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Old 05-25-2005   #1
glengara
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Links, load of BS?

Is the "Links Industry" aided and abetted by certain SEOs taking us for a ride?

In many cases any question on G ranking elicits the knee-jerk answer of "more links/anchor text" with no suggestion that on-page factors may be woefully inadequate.

In the thread on cloaking Fantomaster had this to say:

"Sure, incoming links are quite critical to have, but there's no doubt in our experience that they have been vastly overrated as well - at least, as far as cloaked pages are concerned."

I find that very interesting, as apart from the cloaking bit, it mirrors pretty much my own view.

Assuming he's correct, the only reason I can see for this is greater attention to on-page factors, that much ignored OTHER part of the ranking algorithm.
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Old 05-25-2005   #2
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I think linking becomes more important when the term becomes more competitive it's not overly hard to on-page SEO a site. There will always be tweaking later on and the on-page is not to be forgotten but without any links to that page, it will never rank for a competitive term where everyone else's on-page is good and they have procured many links.
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Old 05-25-2005   #3
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*it's not overly hard to on-page SEO a site*

Not overly hard, but many don't really bother anymore, as they're counting on their ill-gotten links to make up any shortfall ;-)
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Old 05-25-2005   #4
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Yes, that was an interesting comment

Quote:
In the thread on cloaking Fantomaster had this to say:"Sure, incoming links are quite critical to have, but there's no doubt in our experience that they have been vastly overrated as well - at least, as far as cloaked pages are concerned."
glengara, that one caught my attention as well. Actually what fanto said right after that was even more intriguing:
Quote:
(There's an interesting research topic of its own here: namely, to what extent "organic" pages may be more dependent on good linkage than cloaked setups. No point in diverting from the current thread's focus, so I won't expand on it here - just pointing to some further questions worth looking into.)
I would love to have him expand on that if he would be willing.
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Old 05-25-2005   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glengara
In many cases any question on G ranking elicits the knee-jerk answer of "more links/anchor text" with no suggestion that on-page factors may be woefully inadequate.
Google is traditionally a links-driven search engine - PageRank is not primarily based on a site's use of h tags, page title, or alt tags, but instead on the notion of "recommendations" from third-party sites in the form of links.

Whilst this concept originally provided Google will a clear competitive advantage in the earlier days of search, especially when other search engines were stewing in a mess of on-page factors, the evolution of search has shown that links in themselves are not all created equally.

Google has repeatedly tried to raise the bar on the worth of links, particularly by the creation of a core group of documents regarded as of especial importance, with all other recommendations following from them. Hilltop, LocalRank, and Trustrank, are all famous Google algorithms founded on this key issue of determining links of most worth from the rest.

With factors such as sandboxing in play, which delays the impact of text anchors for an indeterminate time, Google have created a market where not only are not all links are created equal, but also that the same links can be of different worth to different sites - not least because various parameters, such as prior history of a domain, can directly affect the impact of those links.

So, as an overall generalisation, to optimise for Google, links can be critical.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glengara
In the thread on cloaking Fantomaster had this to say:

"Sure, incoming links are quite critical to have, but there's no doubt in our experience that they have been vastly overrated as well - at least, as far as cloaked pages are concerned."
Certainly it would be unwise to ignore on-page factors. While links can be essential for targeting competitive rankings, the overall aim of any SEO method is to capture targeted traffic.

Cloaking is a speciality that, so far as I understand it, especially plays upon the various advantages of on-page factors - amongst other things - and so can help create a wider net to ensure that a wider volume can be captured than a links-only strategy.

So I see no contradiction there - simply a difference of focus.


ADDENDUM: There was a longer reply, but was lost while inserting hyperlinks after Firefox crashed opening a PDF. Note to self to remember to compose offline, not in the reply box.
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Old 05-25-2005   #6
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I think many links may not help and may actually do a bit of harm. the problem is the average webmaster can not determine which is which. for a long time many algorithms accepted anything, but inserting negative weighting on some links would make SEO a much harder process than the collect just about all the links you can get game that was played for a while.
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Old 05-26-2005   #7
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Originally Posted by seobook
I think many links may not help and may actually do a bit of harm. the problem is the average webmaster can not determine which is which. for a long time many algorithms accepted anything, but inserting negative weighting on some links would make SEO a much harder process than the collect just about all the links you can get game that was played for a while.

