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With some of us paranoid that our link quality profile is hurting us on account of scraper sites etc. I can't see a downside to doing it. It would require an implicit acknowledgment on google's end that a large volume of poor quality inbounds can hurt you in some cases, but it would be a useful tool. Even if they won't admit that poor links can hurt you, they do admit that poor quality links don't help, so let us just remove them to clean things up.
It would also allow them to actually factor spammy links as a negative factor into the algo even more. Whereas before the worry was that if they let bad inbounds hurt a site, then competitors could point a ton of bad links at a site to hurt rankings. But if the site owner could just remove the bad links there wouldn't be any point in it. Thus, they could actually openly start counting poor inbounds against you.
Maybe I'm buying a few links to get me 'over the top', then their site or my site gets penalized, and I say ooops, lets forget that ever happened!
I think they realize that people dont always have control over who links to their sites.
If google does indeed penalize sites for having a large amount of 'bad' inlinks, they probably do so for a reason. And they probably would'nt want the webmaster to have control over that process.
And once again there is a way that you can mess with your competition. Just find a "bad neighborhood" and link to your competition all over the place... simple as that.
If we cannot control who links to us or how those links are viewed then what is a webmaster supposed to do?
We just need to clearly be on one side of this fence or the other.
Let me give you an example:
1. Two of our sites have received a great amount of very low quality backlinks: adult, mortgages and the like - over the past 9 months. The number of spam backlinks is about 50% of the total number of backlinks accoding to site explorer and some other tools.
*We never exchanged with these guys ever
*We never entered any link scheme or bought textlinks
Here are the results: Lost all rankings, gradually on all anchor text these guys use to link our website to. Our sites were on page 1 before.
We kept all other rankings, although fluctuating but I can't tell if the flux is because of the above.
I would love to know if ANYTHING is possible to have these sites not linking to our sites anymore. Not only it works too well with Google, but also our brand images are at stake and my CEO hates it.
It is WAY too easy for almost any competitor with a few sites/buddies or small budget to demote websites - strip them from ranking where Google would place them otherwise.
From where I stand I see this spreading over the last few months.
And it prooves again that backlinks CAN hurt, and can even hurt well established sites, especially niche leaders (maybe not major industry authorities though, that would require lots of low end backlinks).
Some GG guy said backlinks can't hurt, only bad outgoing links if I recall correctly, bs!
Punishment should go to the sites carrying over these links, just as Google "said". These sites should not penalize, they should just carry no juice and evrybody would be happy, case closed.
[edited by: followgreg at 1:17 pm (utc) on Sep. 12, 2007]
The nefarious backlinks don't seem to have had a deleterious effect on serps (PPG terms, highly competitive words).
There must be something else that offsets unwanted backlinks.
IE - If CNN or DMOZ links to your site, perhaps that over-rules this stuff.
Google in NO WAY uses poor quality links against you.
I'm going to step out on a limb and say that Google does use poor quality links against you. If you fit a certain link profile, have been engaged in link exchange, blatant link buying, etc., you're going to have your hands full.
Representatives from Google claim that there is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your site. Well, that is for public consumption. There are all sorts of things a competitor could do but probably wouldn't. But, its that probably part that I'm concerned about.
Let's say a competitor just noticed you went on a link buying campaign. It gets reported and for some reason Google investigates. It notices all these new bought links that you have and then it notices all these other junk links that you've also acquired at the same time (via your competitor). I'd say you just got profiled with the help of a competitor.
Think of it in a political context. We are like candidates out trying to raise money for our campaign. Rather than give us money, others give us links. We want as many as possible and don't have much control over who decides to give. But every now and then the political candidate realizes that they had someone give them money that did something wrong or illegal. The candidate is able to simply give it back and say "no thank you, but I'm afraid a contribution from you will cause more harm than good." Let me do the same with my link contributions.
In my case for example they show 6800 links but I have over 30K according to Yahoo. How would you deal with the ones they don't tell you about?
If 2 is true, it follows that 1 is not true. A competitor buying a bad link "for" you (or, say, some 10,000 bad links) can and will hurt you.
In my opinion, they should just admit to the fact that there's a massive amount of "black PR" (in the form of people setting deliberately bad links) happening on the web. So, admit it and remove link penalties. Sure, the fact that link penalties exist is not proven, but empirically it seems that they do.
I know the counter-argument against the 0-penalty proposal ("if people knew the maximum penalty for buying links was 0, they'd buy them like crazy"), but I'd argue it's a relatively small price to pay and, frankly, if Google puts the value of 0 on those links, the people in question are wasting their money, anyway. At some point, they'll simply run out of money.
In any case, I think it's far better to allow some sites to game the system rather than kill a few innocent ones. At least in my system of values. Perhaps Google has a different view.