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Old 04-30-2007   #61
Mikkel deMib Svendsen
 
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Very good post, Ian!

I think it is important, as you do, to point out that "link popularity" is not about being best - but about being most popular. Search engines still do not truely understand what is good and what is not. There is often a huge difference between that and being popular.

And you are so right - most people on the web today are not very advanced or well-trained. And aint that the beauty of it?

The point is right on target: Paid links may undergo qualifying editorial control - or not, and the same thing goes for not paid links. What makes links valid can not be determined alone on if they are paid for or not. Its just not a very good method, in my mind.
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Old 04-30-2007   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin
Link bait is based on human decision-making: ie, people are linking because they choose to of their own free will.

Link purchases are done as a commercial transaction. There is a reason why the content and advertising areas of a reputable newspaper are separate, and why "yellow" news and infomercials are considered to be less trustworthy - because they do not keep these things separate, as a rule.

If Google wanted to let the people rank well because they paid for the privileged, they would do so, and cut out all the middle men. There are a lot of smaller search engines that do exactly this, so it's not like it's not an option.

As a matter of fact, via AdWords, they do. People who sell links to help others gain rankings on Google are competing with Google and should not be surprised when Google treats them as a competitor. It's a big bad capitalist world out there.

That's my official line, and for the most part, I really do believe it. It certainly applies a lot of the time. However, life is not always so neat and tidy.

Where it becomes fuzzy is where Google is assuming that bloggers and website owners will act like trained professional journalists, rather than bloggers and website owners. That's mistake number one.

A lot of people will link to any damn thing that catches their interest without any care whatsoever about the quality of the information. I have a least 2 people in my social circle (actually, my wife's social circle, I'm a social circle member-in-law) that are constantly sending us well meaning emails warning me about Glade Plugins burning down houses (that was yesterday) and a ton of other stupid hoaxes that anyone with even a little bit of journalistic integrity or training would see through in a nanosecond and delete.

These are not evil capitalists bent on selling links to manipulate Google, nor are they the university-trained researchers that the Google referential model is based on - they are just people with computers.

So people linking to link bait are not necessarily a good resource for finding quality information. Often they are a good way to find the most juicy gossip or crackpot hoax and little else. There is a reason why TeenBeat and the World Weekly News outsell National Geographic and Scientific American.

The truth is not what the people vote it to be - it's what it is. Search engines are not good at figuring out the truth - only what's popular. They are the Nielsen Ratings of the internet. I don't mean that kindly.

Any effort to address this will have to address "linkbait". I'm watching with interest.

The second mistake is that they are putting together a system where there is now a financial incentive to actively mislead the search engines, not by professional spammers, but by normal webmasters who have been buying links but would have not considered "spamming".

Betting that other people will help your business succeed by voluntarily hurting theirs is a fools bet. All those people will simply begin hiding the links better, and an entire industry will arise (it's already doing so) that will cater to this. Google has made the problem worse, not better.

Just because someone buys a link, doesn't mean that the seller did not show editorial control. Likewise, sellers are often very concerned about where their links appear.

Those people are not the enemy. It's the people who do not show editorial discretion that are - that includes buyers, sellers, and yes, people who link to linkbait without thinking about it.

My Personal Opinion,

Ian
The big problem I have with all this is that you are buying links when you create a link bait campaign. Your time and whatever it costs in people's salaries etc. that work on the project in many cases run more than a 'bought' link.

Also link bait goes out to all different sites and the direct relevance to the site being linked to may be non-existent.

Bought links are no longer grabbed to clock up numbers - hey tighten relevancy of links to count and Google allows people to monetise their sites at the same time strengthening their intention of PR and link value.


People will not buy links from non-relevant sites if Google does not count them. To deny the value of linked compatible sites because the link is purchased is a grey area - true Google has the right to do whatever it wants with its ranking but if the other engines continue to go in this direction time will impact improved relevancy of results and Google could be the ultimate loser.
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Old 04-30-2007   #63
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Quote:
That's mistake number one.
I can't agree that is true, because I don't agree that "mistake" means what everyone thinks it does.

