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Is Google risking the rise of negative SEO?

     

superclown2

2:45 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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A number of us have noticed that when we get extra links to our sites they actually fall in the SERPs and this seems to be confirmed by experimentation - OK, results may be skewed by algo changes but it seems pretty coincidental that on so many occasions a site falls very soon after the new links appear. This may mean that competitor's sites could be pushed down the SERPs by unscrupulous operators buying spammy links which are pointed at them.

It could make for some interesting court cases. I wonder if judges are familiar with the intricacies of the panda algorithm <G>?

tedster

9:06 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



It's really not easy to generalize about this. In the past week here we have seen reports that:

1. New links were followed by ranking drops
2. New links from strong sites created no change in ranking
3. New links caused partial recovery from Panda devaluation

And whether competitors can harm you or not is an equally ambivalent area. Google has long said that there's ALMOST nothing competitors can do that will harm you. They added the word almost quite a while ago.

And there has been quite a flood of this negative SEO for several years. It's not at all new, especially in the competitive niches. I was personally involved with a few instances where it certainly looked like intentional sabotage had worked - and a subsequent Reconsideration Request (with documentation) worked, appearing to confirm that.

However, I have not personally seen anything like this in 2011. It seems to me that Google has some kind of overall profiling going on for the appearance of new backlinks - and that profiling is getting rather sophisticated.

I still think that "almost" is the operative word, but I doubt that it's become easier to hurt your competition. The pattern I see is that it has become more difficult to sabotage your competition - but easier to hurt yourself!

walkman

9:19 pm on Jun 12, 2011 (gmt 0)



Goog has said that you will get penalized only it's obvious there's a link scheme going on, suggesting they manually check it. What's the apparent difference between me buying my own links from 4000 Chinese blogs and my competitors doing it for my site...? Don't know, but I'm almost sure thousands of bad links can take down an average site.

thirteen

3:07 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)



That's an interesting point. There's a lot of complaints about big brands corporations dominating the top SERPs because Panda algo put them there even if their pages are thin and have no content.

The mom and pop sites that have contents can buy these links and instead of pointing to themselves, they can point them to the big brand corporation to knock them down a couple of rankings.

J.C. Penny had been busted before for buying links and Google penalized them from appearing on the top SERP results.
[webmasterworld.com ]

Instead of J.C. Penny buying links again, people can give them a link buying package as a gift if they felt their sites were unjustly penalized by Panda in favor of big brands.

browsee

4:01 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)



Agree with @superclown2, my site went down further after I got new links from some other blogs. Yes, you can push down competitor's sites. Don't believe Matt Cutts any more, Amit Singhal is running the show there.

Shatner

7:42 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)



@Tedster just to relay what I've seen on this particular subject on my Pandalized site....

1. New links were followed by ranking drops
Yep, have seen this. Links were often from strong, non-pandalized sites too.

2. New links from strong sites created no change in ranking
This is the most frequent scenario.

3. New links caused partial recovery from Panda devaluation
Yes, I experienced this. However, after each of the Panda runs it then "corrected" the partial recovery and those links were devalued like all the others removing the recovery and resetting me back to square one.

kidder

7:53 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I think we need to take a deep breath and wait, new links may hurt you in the short term but you should bounce back if things have been managed correctly. I've seen this happen recently with a couple of sites. Having said that I have suspect you can cause serious damage to low/ medium strength websites with the right kind of negative SEO campaign. Something that looks like the webmaster just got a bit greedy and overstepped the mark is probably going to do the trick, there are plenty of cheap and easy ways to manage such campaigns...

arikgub

9:15 am on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I have experimented quite a lot with both new and established authority sites, and I came to believe that once delta_n/N ratio hits a certain threshold your site will go down in serps, at least temporarily.

N is the total number of backlinks an delta_n is your links acquisition rate (number of new links per week, month, etc).

Of course, this is a very simplified description, and I don't have a large enough sample size of websites and links to claim that's how it always works. But that's how I think about it, and in my experience it's pretty close to reality.

Moreover, the same idea applies to specific keyword ranking. If you acquire too many links of some specific anchor text, comparing to the overall number of links with THIS anchor text + SYNONYMS that you already have, your site will temporarily go down in serps for the corresponding keyword query.

I have seen it more than once. Build a histogram of your incoming link anchors. If by chance you have a keyword you are ranking on 1-2 page for, but no (or almost no) links with the corresponding anchor text, try to add a few links with this anchor text and see what happens. In similar cases. my ranking temporarily go down for that keyword and bounce back in a few months.

