. If your visitors just pass on through your site every time they visit, then Google will know and (probably rightly) decide that the site you're passing them to is actually the better result to return and your site is just clogging up the results.

There needs to be something compelling here to set us apart.

I do agree with you though Viral, that understanding what links are pointing out is critical. We put in a fair effort this year to clear up a lot of outbound 404s on our site to try and help. Hard to say if it had any effect. It hasn't busted the Pandafication yet.

viral




msg:4624354
 12:40 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@rango
I'm not sure no-following really solves anything though when it comes to this part of the algorithm. Certainly on our site, every link that's no trusted has been no-followed since the day that option was made available to us!


are you saying that you have only nofollowed untrusted links since nofollow was announced? Does that mean you have really old "untrusted" links that you haven't "nofollowed"? If so I would nofollow them ASAP. If nothing else it will take that possibility out of the equation.

rango




msg:4624356
 12:51 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

No, all untrusted links - including those created in the early days. It's all dynamic code, so one tweak fixes them all.

For Panda purposes, I highly doubt nofollow makes any difference. They are monitoring entire visitor sessions anyway, so they still know where you're sending your traffic.

To me, talk around nofollow has become "old SEO", along with toolbar PR and other similar things which worked great for us for many, many years. In a post-panda world, the issues are far broader and since your actual site visitors (both those referred from Google and those landing direct) are being monitored to achieve them, they're MUCH harder to manipulate.

berrysharpie




msg:4624357
 1:00 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just to be really clear, my site is not an affiliate funnel. It's thousands of pages of content that we have been working on for many years. The affiliate is really a compliment to what our site visitors already would want/need that matches the topic/concept of the site. I understand that a lot of affiliate sites are very much funnels and the whole point is shallow content but huge affiliate pushing.

We are not that, never have been, and never will be. It's important to realize that not all sites that use affiliates are bad. Like us, we simply can't afford the products that we would need to stock in order to offer to our visitors. We were very picky about who we chose to work with and don't clutter the site with affiliates galore in order to make money. We have one major affiliate that we work with and it's a great comment to the site.

It's hard when other webmasters sometimes hear the word and instantly assume a site is no longer worth putting effort into.

For that, I'd like to thank viral again for taking the time to look and help.

Kris

rango




msg:4624360
 1:12 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yeah, maybe funnel is too harsh a term. Our site is nothing like that either. It's all about content, community and free features. Affiliate sales just bring in the income.

But I know another site owner who was hit a couple of months back. Affiliate links also very much secondary to the functionality of the site. But he knew someone inside Google and got a direct report back that his site was marked for two things: "excessive affiliate links" and "not enough direct visits". And it was specifically mentioned to him that Chrome data was used to get this information.

The number of affiliate links on his site didn't seem excessive to me, but there you have it.

EditorialGuy




msg:4624364
 1:20 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's important to realize that not all sites that use affiliates are bad. Like us, we simply can't afford the products that we would need to stock in order to offer to our visitors.


And sometimes it isn't even a product that could be stocked: It's a service.

IMHO, there's a difference between "affiliate advertising" (a.k.a. cost-per-action or cost-per-lead advertising) and "affiliate marketing." I'd imagine that the folks at Google are smart enough to understand that difference.

If you think about it Google has come down hard on blog networks that pass pagerank so why would they not come down on your site when you are passing pagerank to an affiliate site that really doesn't deserve that link juice.


A year or two ago, in response to a question about nofollowing affiliate links, Matt Cutts said that Google was pretty good at identifying affiliate links. I don't remember his exact words, but he implied strongly that using "nofollow" with affiliate links was optional.

berrysharpie




msg:4624368
 1:34 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Rango,

That's fair enough about the "excessive" and if Google felt that we were being excessive before viral suggested we remove some links (not off site but to our store), then it's possible in time we could still recover as we have now basically 1 link in the menu bar to our store, and 1 ad on the right side of many pages. Once you get in the store, then the navigation on the right helps users navigate the store. While back on the content pages, it's just those two links mentioned above now.

EditorialGuy,

Exactly, I think there is a huge difference between affiliate advertising and affiliate marketing and I, to this day, still find it difficult to believe that Google would in fact squash small sites that simply can't afford to carry products and or services like you mentioned. I do understand why they would want to penalize excessive affiliate advertising sites that their sole purpose is to drive and harass the user into one of their many affiliate traps.

