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Panda on Link Exchange - What's Your Take?
How the latest Google update affects webmaster's views on reciprocal links
cnvi




msg:4307157
 3:09 am on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here is my take after working in this industry for 13+ years... Panda is bad, maybe crippling news for link and content fakers, farmers, spammers and their customers. For you, the good guys wearing the white hats, it's both very good news and a rare, powerful opportunity to improve your rankings by increasing the value of your site and its links.

Make no mistake about it: Panda is Google's way of reminding would-be corrupters and despoilers of the Word Wide Web search industry, an industry that Google "owns" (or at least thinks it does), that payback is a bitch, that the time for payback is now, and that the payback penalties may be severe.

If you've been getting away with buying links from a quick-buck, automated link broker, Panda -- probably sooner than later is likely to flush your rankings down the tube along with the rankings of all the other "fish" on that broker's sucker list. And the same fate awaits you if you rely on warmed-over pseudo articles from an article farm to try and skate around Google's emphasis on quality content as a ranking factor.

Now the good news for good guys part.

As might be expected in an official statement, Matt Cutts has been suitably and corporately restrained in his descriptions of Panda, though he has admitted that close to 15 percent of all Google's site return positions have changed since its release. "This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites," Cutts said. "Sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites."

Though Google, as always, doesn't release specific details about any of the "more than 200 factors" that go into its ranking and return decisions, it is clear, according to a consensus of expert Google stalkers, that Panda considers link quality and acquisition method major elements in rendering its life and death decisions.

Now, as ever before, the vast majority of websites, probably 95 percent-plus of small business e-commerce sites, can ONLY get a reasonable number of quality links from authority sites via relevant link exchange. Fortunately, Google recognizes this. It understands the underlying logic that you, as the proprietor of a top-ranked, high-authority site, will only bestow links on other far-above-average, ultra-high-quality sites. And having bestowed that link, would you NOT want a link back? Of course you would, you'd probably insist on it since the link would provide a quality value-add to your customers and might aid your site's ranking.

Google, as I said, understands this. It wrote Panda to demand quality inbound links, NOT, necessarily, unreciprocated quality inbound links.

But do you understand it?

Are you over your paranoia regarding relevant link exchange? Or will you continue to purchase links from "expert link brokers" who promise you top ten guarantees? Will you keep purchasing links and/or demanding one way links? Or will you finally realize the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with relevant link exchange among quality sites within a specific realm of interest?

 

enigma1




msg:4307276
 11:04 am on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

If you've been getting away with buying links from a quick-buck, automated link broker, Panda -- probably sooner than later is likely to flush your rankings down the tube along with the rankings of all the other "fish" on that broker's sucker list.

When you say "sooner" can you be a bit more specific? What's the average lifespan of a scrap site you think could be? That is to have ROI.

How about if the scrapper spends $50 total to spam the search engine for few months and be at the top of the results for some important phrases in that time. Do you think he will lose?

ponyboy96




msg:4307382
 3:40 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Again, based on this assumption that link farms and the like will destroy your website, what's to stop me from buying a ton of crap links to a competitor and burning them to the ground? Especially someone that isn't a huge brand and doesn't have a gigantic link profile.

As a side note, I've never done this to someone, but I have had it done to a couple of sites that I've worked on.

patc




msg:4307392
 3:53 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

+1 for ponyboy. The whole argument falls apart unless you believe that it fits into the words "Almost nothing" which Google assert is how much damage your competitors can do for your ranking.

I'm not discounting the idea, I'm convinced my site tanked because of this (wasn't Panda though, was 12th Jan - a pre-panda clearout?).

walkman




msg:4307410
 4:29 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Not to be a pr*ck but do you know something we don't, or is this just another guess? This, "it is clear, according to a consensus of expert Google stalkers," set my radar off.

Content farms have an excellent link profile btw. What say you?

Jane_Doe




msg:4307454
 6:21 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

But do you understand it?


cnvi, do you run a reciprocal link service?

cnvi




msg:4307457
 6:32 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

do you run a reciprocal link service?


No. I am not here to promote my business which is related to editor based content management. But I do have alot of experience with link building via relevant reciprocation. And I see in search results what works and what doesnt work.

martinibuster




msg:4307499
 8:04 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

Many corporate sites hit by Panda have an excellent backlink profile and no history of buying or selling links. Any backlink issues on a Panda targeted site is, in my personal opinion, coincidental.


