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Inbound links and "almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking"

interesting comment from Google...

     
5:09 pm on Sep 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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From Google's Webmaster Help section:

"What can I do if I'm afraid my competitor is harming my ranking in Google?

There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you're concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question."
[google.com...]

First notice the "There's almost nothing" and then it addresses links to you from other sites. Could it be that links do effect your ranking, or ...maybe Google has gotten too many inquiries about it? I think it's the first. Watcha think?

5:19 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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First, I remember when the language here was changed from "nothing" to "almost nothing". That was an obvious concession to a harsh truth that sometimes a competitor can hurt you. I want to talk about one of several possible scenarios.

In another current thread, one member was talking about seeing that a competitor was open to canonical problems, even though none were currently evident. But by creating links to certain strategically written urls, a REAL canonical problem can be created.

So the direct, precipitating event in this case is the comptetitor's linking. But what is the "cause"? I say it's the website itself and their unconscious server configuration.

5:41 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I understand the dupe problems with certain tag linking or the canonical, but does anyone think that sitewides can hurt the (receiving) site?
5:50 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's another thread in the Link Development forum that's somewhat related to this:

Are all incoming links good?
[webmasterworld.com...]

8:21 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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In another current thread, one member was talking about seeing that a competitor was open to canonical problems, even though none were currently evident. But by creating links to certain strategically written urls, a REAL canonical problem can be created.

Well the problem might not be as well acknowledged by google, it certainly could be entertained here.

I might setup an experiment to prove this can be done on a spare site of my own I have which has no 301 in place etc.

My bet is that sending a link to the index.html url of the site instead of just the root domain, which is NOT currently indexed that way in Google, causes massive problems.

[edited by: CainIV at 8:21 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2006]

8:38 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sitewide links are not likely to hurt you. Most of the time when people complain about it hurting them, it usually comes down to those ROS links stopped helping them when they stopped getting credit.

I do think that a large quantity of less-than-trustworty links can do you some harm, but only if you have very few trustworthy links.

8:57 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I *have* experimented with this, about 18 months ago, and again late last year into this year.

If you link to a site using URLs for that site that do respond with "200 OK" then Google does pick them up and stick them in the index.

However, if the internal links within the site are not using, and have no way to use, those same URLs for that content then Google quickly drops those "new" URLs out of the index again.

You rely on finding a site using only relative addressing, having no 301 redirect to www, and not using the base tag on their pages, among other things.

10:51 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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g1smd,

would you mind just clarifying that last point again please as im most interested in what you are saying and have read it three times and dont follow

i dont understand "respond with "200 OK" .

if the site has no 301s and i link to it as say /domain.com it wil get indexed as duplicate

[edited by: RichTC at 10:54 pm (utc) on Sep. 25, 2006]

11:06 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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If a site is fully indexed as www and all links inside the site always point to www, and all non-www requests are 301 redirected to www, then you can't get any of it indexed at non-www, ever. It is bomb proof to that particular effect.

If a site links internally to www, but does not have the redirect in place, then if you link from outside to their non-www version, then the non-www page you linked to gets indexed. However, because all internal links are hard-wired to www, there is no back up vote for that non-www URL from within the site, and so the non-www URL soon gets dropped out of the index again.

If a site points internally using relative links, and does not have a redirect installed, if you now link to their www URLs then those www URLs get indexed. All those www URLs point to yet more www URLs within the site, and they get indexed too.

If you now also link to them using the non-www then all the links out of those pages also point to non-www URLs (it's relative addressing, right), and so all of those non-www URLs get indexed too.

Where internally the site can use either format, they will now have a very big Duplicate Content mess to fix.

.

I won't elaborate on some of the other finer points of this, but I have tested it to see what happens and to find ways of bomb-proofing sites against such measures.

Those initially started at just www and non-www issues, and have extended into the handling of multiple domains, varying parameters, URL CaPiTaLiSaTiOn issues, http vs. https, and so on, too.

11:19 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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g1smd,

Thanks for explaining that - much appreciated.

One of the sites we work on made that mistake about a year ago and i believe it was nobbled due to the cannonical duplicate content issues that followed. The site since had a 301 and internal links changed accordingly and is recovering but it took a beating all the same!.

Very intersted in any findings you come up with regards to the other experiments.

Thanks again, kind Regards

Rich

11:42 pm on Sept 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Last year, some of my subdomains went poof. After some analysis, I noticed google indexed them as www.subd.domain.com.

Fixed the .htaccess and closed the loops. Then tried to push bots to understand that xyz.subds.domain.com was actually subds.domain.com. It worked for a while, but the second set of urls kept coming back and the subdomains disappearing or getting listed as URLs only. Problems kept mounting throughout this year and the whole domain was deindexed last month.

At first, I thought that this had been a Googlebot mistake trying to determine the right canonical but last week -after digging deep-, I finally found the suspected links pointing to my site as www.subds.domain.com/ in several different forums. It took to recreate the site as domain+folders and checking the error logs for several weeks until I saw the hits coming. Maybe I was just lucky as a malicious webmaster would "link and run", leaving no smoking gun. This is where suplementals would shine.

Could this be conclusive proof that other webmasters -intentionally or not- can harm you?

12:23 am on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I haven't had a sitewide problem since Bourbon and the 301 redirect has helped that I think. I also wrote to the directory type site and got them to take down the link that appeared to cause a hijacking. In my case I don't think it was on purpose, just sloppy on their part.

Since I have had a couple of pages disappear from Google and have always found something odd with an inbound link. I know damage can be done on purpose but with so many people building spammy MFAs and directory sites with dreams of riches there is bound to be problems with some of their coding.

Now when I lose a page I start a campaign to get related inbound links plus I look through the site and link internally to the lost page from related pages. It's hard to tell if that is what gets them back or just the passage of time.

But overall I don't think normal inbound links can hurt you even if they are from spammy sites. Most of us with a lot of first page results are overwhelmed with these links. If they hurt the pages ranked on page one and two would constantly lost their ranking based on the spammy incoming links they are bombarded with.

2:05 am on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What g1smd said. It's been like that for a couple of years now. Also what he said about bomb-proofing against it in #3096705.
9:14 am on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Where can I find this 3096705 article? The site search returns nothing with all three search engines...
10:50 am on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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My opinion is that they can harm you.

I ranked page 1 for a specific two word term for about a month.

Then dissapeared - poof.

I did some investigating and found about 30 "empty" blogs linking to my page with the specified two word term as the anchor text.

I'm pretty darn sure that's the problem and that it was someone in that sector that did it to nail my site.

Welcome to the real world. Competition is a b***h.

11:34 am on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"Where can I find this 3096705 article? The site search returns nothing with all three search engines..."
It's the post number - see the grey box on the left hand side of the message.
2:40 pm on Sept 26, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I did some investigating and found about 30 "empty" blogs linking to my page with the specified two word term as the anchor text.

Yup, that's the kind of thing I'm talking about. One pointed to the wrong page on my site for the topic the spammer was "directing" people to. I don't know what he had done to optomise that phrase to manage that. But at a much lower ranking my wrong page started to rank on the phrase. It did have the phrase in it but only in the navigation.

 

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