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Competitor Acquiring Links on Wiki Sites: Turn Them In or Join Them?
PublicSphere




msg:4495520
 4:38 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a question regarding ethical SE Marketing practice. I've seen that a large brand is paying for lots of links on wiki website pages. They're ranking number one for the term that they seem to be using in all their link text.

They're not exactly 'paid links' because the websites publishing the links are not being paid, but a business is being paid to create the pages purely for SEO reasons.

It looks as though all the articles being created on the Wiki sites are identical (duplicate content), so it's possible that these links might do more harm than good in the long run. Although I imagine in the short term lots of links coming from multiple domains would help they're rankings.

Would you report them? Is it worth it? Or is it worth having a go at this for my own website (a competitor to the website in question). It costs less than £100 for around 100 links on around 100 different domains! Is this worth doing or might it actually do more harm than good? Like I say, they're ranking number 1, so it seems to be helping them.

What do you reckon?

Cheers,

Chris

 

RegDCP




msg:4495526
 5:02 pm on Sep 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would not report them.
Nor would I adopt the same process.

If Google's filters are working, they WILL be found out.

Perhaps they are ranking # 1 for onpage work, not just links?

martinibuster




msg:4496019
 9:53 pm on Sep 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

They're not exactly 'paid links'...


Then you should not call them paid links. ;) It confuses the discussion to name-call. Just call it what it is and let's discuss what is actually happening.

The use of the word "ethical"
Also, you are misusing the word Ethical. Ethical is a word that is commonly used by some who sell link analysis tools and other services. They use the word Ethical for marketing reasons. Ethics concerns issues of morality, right and wrong. Google's guidelines are rules Google wants webmasters to follow in order to remain in Google's index and to make it easier for Google to return quality search results. Obeying what Google wants you to do and morality are two different things.

Instead of ethics, what you mean is that you believe the competitor's consultant is using a tactic that may violate Google's webmaster guidelines.

Let's take a look at the facts
A competitor has hired someone to build links for them. The consultant, with or without the competitors knowledge, is placing content (and links) on wiki style websites.

Questions:
Are these links dofollow?

Are these links under the control of the link builder?

Do these wiki sites appear to be under the control of a single owner?

Innovate




msg:4496356
 6:16 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Obeying what Google wants you to do and morality are two different things.

Instead of ethics, what you mean is that you believe the competitor's consultant is using a tactic that may violate Google's webmaster guidelines.


Thank you!

Your time would be better spent focusing on how to grow your business. You should not have time to go tell mommy about what your big brother is doing in hopes that she will give him a time out.

Now if Mommy is giving you a referral fee that makes it worth your time, then by all means, go for it. But if Mommy is not, then you little brother need to focus on little brothers area of the playroom and how to make sure it's up to par.

martinibuster




msg:4496415
 9:27 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

How many times have we been driving down the highway and a reckless driver weaving in and out of lanes flies past us at ninety miles an hour or more? And how many times have we wished that a highway patrol would catch him? That's not just a matter of justice, it's a matter of life and death.

But the issue of someone not obeying Google's guidelines, that's different. It's a matter of umbrage, being personally offended. I am offended when I see someone cheating. I am even more offended when someone who used to cheat carrys on as if he never cheated, while stil cheating behind the scenes. I don't blame the OP for wanting to out the cheater. It's normal to be offended by hypocrisy and cheaters.

But it would help the discussion and the OP if they answered the questions.

[edited by: martinibuster at 10:10 pm (utc) on Sep 17, 2012]

Innovate




msg:4496420
 9:37 pm on Sep 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google does not set the rules for the internet (yet). If someone wants to buy links, that is their business as long as they are willing to deal with the possible consequences of violating Googles guidelines.

Failing to adhere to guidelines set by Google does not equal cheating. Google does not rule the internet (yet). Google is not the only way for someone to build a viable internet business (yet). Therefore this notion that failing to step in line with Google= an ethical issue is annoying.

Now it could be argued that one of the possible consequences is someone reporting it. And to that, I say go ahead. Good luck. It still won't be putting money in your pocket but thank you for saving Google some labor costs of manual reviewers.

RegDCP




msg:4496504
 2:30 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Failing to adhere to guidelines set by Google does not equal cheating.


Well it does if you are trying to bend their rules to benefit from their service.

