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Content is king? - Cash is King When it Comes to Links
My analysis shows that all the top sites in my niche buy links
surfgatinho




msg:4012678
 11:29 am on Oct 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

After many years of building what is easily the most comprehensive site in my niche I am beginning to realise that great content alone is not enough.

I have the content, I have the visitors looking for that content but the related monetised content is so competitive that I don't see why anyone would link to yet another site selling bla bla.

I do OKish in the SERPS for some of the competitive terms but am getting pushed out by sites that just focus on the money stuff. Looking at their back-links they are all buying them.

So there we go. Is anyone going to try and dissuade me from doing the same or is that just the way it is?

 

mcneely




msg:4014996
 4:15 pm on Oct 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've often thought about various certain linking strategies, and have opted to remain fairly organic.

Regional (two or three states) types of listings do much better than do worldwide, it's true, and most of the businesses I deal with are regional.

I've one with no backlinks at all .. no blog, no cms of any kind. It has a great deal of authority in it's industry .. an industry that was hit pretty hard during the economic downturn .. and this thing cruises in the serps with a consistant 1 - 2 position across the board for it's terms. It even does equally well in Yahoo and Bing.

Content is still king IMO, and it's sites like these that convinces me of that, every day.

Simple, straight forward, and to the point, I've found, can work wonders.

FranticFish




msg:4015458
 8:29 am on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

user behaviour can't be manipulated

Of course it can, just like link behaviour can be manipulated, just like on-page quality signals can be manipulated.

This thread shows that Google has a long way to go to establish what is and what isn't a paid link. What makes you think their user behaviour algorithms will be any better?

links are going the way of the dodo

Google's whole ethos is to write an algo that attempts to re-produce human appraisal of a site by fingerprinting. They then go out onto the web and look for fingerprint matches.

That's the way they deal with spam, that's the way they look at links. They CAN'T do that with user behaviour, because by definition it is something they cannot see across the web as a whole.

Nor is it something that can be fingerprinted with anything like the reliability that links or content can.

londrum




msg:4015479
 9:29 am on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

it's going to become increasingly difficult to grab the web as a whole as time goes on. as the number of sites and pages spiral it gets harder to allocate the benefits of every single link. the number of computations is mind boggling. but when you count links, that is exactly what you have to do. you can discount a swathe of pages because it might affect all the rest.
and they've got to repeat this endlessly, over and over. the costs will spiral up and up.
but when you focus on user behaviour it doesn't matter. with all the different tools and their new browser i imagine that google can already get data from the majority of web users. you can rank the sites based on what they visit. a sampling of 50% is easily enough to do it.

wheel




msg:4015504
 10:29 am on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

User behaviour?

I bet the blackhats are waiting for that day. I suspect it's far easier to automate 'user behaviour signals' than it is to manipulate links.

Botnet baby, here we come.

2clean




msg:4015505
 10:29 am on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

londrum: yup.

But in x years, how many people will be using a browser..most portable's make tracking very difficult.

Petrogold




msg:4015510
 10:50 am on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Content is KING? Is it said by all gurus are wrong?
Then what is the best way to make some money with your domains? AW is I found cheating with CTR,IMPRESSIONS and the real income we may make out of the ads. All their guidance and info for their own benefits then advertisers.
I tested many times and found this truth. Any one elese calculated ROI? What is the benefit then of AW?

FranticFish




msg:4015667
 4:16 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

a sampling of 50% is easily enough to do it

Putting aside the fact that Google do not and will never have anything like that market share with the toolbar or Analytics, there's a fundamental difference here.

Links / Content
1) identify good site signals with test data
2) write algo that rewards presence of signals across web as a whole.

User Behaviour
1) identify good site signals with test data
2) write algo that rewards presence of signals - across what?

Google do not have access to web users as a whole so even if they can write algos to interpret user behaviour they cannot apply them.