This theory of links being able to harm has been touched upon in other threads, but I do believe it is important to address this again, since you bought it up, seobook. There is no way IMO (and IMOPO*) that inbound links could ever hurt you in rankings. If that was the case, all you would have to do would be to link spam a competitor and voila!, decreased rankings. This is why I recommend people don't reply to link requests they don't want to reciprocate. No harm, no foul. And who knows, it may actually help you for a month or two until they remove it.

You can, however, control what your site links to...and I suspect that the more non related sites you link to, the less of an authority your site will become. Doesn't this also make sense in other ranking algorithms that employ the "hub" or "authority" status bestowement upon well-linked sites?

btw...great post I,Brian...I would give you some rep but I have to spread more around first.

*In Many Other Peoples Opinions
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Old 05-27-2005   #8
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There is no way IMO (and IMOPO*) that inbound links could ever hurt you in rankings.*

I'm a Linksschemeist, and believe it's the overall site linkage pattern that brings problems.
If already pointing towards a "links scheme" scenario, the addition of suspect pattern IBLs can affect rankings.

First noticed this about a year ago at the height of the sitewide rush, a number of sites were dropping out for no apparent reason.

I always take a look at "fall in G'' type posts to try and determine "probable cause", these sites had all recently acquired sitewides, but more importantly, they all had one or more other "potential" links scheme in play.

The way I see it G will give any "potential" links scheme the benefit of the doubt, have one or more others in play, and that doubt is dispelled.
Could have just been coincidence, but most falls in G seem linkage based, but it's never down to a single factor, always combinations.

But then, as previously admitted, I am a Linksschemeist ;-)

Last edited by glengara : 05-27-2005 at 09:22 AM.
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Old 05-27-2005   #9
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mais bien sur!

Glengarra...touche!

I completely forgot about site-wides, the famous "exception to every rule." However, I guess this would fall under the self-controllable side of things. It is unlikely that you can have nothing to do with site-wide IBL’s. So maybe there is a way to mess with competitors: place a site-wide, duplicate anchor text link to their site on yours!

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Old 05-27-2005   #10
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It would be interesting to try, as would a "clean linkage" site.

In fact the guys over at DP are doing a ranking test with a randomly picked charity.
Assuming a clean linkage, it'll be interesting to see what if anything a "suspect linkage pattern" brings.

On the subject of suspect linkage patterns, it wouldn't surprise me if G takes/will take as much interest in "relationship" data, as they do in historical.

Last edited by glengara : 05-27-2005 at 02:04 PM.
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Old 05-27-2005   #11
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There seem to be several on-page and off-page factors alike that seem to be under-discussed on these forums, maybe because people like to believe in old myths (Google's algo is mostly about PageRank and always will be), and because many SEO's are overconfident in what they already know and are afraid to admit want they don't know or can't control.

Surely clickstream data could be analyzed by an SE (the old Direct Hit concept of measuring a site's "popularity" with searchers) to bolster relevancy on certain ambiguous terms, for example. If a lot of users are clicking the fourth listing down on a popular term because it's the one they *really* want and were looking for in the first place, would it be such a bad thing if that result eventually crept up into #1 position?

User behavior and intent are not as easy to fake as we like to think. Links were harder to fake than on-page factors, but became currency, so it's safe to say that insofar as any one technique becomes currency, it has its limitations. If you're trying to optimize, SE's are going to try to catch you, or at least throw you off balance, plain and simple. It's a big part of what they do. You can bet they don't turn a blind eye to link schemes and the different ways they're deployed. No doubt they study all the schemes, not hard to do since they are being actively marketed.

If there is one constant in an open, spam-permeable environment, it's that the algo will keep changing.
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Old 05-27-2005   #12
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I think many links may not help and may actually do a bit of harm.
Google Lie #1 There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.

If I wanted, bet I could lower your rankings if not give you a penalty by buying 30 site wide links on 200,000 pages on unrelated sites all with the same anchor text.

