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Reporting A Competitor Who Is Link Buying
Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:08 AM
I suspect our competitor is buying links. I've had the opportunity to buy links myself and turned it down because I felt it wasn't ethical.
Now I'm wondering: is linkbuying good practice? If it is not, should I try to do something to stop my competitor? Does Google solicit alerts that a website is linkbuying?
Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:45 AM
It's really a personal decision as to whether you want to go that route.
Posted 18 July 2008 - 10:47 AM
None of these reports were for paid links, for what it's worth.
If you've been keeping an eye on the site, I suppose you've noticed whether it looks like those links are making a difference. If they aren't, it may be because Google is treating them like paid links and refusing to give the site any benefit from them. If that's the case, it would mean your competitors are spending their money for almost nothing.
Posted 18 July 2008 - 12:05 PM
I have been keeping an eye on the site and the additional links don't seem to have helped them this far. But it is still a new initiative on their part so I wasn't sure if there would be a longer-term benefit to them.
I will keep an eye on them to see if they keep this up.
Posted 18 July 2008 - 12:30 PM
I hope they're not counting on any benefit, because chances are they won't get one. Not with the kick Google is on to spot and discount paid and/or dodgy links lately. While it might seem like it would be easier for a person to intuitively spot dodgy stuff like this, just as you have, it's actually easier for them to spot programically. They wouldn't need nearly as large a sample size to detect it and raise a red flag. Even if the red flag is simply an indicator for a real person at the Googleplex to go have a personal look.
FWIW, it's entirely possible your competitor has nothing to do with what you're seeing. I've had competitors before trying to hire blog spammers to bring my sites down because they'd been trying to climb above me for years to no avail. Too bad for them that doesn't work either, because the engines do in fact understand that links pointing to your site from other non-affiliated, non-compensated sites are completely outside of your control.
<edit to add>
re: Paid Links and other things, this little talk from Matt Cutts might help. The touches on the subject of how easy it is for them these days to spot paid links and/or links that just don't make sense because they've been conditioned to do so. Among other subjects. The advice for smaller sites trying to compete with big brands is a good answer. And I personally loved the story about the first spam he saw. Especially that he freely admits their PR/Link algos could/can actually be fooled.
The above was an interview for German webmasters, but almost all of the answers apply to any other country, or someone going after the worldwide market. Lots packed into 10 minutes.
Edited by Randy, 18 July 2008 - 12:36 PM.
Posted 18 July 2008 - 01:32 PM
I figured, as Randy pointed out, there's no way of telling whether my competitor bought those links, or whether it was one of our mutual competitors trying to either damage their reputation (some of these blog posts were seriously lame) or hurt them in the SERPs.
But one thing for sure was that the bloggers in question were selling the links. And not no-following them. Which is a serious no-no according to Google.
Figured that way it didn't matter who bought the links.
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