That's before we even get onto the fact that assessing user behaviour is an order of magnitude more difficult than assessing content and links.

wheel




msg:4015678
 4:24 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Plus there's the question of whether user behavior will actually provide better results. Google's results, generally, are pretty good right now. Such a substantial switch in algo's I think would likely only happen if there was a dramatic improvment in results. And since their results are already pretty good - not sure why they'd do all that work for no real benefit to the user.

londrum




msg:4015682
 4:37 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

but what real use is a link if its six months old? it doesn't give any indication that the site is still any good.

links tend to stay in situ for years and years. we can probably all point to a load of links that we've had for ages, even though our site has gone through multiple changes.

unless google only counts the young links, basing a site's worth on old ones is like reading restaurant reviews from five years ago.

user behaviour doesn't have that problem. whichever way you look at it, measuring user behaviour trumps counting links. it's just a question of getting access to get a big enough sample to make it work.

it's like political polls -- you don't have to ask the entire population the same question to get a decent result. you just need to ask a large enough chunk.

counting links across the whole net might seem definitive, but it's actually a pretty paltry sample -- because the vast majority of web users are not in a position to leave links. they just use the site, and go.

so the people who are actually using the sites and know whether they're any good or not, currently have next to no say in getting it bumped up the rankings.

[edited by: londrum at 4:49 pm (utc) on Oct. 29, 2009]

FranticFish




msg:4015692
 4:48 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

I agree that user behaviour would be a very useful part of the algo, but that's not the same as it being possible for Google to make it a big part of the algo.

basing a site's worth on old ones is like reading restaurant reviews from five years ago

Disagree. Bob's car sales links to Bill's mechanics because he recommends them. Five years later he still does. How is that irrelevant?

As for measuring user behaviour: I access a site, spend ten minutes on one page then close my browser. What does that mean?

londrum




msg:4015715
 5:04 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

Disagree. Bob's car sales links to Bill's mechanics because he recommends them. Five years later he still does. How is that irrelevant?

but half of the web is dead. it never gets updated. it just sits there forever, like all those geocities sites that people were talking about the other day.

think about all the blog posts that get written every day. i might blog about a site today and say something like "i went to example.com and found what i'm looking for", which is obviously a vote for the site.

but one month from now that blog post will be dead. it will receive no more updates and no further comment. it will just sit there for years and years. how can google judge that link to be relevant six months down the line when the site might have undergone any number of changes?

if google wants to keep it's rankings sweet then it should dismiss that link entirely and just count the new ones.

as soon as user behaviour starts getting measured better all these old links will drop off the radar, i reckon, and link building will become a short term, month to month, thing.

FranticFish




msg:4015761
 5:48 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

"i went to example.com and found what i'm looking for", which is obviously a vote for the site. but one month from now that blog post will be dead. it will receive no more updates and no further comment.

I don't follow them that closely but I believe that Google has patents concerning weeding out old blog links like this.

You're speaking as if user behaviour is better than links when it comes to determining quality. That's highly debatable.

Here's some different things the scenario I posted above could mean:

1) The page was useful to me.
2) The page was not useful to me, but it took me ten minutes to find that out.
3) I didn't even read the page; I got a phone call and had to go out.
4) I was paid to look at the page for ten minutes or I am a bot programmed to look at the page for ten minutes.

And even if you *can* guage my intent from the time I spend on the page, what does that mean?

Me:
--
I could be a PHD, I could be semi-illiterate. I could have no, some or comprehensive knowledge of the page's subject which informs my interaction with it.

The Page:
--------
10 mins spent on a page, calling the company and closing your browser = conversion
10 mins spent on a page before realising it's misleading and calling the company to complain = not a conversion

Google can't tell which is which, and even if it could should conversion be rewarded and non-conversion not be rewarded? If the page is highly relevant to the query then conversion could be a good metric. But if the searcher came in on a long-tail term that the page happens to rank for without meaning to, then conversion is a poor metric.

