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Old 05-19-2006   #1
Renton
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Question Google's definition of "relevant linking"

Hi guys,

I'm a bit worried about the simplicistic concept of "relevant" or "related" content used by MC when he talks about linking and reciprocal linking.

I'll explain what I mean with an example: we are a hotel reservation website and we deal with hotels in various destinations of the world.

Our "related resources" are the ones that would be _USEFUL_ for a traveller.

As the traveller will book the hotel with us, the rest of the resources are "complementary" resources and not competitive resources.

Example of what we link and what our travellers want us to link (as these are useful things to know if you have already booked or about to book an hotel):

- Car rentals
- Airport transfer services
- Bicycle Rentals
- Art Galleries
- Cinemas
- Museums
- Theaters
- Bars
- Food Festivals
- Restaurants
- Casinos (Yes, if you book an hotel in Las Vegas, you want to know the best casinos if you don't have one inside your hotel)
- Clubs and Discos
- Festivals & events
- Nightclubs

I also have another 195 categories of resources that we regularly link in order to build a good service for our hotel-bookers.

As you see, these are all hotel and travel related resources, that makes our websites very visited and one-way-linked just because these are useful info for a traveller than wants to book an hotel and know more about the area.

NOW: I'm worried about what MC says in his blog and about the use and definition that all the SEO world has done about "relevant/related" content.

It should be natural that a website will link COMPLEMENTARY resources, not COMPETITORS. Therefore, the keywords to be inspected on our outgoing links are 100% different from what we sell.

Therefore, I'm deeply worried about the concept of "related" that Google will or is applying in evaluating what type of links you have on your pages.

MC says:

"another real estate site......I checked out the site. Aha, Poor quality links...mortgages sites...."

Now: is MC aware that mortgages sites are natural and relevant and pertinent to be linked if you are a real estate agent, as you might want to give related services to your visitors telling them how to find the money to buy his services?

Or does MC search for the related content in terms of a simplicistic "real estate words are good, anythign else is bad"? I mean: is Google even thinking about the fact that a real estate site cannot link a competitor but will be more likely to link complementary services?

In short: does Google and MC want us (a hotel reservation service) link Hotels.com as it will be relevant (and a complete nonsense as they are our competitors) or is googe "mapping" the related (complementary) services for every industry?

I doubt that Google will have a map of every complementary service for any given industry: therefore, I'm afraid that "related" for MC means "same topic, same industry... competitors, essentially".

Will MC want Expedia to link Orbits, in order to evaluate Expedia's lik as relevant?

Or will MC and Google better evaluating (or not "worse evaluating" at least) Hotels.com linking Avis or Budget?

Thanks
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Old 05-19-2006   #2
glengara
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Can't help you I'm afraid, but that mortgage/real estate comment might well just have been the natural first reaction from any experienced spam watcher ;-)


Mind you I found that post more than somewhat confusing, the examples picked had possible relevancy, positioning, reciprocal and bought factors, and basically just reiterated traditional linkage guidelines (with an unusual swipe at recips).
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Old 05-19-2006   #3
Christian at Cabo
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I agree with you in this topic but what i found useful so far is to link to local resources or travel guides to let google know where am i, and to link to same industry but different location (not direct competitors) so that might relate myself with my industry without sending my potential customers to my competitors, i don't know if this is good or not but it's worth the shoot.
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Old 05-19-2006   #4
jkemp
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It makes sense to me. Google is evaluating your site based on who you link to. If you link to less reputable sites, then Google will think that your site must not be reputable. Ask yourself, are the sites I am linking to useful to the visitor? If they are, then you shouldn't have a problem. If the quality of those sites you are linking to is low, then why are you linking to them?

By a high quality site, I don't mean the site has to have a lot of incoming links to be considered high quality. If that is Google's definition of a high quality site, then that is wrong. That way only sites that already have a lot of links will get more links and those that don't will continue to get none.

