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Can hanging out on blackhat forums cause you ranking problems?

   
4:19 am on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I watched a video by Matt Cutts again a moment ago about the immediate future of SEO, you can see the video here [youtube.com...] and I got the distinct impression in two places that Google is going to be going 'upstream' more often to deny web spammers any benefits from link schemes.

- Matts comment about going upstream is at around 3:13 in the video
- Matts comment about the effects of exchanging blackhat tips or hanging out on blackhat sites is at around 4:27

That second comment suggests that those who engage in blackhat linking practices also tend to hang out on blackhat forums etc and, given the other comments, it sounds like Google might be keeping an eye out for those who frequent these types of sites(upstream)?

I don't practice or condone blackhat linking practices but I have learned some valuable information about how to protect my site from various linking schemes by visiting articles(indexed in Google no less) that are on pro-blackhat sites. While I'm not overly worried, are your web browsing habits a consideration in how well your website ranks moving forward? It seems far fetched but, well, you heard Matt.
11:04 am on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



If you hang out on any forum other than WebmasterWorld Matt Cutts will penalize you :)

Matt's comments are not about your browsing history. This is about following risky advice. If you trade black hat tips you are very likely to be utilizing some risky black hat technique on your sites. It is not surprising that Google penalties will eventually catch up with your risk taking.

I do think that your browsing history can impact your SEO efforts. For example many people forget about personalized serps and don't realize that their assumed rankings are caused by their browsing history which can lead to bad decisions.
4:58 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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That's what I thought but the words "going upstream" aren't sitting right with me, probably because he doesn't explain how. He doesn't say anything about actually using any said practices, he clearly talks about just being on the site and sharing advice between each other... not actually using it. He points out that whitehat webmasters don't typically hang out in those places.

'You're in for a long summer if you spend time on a blackhat site exchanging ideas'. That was his wording, he says nothing about actually using blackhat tactics. He does clearly say they are working on ways to deny blackhat webmasters the ability to have links affect serps by 'going upstream'. To me that sounds a lot like profiling, don't you think?
5:09 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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lol....hilarious...
5:56 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



I'm pretty sure goodroi has it right.
6:05 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



@JS_Harris, "Upstream" usually refers to backlink genealogy, as in the sites that link to the sites that link to the sites that link to your site, which is considered "downstream."

I assume that's what Matt is referring to here, because that's basically what he referred to:

"We're also looking at some ways to go upstream to deny the value to link spammers, some people who spam links in various ways...
8:39 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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"Upstream" usually refers to backlink genealogy
^ Yep.

Search google for "tier 2 links" and you'll see what Matt's referring to.
11:02 pm on Jul 26, 2013 (gmt 0)



Lol death by association.
12:45 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If you hang out on any forum other than WebmasterWorld Matt Cutts will penalize you :)

LMAO! +1
1:15 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



But seriously...

How would they know? How many webmasters use the same name as a Forums handle and as some visible part of their whois info? Yes, OK, I can think of one.
1:27 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



True; when I visit the black hat areas, I always go in as lucy24.
1:30 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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True; when I visit the black hat areas, I always go in as lucy24.

Oh, WOW! I thought goodroi's was the funniest till I saw this one!

+2
1:54 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Why should the Hasidim suffer ranking problems for hanging out on forums?
4:07 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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If it turns out that in a year we find out we've all been profiled you're all going to Matt Cutts's house to do yardwork for a week! :)

How would they know?

Cookies. example: you accept one when you log into a forum and you later log into adsense, connection made. It's even easier if the forum has any google product on it(adsense, analytics, G+ button etc) since they all load javascript files which record much more from you. All of it is easily collected the next time you log into your gmail, G+ or other google website. Lol... chrome? google powered phone? Point is, it's not hard.
6:04 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



How would they know? How many webmasters use the same name as a Forums handle and as some visible part of their whois info? Yes, OK, I can think of one.


As part of the PRISM deal, Google has access to NSA satellites which are watching and logging everything you do. That's how they roll.
7:23 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Cookies. example: you accept one when you log into a forum and you later log into adsense, connection made.


A question from someone who knows very little about cookies.

Can what is said in the quote be done? I thought that you could only read your own cookies.
9:03 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



This could be what he meant by "going upstream"...

Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy...
http://www.theonion.com/video/google-opt-out-feature-lets-users-protect-privacy,14358/ [theonion.com]
11:29 am on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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




A question from someone who knows very little about cookies.

Can what is said in the quote be done? I thought that you could only read your own cookies.

I have never looked into cookies in that depth but if you are really paranoid using a different browser would probably be sufficient.
5:26 pm on Jul 27, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I can tell you for sure that they can monitor your browsing history/behaviour thro. cookies and other means. All the PRISM partners - Google, FB and others do it.They say the data is used to serve you relevant ads.

Yes, JS_Harris. Tracking people shouldn't be that difficult for Google. When there are several metric tools in the market which regularly kiss people to track them, Google, with their infrastructure, can do it much better.But, they using that data to cause ranking problems is weird.
5:27 am on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



LOL @ Robert Charlton's response.

