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Link Development Forum

Google updated Link Scheme's page
Thou shalt not

 1:12 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google updated their clay tablets, er um, guidelines today and the Link Schemes page was updated:

After reading this page it's obvious that not only is link building not allowed, linking to anyone from anywhere could be an issue because virtually anything on that page can be misconstrued as something problematic.

This one is particularly troublesome:
Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites

Which means following Google guidelines will break the license agreements of many free programs and templates where links to the author shows up on every page and removing the links could get you in legal trouble.

Plus the vague term "various sites" meaning?

Blogs all tend to have a common template used site-wide with the same links on all pages so are blogs lumped into "various"?

Head, meet desk: >bang!< >bang!<



 1:21 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites

Footer links are the modern day brand badge. I'm looking around me here...monitor; Philips brand badge near base, modem; WebStar brand badge on base, Logitech cam; brand badge on base, TV; GE brand badge on base, on and on and on. So now the world according to google is to eliminate a practice that has been around since the beginning of the manufacturing revolution? They sure are getting full of themselves.


 1:45 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think branded links are perfectly valid because the quantity of people using that brand is a clear signal of popularity.

They also call out optimized forum sig links LOL
Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:
Thanks, thatís great info!
- Paul
paulís pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego

I'd say I hoped that would spell the end of forum spammers but I seriously doubt it because they aren't even smart enough to leave WebmasterWorld alone which is known to be spam free as we delete spam with extreme prejudice often mere minutes after it's posted.

I never paid that much attention to the Link Scheme page previously so I'm not sure what the changes were but it looks pretty draconian in it's current version.

Low-quality directory or bookmark site links

OK, who defines which directories are quality, by who's standards, Google?


 7:25 am on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

It's been said many times, but I'll say it again.

Why can't Google just ignore links it doesn't trust? Wouldn't that be enough for the 'good' sites with 'good' links to rise above the 'bad' sites that have 'bad' links?

If they're identifiable for the purposes of de-ranking sites (penalties) they're identifiable for the purposes of being ignored.

The whole thing makes absolutely no logical sense whatsoever.

"Our algorithm seeks out and rewards quality content and links... except when it doesn't and instead it seeks out and punishes questionable content and links."

Does not compute.

Either they're admitting their algorithm has serious flaws (which is self-evident from the spam I see ranking in every niche I've ever looked at ever), or they're a bunch of vindictive meddlers, or both.


 6:56 pm on Oct 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Why can't Google just ignore links it doesn't trust? Wouldn't that be enough...

Because Google doesn't have perfect knowledge -- it is only able to identify some of the "untrustworthy" links

Google has long been engaged in an intensive campaign to influence our perceptions and behavior. Things have recently escalated to the point where some are beginning to characterize this as a "war on SEO."

These sorts of warnings are perfectly logical when viewed in the context of a broad effort to discourage "building" links.

By increasing the fear factor, Google is reducing the perceived ROI of all efforts to "build" links, but especially any activity which arguably falls within the ever expanding scope of their warnings.

This, in turn, makes it harder for "blog networks" and other sites that sell links to make money or survive economically, and it discourages sites from buying links or spending money on SEO.

In turn, this encourages a broad shift of marketing dollars away from SEO and towards SEM/Adwords, and it discourages the proliferation of the sort of low-quality sites which Google is struggling to keep out of its SERPs.

While the propaganda battle is currently being targeted at "bad links" the same incentives will exist for Google to discourage any sort of SEO efforts that "manipulate" their SERP results, and to encourage site owners to focus their marketing efforts on Adwords, and to focus on "building a quality site" rather than marketing it through SEO.


 4:00 am on Oct 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

The new Linking Schemes pages honestly is NOT very different from the old. They simply inserted a couple more examples of what the old page already "implied" was a violation.

I don't see anything significantly different that would change my interpretation of their guidelines.


 9:37 pm on Oct 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well said Econman.
The fact is, link buying still works and is still needed, especially in competitive serps.
That some websites get burnt by Google's fanaticism about paid links is a price Google are prepared to pay to create fud.
I envisage 2 parallel world wide web entities one day.
One that belongs to google, the other that belongs to anti google, where some webmasters unite and block google altogether.
A google free web, where visitors can only find you by following links;
now that would be interesting.


 11:33 am on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi guys,

We are adding no follow to all our branded footer links found on our client's websites.

I will then keep a close eye when the next update rolls out or if it makes a difference before then.


 1:00 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I saw the update the other day and tbh I'm really worried now.

Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites

I have been using this as part of linking strategy for one of the sites that I'm working on, and the funny thing is that I've always assumed this was legitimate because I was providing value...lots of value in fact. I've got a range of cool tools and widgets that I place on RELEVANT sites.

Looks something like this. Mainly javascript but I've also had them in iframes (if we're talking about really really complicated widgets)

<script type="text/javascript" src="mydomain.com/amazing-widget.js"></script><p>this amazing widget was provided by <a>mydomain.com</a></p>

So, what would you suggest? Should I panic and remove all the widgets?

Another thing. Are the badges out of favour as well? You know how some people are staging "fake" competitions and awarding badges to bloggers. Like, "you've been selected as the Top blue widgets blogger. Here's your reward - a badge that you should display on your sidebar..." :)

This example is obviously manipulative but then what about legitimate badges like "Approved Supplier" or "Regulated by..."?

