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Google's Paid Link Attack Only Hurts Smaller Webmasters

     
1:34 pm on Jun 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Here in the UK all the big guns are link buyers, but not in the way Google seem to understand. Many are buying the high value sites, not just renting space, but they are only being bought for the link value. They buy them, slap links to their main business on the majority of high value pages and voila ... three months later they are in the top spots for their industry.

Besides that, Google can only penalise the linking site, not the site that appears to be buying the links because otherwise competitors would just buy cheap links on other sites, report them to Google in an attempt to get the competition dropped in ranking. It's so abusable it would be scary if Google implemented this.

So if they penalise the linking site only, then what deterrant is there against buying links? This would only hurt smaller webmasters with limited budgets. Large budgets can just replace any dropped value links.

The whole thing just does not make sense.
Mike

5:33 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The limitations come from political and business issues, I think, rather than technology itself. Google cannot easily penalize major sites for very long - the kind of site that the average user rightly expects to find in any search engine. However, Google may neutralize the penalties for naviagtionasl queries, and still impact informational searches.

It's not an easy job for us to uncover whether a paid link buy is helping a "deep pockets" website, or whether selling links is hurting the high profile link seller.

5:57 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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the kind of site that the average user rightly expects to find in any search engine

Remember when we discussed this a few months ago? I still like the way Yahoo handles these situations: Keep the home page to return for navigational queries, nuke everything else.
6:36 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, this is becoming a serious situation. My site has had rock solid positioning for a keyword: no 3 and 4 for almost 10 years. Now a major site has put up doorway pages and buying tons of links for those targetted keywords and bumped me out to no 5 and the second listing no 11.
6:46 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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@Ted

"Google cannot easily penalize major sites for very long"

They should simply penalize all sites equally. It is simply not fair that a site like BMW is banned for cloaking and back in the index in 2 days after fixing it, while a mom and pop site is out for 30 days for some hidden link. Nothing can justify Google here.

6:52 pm on June 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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They should simply penalize all sites equally

I think that sites should be penalised for the severity of their offence, qualified by the utility of their site.

Good sites that have small transgressions should be punished least, bad sites with large transgressions should be punished the most.

9:11 am on June 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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My site has had rock solid positioning for a keyword: no 3 and 4 for almost 10 years. Now a major site has put up doorway pages and buying tons of links for those targetted keywords and bumped me out to no 5 and the second listing no 11.

Sorry to not sound hugely sympathetic but if you've had exactly No.3 and No.4 position for ten years then the market you are targeting must be tiny and you must be 1 out of only 3 companies targeting that market. There is no other way you could keep that exact ranking for so long. It's no wonder a few doorways have knocked you off. Don't see any doorways appearing in the top 10 for finance or law markets that for sure.

They should simply penalize all sites equally. It is simply not fair that a site like BMW is banned for cloaking and back in the index in 2 days after fixing it, while a mom and pop site is out for 30 days for some hidden link. Nothing can justify Google here.

That actually does sound, not "fair", but expected. Google have to keep their results relevant to the billions of users. If major sites like BMW are not there then they will start to lose core users fast. If a thousand mom and pop stores disappeared for several months it would hardly make a dent in their usability scorings.

9:23 am on June 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Remember when we discussed this a few months ago? I still like the way Yahoo handles these situations: Keep the home page to return for navigational queries, nuke everything else.

So at Yahoo a big brand site can still be found, but not rewarded with favoritism in the rankings.

What's wrong with that?

6:10 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think anyone who would use the report link button is most probably someone who has lots out in the serps. Inadvertly in their anger they are making it worse for everyone by reporting stuff to google. IMO it is akin to taking the ball home because you are losing.
6:19 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Nothing can justify Google here.

Dude, Google is a business, not a public service. They don't owe anybody anything.

6:46 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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this is easy. big guns spend money on TV, etc. so they are recognized. thus, they do exactly what google wants them to do - promote your site using all types of techniques, not just SEO. And thus, a bit of link spam won't hurt ;-)

So, the only way to avoid penalty is to get big ;)

6:49 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Inadvertly in their anger they are making it worse for everyone by reporting stuff to google. IMO it is akin to taking the ball home because you are losing.

This is akin to saying that since car thieves can (and often do) make great money by get away with stealing high value vehicles and I am scraping by with hard-earned legitimate earnings, that reporting them to the police is 'taking the ball home' because I am losing.

The factor you are forgetting is:

The car might be YOUR car :)

I don't see how they are making it worse by reporting to Google? Google won't act on those reports if there isn't a breadcrumb to follow...

10:34 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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CainIV we are taking about buying bits to make your car look better and run faster, not stealing someone elses car.

So now your car goes fast and the jealous people who did not buy these parts report your car to police.

11:01 am on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am with Crush on this one.

Whining produces no added value. Studying competitors' backlink does.

1:10 pm on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Dude, Google is a business, not a public service. They don't owe anybody anything"

One can argue that they do, without good websites G would be nothing. But it also sends a signal to the large corporate websites that they can manipulate Google and if they get caught, so what, they only out for a day or so.

Crush, all you plan does is endorses a paid link war between websites striving for the "fasted car". Its a pointless path to take and dangerous.

My feeling is G has the Anchor text weight set to high right now, so these paid links are working. A slight tweak and the drop will come.

1:54 pm on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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what deterrant is there against buying links?

There is none that Iím aware of, other than cost of course. There has been a ton of talk, most of it from Google, and there has been some artificial fluctuations in Tool Bar PR attributed to the war on paid links. But other than that I have never seen any sites that have come to high rankings via paid links, penalized in any manner.

I donít deal in paid links, but if youíre making your decision whether or not to engage in paid links based upon some fear factor, the information youíre basing your decision on is flawed.

2:24 pm on June 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google's defence against link buying is a calculated banning now and then of a high profile site to get people scared. Bad luck if it is you but 99.999 % of the time it is not.