If the crew at Google can't recognize the difference between sites like that, then I guess we are all doomed and only the manufacturers should have any right to sell online. Not even Macy's (I don't shop there) and stores of the like should have the ability because they don't make the products so they are just glorified affiliates. The only difference between them and legit affiliate marketing sites is money. They have the cash to fill their stores. I wish I had the cash so I could fill my basement with tents, backpacks, hiking boots and whatnot. Alas, I am not and I guess I just have to continue believing that there is still good left in the world and Google wouldn't actually have it out for small business entrepreneurs trying to make their way.

Although, I've also been known to be naive about the big wide world sometimes and maybe Google does just simply hate small businesses and wants them destroyed because we somehow are threatening them. Right...

viral




msg:4624371
 1:42 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@editorialguy Matt might have said that a efw years ago but in a video recently he also said if you don't implicitly trust the site then nofollow.

I guess the question is how much do you trust that the affiliate site you are linking to is doing everything right by Google. Often these sites do not really care what Google thinks of them so don't do best practices. It doesn't mean they are bad/blackhat or anything else like that. It just means unlike most people here they aren't abiding by all of Google's rules because they really don't have to.

Be very careful of what Google may and may not think about affiliate links. I personally think they are ok with you having affiliate links on your site (as long as they don't take over) but I am dead certain they don't want you passing link juice to those affiliate sites.

As for berrysharpie's site I agree it is by no means an affiliate funnel. It is a nicely laid out and helpful site that occasionally suggests things that might make your life easier.

aakk9999




msg:4624372
 2:06 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

John Mueller quoting Matt Cutts on Affiliate Links (June 2012)
https://plus.google.com/+JohnMueller/posts/dPQwraxSFQ9
We handle the vast majority of affiliate stuff correctly because if it is a large enough affiliate network we know about it and we handle it on our side. Even though we handle I believe the vast majority of affiliate links appropriately if you are at all worried about it, I would go ahead and just add the nofollow because you might be earning money from that.


Google on Affiliate programs
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76465
Not every site that participates in an affiliate program is a thin affiliate. Good affiliates add value, for example by offering original product reviews, ratings, and product comparisons. If you participate in an affiliate program, there are a number of steps you can take to help your site stand out and to help improve your rankings...

berrysharpie




msg:4624376
 4:06 am on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thank you viral for stating that. I appreciate it. :)

aakk9999, that's exactly why I believe our problem isn't an attack on our site because we have affiliate links and it's just something more silly that we need to fix. Maybe we've fixed some of the problems since we are seeing movement and I'm not discouraged yet that there's no movement on the store. That part of the site has always required more time and patience.

Thank you for sharing those quotes though, it helps in some ways to keep my mind focused on the importance of quality and not just giving up because the word affiliate was mentioned. Unfortunately the spammy/excessive affiliate sites have made a bad name for the honest working ones so it's almost become embarrassing to say the word when you come along requesting help.

Thanks for the attention on this topic. My fingers are crossed but I'll stay very "cautiously" optimistic.

Kris

diberry




msg:4624559
 6:55 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

W3C advocates using nofollow on links where there's a commercial interest for you and/or you don't trust them. The idea that we should nofollow all links just flies on the face of "internet." And also best practices according to W3C, who specializes in determining best practices, unlike Google who specializes in search.

That said, I'm not doubting viral's report of how nofollowing everything has helped sites. I'd just like to believe it helped for some other reason and not because Google is punishing us for linking to sites that appear to be fine on-page but may be doing spammy off-page SEO we wouldn't know about. That would be a hopeless situation, IMO.

viral




msg:4624624
 9:47 pm on Nov 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@diberry I agree that nofollowing everything is not best practice.

However we are dealing with Google who are pretty far removed from best practices these days.

I know a lot of us are old skool here and feel we shouldn't have to conform to what Google "seems" to be requiring of us.

but that just means you have a choice do you want to be part of Google or do you not. They seem to be quite happy to dump old sites from the index. So you can make that stand and lose your traffic if you want. The choice ends up being the individual webmasters to make.

I know that not one client who has had a rankings boost because they took my advice and went wholesale nofollow on all outbound links has complained about best practice.

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