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Ahem – About Those Links

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Friday April 6, 2012 )

It seems Google is moving away from “silently distrusting” spammy or paid inbound links and becoming more vocal about them.

A few bright sparks in one of the fledgling sectors I monitor learned that circa. 2000 SEO tactics such as link spam and paid links still work well.

A bit of monkey see, monkey do saw many others jump on board. However, unlike the sites of old, these are quite nice looking sites – informative and well designed.

These sites could rank well on their own using Google approved tactics, but they are trying to take short-cuts to the top and in some cases it’s working, which just encourages more of the same. Cheap outsourced labour to carry out these linking campaigns makes it even more attractive.

This is blatant and pretty distasteful stuff in some instances. In one incident I found an IBL on some poor soul’s eulogy page. It’s certainly not unusual to find blatant link spam in comment threads pointing to sites with very little to do with the conversation.

I’ve been scratching my head wondering why Google hasn’t been able to pick up on this stuff as in some cases it’s really, really apparent in terms of quantity and intent.

While I’m aware a site can have a bunch of spammy or paid inbounds that are silently discredited by Google but still have enough legimate juice from other sources to climb the SERPs; when the vast majority of inbounds fall into the spam category, you start to wonder.

I think what it comes down to is once a tipping point appears to have been reached, it requires human intervention at times to assess the situation. After all, a cashed up competitor could pay a few thousand bucks to have spammy/paid links posted pointing to a competitor’s site and unless there was some sort of manual review, it could be a relatively easy way to take out a competitor.

Anyway, in a step in the right direction, it seems that Google is now sending out more notifications when they detect unusual or unnatural linking behavior.

While this doesn’t necessarily address the problem, it may put the wind up those engaging in the behaviour or perhaps alert innocent parties that a competitor has them in their sights and will try anything to take them out.


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