Compare that to links:
1) spam / not spam?
2) relevant / not relevant?
3) weighty / non-weighty?
4) fresh / not fresh?
etc

londrum




msg:4015844
 7:50 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

you don't have to rely on time spent on site.

if someone spends five minutes looking for something through google search, visits five sites in short succession and on the sixth they don't return to google, then presumably they found what they were looking for.
if they then revisit the site in another session, i reckon google can be pretty sure that they found the site more satisfying than the other five.

or maybe they visit five sites in short succession, and then decide to go back to the second one. that is also a reasonably clear indication that they considered the second one the best.

i agree that you can't glean much of an idea from just one solitary visit lasting however long. you need to measure their behaviour when they visit similar sites over a period of time.

a link is a bit like album reviews. you read album reviews for the Rolling Stones in the 60s then they'll all be five-star best-sellers. people might be saying that the Stones are the best band in the world. but those reviews tell you absolutely nothing about what their next album is going to be like in 2010. their next album might be an absolute stinker.
counting links is a bit like counting up old music reviews. they don't tell you anything about how the site is now.

a better way to tell how good the next album is, is by looking at how much airplay it gets, and how many it sells (=user behaviour), plus any new reviews (=new links).

that's how it's going to be in the future i reckon, and all these people spending money on keeping paid links in the same place month after month are going to be pouring money down the drain. google will give them credit for a short while, and then just ignore them.

that will also cure their new site problem, because links don't help in ranking new sites. a new site might be 10x better than the rest, but if they carry on counting links then it will be stuck in the doldrums for months and months until they catch up.

FranticFish




msg:4015963
 11:40 pm on Oct 29, 2009 (gmt 0)

if someone spends five minutes looking for something through google search, visits five sites in short succession and on the sixth they don't return to google, then presumably they found what they were looking for

Agreed that is a better indicator of quality, but the problem is it can only work effectively when all sites get similar numbers of visits to start with. How does a new site with no visits get into the running in the first place?

wheel




msg:4015990
 12:23 am on Oct 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed that is a better indicator of quality, but the problem is it can only work effectively when all sites get similar numbers of visits to start with. How does a new site with no visits get into the running in the first place?

Links?

Wait, what? ;)

Actually, that's an easy one. The answer is: marketing. Not that dissimiliar (actually, exactly the same) as the way one first starts to get links.

CainIV




msg:4016146
 7:09 am on Oct 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

paid links work. Many top ranking websites employ this method as their primary strategy.
- paid links have been working for years.
- they purpose of the paid links is to manipulate the SERPS, and Google's claim is that they want to stop that.
- to date, google has not stopped it.

Well, it did stop the number one competitor in a genre I watch, who was there buying links for years. One day, after buying too many links with too many footprints, he had a gentle fall from grace, to position 60 for a search on his business name. To date, he is STILL there.

The problem with asserting that it 'works' is that newer members assume that means 'any dummy can operate a paid links schedule.' :)

I definitely hear what you are saying though Wheel. It's all about risk tolerance now, isn't it. A little 'Holdem anyone? :)

julinho




msg:4016284
 1:02 pm on Oct 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

Plus there's the question of whether user behavior will actually provide better results. Google's results, generally, are pretty good right now. Such a substantial switch in algo's I think would likely only happen if there was a dramatic improvment in results. And since their results are already pretty good - not sure why they'd do all that work for no real benefit to the user.

You are assuming that the current algo doesn't take much of user behavior factors into account.
I believe that user behavior has been already factored in, and have already caused a dramatic improvement in results - remember Florida Update?

Google has admitted that on page content and link graphs are not enough to determine the importance of documents.

[0007] Conventional methods of determining relevance are based on matching a user's search terms to terms indexed from web pages. More advanced techniques determine the importance of a web page based on more than the content of the web page. For example, one known method, described in the article entitled "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Search Engine," by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, assigns a degree of importance to a web page based on the link structure of the web page.

