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Website featured in Wikipedia - now a curse not a blessing

8:25 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

My recently relaunched website has been featured in Wikipedia as a 'resource' on a very relevant page. I have no idea who did this but I was obviously thrilled at first that somebody felt my website was relevant enough to appear there.

This seems to have caused no end of problems on Google, however. Because my website's brand name is also a popular keyword in its niche (it is an EMD, but a short one) that is the keyword that this indivudual used on Wikipedia. My problem is that there are dozens if not hundreds of websites that scrape Wikipedia and now my keyword appears as anchor text on those websites.

It seems that Google has penalised me for this because from their point of view they see dozens of links with the same anchor text. Because my website is relatively young this makes up a large proportion of the link profile and I don't think this looks natural.

I explained this to Google in a reconsideration request and they revoked a manual penalty as a result. A few hours prior to that I received one of those 'unnatural link' warnings without the yellow caution signs. Now two weeks later my rankings have not improved at all for this keyword (which is also my website name) whereas previously it was ranking quite well for this.
9:16 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

alter the wikipedia link, or remove it.
9:24 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have thought about changing it but I think it is the principle that this counts against me that is absurd. It just annoys me so much!
9:36 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

That is unbelievable! I always thought that getting featured on Wikipedia was a good thing. What's next? All the clones of DMOZ? I have lots of links from people scraping that data
10:09 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Oh yeah DMOZ. Didn't even think of that one. I am listed there too. And yes it is ridiculous.
10:17 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

The wikipedia link anyway has a nofollow. Do the content scrapers "follow" the link?!
11:33 am on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

2:43 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I too am worried about this phenomenon!

My site is viewed as a very trusted resource, and because of this, I have 88,000 links (that's not a typo) from Wikipedia. Wikipedia has essentially built a ton of their pages by pulling the information from my site. All the links are nofollowed (so I get no juice from Wikipedia), but the main problem, as you describe it, is that so many spam sites scrape Wikipedia and republish on their own sites, and the links go along with it.

I am seeing that about 60% of my daily "new links" in WMT are from these spammish sites. Yes, they are still nofollowed, and thus supposedly removed from the graph, but what if Google is tracking nofollow links in their penalty algorithm in an attempt to punish forum spammers?

I saw a significant drop in Google referrers on April 24 (about 50% to 80%). Although I have been in considerable disagreement with a particular user on the Google forums (who also frequents these forums), as to whether the effect was Penguin or Panda, I have to believe that the date makes it more likely that it was related to Penguin, not Panda.

John Mueller made the statement to me, in the forum, "I don't see any general issues with the links to your site", and suggested that I need simply make my site "the best site of its kind". Because of that one of the moderators now forbids me from discussing links in any way, however I still think that Mueller was simply referring to the fact that I don't have a manual link penalty on my site. I don't think he can do algorithmic analysis so easily.

I feel like my site's domain authority has been penalized, and because of that, pages on my site which do not have any backlinks, but are still the authority on the obscure subject, are not being returned as much by Google. It is not uncommon for me to search for a particular topic on Google - where a page on my site would satisfy the query - but my page isn't coming up, and none of the pages returned satisfy the query either. The same queries on any other search engine return my site as #1 without fail.
2:48 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

@ Ralph_Slate - I'd say Penguin! Exactly the same as mine, same date.
3:22 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I can't believe that spammers take care to alter links to do follow. I have never seen that...unless the intent was to ruin the linked site.
3:57 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I checked through on WMT. A lot of them don't have a 'dofollow' but it seems that Google still holds this against the site anyway. I reckon 'nofollow' means naff all these days to be honest.
4:27 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I had the same problem when Google spam team pointed at links as unnatural from sites that scraped Wikipedia where I had a featured link. Those sites had nofollow attribute, same as Wiki but it does not matter to Google anymore. I desperately screamed in reconsideration request of such an injustice and they revoked manual action. Good rankings never returned since then.
4:29 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

@Jez123 - no, the spammers generally aren't altering the links (though some are stripping out the nofollows). I am suggesting that maybe the Penguin algorithm is looking at things differently than the main algorithm and ignoring the nofollow attribute when computing a penalty.

Google wants to actually punish spam sites with Penguin, right? They've pretty much said that. They could have implemented an algorithm that simply ignored backlinks from spam sites, but they went further - they hit sites being linked to by spam with a penalty. They were hunting spam, not just ignoring it.

So isn't it within the realm of possibility that they also said "for our hunting algorithm, we're going to zero in on the content spammers - even if the links have been nofollowed, we're going to look at a site's total backlink profile, and if 50% of their backlinks are nofollowed, that's a signal that something is up".

Well, 60% of my backlinks are nofollowed because of Wikipedia and the Wiki cloners (plus the fact that my site is often linked to by people commenting in blogs and online forums - sites that often have "nofollow" turned on automatically).