Fortunately, Google recognizes this. It understands the underlying logic that you, as the proprietor of a top-ranked, high-authority site, will only bestow links on other far-above-average, ultra-high-quality sites. And having bestowed that link, would you NOT want a link back? Of course you would, you'd probably insist on it since the link would provide a quality value-add to your customers and might aid your site's ranking.


Recognizes the limitations eccommerce sites have in obtaining links and thus allows reciprocal linking because of that recognition? I think the reason has more to do with limitations on how much can be successfully penalized algorithmically without collateral damage than with condoning any particular link acquisition scheme. The fact is that Google does not officially encourage website owners to trade links with each other. That's a fact.

I believe it's more about the reality that reciprocal link patterns happen naturally and as a consequence it is impractical to penalize sites within a certain threshold of activity because it will affect sites that were not intentionally trading links. Penalizing sites that trade links, within a certain low percentage of total inbound links, would affect sites that were unintentionally reciprocating links.

Every statement out of Google that I recall regarding reciprocal links is more an acknowledgement of this limitation in how far Google can go in penalizing attempts at gaming their algorithm via reciprocal link schemes than it is an encouragement to go out and trade links.

cnvi




msg:4307544
 9:45 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

do you know something we don't, or is this just another guess?


The answer to everything you want to know is in your server log files.

In a given month, when I see 25,000 visits from google for my primary keywords showing an average user session time of 19 seconds and few sales, I know "its not just another guess".

When I see 100 hits from my relevant link partners showing an average user session time of five+ minutes and good conversions to sale, that tells me everything I need to know.

But if you shun relevant link partners because of whatever paranoia you have read on the topic, its going to be harder for you to compare traffic from search engines vs. relevant partners.

Whitey




msg:4307553
 10:08 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

The answer to everything you want to know is in your server log files.

Normally yes - but not with this update , nothing stands out. It would have been universally communicated by now it did.

apauto




msg:4307568
 11:02 pm on May 3, 2011 (gmt 0)

For those of you hit in Panda, and "nothing stands out" as to what to fix on your site, have you checked your banklink profile?

Whitey




msg:4307584
 12:46 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

have you checked your banklink profile


Referring links most certainly rest on pages affected, and therefore many of htem will loose their effect. Google is pretty good at semantic processing, that is content on the page around the refering link.

If the page goes , in Google's algo , then it's highly probable the recipient page will be badly effected. Having said that I can see nothing within log file analysis that makes it easy to pinpoint anything, and truly , i speak with a lot of gifted people and i haven't heard one word of analytical substance.

So this notion regarding the Link Exchange issue is not in my view , highly relevant to Panda. One think in my mind is , reciprocal links as part of the overall profile mix are OK - but it has to be balanced with other links. The days of pages of random reciprocals links on off topic sites are long gone. Keep it relevant as cnvi says - he's the expert.

I can't see it being the pancea for the Panda revival on it's own. Right now nothing makes sense to anyone and we're 2 months into the first wave , with more to come.

greenleaves




msg:4307617
 3:30 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I never understand people who don't test things and take them for granted based on what they hear.

@ the OP, you say link brokerages are dead. Have you even tried them? Ever bought a link blast from a network of say, 400 blogs on 400 class C IPs? Ever bought into an article syndication service? Done an xrumer blast? How about a scrapebox? Have you EVER gotten a site banned, even a test site. You learn your limits by pushing them.


I can't understand what some people think they will gain by regurgitating 10th hand information as if fact. I mean, it benefits me in part since my income is safe from the drones of 'SEOs', but the constant 'chanting' sometimes makes my clients nervous about what I do.

apauto




msg:4307631
 4:58 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Whitey - You're thinking of it too deeply.

My point is look at the sites linking to you. If you have links from article sites, directories, paid links, forum signatures, blog comments, etc... its likely your site took a hit in Panda.

Are some of these relevant? Maybe... but they're not quality.

CainIV




msg:4307641
 5:25 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Panda is bad, maybe crippling news for link and content fakers, farmers, spammers and their customers.


