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Anchor Text Spam In Widgets


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19 replies to this topic

#1 rayjoy

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:32 PM

Penguin penalty as a result of anchor text in widgets?
 
I am trying to remove what I suspect is an anchor text link penalty. I have NOT received an "unnatural links warning" from Goggle (there is no warning in my Webmaster Tools account) but my traffic is down 50%. I can clean up my own internal linking, (which does have some anchor text spam - too many keywords in the anchor text) but I am not sure about what to do with anchor text spam in sites that link to me.
 
I have never paid anyone for links, or submitted to link directories etc. I have very few reciprocal links ( 50?) but I do invite others to embed an mp3 music player (java script) that has a visible 4 or 5 keyword anchor text link attached to it and an alt text link also. Some sites have adopted this as part of their site template - in other words it is a "site-wide" link (my player is found on every page of their site - 100's of times) with the exact anchor text repeated every time. With several sites doing this it means I have thousands of referring pages with links pointing to my site, but only a few hundred referring domains in total. 
 
I have four related questions:
 
1.  Do you think my mp3 music player is an acceptable method of collecting back links? The webmasters who embed my mp3 player get to use my music for the benefit of their visitors, and the links embedded in my player give my site backlinks. They are not hidden links, they are related to my site, and it is obvious what they are for - ie ... "listen to my music in this player, and if you like my music this is where you will find it ... click here." (An example of the use of the player can be found here ..
 
2.  Do you think this may have attracted an anchor text penalty from Google?
 
3.  Does Google have a way of differentiating between site-wide backlinks (as opposed to a normal single backlink from a single domain) and discounting them so as not to penalise me for suspected anchor-text spam?(Blogging sites especially seem to do this.)
 
4.  Would I be safer just using my company name in the alt text and anchor text, (instead of keywords) or use the company name in the alt text link and some keywords in the anchor text link?
 
Thanks!

#2 qwerty

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 05:49 AM

Does the fact that you're talking about the alt attribute mean that each of these widgets has both a text link and an image link? If so, why, and are these links to two different pages, or two links to the same one? That alone makes me think you're overdoing it a bit.

 

Secondly, how large a percentage of your total backlinks are coming from this widget -- not how many domains, but how many pages contain these links? If you don't have a broad range of natural (or at last arguably natural) links from other sources that aren't site-wide  and don't use the same anchor text, then I can see why this would be a problem, not because they're run of site, but because they're all the same. In that context, I don't think it's a question of whether you're better off with keywords, your company name, or a just a URL, you're better off with a lot more variety. If 75% of your links are the same keywords, then switching it so that 75% of your links are the company name won't make things better.

 

You probably need to get links that have nothing to do with the widget.


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#3 Jill

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 08:44 AM

If you didn't receive an unnatural links warning you have nothing to get rid of.

#4 rayjoy

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 10:46 PM

 


 

Thanks Querty ... you have always given great advice.

 

[Does the fact that you're talking about the alt attribute mean that each of these widgets has both a text link and an image link?] YES

 

[If so, why, ]

The alt tag is with a clickable pic at the top of the player, the anchor text link is down the bottom. Some people click on pics, others like text.

 

[and are these links to two different pages, or two links to the same one? That alone makes me think you're overdoing it a bit.]  

Both links go to the same page the player relates to (genre or style of music) Some players are more generic in style and point to the home page, but in every player BOTH links ALWAYS point to the same page.

 

[Secondly, how large a percentage of your total backlinks are coming from this widget -- not how many domains, but how many pages contain these links? ]

For one particular page, for example - backlinks from domains comprise 50% and backlinks from individual pages comprise 70% of the total number of backlinks to that page. Most of the 800 or so links are site-wide links from a couple of domains. 

 

[ If 75% of your links are the same keywords, then switching it so that 75% of your links are the company name won't make things better.]

Yes, but at least we are not trying to insert kw into the link. I don't think I can easily change existing links, but for the future I am looking at making the top alt text the company name and the bottom one a descriptive phrase of the music genre. Do you still think having 2 links is a bad idea?

 

Does Google recognise when a website creates site-wide links and so does not assume link-spamming?

