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Panda 3.3 and Google's Change to Links


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39 replies to this topic

#16 clandestino

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:48 PM

In fact, when you have 20 aggressive linking Websites all chasing the same keyword with anchor text, the links pretty much cancel each other out relative to those 20 Websites.


Given those facts -- high competition vertical and keyword -- one would be foolish to think that anchor text is the only important thing for ranking. Then you need all of the best practices to include a linking program that doesn't rely on such low level tactics. A big part of it is very, very good marketing that delivers content, widgets, apps, contests, infographics, industry specific information, etc. Basically, the kinds of things people are so interested in they will go out of their way to hear what you have to say or see what you have to offer.

I agree with you on one of our prior conversations -- it's too bad that links are a major ranking factor in the first place. That's where everything went terribly wrong. If Co B builds links, Co A has to or go out of business. It's not against the law and it's not against Google's Quality Guidelines. (An interesting aside, did you know that paid links are against the law in Germany?) No matter what people think Google "should" do about links, they haven't done it, so why wouldn't a company use the strategy to keep up with their competitors?

Google should find a way that doesn't require links. How about engagement signals? Matt Cutts is a likeable guy, he can always find another job.

#17 JeffWise

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:52 PM

This is my first post here. This particular thread was recommended to me from someone who knows Jill.

I don't know how to contribute except by telling my Google horror story...I want to make sure though that this isn't a "me too" post.

Here's the shortened version. I'll only speak about one of my sites which were demolished by Google.

Late March my site went down 35%-45% in organic traffic. (I was getting thousands of uniques per month)

The only notices I got in webmaster tools was:

“Big traffic change for top URL”

“Search results clicks for (site) have decreased significantly.”

I didn't know what it meant. I've never attempted anything black hat. It's a kids health site!

As of yesterday April 24, 2012 all my sites have gone down at least 80% in google traffic.

All the dozens of top keywords I was on page one for? All gone. Not ranked at all period.

Again, this is all my sites.

I follow upstanding people in the online marketing world and follow all the rules as explained to me.

I am at a total loss.

Hopefully something I said contributed to this thread but for a person who thinks they followed the rules,
provided quality/unique content and legitimately is trying to help people...don't depend on Google for
the majority of your traffic.

#18 Michael Martinez

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:14 AM

LINKS ARE NOT A MAJOR RANKING FACTOR.

Links are "major" only to the people who depend on them. But let me try to illustrate the problem in a different way.

Suppose you're competing for the query "Ixquiggy Dodah Humdingaleelee" -- a highly competitive term. Thing is, until you enter the game no one else has thought to use links with targeted anchor text to outrank their competitors. So you go out and grab [INSERT NUMBER HERE] links with the right anchor text.

You shoot straight to the top of the SERP. Great. You just proved that links helped you beat out everything your competitors were doing.

But of those [INSERT SAME NUMBER HERE AS ABOVE] links, how many did you actually need in order to outrank your competitors?

You have no idea. Nor do they. Nor do any of the great SEO pundits who have been screaming and shouting "links! links! links!" for years. All anyone knows is that the first guy in with links took the top spot away from someone else who didn't use targeted anchor text.

So now people think, "Hm. Maybe all I need are links." So they go out and get [INSERT DIFFERENT NUMBER] links and BAM! they start taking the top spot and swapping it around.

Thing is, sometimes it's a guy with FEWER links than the previous top-ranked guy who takes the top position away. No one really knows what's going on, so everyone just goes out and gets links.

The algorithm hasn't changed. It wasn't requiring links to decide who should rank first before. It still doesn't require links to figure that out. It takes what you give it (which may or may not include links) and makes a choice, and that choice is remade every time someone runs the query.

As more content relevant to the query is created the mix changes and the top ranking result may change.

As more links relevant to the query are created the mix changes and the top ranking result may change.

To compensate for all this overlinking Google years ago started devaluing links and downgrading or penalizing Websites. So now not only do people NOT know how many links are required "JUST" to grab the top position, they don't know WHICH links work and which won't help.

Worse, there has been a risk of incurring a penalty from your linking behavior -- not so much from the links themselves as from the fact that you only seem to attract certain kinds of links.

So now people are out there trying to get UNhelpful links (again, still not knowing which links help and which links don't) in order to "look natural".

The RANKING algorithm hasn't changed so much as it's now being helped out by other algorithms. Those other algorithms try to improve the signals that the ranking algorithm uses, or they try to surface good content, or they try to suppress bad content, or they try to filter out links, etc.

But the core ranking process continues to function much as it always has: the search engine looks at whatever data it has and makes a determination. It doesn't require links, has no minimum expectation for numbers or quality of links, and doesn't in any way encourage linking beyond simply keeping the Web flowing as smoothly as possible.

It's the illusion that all these links are helping that perpetuates the myth of "links are the most important factor".

Google engineers from Larry Page to Amit Singhal to Matt Cutts and others have come out and said flatly and plainly that the links are NOT helping as much as people think they are. These are the ONLY people qualified to make such a statement with any authority.