How is this bad? Are you sure this is the only demographic this update hit negatively?

If you've been getting away with buying links from a quick-buck, automated link broker, Panda -- probably sooner than later � is likely to flush your rankings down the tube along with the rankings of all the other "fish" on that broker's sucker list.


From my research and experience, Panda is not closely associated with the type of inbound links built and more squarely purposed to assess content quality and potentially layout quality.

Are you over your paranoia regarding relevant link exchange?


No, we rarely do it, thus the lack of paranoia, if there were paranoia to be had :)

walkman




msg:4307648
 5:46 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

CainIV, he is pushing his own services.

McSpike




msg:4307690
 8:58 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I find manipulating onsite user experience easier than offsite SEO. To those whitehaters that never tried to cross the fence it may seem like a bliss but I tell you wait a bit just to be told to wait a bit more. The game hasn't changed in the favor of whitehaters. It just changed. And the ones that were profiting by buying links will just profit by buying what will put them back where they were. All the amassed profit made by buying links in the past will just be invested in other parts that will surpass a broke whitehater any day. It's all about resources.

You need to see the whole thing from white and and black hat perspective. When you push both you will really see what works and what is just pure wishful thinking.

It's all about resources. With little of them you can only get your feet wet this much (and hope this time Google finally figured out how to rank your great website).

SEOsoon




msg:4307702
 9:39 am on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Reciprocal links as for topic relevance could definitely provide a high quality value for users ...

I simply think that it would be too easy to rig ... the whole web would be a web made reciprocal link exchanges

Planet13




msg:4307957
 6:37 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not discounting the idea, I'm convinced my site tanked because of this (wasn't Panda though, was 12th Jan - a pre-panda clearout?).


Wasn't that the time of the Scraper update?

If so, possibly google thinks your site is scraping content. Or, you have links from sites that had been scraping content, and the value of those sites went down. Or maybe many others are scraping your content and that is confusing google?

In the very narrow verticals I am looking at, off-topic reciprocals still work quite well, as do paid links in directories. I avoid them myself.

I do use CNVI's service. I can't say with any certainty that it has made a difference one way or the other. I will give it a few more months and decide down the road.

But in terms of link building, Matt Cutts has been saying this all along; Have content that is so GOOD that people will want to link to it. They will want to associate themselves with your site in some way.

and it has to not only be thoroughly researched, it has to be SEXY! It has to be something that gets people excited!

It's like name dropping; everyone wants to tell everyone about their meeting with the coolest guy in town.

ken_b




msg:4307967
 6:47 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

Have content that is so GOOD that people will want to link to it.

And enough money to pay someone (an attorney?) to spend their time sending out DMCA notices.

jeyKay




msg:4307975
 7:10 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

To those whitehaters that never tried to cross the fence it may seem like a bliss but I tell you wait a bit just to be told to wait a bit more. The game hasn't changed in the favor of whitehaters. It just changed. And the ones that were profiting by buying links will just profit by buying what will put them back where they were. All the amassed profit made by buying links in the past will just be invested in other parts that will surpass a broke whitehater any day. It's all about resources.


I admire your skepticism... but I have made my living based on being a "broke" whitehater, albeit, I am still unsure what is truly considered "white hat". But my point is that even broke webmasters working from their living room apartment can outrank a big budget company any day if they use their brains rather than try to use their wallets. If you ask me, its obvious what Google wants...it wants useful sites for users. All the other things (links, onsite seo, etc.) is noise. Yes you need it, but if you make delivering something unique, useful and of high quality your priority, I say you will win the race and stay ahead.

[edited by: jeyKay at 7:13 pm (utc) on May 4, 2011]

jeyKay




msg:4307977
 7:12 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

But in terms of link building, Matt Cutts has been saying this all along; Have content that is so GOOD that people will want to link to it. They will want to associate themselves with your site in some way.

and it has to not only be thoroughly researched, it has to be SEXY! It has to be something that gets people excited!