You must follow the rules of every country you live in.
If you use a service to your profit, you should abide by their rules also.

Perhaps it is not breaking a law to link spam but it IS unethical.

martinibuster




msg:4496517
 2:51 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

We'll have to agree to disagree. I firmly believe that Google's guidelines are not a matter of ethics. The only time ethics becomes a part of the discussion is if you are building links for a client in a manner that breaks Google's guidelines and the client is either unaware or does not understand the implications of what you are doing. In a situation like that, link spam is clearly unethical.

If you use a service to your profit, you should abide by their rules also.


They aren't rules. They are not requirements. They are guidelines, suggestions.

Google does not require webmasters to refrain from any activity, unless the web publisher enters into a contract with Google, such as with the AdSense program. But if a web publisher is not bound by contract, there is no obligation to abide by their guidelines. Remember, these are guidelines. Not requirements. And certainly not law. This is why I must insist that violating Google's guidelines are not an issue of ethics, unless there is a client relationship involved.

RegDCP




msg:4496546
 4:51 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

They are their rules.

TOS. Terms Of Service.

The obligation is you follow their rules or you get turfed.

And while they phrase them as guidelines in some cases, the TOS clearly states:
Welcome to Google!

Thanks for using our products and services (“Services”). The Services are provided by Google Inc. (“Google”), located at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, United States.

By using our Services, you are agreeing to these terms. Please read them carefully.


Additional terms will be available with the relevant Services, and those additional terms become part of your agreement with us if you use those Services.


Using our Services

You must follow any policies made available to you within the Services.


Looks pretty clear to me.

martinibuster




msg:4496554
 6:03 am on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

They are their rules.

TOS. Terms Of Service.

The obligation is you follow their rules or you get turfed.


Those are the terms of service for using the Google search box, with emphasis on the interface itself. It's not about how to build websites. Here is the link [google.com].

Don’t misuse our Services. For example, don’t interfere with our Services or try to access them using a method other than the interface and the instructions that we provide.


That covers things like automated queries, for example. As far as the content belonging to us, the web publishers, here is what the terms state:

Our Services display some content that is not Google’s. This content is the sole responsibility of the entity that makes it available. We may review content to determine whether it is illegal or violates our policies, and we may remove or refuse to display content that we reasonably believe violates our policies or the law. But that does not necessarily mean that we review content, so please don’t assume that we do.


The part about policies is a vague catchall and does not specifically apply to the guidelines. It's more relevant to their privacy policies and other things of that nature. The important point is that the TOS you are referencing is for the Google Search Box as well as Google services like Google Accounts. They are not about how to build websites, except to say that the sites displayed are the responsibility of the web publishers, that's us.

Now contrast the Terms of Service for using the Google Search Box that you quoted (and is irrelevant to this discussion) with the actual Google Webmaster Guidelines [support.google.com], which is what we're really discussing.

Webmaster Guidelines
Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site


That is what I have described. It's just a best practice for finding, crawling and indexing your site. Those aren't rules. Those are Google's suggestions of how to stay within what they consider best practices to help them find your site, understand your site, and to rank your site.

rwilson




msg:4496759
 1:28 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

They're not exactly 'paid links' because the websites publishing the links are not being paid, but a business is being paid to create the pages purely for SEO reasons.

Not a violation of Google's guidelines

It looks as though all the articles being created on the Wiki sites are identical (duplicate content)

Google catches on to duplicate content, so it may not even be helping them that much.

Those aren't rules. Those are Google's suggestions of how to stay within what they consider best practices to help them find your site, understand your site, and to rank your site.

Exactly. If they aren't following the guidelines it may hurt them, so why follow them? Instead of worrying about what they're doing focus on your efforts and what you believe are within the guidelines.

martinibuster




msg:4496810
 2:32 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

If there is no editorial decision on the wiki pages, then it does violate Google's guidelines. For example, there are many wiki pages hosted online by public and scholastic entities that aren't really curated because nobody's really in charge of it. There is no wiki community behind it, just some professor, scientist, or regular worker who put a work ticket in to their IT to put a wiki up so they could post something mundane to the web. In that case yes, it's a violation of Google's guidelines. I have seen these pages, pretty nasty situation.

Google catches on to duplicate content, so it may not even be helping them that much.