Another question to ask yourself is, if the search engines did not matter, would you still link to that site?
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Old 05-19-2006   #5
JEC
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I think that Renton has asked a great question. The specific example he is referring to on MC's blog doesn't make sense to me. If I own a real estate site, why not link to mortgage brokers, or even insurance brokers? We need those services, right? And, it fits into a related industry of moving, buying and selling houses. Why not link to moving companies as well? Doesn't that seem relevant enough to the business?

I do think that links should be as high-quality as possible, but then again, high-quality is a subjective term. What I consider quality, you may not and vice versa. If I send you to a complete crap spam site, then shame on me. But if it's a genuine, legitimate mortgage company, why should that count against me and hurt my positioning?

So for this example, what does Google consider a relevant link for a real estate site? More real estate sites? Do they really expect someone to link to their competitors? Why? Because I don't want the traffic or the business on my site? Does Google link to Yahoo or MSN as alternative search engines? Those are related sites and appropriate to their industry are they not?

I can see the need to cut out the spam links, but if the industry is close or a complimentary industry such as this example, I don't think Google should be penalizing anyone or telling them that they have spam links on their site. In my opinion that type of linking is even more relevant and useful to your average web searcher, because someone searching for a house might be looking for a mortgage company, and the movers. Whereas if I'm a real estate company and I'm linking people to ringtones, then there is a problem.

Just my opinion.

JEC
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Old 05-19-2006   #6
JKing
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>>what does Google consider a relevant link for a real estate site? More real estate sites?

Related yes, but not to high dollar and highly spammed keywords. KOD in my experience.
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Old 05-20-2006   #7
aramyus
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May be we are reaching the limit of the technology and we will have to accept that SE do implement irrational concepts.

As an end-user, I can understand (and within limits approve) the concept given by MC. However, the comments posted on the thread clearly show that there is no scientific rationale behind MC's concept. In short, trying to define 'relevant' or 'related' link is just wishful thinking.

As a webmaster, I can only protest against such an idea. Let us face it: there is no scientific ground behind 'relevant' or 'related'. The concept of Web2.0 -- a lot of people have voted that such or such link is authoritative, relevant or interesting -- is not much better from a scientific standpoint.


Overall, it is a miracle that G, Y or others do return quite reasonable search results with so little information (just as keyword or key phrase). Anyone proficient in databases will understand that building a query with so little information should provide almost random results.


Let us face it: the SE user interfaces is a compromise between user-friendliness and irrelevancy. Each SE is free to choose whatever interface they think will most likely please their customers.


I read that MS was implementing a new SE interface asking a lot more questions to the end-user. This is the concept of ‘query builder'. From a scientific standpoint, it is obviously the very best and natural long term way to dig databases. Let us hope their user interface is good enough to be usable, because query builders are not particularly intuitive. Personally, I would love to have total freedom to dig SE's database the way I would like to, so anything in this direction is good.

As webmasters, MC’s concept will make our life even more difficult. Transparency (a detailed explanation on what G considers is relevant or not) would make our life easier, but I do not see this coming any soon… Let us hope that MC hear our voice
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Old 05-20-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEC
I think that Renton has asked a great question. The specific example he is referring to on MC's blog doesn't make sense to me. If I own a real estate site, why not link to mortgage brokers, or even insurance brokers? We need those services, right? And, it fits into a related industry of moving, buying and selling houses. Why not link to moving companies as well? Doesn't that seem relevant enough to the business?
According to Matt's blog post, it wasn't just mortgage sites.

Quote:
This time, I’m seeing links to mortgages sites, credit card sites, and exercise equipment.
If you look at it, the only penalty he said was getting crawled less.

Quote:
if you were getting crawled more before and you’re trading a bunch of reciprocal links, don’t be surprised if the new crawler has different crawl priorities and doesn’t crawl as much.
Again, it makes a lot of sense to me. This seems like a good way to combat spam.
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Old 05-20-2006   #9
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You just have to do a bit of homework.