[0008] Each of these conventional methods has shortcomings, however. Term-based methods are biased towards pages whose content or display is carefully chosen towards the given term-based method. Thus, they can be easily manipulated by the designers of the web page. Link-based methods have the problem that relatively new pages have usually fewer hyperlinks pointing to them than older pages, which tends to give a lower score to newer pages.

[0009]There exists, therefore, a need to develop other techniques for determining the importance of documents.

In the same patent, Google says: "One aspect of the present invention is directed to a method of organizing a set of documents by receiving a search query and identifying a plurality of documents responsive to the search query. Each identified document is assigned a score based on usage information, and the documents are organized based on the assigned scores. "

Agreed that is a better indicator of quality, but the problem is it can only work effectively when all sites get similar numbers of visits to start with. How does a new site with no visits get into the running in the first place?

Let me think aloud about the above patent.

I launch a new site about, say, Xbox. There is not much I can say about Xbox that isn't already said elsewhere; so, my site sinks to the bottom of SERPs about Xbox.

However, I happen to be son of an Xbox engineer and find out first hand that Xbox will launch a new control system called Natal. I write before anyone else lots of pages about Xbox Natal.

When the news come out, lots of people will search for [xbox natal], and few pages will be available (mine are among them). "Each identified document is assigned a score based on usage information,"

My documents will accumulate score quickly, and my site gets running for [xbox natal] and possibly [xbox], even not having any link.

Makaveli2007




msg:4016453
 5:56 pm on Oct 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

After many years of building what is easily the most comprehensive site in my niche I am beginning to realise that great content alone is not enough.

Welcome to the real world! :-) ...It seems many people never get that part (that in an overcrowded medium like the web your great content still needs to get noticed, and doesnt just spread on its own in most cases)

graeme_p




msg:4016704
 9:01 am on Oct 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just doing content (and a few easy to get links) worked for me until this about this March. Since then my site has fallen back and traffic is now flat compared to the same time last year.

I am not sure how to interpret it.

seo marketing




msg:4016726
 10:50 am on Oct 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Content is surely the king. If your content is popular then you will automatically get links and will help to improve overall rankings of your website.

Makaveli2007




msg:4016748
 12:34 pm on Oct 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

Sure content is King, but if the king is locked up in a wardrobe and nobody sees him, he won't rule the world..

Whitey




msg:4017004
 8:16 am on Nov 1, 2009 (gmt 0)

I guess any of the experienced SEO's in this thread have seen it all over many years. The bottom line is that if you do anything to influence your position through paid link building you are at risk.

Why , simply because Google says so [ I guess we're talking Google Y/N ? ] . They have editors , you have competitors [ filing complaints - no doubt ] , plus if you accidentally get over zealous you may trip the algo for either a manual check or an automated downgrade of your site. So if you hit No 1 for popular search terms you are at risk. If your traffic is way high you are at risk from observation.

It doesn't take much to work out what folks are doing and Google has great systems for managing the major verticals where they want to engage the best content for users.

Having said that , a few good links from quality authority sites , good content and some attention to good site architecture can do wonders and hold you well in long tail searches , if not a few trophy terms for a long time.

If your content is really exceptional , users will find you. If they find you , Google will know about it provided you have set your site up per the previous paragraph.

Nobody links to every single term , and in this situation content can become king.

Timetraveler




msg:4017378
 6:03 am on Nov 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

---"I disagree with the statement that paid links won't last. When you get to number one for paid links you will attract more non-paid links. The fact that you are number one builds links. If you monitor your links and see that you are getting lots of new non-paid links you can stop paying for your links."----

Oh so very true Olgetree, same goes for the original people in the business. While their content may be inferior they built their websites in the development stages of their niche, they outrank those newer sites that may have far superior content or sites simply because of all the links they picked up in the beginning, and continue to pick up from being atop...

onepointone




msg:4017408
 8:21 am on Nov 2, 2009 (gmt 0)

if you do anything to influence your position through paid link building you are at risk.