Mistakes, in virtually every field, are not only expected, but the norm. VCs are paid to be wrong OFTEN. As in 3 out of 5 times at least. Baseball outfielders get out more than they get hits. The best shooters in the NBA miss more than they make. Hard drives fail. Hardware fails.

Less that 100% is not a mistake, and sometimes, far, far, far less than even 50% is acceptable.

As to the rest, I think the whole issue comes down to a misunderstanding of why links are used in rankings at all. Data can be terrible, full of holes, but still useful. Whilstever data is useful, why ignore it?

Links, despite everything, are still useful. Find a PageRank 10 site that isn't deserving. Work your way down to the first undeserving site, and you probably get to about 7.

Which brings me back to all this hoohaa about "Google has made the problem worse" or its variant, "Google created the problem". So what? People cheayt on their tax. Tax havens are created, laws adapt, and on and on the game goes. Wilst ever there is a way to cheat, ppl will, and where ever there are cheats, there will be tweaks to algorithms or laws to counter them.

The correlation between the severity of the problem and not using link data is the wrong question. What produces the best results, where best is qualified by constraints, is the right question.

And I doubt there is any algorithm that does not use links that is 10% as good as one that does.

Oh, and linkbait has a natural enemy: history
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Old 04-30-2007   #64
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Google Patent 20070088693 "DOCUMENT SCORING BASED ON TRAFFIC ASSOCIATED WITH A DOCUMENT" seems to provide some information as to the "how" and "why" parts of this question.
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Old 04-30-2007   #65
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My job as a marketeer is to adopt to the conditions of a market and marketing channel to get the most out of it. My job is not to make a good search engine. Its Google's job to understand the complexity of how the web works and what the best documents to show users are. Its not Googles job to tell me how to do my job.

Google never asked if they could come around and steal my content in the first place and now they want me to change it because they can't figure out whats good and bad in the pile of crap they stole? Sorry, but thats just totally upside-down to me.
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Old 04-30-2007   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikkel deMib Svendsen
Google never asked if they could come around and steal my content in the first place and now they want me to change it because they can't figure out whats good and bad in the pile of crap they stole? Sorry, but thats just totally upside-down to me.
Mikkel you have that suave European way of putting things.....
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Old 04-30-2007   #67
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Quote:
Its not Googles job to tell me how to do my job.
It is if you ask

Maybe I don't understand something vital here, but isn't Matt Cutts swamped at SES? I bet people ask all sorts of questions, and if attempting to answer them is telling you how to do your job, well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree

Quote:
Google never asked if they could come around and steal my content in the first place and now they want me to change it because they can't figure out whats good and bad in the pile of crap they stole?
Emotive use of "stole" aside, that whole paragraph is based upon the assumption that Google wants you to change.

What if we change that to "Google offer you the opportunity to to avoid issues if you so choose"? If you sell links and DON'T label them, they might do {INSERT HERE WHATEVER}. If you label them, we guarantee not to do anything. That is the lay of the land. Your call. You're in charge.

Now, one has the right NOT TO change. Feel free not to if that is what your risk assessment says makes sense. For those who don't wan the risk, who are scared by (the admittedly) FUD, here is what you can do. No "force". No "coercion". A choice.
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Old 05-01-2007   #68
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Quote:
If you sell links and DON'T label them, they might do {INSERT HERE WHATEVER}. If you label them, we guarantee not to do anything.
Except .... Google hasn't actually specified what they might or might not do if you don't label such links -- there are merely vague warnings of possibly dire undefined consequences. Nor do they guarantee not to do anything if you do label them.
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Old 05-01-2007   #69
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Call me a newbie, but I don't see any way Google can know if a link is paid or not.
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Old 05-01-2007   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tlaserx
Call me a newbie, but I don't see any way Google can know if a link is paid or not.
That's why the internal name for this project is Operation Mirage
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Old 05-10-2007   #71
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Hello...