Regarding links load of BS. No way. Links still rule, but they need to look natural. Different IPs/Sites, Different Anchor Text, Relevant. This also applies to internal link structure.

Just had an idea. Wouldn't it be great if the SEs adopted a new tag like rel="nofollow" only in reverse.

<meta name="domainnofollow" content="www.someFFAsite.com, www.competitortryingtohoseme.com">

Last edited by krisval : 05-27-2005 at 09:29 PM.
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Old 05-28-2005   #13
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There is no way IMO (and IMOPO*) that inbound links could ever hurt you in rankings.
I've seen several examples where links did in fact hurt a site - and I think we've all seen the results on redirected links. The latest Google adWords hijack was in fact just a guy using a central redirect script on his site to manage outbound linking. That link hurt Google! (untill they apparently did a hand job removal). I've also experienced one case with Google where one incoming link from a very bad site made this very prominent site loose all rankings and all PR (they don't like me to say the name) - and this was in fact confirmed by Google that manually corrected it. So, in other words, there are definately elements in many engine's algos that can potentially hurt a site.
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Old 05-28-2005   #14
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One impact of the post Super Bowl update 2/2/05 was that sites for local businesses rose dramatically in serps for keyword phrases for the local business/service; i.e. Red Widgets Cleveland.

Prior to that date these local businesses often were below, a great variety of mega sites with huge numbers of bls. Post Super bowl they rose above the mega sites. A number of SEO's commented on this. It probably hasn't gained widespread notice if only because local optimizing does not have the popularity (financial rewards) for other keyword phrases.

These sites did not suddenly gain (or slowly gain) enormous numbers of bls.

IMHO (and it is only opinion) google "identified" a consistency within the site (possibly an address on every page-possibly titles) and reshuffled serps to reflect that consistency.

Certainly there could be other reasons why these sites vaulted to higher rankings...I have yet to catch any other strong discussions of this.

In this case at least, I believe a strong on-page analysis resulted in some serious reshuffling of serps.

On the other hand local businesses with very little mention, site wide of their location did not see this kind of serps improvement.

Overall competition for these keyword phrases is generally not too significant, regardless there was a dramatic change for rankings post 2/2/05 that was not caused, at all by increases in bls.

Dave

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Old 05-29-2005   #15
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Links Can And Do Hurt - This is the "sandbox"

Hi there

I've ranted about the devastation from links on many forums for over two years.

Heck I was banned from seoguydot com because of it....but that’s a badge of honor in my eyes

From my research a while back and looking at what Google would likely qualify as Authority Status and a measure of my own Domain Registrations 1995, 1996 most of those top sites built less than 100 links per year or 8 to 10 per month.

I wrote this article in January of 2005 for SeoChat.com

http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Google-Op...oogle-Results/

I was slammed by many but a few could see I was on track. Many might not have liked my slap at Patrick Gavin but I was dead on according to Google (See bolding in patent snippet below)

Using the spiders ability to review historical data, those sites that have pushed link building beyond those numbers (category specific), would receive a filter to lowered results. (Imaginary Google sandbox)

On March 31, 2005 Google vindicated my thoughts on link building by their Patent Filing and the use of historical data retrieval to help them maintain the relevancy side of the algo.

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-...RS=20050071741

The below except is from the patent filing"

Quote:
[0077] The dates that links appear can also be used to detect "spam," where owners of documents or their colleagues create links to their own document for the purpose of boosting the score assigned by a search engine. A typical, "legitimate" document attracts back links slowly. A large spike in the quantity of back links may signal a topical phenomenon (e.g., the CDC web site may develop many links quickly after an outbreak, such as SARS), or signal attempts to spam a search engine (to obtain a higher ranking and, thus, better placement in search results) by exchanging links, purchasing links, or gaining links from documents without editorial discretion on making links. Examples of documents that give links without editorial discretion include guest books, referrer logs, and "free for all" pages that let anyone add a link to a document.
I do not build links for clients and I feel that is it one reason none of my clients has ever felt the effects of the imaginary sandbox. I feel the natural progression of the web will over time help those sites attain better results in the SERPs.

Between the not building links and pushing targeted traffic to the sites they have always fared well in the SERPs.