It isn't that Matt is saying a real estate site should not link to a mortgage site. Matt's saying that a real estate site shouldn't have thinly disguised mortage (and other, unrelated) affiliate links in the footer of every page.

What his examples also show is that it might not be a good idea to have an easily sussed out round robin network of shoddily interlinked sites, especially if they are run of site links.

(I didn't track everything back, but run of site link exchanges or paid links might also be something to shy away from.)

One webmaster has already made changes. The other apparently doesn't have a clue that the site was featured up close and personal.
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Old 05-20-2006   #10
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Remember that he was only talking about the new crawling/indexing system that came live in Big Daddy. He wasn't talking about rankings, although there is no reason to suppose that the same criteria doesn't now apply to rankings, or won't in the future.

What Matt said kicked off a large outcry, for reasons posted in this thread - e.g. his example of a poor OBL was a real estate site linking to a mortgage site (he posted a number of times, and that was mentioned - he could have corrected himself if he'd made a mistake about it), and also that the number of pages that they will index from a site is now dependant on such factors as the number of quality IBLs it has, etc., which doesn't make any sense at all.

There is every reason to be concerned, because those things are the cause of a great many sites having their pages dropped from the index, and it appears that they won't return to the index until the sites score better on those things. It completely sucks, and it's sheer nonsense!

"Poor" OBLs may simply not be scoring for the crawl/index function, but they could also be counting as a minus score for that purpose. From what Matt said, it's easy to think that they are having a negative effect, rather than them simply not helping in a positive way.

The result is that a perfectly good, clean, website cannot now have all of its pages indexed if it doesn't have a sufficient score in the IBLs and OBLs department. Too few IBLs = can't be fully indexed. Google's own users are being deprived of many good resources because of it, and Google is in effect becoming editorial - something that a general purpose search engines should never be, except when it comes to spam.

I've been annoyed with Google in the past over a few things, but never anywhere near as I've been annoyed with them over this.

The only valid reason that I can come up for what they are doing is that they really are short of space, as the CEO said, even though Matt said otherwise. Matt's comment about the space is that they have enough machines to run everything, including the index, but that could mean that they have enough space to run a pruned index.

They may have decided to be more selective as to which pages they index, rather than keep on adding more capacity. But if that's true, they've done it all wrong. They should be finding ways to dump scrapers etc., and not resort to limiting the number of pages that good clean sites can have in the index.

To my way of thinking, a general purpose, top flight search engine should index all the pages from good, clean, websites just because they are there. They should never omit pages on the basis of links, unless the links are spam. That's what an engine's users expect of it. They don't expect to be short-changed by Google, which is what the new system is doing to them.

Matt's thread is approaching 400 posts now, and, even though 2 or 3 people are actually supporting Google, they haven't been able to give a valid reason why good, clean websites should not be fully indexed.

I wrote an article about it, called The Madness of King Google, a couple of days ago, but it only talks about the required quantity of IBLs. I intend writing another one very soon to discuss Google's interference with OBLs.

Last edited by PhilC : 05-20-2006 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 05-20-2006   #11
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*the number of pages that they will index from a site is now dependant on such factors as the number of quality IBLs it has, etc., which doesn't make any sense at all.*

I could see where the links/PR necessary to get a 40 page html site fully indexed and a 250,000 dynamic site fully indexed may well differ, nothing much new there, IMO.

What sort of surprises me is that you seem to be taking MCs' explanation of the de-indexing situation at face value, it may explain some, but....

BTW, it was somewhat amusing to see you and Doug arguing about this in MCs' blog as both your forum members seem generally apathetic, I'd suggest you both de-ban the other from your forums, and have a good old fashioned ding-dong to liven things up, forums have become increasingly anodyne these days.....

