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Reporting competitors - does it work?



11:11 am on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I have never reported anyone before. But there is one company in a serps that I watch that irritates the hell out of me.

It has leapt to third position (above the site I manage) on the back of hundreds of bought links. I have no evidence they are bought links - beyond the fact that they are all sidebar or footer links on sites on irrelevant topics with highly targeted anchor text of the form widget location1, widget location2 etc

Does anyone with experience of reporting sites to Google webmaster tools know if there is any point in reporting them?


11:20 am on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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

I have only reported sites for promoting illegal activity, or for targeting childern with adult content. In those cases, Google's action has always been fast. For more general guidleines violations that are not illegal, the reports here are that Google sometimes waits and sometimes takes quick action -- and sometimes does nothing.


11:21 am on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

... but google will know that you care. Maybe I am paranoid, but I avoid doing too many site: link: etc. searches on my domains, either.


11:26 am on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Rocco - how nice to know that I'm not the only one paranoid about the big G.

Cant resist doing my link searches anyway, especially when a site has dipped. But always fear that I'm giving away information


11:43 am on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Do a link search on your competitors whenever you check yours then ;)


12:35 pm on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have never reported a site but would report one only if they were doing illegal activity, I think reporting a site without 100% proof for paid links is pretty low especially because you are doing it because its a competitor and no other reason.

I have never purchased a single link in my life for any of my sites, but ive been reported or threatend to be reported on quite a lot of occassions purely due to jealousy and being infront of competitors.

People assume just because we have got hundreds of thousands of backlinks that they must be purchased, but those people are wrong and deserve to be penalized themselves for trying to ruin a perfectly above board and respected business.


1:19 pm on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Of course you can get hundreds and thousands of backlinks legitimately.

But I doubt they would all be in sidebar/footer linklists on completely irrelevant sites with targeted anchor text.

Google has asked to have paid links reported. I just would like to hear from anybody who has experience of doing it. Also to know if people do do it.


8:57 pm on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Some of us is newbies in this field and I have to admit that I often can't understand why others are on the top of the search. Other times I'm not sure if it leagal or not. Reporting a site without beeing very spesific is of no value.
But a competitor of us have for long time had about 40 different sites (they own them all when checking whois) that all linking to their main site. And their main site is ofcourse at the top in the serp. This has been a situation for a long time, and I'm not sure if it's worth reporting them.


9:52 pm on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I agree with tedster. unless something AWFULLY WRONG is going on, concentrate on continuously growing relevant content, videos (EXTREMELY IMPORTANT BY AUGUST - an inside connection at G said to me) and properly ALTED images (for blind people -use the word image or picture in every tag)
make sure when all css is blocked (easy in Firefox with web developer tool bar) that it looks like an internet page used to look in 1997 -(proper use of h1,h2 and h3 as well as paragraphs (with some bolding )


11:05 pm on Jun 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

100% with Tedster on this

Thinking about it logically can you just imagine the volume of webmaster whinging that google must get?

At the end of the day if its a serious issue like the example of adult info being cloaked under a site targeted at children then Google would have to take action but if its anything else i would guess that they take the view that its something they need to factor into the algo if others are doing the same trick for the greater good of the serps as a whole going forwards and are not always that concerned about a specific minor issue on an individual basis unless it was causing a serious problems for search quality.

Dont get me wrong, i understand the frustration of the OP but with an issue like this the OP cant be 100% certain of the facts. Also as in the directory examples google could apply a dampening factor to the value of the link which may prevent the site in question ranking so well for the terms, which is the right way to go, but if google cross the line and outright start banning sites for minor link crimes it would open the gates for floods of sites to start trying to stuff competitors.

In all, i think its possibly a waste of time reporting sites for minor issues but without doubt anything serious should certainly be reported - Thats my view anyway


12:41 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks everyone. That was pretty much what I assumed anyway.

It does make you wonder what's the point of sticking (more or less) by Google's guidelines though, when they don't pick up on sites that are so obviously flouting them.

Surely it can't be so hard for their algorithm to flag a site with hundreds of footer links on unrelated sites?

Maybe I just trust what I'm told too much.


7:15 am on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


In my experience reporting another site is a waste of time, even if you do it from your WMT account. One of my competitors, who I guess couldn't work out why I was constantly #1 for every term they were targeting, grabbed a few mainly external links from my home page and hid them in a no-script area. Eventually I decided to report them for hiding links. Nothing happened.

One site is currently #1 with sitelinks for the most important 2 word term in our market. This is a financial services market but they have links from the Bangladeshi ant cheese producers association, Angolan diamond dust preservation society etc. The SEO link at the bottom of their home page coupled with hundreds of uniquely off topic backlinks clearly shows this has been bought but a report gets no action.

By the way the honest law abiding majority loves a snitch, that's why CrimeWatch is such a popular show!

At the moment Google is rewarding link buying so strongly and is unable to spot sites for doing it at a lowish level that this is going to become the norm. Google proves to us every day that you can buy links and they don't do anything about it. They are causing their own problems.




1:55 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What a vivid example of SPAM=Sites Positioned Above Mine :-)
Google is craving for reports on paid links now - but that doesn't mean that reporting sites buying links will have immediate effect, unless maybe it's some special publicity case, some public beating some site is to get, and maybe after lots of people reporting it. IMO, they are more focused now on collecting the information and analyzing patterns so that they could teach their algo to find these paid links automatically without handjobs involved.


2:12 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have reported many true spam websites and it seems to work. I have no evidence that it was my report or just G's smart algorithm but spam sites are gone sometimes in a matter of days. I wish Yahoo and MSN would work like this too.


2:18 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

What a vivid example of SPAM=Sites Positioned Above Mine :-)

Actually one of the sites I described is below us and the other is only above us for the term that it put in the anchor text of the links it bought.

Are you making a case for link buying?




2:50 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I report perceived AdSense and/or AdWords violations when I come across them, but paid links? I wouldn't know them if I saw them.


2:52 pm on Jun 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

One mans paid link could be another mans paid advert!

Also, as i posted earlier if they start wacking sites becase of a suspected few dodgy links next thing you know webmasters are playing the game of "how to stuff a competitor" and rumors are that its suspected that this has already started in some cases as a result!

The fact is that with so many sites on the net and so many links you cant expect google to police everything and review every site.

The algo is improved on an ongoing basis and to be fair its very quick at weeding out spam, compared to say MSN which hasnt even got off the starting block!

On a personal note, im all for reporting somthing that is serious (like the redirected adult content example) but i dont like this encouragement of report this, report that especially on minor issues - it is turning us into a society of snitches!.

Frankly, you could be there all day anyway reporting sites from link networks, to hidden links, cloaked pages, virtually invisible on page links, keyword stuffing, ontopic sites created just to push links back, links hidden in applications not to mention 101 other black hat techniques that need stopping! - In all i think webmasters time is better spent focussing on building good quality content for your own site and building traffic to your site offline as well as outside of search engines.

Time to worry about your own sites rather than looking over your shoulder all the time at what your neibours are up to.




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