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Can Backlinks Have Negative Effect?

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#16 Michael Martinez

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 01:24 PM

Yes, people have always said they found better results on Google. Oddly, at the time Google was starting to catch on, I kept asking people to show me queries where they felt that Google was showing better results than Altavista or the others. In nearly every case Google showed exactly the same sites but with a minor shakeup in display order. HOWEVER, many people who had been filtered or penalized by Altavista reported good results with Google (the Search Engine that Spam Built). You can still see some very telling reports when you click on results for "Google vs Altavista" and "Google versus Altavista" query.

Another factor some people cited for Google's rising popularity was the fact that Altavista changed the way it added sites to the index.

This is all anecdotal evidence, of course, and ten years later.

Altavista actually came out with a completely new search engine that was advertising free. The SEO community loved it. It was called Raging Bull (or something close to that) and it completely blew Google away in terms of quality of search results. Unfortunately, the tool never came out of beta and it was shut down when Altavista was acquired by another company (I think Computer Associates, but don't hold me to that).

Memory is a subjective thing but there were also some very objective data that people were looking at during that period, and Google referral traffic DID increase significantly as more users switched over to it. I used to have some of those old statistics reports that I shared on Spider-Food but I think they're all gone now. They may still be in archive.org but good luck finding them. Other people reported getting good traffic from NBCi (which was a great hybrid search engine but NBC decided to get out of the search engine business, shutting down one of the best referral sources I had).

The changeover in traffic was gradual at first but picked up momentum. Google has never really served "good search results" so much as it has served "the search listings I most want to see". The average user doesn't really know the difference between one search engine's choices and another's.

#17 chapulin


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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:10 AM

Back to the specific question, I don't think it can really hurt. Think about it, if it did, then there could be companies out there doing 'reverse SEO', that is, you pay them to place links in their (on purpose) "bad sites" to your competitors' sites, to lower your competitors' "rep".

#18 1dmf


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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:17 AM

I'd agree with you chapulin, it used to always be said that IBL's can't hurt you , just who you link to for that exact reasoning.

But then came the paid links debacle, PR selling, rel=nofollow etc.. now i'm not so sure...

But as Jill pointed out earlier, G! has started to fill up with so much crap in the last few years, that it seems doing the right thing doesn't always yeild the respect or results it should.

If crap links didn't improve ranking, the top spots wouldn't be filled with so much !

#19 Michael Martinez

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:59 AM

Some link spammers actually conducted a negative link campaign against my personal brand site recently because I had outed their forum and link spamming promotions. So far the links have had absolutely no effect on my search results although a few naive bloggers may feel like I'm the world's worst spammer.

At SMX East today, representatives from Google and Bing indicated they are confident they can tell when someone is conducting a Poison Link Campaign against you and ignore those links.

I don't think this is something most people should worry about.

#20 oniscoid


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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:01 PM

i'd been doing SE work for a couple of years when Google appeared -- it returned more relevant results than the other search engines, and it returned them faster -- such was the difference, one could almost take the view that if a good site didn't appear amongst the top results on other search engines then it was the other search engines that had the problem, not the site

at the time it was evident that Google was focussed primarily on being the _best_ search engine, whereas most of the other search engines were focussing on being the most commercially successful seach engine -- ah, those were the days! lol

#21 OptimizeGuyz


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Posted 02 November 2010 - 08:14 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Sep 27 2010, 07:43 AM) View Post
Back then it was waaaaay better for finding what you wanted. No question. It went way beyond the UI.

Today there's not quite as much difference as all the engines are riddled with spam. Google does a slightly better job of filtering it, but it seems to be losing that battle just as the others have.

That's exactly why I'm pulling for Blekko.

Back on topic, I feel this thread is going towards the old argument, "If links hurt your rankings why don't competitors point bad links to our site?"

To address that, I spent about four hours last month going through Google's webmaster forum and the majority of sites complaining penalties/removal were because of A. hidden text B. selling links on their site.

I'm not surprised Michael. That would be interesting as a case study though to quash this popular argument once and and for all!

Google is intuitive enough to go deeper into rankings than just PageRank. Everything from acquisition rate to churning & location is all recorded and evaluated. I'm guessing there are some SERIOUS safegaurds in place for shady practices like this. Who knows.. they could even queue fresh "bad neighborhood links" to human review on new/established sites just so this doesn't happen.

I firmly believe that you CAN shoot yourself in the foot with low quality links. Give me a 65 back link/domain profile that outranks a 2,000 bl/d link profile any day!

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