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Obvious Link Purchases Still Credited in SERPs

     
5:53 am on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'm just curious why google still gives credit to those who purchase homepage links (not sitewide) on other sites. I personally don't find it natural in any sort of way, yet google gives enormous credit to those who have done it. The only thing the link buyers have done is moved away from sitewide and away from exact match terms, and use more natural site.com anchor text, slower purchasing etc. Basics anyone can figure out.

Why does google still credit those link buyers, it makes no sense for a webmaster to link to another site in the content of their homepage...unless they are getting paid (in big money industries). I keep thinking google will surely catch on and I stay away from it, but it's been since original penguin and they still haven't caught on.

Time to start buying again?
12:40 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The site may be ranking on relevant content for your particular search despite the paid link. G doesn't take a one dimensional view.
2:53 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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What about the link sellers? Has google taken any action against them?
4:13 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think it needs to be clarified if these links are outside of the U.S. or U.S. based links. The U.S. has FTC regulations that require paid links to be labeled as advertising. If the links are labeled as advertisements then they're not going to work for ranking purposes because those kinds of signals have routinely caused links to not work for many years. What you see is not what is working.

If the links are in the UK then another algorithm is at work. There have been some interesting link analysis algorithms out lately that aren't well understood by most people who are publicly discussing them and I'm keeping quiet about it for now. The next iteration of Penguin is on the way and I believe these algorithms have a role.
5:02 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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martinibuster -- I thought that link selling is a violation of google's guidelines, even if it's marked as an advertisement, unless the link has a nofollow tag. And also that this part of their guidelines applies to all countries. So my question related to google's guidelines, not to the legal requirements of any country..
6:45 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies. Yes it is based on US search although they rank in other countries due to purchases on non-US domains doing the same thing. Google hasn't taken action against the sellers. The sellers still rank for basic random terms. The content of the buyers is semi-keyword stuffed, or outdated fluff. They do also of course do other basic tactics and pay large amounts for bribes in mainstream news but still.

Either way I don't know of any site that links to another site on their homepage unless it's owned by them or....a paid link. If it wasn't in such a spammy, high value niche I could somewhat understand but if a semi trained eye can instantly spot it and google's algorithms can't then why they still use links as such high valuation in certain well known spammy niches, I don't know. The few legit sites that naturally get naturally high powered media links in my niche can't come close to competing in the serps. They do rank, but nowhere near the buyers who do homepage link purchases.

Maybe google will fix it with penguin 1,000, but as it stands now homepage link buyers can't be beaten in my niche. Proper sites still rank, but they don't rank above the buyers that's for sure.

Same with blog and news buyers. It's the same crap. Buy tons of links with using the site.com strategy mix and they rank, wtf is that really what penguin accomplishes? It's been a couple years since I stayed away from link purchases but I believe it's that time again.

Sorry if this comes off as a rant!
7:10 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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buy tons of links with using the site.com strategy mix and they rank, wtf is that really what penguin accomplishes? It's been a couple years since I stayed away from link purchases but I believe it's that time again.

Penguin hasn't been updated in more than a year. With a new Penguin update coming soon (according to Google), is it really wise to plan a new strategy based on what Google did in 2014?
7:11 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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if a semi trained eye can instantly spot it and google's algorithms can't


I already addressed that with my answer:

What you see is not what is working.


Google allows sites to rank based on their ranking factors. Some of what you think are ranking factors do not count. What you see is not what is used to rank the site. This is an open secret going back over a decade. SEOs have exploited this fact by charging name brand sites thousands of dollars per month for link building that consists of paid links. Back in the day they simply dipped into their Text-Link-Ads.com account to buy links. But those links were depreciated, they didn't count. At one time they did count but at a certain point around ten years ago they stopped working. That is the background of paid links. I hope this helps you understand it better.

What you want to see is punishment. What Google wants is to show the results that best satisfy users. Crap links are depreciated. When a site is penalized and the crap links are removed the site does not immediately go to their former rankings, they simply rank where they are supposed to rank based on the quality of their ranking factors, which could be in the middle of page two. Unless it was a manual penalty. A manual penalty is different in that the quality ranking factors are manually depreciated until whatever is the problem is fixed. That's why once those are fixed you sometimes see the manual penalty site return.
9:31 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Martini - I understand the evolution of paid/bought links, but on what site can you say it's legitimate to link to another site from their homepage in content? From hundreds of sites. If they haven't gotten it right by now, I don't think they ever will.

The problem for me is it's so easy to manipulate google that the past 2 years were a waste in trying to do it the right way. So yes, despite penguin 5000 apparently looming I will begin buying again. :(

Thanks for responses!
11:28 pm on Dec 28, 2015 (gmt 0)

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but on what site can you say it's legitimate to link to another site from their homepage in content? From hundreds of sites. If they haven't gotten it right by now, I don't think they ever will.


Those links you see do not count. They do not help the other site rank. Google handles spam links by not letting them work.