It would be a huge waste of time and energy for Google to "tag" everyone who visits one of those forums. Black hats in particular are going to flush their caches and delete their cookies all the time, and there are a lot of ways to break up your "web footprint" so Google can't be sure which sites are yours and so on.

*Maybe* Matt is talking about targeting a few really big spammers. Maybe something like that could be worthwhile because identifying one of these spammers might lead to thousands of sites? I agree the way he puts it leaves a lot to scratch one's head about, but I have a feeling the people he's talking to know exactly what he means... and we don't, because we're not who he's talking to.
10:24 am on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



More about "upstream"... The word is very descriptive about how link juice flows, and I use it a lot when discussing backlink changes on the web. Here are some quotes from a couple of my old posts that could easily apply to what we're talking about now. IMO, "upstream"... at the source... is a logical place for the spam team to be looking.

Does Google "Age" Your Backlinks?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4176006.htm [webmasterworld.com]

All linking pages are subject to changing conditions upstream of them... anything from code changes to business changes to algorithmic changes, all of which can positively or negatively affect inbound link juice. Some pages have good enough content to attract inbounds once they become sufficiently visible, which can mask other upstream changes. In some market areas, links will be affected by upstream link buying and selling as well....


And, with regard to Penguin-affected sites...

65% of Poll Respondents Report Negative Penguin Impact
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4458875.htm [webmasterworld.com]

I'd like to see a much more granular exploration of those who were affected, as I'm thinking that the poll may also be skewed by types of sites and types of SEOs.

I'm suspecting in many cases that upstream link sources have gotten hit... and I'm guessing that the further away from the SEO industry the link sources were, the less likely it is that they were "tainted". This is completely gut level... I haven't done the kind of study necessary to be more sure of the causes than this educated guess... but from what I've been seeing, there haven't been many surprises.
3:03 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member



He's talking about cutting off the link juice FROM sites TO blackhatters' sites, right? But then he mentions blackhat forums, and that's where the confusion is - makes it sound as if they're going to tag everyone at these forums, locate their sites, locate their inbounds, and choke the PR out of those inbounds. Which I don't think is what he meant.

One thing I am wondering about is: a lot of black hatters get their inbounds NOT from their own link schemes, but through hacking innocent sites and/or leaving comments on blogs run by people who don't realize "Your site most venerable ever, I add you to Facebook" isn't a real comment. So maybe that's what he's talking about - finding a way to automatically neutralize such "upstream" links without penalizing the sites that unwittingly provided them?
8:24 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



diberry et al - I think you're overthinking this. Hanging out in blackhat forums is simply a figure of speech. Goodroi had it right, and it's worth repeating...

Matt's comments are not about your browsing history. This is about following risky advice. If you trade black hat tips you are very likely to be utilizing some risky black hat technique on your sites. It is not surprising that Google penalties will eventually catch up with your risk taking.


Also, JS_Harris, I'm confused about where you're coming from on this. I just happened to see, on one of your posts in another thread [webmasterworld.com...] about black hat backlinks, that you seem to completely understand the concept of upstream and what Matt was talking about....

Actually I think they get that first comment on your site pointing to another site and that site points to their main site. This way, if your page gets penalized, they break the chain and protect their main site. You get all of the ranking problems and the chain no longer reaches their main site so theoretically they don't lose rank.

It takes a lot of energy to be lazy! Thankfully Matt Cutts suggested that these 'tiered' linking methods will meet their demise later this summer in an update he expects all SEO's to talk about.

Are you simply putting too much into the chance juxtaposition of a bunch of items on a list that Matt was discussing?
11:24 pm on Jul 28, 2013 (gmt 0)

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this would be pretty stupid if true. As a lot of black hat forums have white hat sections with good resources.

I personally know a couple people that sign up just for the white hat section because of their popularity and white hat tactics.
8:31 am on Jul 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Maybe the ambiguity was intentional, just to scare people. "Go to blackhat sites, and we will know, and punish you." If that discourages people from going there, isn't that mission accomplished by Google?
10:09 pm on Sep 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

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except that warrior forum and BHW are massively successful sites. You'd think google would punish them, but they do extremely well in google serps
11:37 pm on Sep 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month



For a given search, anyway. If you search for pornography oh come on, word censors! or payday loans or 8-track players, you have to find something.

Admittedly it would be pretty funny if a major search engine decided that certain topics aren't allowed to exist. So if you search for, say, "### shots" you only get results from G-rated sites, while "### manufacturing" takes you to a mix of .edu and .gov.
2:37 am on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Well, I thought this thread was a bit "tinfoil hatty" at first and I'm not sure about visiting a black-hat forum causing ranking problems, but I did post in the cloaking forum here the other day and the only result I get now for any query is the following repeated 10 times down each page:

Webmaster Guidelines - Webmaster Tools Help - Google Help
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en
Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site. Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly ...
7:32 am on Sep 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



If that discourages people from going there, isn't that mission accomplished by Google?

Quite. This video was made about 1 month before Google were handed their bums on a plate by the Payday Loan spammers, clearly demonstrating the gap between what they say they can do and what they are able to do.