What potential problem areas do you see?

I think one fine morning we'll wake up to a new guidelines update that will make guest posting illegal...


 1:24 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Our website has dropped from page one to page two and this happened about 7 days after penguin reboot and link scheme page was updated.

We have 45% Blogroll links and 30% Footer links our main keyword is also at 64% when it comes to anchor text of links.

Going to nofollow footer brand links and change all blogroll links to brand name first, funny enough the 64% making up the main keyword are all blog roll links.

These are under our control so will change it to Branded name if this does not work will remove 50% of the blog roll links to ensure that ratio margins are better compared to other types of back links


 2:04 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Head, meet desk: >bang!< >bang!<

While I share that sentiment I also know that there are millions of really good sites out there with things like template credit links in the footer. Since that's the case it would be a SERIOUS hit to the quality of Google search results to be avoiding these sites.


 2:25 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

...there are millions of really good sites out there with things like template credit links in the footer.

I agree with you 100%. Ideally, a really good site should rank well regardless of template credit links. If quality WordPress template theme sites and forum software sites begin to sink in the SERPs then yes, Google might have broken something.

Here's the thing about quality sites, they have more links than just what's in the credits. A quality site is going to generate natural citations from other sites.

Maybe some won't agree with me, but I do not feel a site is "quality" if the majority of it's links are credit links. A credit link is not a citation, a vote, in the way that the PageRank system originally envisioned it. This concept about credit links being shady has been kicking around at Google since at least 2003 when Marissa Mayer, at a presenation at SES San Jose, answered one of my questions about credit links, remarking that credit links should have their PageRank depreciated. That was a bombshell in 2003. It shouldn't be in 2012.


 3:02 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think it depends on the site.

A small site with 50 pages and 50 footer links is obviously no good.

However a large site with 5,000,000 quality pages (note quality) and 50 footer links may be helpful to users finding their way around.

I think it's all relative. Relative to how big your site is.


 3:53 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

@adder I think you are fine. I think this goes after keyword rich anchor text links. If the anchor text is your brand name, URL or logo with the link, I see no problem. That's just called marketing.

I really don't see anything new here. Seems to be a rehash of what we've been hearing for a couple years now.


 8:56 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm pretty sure they are referring to links on external sites' footers, pointing back to your own (the clients website example mentioned above is probably a good example). Your own internal footer links wouldn't be considered a "scheme", I don't think.
Focus on the user's needs, and I think you'll be ok. Footers are useful for users' navigation, and like other navigational links, are probably devalued, but don't call it a penalty.


 10:40 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think branded links are perfectly valid because the quantity of people using that brand is a clear signal of popularity.

I don't think it might work, unless and until they have some impeccable brand. In the first penguin update, tons of wordpress theme sites and some other big brand sites took a hit just because of sitewide footer links, some saw recovery right after cleaning most of such links in the next data refresh.

I'd say I hoped that would spell the end of forum spammers

You are right about it, i don't think it would be easy to nail down. They might have put this point up as a scare tactic. As of now, in my niche the 2nd site in serps has handful of links in the forum sigs, but he has played it differently, he has 1 posts each forum, puts in his link in the sig and now after Panda - Emd - Penguin - Page Layout he is ranking 2

OK, who defines which directories are quality, by who's standards, Google?

That should not be too difficult, just search for Blue Widget Web Directory, pick top 5 results and vet them, if they are not offering deep links, no sitewide links, don't allow custom titles and if their backlink profile looks clean then its good to go i believe.


 10:55 pm on Oct 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites

We have two sites that I am convinced were nuked due to this issue. We randomized the link text with some keywords but the vast majority had the URL as the link back. The problem is they where EMDs, so with this recent update the sites disappeared.


 2:17 am on Oct 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Any widgets you use are going to creat an unnaturally high percentage of backlinks with the same anchor, even if you rotate keywords. So it would likely get squashed soon if it hasn't already because of that alone.


 1:35 am on Oct 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I believe that the algos begin with a site's reputation score, then ignore certain rules if the site is beyond reproach. For example, many sites have site-wide footer links to other sites for legit purposes, e.g. European Parliament links to some other domains not owned by it. Other sites might link to a piece of legislation that regulates their industry, etc.

The clue is in "scheme". WordPress isn't seen as commercial, so millions of instances with default sidebars and footers won't hurt WordPress (reputation also kicks in).

The probem is for smaller players e.g. one who might one day become the next WordPress but will be prevented from being found by such algos.


 11:37 am on Oct 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

–źlways smaller players are knackered, the big guys like WP, have great resources, power and money to jump the pit.


 11:19 pm on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Looking at the original quote, the way I read it they are saying the entity LINKED-TO from all these various unrelated sites will be demoted, NOT the little site doing the linking, but the big site that forced the little guys to add the footer link to them. No?


 5:35 pm on Oct 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi everyone,

OK, who defines which directories are quality, by who's standards, Google?

For real, this has me wondering, what about if a link from a directory that Google deems as low quality is nofollowed? I would assume that one's site would be safe. But then again, who really knows with Google?

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