The duplicate content thing relates more to the ranking ability of the duplicate page, and it's debatable whether there is an effect on PageRank flow.

rwilson




msg:4496854
 3:09 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is no wiki community behind it, just some professor, scientist, or regular worker who put a work ticket in to their IT to put a wiki up


Ah, I was not aware that's the type of page being spammed. I can see the OP's frustration then. Definitely don't get sucked in to doing that.

With the duplicate content thing, wouldn't google pick one as the original and give more PR to that one?

Leosghost




msg:4496897
 4:06 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

With the duplicate content thing, wouldn't google pick one as the original and give more PR to that one?

It would rank one higher than the others in SERPs, but that would not necessarily be the "original source" ( first one to have published ) ..G uses many "signals" to decide "authority" and thus attribute "source", it is quite frequent to see people's "social media" pages out ranking them, for their own content also posted "verbatim" on their own sites, as the social media networks are given more "authority" by G..especially over sites with few backlinks, new sites, or combinations of factors ( which lead G to think they have less authority ) including those two factors..

Imagine..
You see a meteor land in the field behind your houses..you tell your neighbor,( who is a high court judge )..you both go out to look..

30 minutes later you are both stood on the sidewalk, who do you think the TV crews are going to be interviewing about "the sighting / event" ?..

I've seen many shoot themselves in their own (SERP ) feet in this way..

SevenCubed




msg:4496904
 4:19 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

...who do you think the TV crews are going to be interviewing about "the sighting" ?..


The entrepreneurs and marketers who are already in the field with their pick axes chopping it up to sell it for a profit?

[edited by: SevenCubed at 4:22 pm (utc) on Sep 18, 2012]

Leosghost




msg:4496905
 4:20 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

^^^ :)

martinibuster




msg:4496911
 4:34 pm on Sep 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

With the duplicate content thing, wouldn't google pick one as the original and give more PR to that one?


Google doesn't give PR, not exactly. I understand it as something that is earned and flowed from other sites. PageRank is actually a number of things and I won't pretend to know everything that comprises it. But in simple terms, PageRank can be thought of as relating to the links into a site which helps Google make various determinations about a web page, particularly in this case the authority of the web page. So even though a web page may contain duplicate content it might actually be more authoritative in the sense of the amount and quality of links.

The point I'm trying to make is that the depreciation of a web page's ability to rank for phrases because of duplicate content is a different scenario from the depreciation of an outbound link because of the quality, authority or relevance of the originating site on which the link is hosted. Two different things happening. One is an apple, the other an orange.

I could be wrong, but my experience is that Google is relying on the inbound link profile to identify the web page's authority (as I described above) and letting that link authority profile and the separate considerations for relevance decide the fate of the outbound link.

Planet13




msg:4497509
 9:18 pm on Sep 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

For what it is worth...

I "turned in" a competitor who was ranking #1 who has over 450 paid directory links.

I was very meticulous. I submitted all 450+ links in a spreadsheet to google.

Results: Four months later, They still rank #1 (and #3 as well). My page, which used to rank #9, was pushed down so far in the index I can't even find it.

Not sure what google is thinking. I sent a couple of re-inclusion requests and they said I was not under any manual penalty, so it is apparently an algorithm thing (panda, penguin, Mercury in retrograde, who knows?).

BaseballGuy




msg:4502114
 7:33 pm on Sep 30, 2012 (gmt 0)


Then you should not call them paid links. ;) It confuses the discussion to name-call. Just call it what it is and let's discuss what is actually happening.


I just got off the plane, half drunk and had to pop a vicodin to soothe my aching back.

Is it my inebriated state of mind....or did I read a statement very similar to what you wrote, waaaaay back in 2007?

My .02:


Search
Position
Above
Me

To OP: Very few things on the internet (especially in search) "are forever". Sooner or later your competitor will take a hit. Instead of running out, attempting to snitch on him/do neg. SEO/etc...

Why don't you focus on building your site? Or if you have nothing to do....create ANOTHER website to rank for the same keyword. I'm pretty sure if your competitor has half a brain in his head....and is using spammy tactics....he probably has 2-3 similar sites waiting in the wings.

Don't make the same mistake I made, back in 2007 when I had a site that was pulling in $50k/mo.


The "good times" eventually come to an end.

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