Everybodys at risk, because of what they do (or don't do). But the internet is still the one place where you can still throw a bunch of s#!+ at the wall cheaply, and see what sticks. )

plumsauce




msg:4018011
 7:42 am on Nov 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

These content is king threads are always of interest.

My first admission is that paid links do work and they work fast. Even though I don't have any because I'm too tight with the money. Paying is just another way of acquiring a link and has nothing to do with the existence of the link itself.

But, it is possible to *dominate* pet terms with *unique* content. They key is to understand that *content* can be something other than the written word. Uniqueness is also a synonym for rare. So, if your site can have unique content by virtue of being the home to a "thing" rather than an idea. If that thing is hard to duplicate, then sooner or later, no matter how many articles are written about the thing, an external site has to link to the site.

A simple example is sites like ultradns, akamai and their few brethren. Lots of links because it's not the words on the page that are important, its the code they own and the services they provide. The scrapers and review sites can go nuts, but won't be able to shake them.

wheel




msg:4018099
 11:33 am on Nov 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

Paid links can be beaten, it just takes some work. that's why people do paid links - they want to write a check to rank (sounds negative, I don't mean it to be).

But there's paid links and there's paid links. The first ones are bought in volume and use easy repeatable techniques. Directories, blog networks, etc.

The techniques that concern me competitively would be from some of the sharper SEO firms, where they are buying links that are very carefully selected. that's tougher to spot I think. One up sponsorships, classified ads, stuff like that. Thankfully these firms tend to be expensive and most of my competitors are cheap.

plumsauce




msg:4018596
 11:11 pm on Nov 3, 2009 (gmt 0)

most of my competitors are cheap.

Well, mine definitely aren't, but they can *still* be beaten. And my goal isn't to beat them anyways. Just to be on page one. Where they are is kind of immaterial at that point. Generally, they can be found on the right hand side or at the very top. In the paid VIP seats :D

My point is simply that content that is difficult to duplicate can be a link magnet.

dublinmike




msg:4023346
 8:46 pm on Nov 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Seriously, the fact Google can't get this right and penalize millions of honest businesses every day make me despise them for their power and their ineptitude.

Real people at risk, real jobs at stake, real mistakes being made. We don't buy links, but all the major in our industry do. Incredible!

wheel




msg:4023418
 10:27 pm on Nov 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Seriously, the fact Google can't get this right and penalize millions of honest businesses every day make me despise them for their power and their ineptitude/

That's one way to look at it.

Another way is to see it as opportunity.

You now know how to rank easily. Pretty simple equation; your cost and risk on one side, your profit on another. You may not buy links but do so because risk/reward doesn't line up. Don't treat it as some sort of moral issue. It's no different than when everyone used the yellow pages to get business - and smart folks called their business A seo company to get listed first alphabetically. When that got taken, smart folks named their company AAA SEO company. Now we have paid links to move our listings up.

And it's not like a domain costs more than $10 :). So you burn a couple.

Now, I don't really buy links, and certainly not in bulk. But it's not because I'm cringing at the horrible ethics of my competitors. I just don't have time for two primary domains right now; one built to last and another on paid links. But I can promise you one thing, if my main site ever takes a crash, I've got probably a hundred secondary domains sitting there getting old, ready to take a steady stream of paid blog links.

sfraise




msg:4025147
 5:02 am on Nov 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

My theory is that someday soon one of the big 3 are going to figure out that actual behavior from real people is a way better more accurate way to gauge a site's importance for a keyword. Bounce rate, time on site, return visits, ect. are a much better actual test of a site than simply counting links.

Whichever search engine figures this out first and is first to implement the new way of ranking will ultimately blow the competition away.

Marvin Hlavac




msg:4025241
 1:49 pm on Nov 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yes, but wouldn't that be easier to manipulate than links?

This 67 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 67 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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