Planet13

3:59 pm on Jun 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member planet13 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



For what it's worth, my modest link acquisitions seem to be helping my rankings. My process is less risky than most, though;

I usually ask that they link to the home page (using the title of the site or the domain name as anchor text), or to an informational article. This article has no products on it, but it does have links to some of my preferred categories, along with other articles.

Most of the links to the article page are from sites that are relevant, and they also link out to other sites besides mine. I have a few .edu links, and the rest of the incoming links are from non-commercial sites.

I'm not trying to gloat. I am just trying to say what links seem to be helping.

harsh2k218

9:29 am on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



i am experiencing in ranking increment only with contextual links , those i am getting from articles, press release, forum posting and blog posting.

SevenCubed

1:10 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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Moreover, the same idea applies to specific keyword ranking. If you acquire too many links of some specific anchor text, comparing to the overall number of links with THIS anchor text + SYNONYMS that you already have, your site will temporarily go down in serps for the corresponding keyword query.


Without any doubt at all this is what I have experienced also. Your observation is 100% accurate. I have seen this happen consistantly for the last few months on my own site.

linkbuildr

3:07 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



Build site/brand name links + random weird non targeted anchor text aka natural "looking".

zeus

3:51 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



i have also wondered why i suddenly have links from #*$! sites, when it has nothing to do with such thing, i think some competition really do make such links to there competition. I know one of my sites are banned on yahoo be cause a pure linkexchange site, means no content at all pure links was linking to me i told them i have no clue why, but they did not care, well me ether who needs yahoo visits.

greenleaves

5:16 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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100% I can confirm this works on low value sites. High value sites are another matter. But if you are small and starting out, it can happen to you.

Planet13

5:53 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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100% I can confirm this works on low value sites. High value sites are another matter.


can you define "low value" and "high value" sites?

Do you mean sites that have not many good inbound links versus sites with lots of good inbound links?

Pass the Dutchie

7:54 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Its been like this for quite a while at least on Google.de. We have 80% of our most competitive pages, some of which are 6 years old are rock solid #1 for widgets + country. Pages introduced 2+ years ago on he same site, with a very very very carefull link building campaigns, that should result in outranking the competition are no different or worse than the day the pages were launched.

The quality and potential of these underperforming pages are just as good if not better than some of the #1 ranked pages yet no matter what we do things tend to stagnate or go south. Very few gain any ground.

Question is what to do now?
301 to new URL, keep building links in the hope that one day things will improve (some pages 15 months and counting).

On another note, a few sites who are using the most obvious link building, spammy inbounds are cruising.
Bing on the other hand loves what we do. If we had the same rankings on Goog as we do on Bing I would not be positing my observations here ; )

So yes, get some well earnied links to the comp which may result in newer pages getting flagged as spam. Crap links tend to do nothing for anyone.

MrFewkes

8:04 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



Planets observation of a missing definition of low and high value is worth noting. Noone knows where the line is drawn.

Lets put it this way - if I went off and did 300, 40,000 link xrumer blasts against my competitor with the right anchors (IE what the competitor would WANT to rank for) then I guarantee - my competitor would fall. Just to be certain though - I could easily join 30 or so paid link schemes and plaster his site all over that aswell.

If he didnt fall - then I surmise that google must have an "this is an obvious attack" detection system. One attribute of this could be an answer to the question as follows :-

"why would a high ranking site blast itself"?

One can easily see that 90% of malicious blast attacks would be done against top 10 sites - 80% of those are probably top 3. It follows therefore that blasts on low ranking sites would typically be spam blasts where the blaster hopes to gain rank - and blasts on high ranking sites would typically be attacks against a competitor.

It is easy to program a computer to calculate probabilities and act accordingly.

Just thinking.

bwnbwn

9:26 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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There is site history to take into account. Site 5 years no abnormal behavior then the site gets blasted with a bunch of spammy links. I fell pretty sure nothing will happen. Now you have a 5 year old site that was caught well maybe blasting it might do some damage. I have a feeling the history of a site is figured into the rankings as well.

MrFewkes

9:40 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)



Yes - history is in there aswell.

I am getting a gut feeling at this point that forum profile links which were set in the past (before the last two months) are still helping keep sites in place.

New links however - errr - well they seem to suck big time.

bwnbwn

9:53 pm on Jun 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

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MrFewkes intresting
New links however - errr - well they seem to suck big time.
Could it be since the launch of Panda with what we all know damage to very good sites, Google has maybe frozen some of the ranking factors until the team can get the real big bug in the update cleared up. I can see this might be a possibility to keep the serps semi frozen untl they can get this worked out.
We all know there hasn't been much movement in the serps in the last month that I can see.

greenleaves

1:21 am on Jun 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



can you define "low value" and "high value" sites?