Maybe i got the story wrong But it was to my understanding that Matt is chasing those whom like to chase that PR say it aint so! especially speaking PR8-9-10
as i understood it... and also his coders cant figure out a way to stop the transfer of PR from sitewides so a general "please do the right thing fellas"
and add "No follow" if ya can...

Heres what came out soon after from what i gather as a higher google authority

stonetemple.com/articles/interview-adam-lasnik.shtml

many thx
malcolm1

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 05-10-2007 at 03:10 PM. Reason: removed live link
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Old 05-14-2007   #72
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Are paid links that bad

I am one of the brigade that don't see the necessary problem with purchased links. Offline advertising doesn't punish expenditure on advertising elsewhere and much of offline advertising promotes the use of third parties in order to raise awareness (ie magazine advertorials etc).

Reverse this situation to present day Google, and we have an issue where the purchase of linkage is actively discouraged. Personally, in the past it has provided an avenue for creating on topic linkage (not just useful for SEO but traffic too - due to relevancy), which surely is in line with much of Googles ethos, which leaves many marketeers with options which have less control such as linkbaiting. One thing I have always thought with linkbait, is control - or lack of it. Unlike link building (in the oldschool sense of the word) , we as marketeers have little or no control over where that link is placed, and in what context. Surely from a marketeers perspective that isnt a good thing?

If SEM is to be taken more seriously, shouldnt we start thinking like marketeers. Clients want to see a return on their investment, and if paid linkage is a means to such an end, surely that isnt bad, just means the people who dont have the budgets have to think more creatively (much like offline). At the end of the day, wouldnt Google be better tackling issues more agreesively such as Relevancy, rather than pursuing a strategy which in the long term could (and probably will) prove fruitless (as this will just go 'underground imo).
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Old 05-14-2007   #73
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Talking The Bombed Rule, Paid Links, and Black Hat Froogle

Google must accept that they can't follow the most simplest and trivial rule "Anchor text is the true subject of a page" in their algos, at least for external links.

That was a bug discovered by spammers.
Nothing related to "paid links" etc. I have paid link at Yahoo, after very strict review by anonymous editor. It's not the same as Google's failure.

Welcome to the bigpant world!

Look at Froogle, which currently sends 301 to Google Products. Which robots.txt is used via 301?

Froogle's home page is the sample to follow. Black hat. It always changes, and SERP always return many-many subjects attached to the same page. 1-level link from a homepage, good for BigDaddy. Similar sites: eBay, Amazon.

Thanks!
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Old 05-14-2007   #74
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Over the weekend, Matt Cutts updated his original post, How to report paid links. He's added several examples, and more definitive statements about what Google plans to do with paid links in its algorithm.

I've outlined many of the things Matt added in the SEW Blog.

Last edited by Kevin Newcomb : 05-14-2007 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 05-14-2007   #75
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The more that comes out on this topic the more clear it is that Google is trying to avoid editorial decline in SERPS due to paid advertisements as well as manipulation.

Here is what I mean:
Some "infomercials" look just like news shows! Working against paid ads is a first step in preventing the same phenomena online. I expect a surge of "infosites" and "spamversites", a.k.a. the next evolution of search spam, in the very near future. "INFOSITES" and "SPAMVERSITES" are terms I use for sites that appear to provide unbiased content but, actually deliver biased information designed to sell one particular product or service. High-end sites like these with lots of content are a real danger to relevancy in the SERPS! Because some words have various meanings sites like these could link so as to be relevant to various topics.
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Old 05-16-2007   #76
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Dave Naylor wrote a blog post saying he's seen the effects of a paid links buying/selling algorithm in the last two weeks. Anyone else seeing real-world effects? Has Google actually rolled out the new algorithm?
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