What you are looking for is PUNISHMENT. Google doesn't do punishment. They de-rank sites that do not have the right quality signals.
2:13 am on Dec 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Martini - I respect your opinion but have to completely disagree, and I really wish I didn't. I have obtained the same style links on multiple occasions to sites I didn't care much for and watched the sites increase in rankings for very competitive terms. The news/blog buyers that I spoke of do nothing but continually buy links with the sole strategy I spoke of and continually rank higher and higher of which the sites are nothing more than made for affiliate sales.

If google doesn't punish sites then why do seo's even talk about negative seo? Why has it negatively impacted my sites in the past? Wouldn't the links just get devalued....

The guys who set their site up to look like blogs/news portals then get a couple hundred of in content blog links are the worst. There is nothing more to those sites than outsourced writers pumping out crap on a decent looking homepage. A complete strategy built on buying links whereas they buy links only to rank their homepage, no inner pages. I do not follow the forums and seo sites regularly, I can only say what I monitor. I'll watch others who build 500 pages of decent content, don't rank, then begin slowly buying homepage links and wala, they're on the top after a few months.

Ive seen/had plenty of respected sites get punished for link purchases, not just devalued. If the links were devalued imo they should still rank page 1 or 2.

As for me, I will go back to building half ass sites and buying links. It's just what works in my industry.
2:21 am on Dec 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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but on what site can you say it's legitimate to link to another site from their homepage in content

I've linked to third-party sites from our home page any number of times, for purely editorial reasons. So yes, Virginia, sometimes there really is a Santa Claus. :-)
4:49 am on Dec 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Santa Claus doesn't come to my part of town. :)
3:15 pm on Dec 29, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The news/blog buyers that I spoke of do nothing but continually buy links with the sole strategy I spoke of and continually rank higher and higher of which the sites are nothing more than made for affiliate sales.


Continually buy links. Ok, I get you. :)

If google doesn't punish sites then why do seo's even talk about negative seo?


If Google doesn't use Facebook likes, why did SEOs even talk about Facebook likes?

If Google doesn't use CTR for ranking sites higher in the regular SERPs, why do SEOs even talk about CTR?

If Google doesn't use OCR to read "buy" buttons in order to penalize ecommerce sites for being ecommerce sites, why did SEOs talk about OCR?

A lot of what SEOs talk about has always been crap. Innovative thinking is good but it is bad when turned to speculating on what a third party is doing. That's not innovative thinking, it's called making things up. My opinion is some (not all) of what SEOs are calling negative SEO are simply bad cases of SEO. Poor on-page/off page. The algo world moved on and left them behind. What some professionals believe is a good site architecture resembles doorway pages to an algorithm. Surely you must have encountered people who could not see the faults in their own SEO strategy? Some of the negative SEO I've seen was Panda.
8:19 am on Dec 31, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I don't know martini but if I can penalize my own sites by buying links (and I've done it plenty of times) then negative seo exists in my eyes. I guess I'm ignorant on that but I believe it to be industry specific.
1:31 pm on Jan 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Links still work so why wouldn't paid links. If the algo could detect paid links then there would be no need for manual penalties. It is just a matter of weighing the risks.
3:19 pm on Jan 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Let me ask. I assume the site that ranks properly with the home page being one of the main pages that is ranking. How do the other sites rank? Is it the homepage or another internal page that ranks? This is a common behavior I see. I also think pages appearing on page one may be manually reviewed after bumping to page one. Then Google will use the manual penalty to drop them to page 2 if they don't meet quality standards on a manual review. Now the real question is do they ever manually review a site that is on page one after it has been there a while. I think this is why we see the domain crowding. Another thing is those manual penalties seem to stick even after they say they are removed. If you go through the 3 reconsideration requests then they just say ok to shut you up but you don't see any movement. The killer though is it seems they reduce the amount they crawl the site. So you get back to more domain crowding because page one sites get crawl at a higher rate.
3:56 pm on Jan 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If the algo could detect paid links then there would be no need for manual penalties.

Manual penalties are intended to encourage good behavior. They're like traffic enforcement: Sped cameras may do a great job of catching drivers who break the speed limit, but that doesn't mean there's no value in having cops stop the more blatant offenders and ruin their day.
5:20 pm on Jan 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I'm just curious why google still gives credit to those who purchase homepage links


Seemingly contradicts this:

if I can penalize my own sites by buying links...


Re my reference to negative SEO, I agree with you 100%. Yes, it exists in certain competitive niches and I've known about it for a long time. I blogged about it circa 2004. I think we agree on quite a bit and thanks for your civility in this discussion.

However the point I am making is that what some SEOs and publishers (outside of gambling/financial niches) suspect is negative SEO consists of run of the mill scraper links (sometimes adult in nature). But those are just barnacle links. All successful sites acquire them. Those are not paid links. The problem often lies elsewhere.
5:05 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I link to my other sites from the homepage of most of my sites. Sometimes just Our Other Sites with their names linked but sometimes I have More Info on and then link using the topic of the site or maybe have Most Popular Games on our network and link to the games via their name or such.

Pretty valid thing to do and I'd guess good for readers and good for SEO, not all homepage links are paid.
6:01 pm on Jan 4, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Links might work, but more important is informtion about the Keyword you are targeting. If you a legitimate business in for the long haul, link buying is not a solid business plan for winning on the net.. and you might not sleep well at night knowing a manual penality can come at any moment and take you out of business.