I've done it with a few months old site, low value link profile, with non-original content.

Something I'd define as low authority.

I do not know how this will work with sites that are in between the one I described and bing (lots of room in between)

I can say I know someone who claims to have done it to a site with a few years on it, plus a solid link profile and content. But I can't confirm this first hand. It wouldn't surprise me though, although it would take a h*ll of a lot more cr*p links than what I blasted.

Sgt_Kickaxe

9:03 am on Jun 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



We're not supposed to know Google's secrets and if we come remotely close to figuring them out Google will change them to try and float the best while shutting out the spam. The best we can do is create a solid list of best practices and adhere to them, letting those who want to find shortcuts battle with Google.

I'm tired of the sheer amount of time I waste trying to please Google, I could be improving my content or spending more time with family. I say it's wasted time because what I learn today is deprecated tomorrow.

What I want to know is that all sites are on the same level playing field and that Google is going after the cheaters only. I dislike how often I see things happening that require manual intervention by Google, there should be none... ya know?

zehrila

10:23 am on Jun 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Competitors can effect your ranks, e.g if the you are fairly new in the business, they can sabotage you by doing mass spam linking, negative reviews. In case you are buying links, linking from your own sites, they can find out your back links and report! Some of these things are unethical though.

Its extremely hard to sabotage bigger sites unless you are really dedicated and have a lot of time and budget, in that case you should spend that budget and time building up your own portfolio.

Freedom

12:46 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I am seeing Google punish sites with new links but I think there is a thresh hold, but it's very low.

3-5 links a month,
Limit it to the domain name.
Blue Widgets
www dot bluewidgets dot com.

Everything else I've seen elsewhere, and experienced, get's you slammed really fast.

Just my experience, not saying it's a universal law. But I'm sticking to it.

Freedom

12:49 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Yes, competitors can hurt your site now with 1,000s of incoming links.

That is just some of the NEW and Beurocratic logic coming out of The People's Democratic Republic of North Google.

tedster

2:14 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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



I dislike how often I see things happening that require manual intervention by Google, there should be none... ya know?

I can't even achieve that with internal site search on any sizable website.

george_1

2:23 am on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)



"2. New links from strong sites created no change in ranking"
Why don't you do the other way around? place links to authority sites relevant to your content in order to give more info about your subject(see wikipedia, about.com etc.

shortbus1662

3:52 pm on Jun 16, 2011 (gmt 0)

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I have had two sites get murdered by the Panda update. One of them was a 10 year old authority site and the other was a fairly new tablet related site.

I had done zero link building for the former and quite a bit for the latter. Adding a couple of relevant authority links here and there for both has shown zero change in ranking for me.

For the newer site, I got some quick, worthless links and it brought the site back up for about a day or two and then dropped right back down.

shazam

3:12 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)



It appears that many have been drinking the cool-aid and believe google's brainwashing. While they (g) might like to think they can differentiate between webmaster driven link campaigns and malicious competitor funded/implemented campaigns it's simply not true.

Negative seo is unfortunately much easier these days. The more g tries to tighten the screws on link builders and off site optimization, the more power they are giving the morally bankrupt among us.

Since panda, there's been many niches dominated by tiny sites with hardly any incoming links. That is, until they are blasted away. A site which never bothered to build links for many years is NOT going to all of a sudden start blasting away once they reach #1 spot. Yet g see's this as a great opportunity to destroy another business while helping the evil competitors.

Scraper sites, negative seo, and unhelpful serps seems to be what g now values. Tons of great content, user interaction, and helpful content now gets penalized.

It Makes sense though, the real businessman that builds a quality site and service is MUCH MORE likely to spend on adwords than the average scraper/script black hat kiddy. Penalize the good sites and they will be forced to spend more money on adwords, while putting these quality sites at the top of the serps will make g less money.

Drink the cool-aid and remember the main theme: "paying for serps is wrong, UNLESS you are paying google directly."

Another fine example of Evil.

Forbin001

3:48 am on Jun 18, 2011 (gmt 0)



My site did take a bit of a hit but stayed rather stable. Its important to build several linking strategies to your site. On my site I have 3 different link building techniques. Free directories, articles, 3 way links. Think of it as a 3 legged stool. If you sit on it it will not likely fall over.

Googles algo updates can be rough, but if you diversify your links, you should survive it fairly intact.
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