No one can prove that the algorithm needs all these links. The only proofs show that the links are excessive. So people need to realize that while there are aggressive SEO strategies out there totally dependent on links that appear to be outperforming more timid strategies, it's not because links are more important to the algorithm. These aggressive strategies are no better at figuring out how many links of what type of quality in whatever numbers are required than any other strategies.

People go for all the links they can grab and they get lucky and that is all there is to it. For every Number 1 ranking that is determined by links there are many, many LESSER rankings where the links did not do what people hoped they would do.

Most link-based strategies FAIL simply because there can only be 1 listing at the top of the SERPs. If links were really so important to the algorithm then only link-supported Websites would top the search results in most queries -- and that is just not the case.

Edited by Michael Martinez, 26 April 2012 - 01:20 AM.


#19 clandestino

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 09:34 PM

Links are "major" only to the people who depend on them.


Hey I Googled -- Ixquiggy Dodah Humdingaleelee -- and there's not a single page that has any one of those word on it, LOL! I wonder how many links it would take to rank for that? Just kidding.......

Seriously, though. Great post!

I agree with you, let's get rid of links tomorrow and replace them with signals that reflect engagement like time on site, pages visited, conversion. Let's reward website owners for working hard on their sites and spending 1,000's of dollars to make people like their site and make them want to go there, spend time there, and vote with their pocket book. Those sites are the ones that do a great job of marketing -- entering the conversation that is already going on in the visitor's head; showing them products, services and ideas that they really care about; and having them leave with a good feeling about that business and Google too, as a result.

Why do you think that Google refuses to turn links off? It's all up to them.

This is my first post here. This particular thread was recommended to me from someone who knows Jill. I don't know how to contribute except by telling my Google horror story ... I'll only speak about one of my sites which were demolished by Google ........ As of yesterday April 24, 2012 all my sites have gone down at least 80% in google traffic. All the dozens of top keywords I was on page one for? All gone. Not ranked at all period.


Hi Jeff,

The first thing all the, it would be perfect world if you just follow everything Google says and they will lead us to the promised land crowd, will say is that you aren't telling the truth. They would say there's a dirty little secret you're hiding which is some spam link program used to benefit yourself and discredit the most honorable, wonderful, upstanding and ethical company in the world -- Google.

What they leave out, and you discuss very well, is --

1) Google's rules are written so they can apply to any situation they want them to
2) Google's rules are much too vague
3) Find an expert and you'll find another opinion
4) Google won't communicate with you after they penalize you, it's a big secret

Why is it such a big secret??? Everyone will figure out what the algorithm does by trial and error anyway.

The experts don't agree so how do they expect someone that is trying to run a web site and has no experience to figure it out? Listen to the experts? Which version? Does Google have a information line you can call to get support?

Just for AdWords and everybody else is on their own -- in the dark, as usual.

Having gotten that off my chest, LOL!, I believe you. I've read too many posts in the forums (there are 1,000's) where a business website owner was trying to figure out what went wrong and Google won't tell them or help them in any way. I'm smart enough to know that those forums aren't filled with 100% of the truth, but if what these people are saying is only half true, it's not acceptable. Google makes Billions of dollars off the hard work of honest, hard working business owners and they can't communicate with them? I'm also smart enough to know -- if Google refuses to communicate, there's something wrong and we're not getting 100% of the truth from them either.

To not communicate -- that's just plain wrong, you could ask an 8 year old and they would tell you so. Why do we adults take so much longer to acknowledge the truth?

I think Google's silence is damning. It tells you all you need to know -- they don't want you to be helped. Why??? -- it would be pure speculation and unfair to Google and ourselves to answer that. We have an obligation to do the opposite. Communicate the truth!

So, I recommend you do the only thing you can -- tell your story to everyone who will listen. Call your congressman, local newspaper, the New York Times, Fox News, the FTC, State AG, Channel 11 To The Rescue, whatever you have to do to get the message out. Go online to the Better Business Bureau and complain. Complain on review sites of all kinds. Call the Washington Post (who recently interviewed Jill) and convince them to tell the story from the website owners' perspective, that story has never been told and the public has a need to know (that's newspaper lingo for - that gives us permission to print this) -- http://www.washingto...ST2011020104985 Contact the journalist that wrote that story here --http://projects.wash...l+s.+rosenwald/ AND call his office!

After all, Google's algorithm is a one size fits all mathematical formula implemented by a bot. What do you think the possiblity of it making an error is? And on the hand audits, no one calls you to get your side of the story. Is it possible they may not have all the information and make a mistake?

???

Edited by Jill, 26 April 2012 - 11:53 PM.
Merged two posts in a row.


#20 piskie

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:39 AM

let's get rid of links tomorrow and replace them with signals that reflect engagement like time on site, pages visited

Just think how intrusive Google would have to be if that Yardstick was adopted.
To start with, every site that wished a good set of positions in Google would have to have Google Analytics installed.
Then once it became virtually compulsory, who knows what other measurements the script will be 'Enhanced' to harvest.

Have you changed sides Chuck because that approach drastically increases Googles information gathering ability throughout the online market place.
With Information comes Power and the opportunity to abuse an even more dominant position.