Last edited by glengara : 05-20-2006 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 05-20-2006   #12
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hehe... I've never banned Doug from my forum - he's never dared show his face there But we do have a decent thread there about it, although nowhere near as lively as in Matt's blog. I don't know how much of it you've read, but I had a real good rant or two there.

To be honest, I do believe Matt. I think he's an honest person, and I trust him. I know that he has to be economical with the truth, but that doesn't mean that what he says is spin or false. He doesn't actually have to say anything about any particular issue, so he has no reason deceive. That's my view of him, anyway.

It *is* new in BD. BD was largely about the new crawl/index function. It's the reason why pages are being dropped wholesale. If it isn't new, then they wouldn't be dropped. There has never been any indication that links are taken into account for crawling/indexing. PageRank - yes - from the start, but not links.

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Old 05-20-2006   #13
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Well I've had the rare honour to be banned from both your forums, and neither has been quite the same since :-)

*PageRank - yes - from the start, but not links.*

This confuses me, are the two not inseparable?

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Old 05-20-2006   #14
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PhilC-

<<The result is that a perfectly good, clean, website cannot now have all of its pages indexed if it doesn't have a sufficient score in the IBLs and OBLs

department. Too few IBLs = can't be fully indexed. Google's own users are being deprived of many good resources because of it, and Google is in effect

becoming editorial - something that a general purpose search engines should never be, except when it comes to spam.>>


I understand what you're saying, but playing the devil's-A here, what would be the practical difference between a site that didn't have enough IBLs to be

"fully indexed," and a site that didn't have enough IBLs to appear in the top 1,000 serps? Invisible is invisible, right?

(P.S. I learned about PR from your site years ago and I've referred back to it many times since for info. Thanks, dude!)
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Old 05-20-2006   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glengara
Well I've had the rare honour to be banned from both your forums, and neither has been quite the same since :-)
LOL!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by glengara
*PageRank - yes - from the start, but not links.*

This confuses me, are the two not inseparable?
They are in this case, yes. Links determine PageRank, but, according to Matt's examples, links are also used again to determine how much of a site to index. That's new in the BD system.
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Old 05-20-2006   #16
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palms.

The pages that are denied being indexed could well rank highly for some searchterms - they almost certainly would. Being inner pages, they may not rank highly for 'main' searchterms, but there is a very long searchterms tail, and most traffic normally comes from there.

I can tell you from personal experience of this fiasco (not only concerning my own sites) that traffic plummets when fewer pages are in the index, and long tail rankings disappear.
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Old 05-20-2006   #17
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*Links determine PageRank, but, according to Matt's examples, links are also used again to determine how much of a site to index. That's new in the BD system.*

I must say I don't read it that way, especially as I got the impression it was a fairly cursory glance he gave to those examples, exemplified by his banging on about recips while the links in question were more likely bought than reciprocal.

Links determine PageRank and PageRank determines indexing is the way I always read it...

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Old 05-20-2006   #18
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I read it differently. He was specifically talking about the dropped pages, and he gave examples of why some sites won't have all their pages in the index. IBLs, OBLs, types of IBLs and types of OBLs was what talked he about with the examples. Types of links don't affect PageRank, or they haven't in the past.

I suppose it's possible that all the new evaluations simply affect PageRanks, except that he did say PageRank is *also* used, and he did say that the new infrastructure was largely about their crawl/index function. PageRank affects rankings, and isn't just about crawling and indexing.
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Old 05-20-2006   #19
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*Types of links don't affect PageRank, or they haven't in the past.*

That would be an interesting development, though I still think you're reading more into his answers than they merit...

*PageRank affects rankings, and isn't just about crawling and indexing*

IMO it does and it doesn't, how would a PR7 page on blue widgets rank for that term if all the anchor text from the links was "click here"?

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Old 05-20-2006   #20
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We'll agree to disagree then. Matt had more than enough opportunity to correct any misunderstandings if there were any. And he did on certain things, but not on this, even though he replied to one of my posts.
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