Couldn't of said it better myself ;)

arikgub




msg:4308005
 8:11 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am still unsure what is truly considered "white hat"


acknowledging Google is your Master, fully obeying his will and living by his Guidelines in a naive belief of being blessed by free traffic in exchange for your endless loyalty is considered being a "white hat"

rebelling against the Master, interfering with his Monopolistic ambitions, confusing his algorithms with your spamy writing style and inappropriate citations, threatening his earnings per share figures and the size of the Eric Schmidt's golden parachute - that is being a "black hat"

But you know what, it is all BS. I believe it is destructive to think in terms of "hats". Better focus on data analysis and see what works

syed




msg:4308009
 8:15 pm on May 4, 2011 (gmt 0)


And enough money to pay someone (an attorney?) to spend their time sending out DMCA notices.


You can send DMCA yourself too

Content doesn't have to be necessarily articles or images, it could be widgets or other difficult to copy stuff that get lot of links too

McSpike




msg:4308152
 7:44 am on May 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

I admire your skepticism... but I have made my living based on being a "broke" whitehater, albeit, I am still unsure what is truly considered "white hat". But my point is that even broke webmasters working from their living room apartment can outrank a big budget company any day if they use their brains rather than try to use their wallets. If you ask me, its obvious what Google wants...it wants useful sites for users. All the other things (links, onsite seo, etc.) is noise. Yes you need it, but if you make delivering something unique, useful and of high quality your priority, I say you will win the race and stay ahead.


actually, not my skepticism. it's the optimism of some that is to be admired. resources play a big role when you are to produce a lot of quality material as opposed to mediocre material. they play a role when you are to hire content producers that cost 5 times the ones that produce cheap but poor results. With content the saying "you get what you pay for" is very very real. Time also is connected to resources. You buy time with resources. It's resources that help you adapt and produce quality before the new change hits the streets. Resources help you test the theories you have in your mind faster. You can have more networks at work so you can see what exactly works: white, grey, black, red, blue... Quality, quantity and time need resources that is it.

As for the little guy beating the whale, sure, there are always chances to pick up the crumbs. That always existed. You pick enough and move on from there and learn a lot on the way up. You just come to realize over time that wishful thinking often is just that, a wishful thinking.

BuzzBomb




msg:4308365
 5:21 pm on May 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the post cnvi. This explains why 3 of my really old sites with a ton of themed recips are steaming their way up the rankings ladder. I sure am glad that I didn't listen to all the naysayers that said reciprocal linking was bad!

If it's themed and good for the reader, it's gold!

Nice post!

Planet13




msg:4308399
 6:19 pm on May 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

As for the little guy beating the whale, sure, there are always chances to pick up the crumbs.


Then the question is, how did the other little guys become whales in the first place? What can we do to become that whale?

We have to admit to ourselves that if our main business model is getting customers through good SEO, then we are going to have lots, and lots, of competition.

so if you are able to spend five times as much on content than the farms spend, maybe there is a different business model out there that will be more effective than SEO?

McSpike




msg:4308413
 7:02 pm on May 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

Then the question is, how did the other little guys become whales in the first place?


Well they started the internet business with way more wisdom than the little guy next to them, more resources, or just plain excellent idea that stuck. Either of the 3 or all of them combined.

OR, they slowly picked crumbs one by one until one day they struck gold that enabled them to accumulate resources. And in 10-15 years in business they gained wisdom as well. Now they have the knowledge and the resources. They can leave crumbs for the others to pick.

so if you are able to spend five times as much on content than the farms spend, maybe there is a different business model out there that will be more effective than SEO?


Actually, you spend five times more on content on white hat part of the biz and spend five times more on black hat techniques as well. You play on both sides. Therefore you are not relying on only white hat SEO.

Black hat enables you quick gains of substantial sums of money, while you are "on the run" all the time, when white hat helps you slowly establish a presence that shouldn't go away overnight, supposedly.

The truth is somewhere in between.

After years of doing this you realize you can get away with same type of black hat for years, while some of your white hat networks suffer loss of ranks (and you can't believe your eyes). Then next time some other white hat stuff may stand still, while your other black hat projects may suffer.

Just do both. It usually takes time to be able to sit on both chairs. Even more so going after other traffic sources as well, not just SEs. If not time, it takes resources.

triggerfinger




msg:4308421
 7:09 pm on May 5, 2011 (gmt 0)

+1 for martinibuster, just cuz.

BlueBeacon




msg:4308607
 7:39 am on May 6, 2011 (gmt 0)

This is bad idea. I don't agree.

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
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