#21 chrishirst

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 07:53 AM

With Information comes Power and the opportunity to abuse an even more dominant position.


And as Voltaire said, (and Stan Lee borrowed)
"With great power comes great responsibility"

#22 torka

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:22 PM

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutely, too. :giggle:

--Torka :propeller:

#23 clandestino

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But it rocks absolutely, too. :giggle:
--Torka :propeller:


Based on all the level headed and very useful advise you have posted previously, I am going to pretend you didn't say that, the -- But it rocks absolutely, too. -- part.

Not in this country. That would be possible in Europe, Russia for sure, definitely China.

Not here.

Just think how intrusive Google would have to be if that Yardstick was adopted.
To start with, every site that wished a good set of positions in Google would have to have Google Analytics installed.
Then once it became virtually compulsory, who knows what other measurements the script will be 'Enhanced' to harvest.

Have you changed sides Chuck because that approach drastically increases Googles information gathering ability throughout the online market place.
With Information comes Power and the opportunity to abuse an even more dominant position.


Just encouraging debate instead of the same old blah, blah, blah -- Google is our friend if you're not devious rhetoric. To which anyone with common sense will respond -- by the way, whether you're devious will be determined by Google and what they decided yesterday may not be the same as today if they think it will make them more money and they won't take time to consider both sides to make sure they are executing the right prisoner they'll just do it -- Why? -- because they can, because they have the power, and I could go on, and on, and on.

What you say it the truth, but not a solution. I am willing to give up links for marketing appeal -- but not at the expense of privacy, control and domination. The question is how then?

Eric Schmidt was quoted as saying (I paraphrase) "Judgment is important ... If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place."

Please, Eric, this is a demonstration of power out of control. There are many reasons that privacy is necessary -- 1) professions where ethics require client privacy 2) trade secrets 3) intellectual property (which the Chinese are stealing at alarming rates), and 4) much more.

BTW keyword usage and the response of a business' customers is intellectual property -- "know how".

Based on that statement, Google should tell us what they intend to penalize. That is, unless they have some secrets they are trying to hide that may subject them to prosecution under federal laws.

But no, no, no that's not possible. Google is wonderful and spreads fairy dust all over the land and makes things wonderful for all of us. We should just be thankful that they let us participate. We will all be so happy when we get to the wonderful place they are leading us. And through all of this, Google is making Billions of dollars, but that won't affect their judgement because they love us and know what's best for us.

I read a post from a gentleman from the UK pointing out that Google controls 12% of commerce in the UK (his numbers, I wonder what it is in the US -- I'l find out). He is afraid that Google is too powerful.

What happens if Google controls 30% of commerce world wide (free countries most likely)? Then their algorithm shifts will affect whole industries. Imagine that -- the future of whole countries would be able to be changed. The economic welfare of whole countries controlled by an algorithm run by a handful of Silicon Valley executives?

And, as any recruiter will tell you -- the best indicator of future performance is past performance.

The fairness with which Google handles current updates is an indication of what they would do with more power. Should we be afraid that Google won't communicate and moves businesses out of the search results with no input from the business and no willingness to investigate both sides?

This is an important topic so I'm going to post a new thread. How do we determine relevancy in a post-link world? How do we create a Google world that isn't a "Police State" so we don't have to fear Google's power?

Or, something to that effect. I need to think about it, so we frame that right debate.

Edited by Jill, 27 April 2012 - 05:54 PM.
Merged two posts together


#24 Jill

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 05:55 PM

Based on that statement, Google should tell us what they intend to penalize.


They have.

Keyword stuffed pages and purchased links.

This is an important topic so I'm going to post a new thread.


Please don't.

#25 clandestino

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:41 PM

I'll post it at Ce8asite.

#26 piskie

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 06:51 PM

Signal to noise ratio is just about to improve.
  • Jill and chrishirst like this

#27 clandestino

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 03:31 AM

Signal to noise ratio is just about to improve.


LOL x 10,000!!!

#28 JeffWise

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 12:30 PM

They have.

Keyword stuffed pages and purchased links.



Please don't.


Jill - Are you saying that most likely all my legit sites with high quality information was keyword stuffed possibly?

The average density of any keyword on my sites is around 2.10. I thought that was low?

What do we mean by purchased links? If it means buying a gig from Fiverr then I'm guilty. I bought ONE link gig one time in 2011.

If we mean purchasing links like using Unique Article Wizard then yes, I've been using that for two years.

I still have no clue what's happened to my sites.

#29 Jill

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:20 AM

If we mean purchasing links like using Unique Article Wizard then yes, I've been using that for two years.


Bingo.

But you'd need a thorough lost traffic audit to know for sure.

#30 chrishirst

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

The average density of any keyword on my sites is around 2.10. I thought that was low?

There is no such metric that SEs use called "Keyword Density"

To quote myself again.

Keyword density is defined as (Kc/Tw)*100. where Kc = Keyword count & Tw = Total words. Now, the usage this formula presupposes that the keywords for the document are already known


http://webmaster-tal...keyword-density




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