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Competitors rank well with spammy links - should we do the same?



9:51 pm on Jan 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We have a Widgets client whose site is lacking in external links only because they have chosen not to participate in link farms or Hot Links SQL type tools.

Competitor sites have thousands of links, most of them obviously from link farms or link exchange programs. If the external links are from other Widgets sites, will these links eventually be penalized by Google and other SE's even though they are via a link farm?

If Google still considers link exchanges between Widget sites as 'quality' links, we'll go that direction, if these links could eventually be considered as a liability we'll stay away. Suggestions?


9:54 pm on Jan 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

Depends. If you try the spam approach and it backfires, will you be willing to accept the blame and live with the consequences?


10:28 pm on Jan 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I would never jeopardize a client if it is considered spam, which is the real question.

If hundreds of Widget sites link to each other through link programs, link farms, or whatever, do the search engines consider it spam, or do they feel it's ok because the sites are all about Widgets?

I know the search engines are penalizing link farms for the sake of obtaining links - many of which are irrelevant. But what if the links are relevant to the same subject?

King of all Sales

11:38 pm on Jan 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We have a competitor that is participating in a link scam and Google is rewarding them fantastically for it. They are qa member of a network in which you agree to place five or six links - no more than one or two words each - at the bottom of any page you choose. And you specify which page you want incoming links to point to.

The unique thing is that they are dynamically generated so that every time you refresh the page, all the links change. This competitor had a PR 5 just two months ago and now they are PR 6, but not because of a PR update - 3 weeks ago, Google credited them with about 1700 incoming links. Last week, it was just under 2300. This week they have over 2500.

If you look at most of the sites Google lists as inbound links, you won't find our competitor's link because the links change every time the page is opened.

I have to believe that Google is aware of this. Why they won't penealize these people is the real question.


12:50 am on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

google has a page for spam report , i have never used it myself but its worth a try.

King of all Sales

1:43 am on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I reported the above site twice during the Jagger update when GG asked for spam reports and they did nothing.

I know this competitor - he is arrogant and smug. If Google bans his site, I'll wet my pants.


2:52 pm on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

The unique thing is that they are dynamically generated so that every time you refresh the page, all the links change

Wouldn't this be counter-balanced by the adverse effect on link aging though, a factor supposedly assisting serps?

King of all Sales

4:54 pm on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Simsi -

When I go to link:www.mycompetitorssite.com, and look at almost any one of the pages that Google has listed as an inbound link, there will not be a link to my competitors site. Instead, there will be five one or two word links at the bottom of the page that change every time the page is refreshed.

Obviously, when Googlebot visited these pages, a link to my competitors site was there and Google added the page to the list. If Googlebot had refreshed the page, he/she would have seen a completely new set of links.

I don't have any idea how Google values links but I will tell you that my competitor has added a huge number of links in the last month or two and Google has rewarded them with an increase in Pagerank and the benefit of very high positions in the serps.

Am I missing something?


5:05 pm on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Just my experience of course but I'd recommend perseverence with the spam reports. Make them as clear and accurate as possible, don't be tempted to include any invective about how unfair it is, include a mention of GoogleGuy and your webmasterworld handle.

I have done this in the past with good but not immediate results. Re-report spam sites after every significant change in SERPS if they are still there; I imagine that old spam reports are canned once algo changes are made.

You may also wish to submit anonymous reports via the "Dissatisfied with your results? Help us improve" link. Here I would submit a report from a "normal user" point of view - ie "I searched for grey widgets in Virginia and all I got was this site with a load of ads on it about general widgets, nothing grey and nothing specific to Virginia."

In both cases as long as the information that you give is accurate I think you are justified in doing so.

Of course you should restrict yourself to sites that are genuinely and obviously spammy, not those (for example) that just happen to be above yours where you disapprove of their keyword density and believe that they should trip some over-optimisation penalty. Reporting sites with relevant content will I think be counterproductive.

All MHO only...


6:16 pm on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I reported the above site twice during the Jagger update when GG asked for spam reports and they did nothing.

I know this competitor - he is arrogant and smug. If Google bans his site, I'll wet my pants.

From my own experiences with spam blocking, sometimes the solution isn't as easy as meets the eye. I myself have reported spam to google and found, in a few weeks, things had changed, but ...

Would I resort to an obvious spam tactic that works for a competitor?

I am not beyond making a slight tweak to my page, one itty bitty change that could make my page go from the 4th to the 3rd or 2nd position on a serp, for example. But to blatantly cheat and inject illegal matter into the engine, that I don't believe in.
I might register ONE (maybe two) typo versions of my domain in the hopes of catching some lost traffic. However, I refuse to register dozens or hundreds of similar-named domains for this same reason.

As for the spam reports, I am certain they are noted. In time, it may get fixed. If, 3-4 or 6 months later one still finds oneself frustrated with a particular problem, perhaps file another report:
- Be prepared for a slight ripple, or an undesired side-effect of the change. In some ways, the more we hurt the spammers, the more we hurt ourselves, if inadvertently at times. I hate that part, but it's true... We mean to tell the bad guys off, but even thou it may reduce the spam, it does nothing to stop them from trying... However, it can and often does stop the good guys cold. If nothing else, suddenly google's results are different... Not a lot, but they're not the same, they're not quite like they used to be, and usually the result is slightly for the worse.
That having been said:
- It is likely better to file said report during low tide, rather than during the big waves a Jagger update likely creates. Perhaps now things are quieter? If so, this may be a better time to file.
- Monitor for changes, and be patient. In my case, it took a while... Sometimes days, other times weeks, in a few cases, 2-3 months.

Peace out.


10:19 pm on Jan 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I know of a site that uses that kind of link exchanges. Although being a PR5 I think it got a penalty recently with it's SERPS plunging as a result.
I can tell you I was thinking of advertising on this site with a text link and I gave up because of the spammy links. Other than this it is a great site and I canīt understand how someone who owns a 6 year old site with good content resolves to use such spammy practices.


12:21 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Since when is links to a site considered SPAM?

You submit a SPAM report to Google because you don't like the way the site is getting links to point to their site and then complain when Google doesn't remove the site.

Does the site use doorways pages? Is there pages and pages of nonsence designed to increase the keyword density but of no practical use to a visitor to the site? Is it a scraper site?

Is it any wonder why there are so many SPAM sites still listed if Google have to sort through these sorts of submissions as well.

What you need to do is submit a 'I don't like the way my competitor is getting their links' report and ask Google to punish them for you. You'll get the same response you've already had from them, but at least people submitting real SPAM reports might be able to get them looked at.

King of all Sales

1:43 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Google says that link farms are considered spam and the link network I described is nothing more than a link farm, but harder to detect.

Our site actually ranks better on most of our important keywords than this competitor.

I brought this up to make the point that Google often rewards the behavior that they warn against.

You talk about doorway pages and keyword stuffing, but since Google values links above all else, clever link schemes are a much smarter way of gaming Google.


9:57 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

wow... reporting someone as spam because you don't like the way they are getting links.

you guys make me sick.

let me guess... you were a "hall monitor" back in your school days.


10:22 am on Jan 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sem4u is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Straight link exchanges seem to be devalued since the Jagger update, although this does not seem to affect all sectors and sites. Older sites may be trusted more and have old exchanged links grandfathered into their ranking scores.

As for joining a linking 'scheme' this could well cause problems for sites in the future. I am surprised that Google has not done more to stop sites benefiting from such schemes.


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