I will however agree that some quality one way link building has an important role in rankings success, however reciprocals I think are of little value especially when you consider the time investment of managing an aggressive linking campaign.

Better to release a relevant press release, and write a few on theme articles for free distribution to article distribution sites, to build links and traffic over time..

As proof of my thoughts, my partners following my advice, built this website which went live in December 2004 (I suggested the URL from my keyword research and see between 5 and 10 uniques daily from just that alone)

http://www.americas-diamonds.com

It has no back side optimization done to it as I feel that too is starting to die.
But that is another post.

I built one link to the site, (from my own site) the rest were sites that came to us for an exchange, and a full press release we did through PRweb, which ranked on Google front page for diamond brokers for over 8 weeks and drove incremental traffic to the website.

(Traffic is needed for any new site to move up in the SERPs in my eyes, as it seems it is another needed component, in order to escape that sandbox thingy people have going on)

And in less than six (6) months we have made our second diamond sale on two (2) serious inquiries.

Gotta love that conversion!!!

Clint
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Old 05-29-2005   #16
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The right type of links can still be the end all. Each engine looks for different factors in backlinks. If you can maximize your link campaign by nailing those factors for a specific engine, links are enough to wham you to the top. It isn't about the links per se (unless we're talking an insane number of links), but rather the factors of the links.

I've taken sites with x amount of links and simply changed the factors of those inbound links, without going on a campaign to add "more" and seen huge boosts in the serps as a result.
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Old 05-29-2005   #17
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Thanks for that snippet SEO1, been looking for it without realising it was from the Pat App.

You highlighted "purchasing links", I found the "exchanging links" part somewhat ominous ;-)

There's still a lot of SEOs pushing reciprocal links as the "safe" alternative to buying/renting them...

Must say I agree with a lot of SEO1's POV, I was recently on a forum where the poster was complaining about her G positions, "more links", "proper anchor text" were the replies.

Turned out Y! was showing her with 800+ links, while the top site had 22, or something equally ridiculous.

Granted most of her links were coming from that forum, but these are the self-same guys that claim " a link is a link is a link" ;-)

Last edited by glengara : 05-29-2005 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 05-29-2005   #18
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Links, load of BS?
Threads about links being a load of BS, a load of BS?

How do you know that what you've come to believe about SEO is true? Have you tested widely, or are you repeating what you heard from so-and-so who heard it from someone, who heard it from someone else? What if the criteria has changed? If anyone had "the formula", why would they repeat it in public forums? What if what worked yesterday doesn't work now? Which engine are we talking about? Which keyword area are we talking about?

Personally, I hope the SEs continue to spend more and more energy measuring visitor satisfaction patterns, and ranking accordingly.

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Old 05-29-2005   #19
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Thank yous

Hi again

sugarrae - Yours may be one of the most enlightening posts in reference to SEO and link building that I have ever read.

I'm not a big fan of links as you can tell, but the idea of replacing poor PR inbound links with higher PR links, as opposed to raising the overall link back count, is sanity if there ever was any.


Glengara You're welcome for the snippet. I have the patent link dropped into my Mozilla Brower Bar favs as a quick qay to refernce the different sections as I consult with webmasters.

Overall while I think quality links have their usefulness, adding content has a dual effect in raising Toolbar PR and overall serps rankings that is undeniable.

The problem here is, people now think it's okay to add hundreds of pages of content, just as they did links and don't realize that to do so will also earn a filter in trying to maipulate the SERP's.

In an unpatient world wanting immediate results there are many who won't take the time needed to build a business online, seems we often forget that in the bricks & mortar world if often takes five (5) years before the owner can take a day off.

Peace
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Old 05-29-2005   #20
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Personally, I hope the SEs continue to spend more and more energy measuring visitor satisfaction patterns, and ranking accordingly.
If so then the internet will be filled with the fortune 500 companies that have money to throw around and you and your search engine blog would probably be no where to be found.

If that happens we may as well let Gore pull the plug on the net, (he did say he invented it ) and go back to our televisions and be fed what someone else thinks is the truth.or what we are interested in....

As for where many of us come up with our theories and thoughts, I would think that it would be in practicing that which we feel we our knowledgable about and for some have made a vocation.
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