Maybe Google didn't think about the Wiki spammers. Maybe it's penalizing us anyway. 1 Wiki link seems to generate 100+ spam links. Although being tied to Wikipedia *should* be a good thing, maybe it is a curse?
4:30 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I do have to agree with several here that though Google replies back saying manual action has been revoked, the ranking never returns. This had been a recent trend for sites affected by unnatural links notice.
6:48 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Same here. I got 1 Wikipedia link and about hundred from wikipedia scrapers. The only good thing is that almost all of the scrapers keep their copy in sync with wikipedia. So I edited the link to be Domain.com instead of a keyword-like link.
6:52 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

The problem is, most of the scrapers will not update the pages with your changed link on Wikipedia. The damage remains!
6:54 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Miozio - in my case most of the scrapers just directly mirror and update to the new version almost instantly.
6:59 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This was also the case with us but the majority of those sites (90%) kept the older version of Wikipedia, some pages date back to 2006.
7:40 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well those sites aren't a problem for me as that predates my website by a long way. But I can see that would cause issues for others! I really think the whole way Google looks at links at the moment is fundamentally flawed. If they are going to damage a website for 'bad links' then they have to be able to understand which are truly beyond any user's control. They just don't seem that 'smart' to me and it seems they've completely jumped the gun.
8:03 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Are you 100% absolutely guaranteed lock down gun-to-your-head certain that it's the wikipedia links that are doing it? Obviously you have more information than we do, but just from what I've read here, I wouldn't say it's a given.
8:17 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I would say it's a given because during the reconsideration request, one of the "engineers" from the webspam pointed at those links as they appeared flagged! And the suggestion followed in the usual manner: "We recommend that you continue reaching out to the webmasters of the sites with the inorganic links on them."
8:28 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

And in my case I specifically mentioned these links from scrapers and the manual penalty was apparently revoked. Maybe it was but I think the algorithm went nuts as well.
9:33 pm on Aug 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my case, no, I'm not gun-to-my-head certain that those links are what caused my trouble - because Google doesn't tell us why we are penalized. It's all speculation, theories, and guesswork. However, the penalty hit me on April 24, and that was the day that Penguin was rolled out, so the most likely explanation is that Google thinks I have spammy links.

I know for sure that I've never bought, sold, or traded links, so it's nothing I did in that arena.

Of course, there are plenty of other theories. Maybe sites that link to me were knocked out of the index because they were linked-to by spam. Maybe I'm being penalized for the blogroll-type link from a subsite of proboards.com (which I never asked for, but which they agreed to remove - not yet reflected in WMT). Maybe, coincidentally, Google decided to Panda-ize me on the Penguin day. Maybe there was another change to the algorithm that rolled out on April 24 that affected me. Lots of "maybes", but no way to know for sure.
9:54 am on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Firstly a reminder or my situation:

I got a manual action revoked after explaining that a large crop of links to my site were from Wikipedia scrapers.... At around the same time I get one of those new unnatural link warnings about taking action on the links rather than the site as a whole.

And now an update:

I put in a reconsideration request following the unnatural link warning as I was confused by it - it seemed to contradict the 'manual pass' of the site. I got a reply to this one basically saying that the site violates the quality guidelines (unnatural links).

It seems that what has happened is the manual action was revoked but then the algorithm tagged it for another (automatic?) slap. But it is clear that when I explained the situation to Google in the first reconsideration that they understood the nature of the links and that it was nothing manipulative on my end. Then I get bumped for exactly the same thing again. This is just ridiculous.

It isn't just Wikipedia scrapers I also have my site listed on DMOZ and hence all of their scrapers too. And then there are loads of stupid fake search engines which basically junk up my link profile even more. None of this is my fault at all. I'll be damned if I'm going to remove my website from Wikipedia and request removal from DMOZ because Google can't tell its left from its right.
12:43 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

- relatively new website
- relatively few incoming links

Those two reasons alone are usually enough to keep your site from top rankings, imo. Don't remove your site from either wikipedia or dmoz, instead focus on building reputation/content quality and the problem will work itself out. Google will, eventually, expire anything that is holding your site back. I'd be surprised if they didn't snip your sites ability to rank for a keyword based on its age alone but Google is not worth fretting over in the long run, your visitors are.
1:04 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

This is quite insane. DMOZ and Wikipedia contain some of the most recycled content on the web. Even Google scrapes their data.

2:06 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator engine is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month

Let's not misunderstand, it appears to be the scrapers that are causing this problem, not Wikipedia.
2:09 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Not exactly. Google is causing the problem because it can't tell good links from bad.

2:58 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

It looks like Google's people understand what's going on, but the algo doesn't, and Google isn't making the connection.

People around here who know more than I do say that Bing is able to just not let scrapers into the index to start with, and Google should be capable of this as well, but instead chooses to let them in and offer us the DCMA option so we can do their jobs for them. I get the distinct feeling Google perceives scrapers as benefiting Google in some way, despite all their angst about spammers.
3:04 pm on Aug 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

I dunno. I have a few and know of more sites with the same scenario - plenty of Wikipedia cites, entries in DMOZ, and thus heavily scraped, and none of them seem to be getting link notifications or being slapped (and I've asked) There must be a ginormous number of sites with the same circumstances. I just can't shake loose the thought that there's something else going on here.
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