 

 

 

Thanks Jill, succinct and to the point ... but if I have nothing to get rid of then I'm at a loss as to why I've lost 50% of my traffic. 


Edited by rayjoy, 14 May 2013 - 04:48 AM.


#5 qwerty

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 05:43 AM

Does Google recognise when a website creates site-wide links and so does not assume link-spamming?

 

That's not really what I'm suggesting. I'm just saying too many links of the same type may be an issue.

 

I want to stress that since you haven't received a warning, you're most likely not under a penalty, which is why I'm not suggesting you try to get any of these links removed. However, I wouldn't be surprised to find that links that had been helping you simply aren't anymore because so many of them are the same. That's why my recommendation is that you get some variety by obtaining links that don't come from the widget, thereby making the widget links a smaller percentage of the total.


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#6 torka

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 10:38 AM

Have you checked the sources of your traffic? You say traffic is "down 50%" -- but is that all traffic across the boards, or has one source of traffic dried up while others are relatively unscathed.

 

Some kind of penalty from Google would affect organic search traffic from Google, but should leave other channels and sources relatively untouched. As far as I know, for instance, Bing doesn't "honor" Google penalties, and no matter what Google does, it shouldn't have an effect on your direct and referral (non-search) traffic.

 

If the decline is across the boards, on the other hand, it's probably not Google. Maybe you've got some new competition you didn't know about or there's been some other shift in your market so people aren't as interested in your offer. Or maybe they're just getting "banner blindness" from seeing that widget everywhere -- most of the people who were interested in your offer have already clicked and the rest don't even notice the link anymore. Or perhaps there's been some other change so they're using different keywords now than what they used to.

 

If you can drill down to see what's happened to different channels and sources of traffic, you'll be able to better pinpoint where the problem may lie.

 

--Torka :propeller:



#7 rayjoy

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 07:30 PM

It's definitely a Google (only) "penalty". I have lost 90% of my Google traffic - specifically traffic that used to come from Google. My overall traffic has dropped by about 70%, but the major bulk of that is Google organic search traffic. I suspect the "penalty" is due to the keyword-stuffed anchor text in the backlinks I have pointing to my site which come from a music player widget embedded on the pages of many web sites. (and the anchor text is always the same.) I have tried fixing everything else I can think of. It will take me forever to contact all the web masters and ask them to change the widget to a less spammy kw stuffed version.

 

Here are some options of what I am thinking of doing, and would really appreciate someone's perspective:

 

1.  Contact as many web masters as feasible, and get the anchor text changed - but realistically not many will do this

 

2.  Delete the pages that the spammy links are pointing to.

QUESTION: Will spammy links pointing to just one page affect the Google ranking of all the other pages on the site as well? Assuming this to be so then delete the pages that the spammy links are all pointing to, so the spammy links go nowhere. This is a bit drastic, I would prefer to "save as" those pages as some other URL with the same content but the links not pointing to them. On the original page I would put a simple note "page has moved, click here" and forward them to the replacement page. A 301 would not work because I would be forwarding all the spammy links, but would an instruction on the original page to go to the replacement page be the same as a 301 as far as Google is concerned, and they would still pass on the penalty of the spammy links to the new web page and the site as a whole?

 

3.   Use the disavow tool to negate all the links that I think are causing me trouble. If I make much use of this tool ( I may need to) will Google see this as a bad thing? Is this an effective way to solve the problem?

 

4.   Get new quality backlinks to my site. Will the old spammy links still continue to hurt my site in the long run though, so I still need to get rid of them?

 

Thanks so much for your expertise and time.


Edited by rayjoy, 17 October 2013 - 07:38 PM.


#8 qwerty

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 10:03 PM

Here's the voice of Google on links in widgets, a couple of months ago:

 

I'm guessing the sites containing your widget have it sitting on their server. That is, they're not embedding in on their pages by hotlinking the file from your server. If it was a matter of the widget sitting on your server, you could just edit the file and everything would be fine.

 

But if everyone has their own copy, and you're convinced the widgets are hurting you, then yes, you should ask as many people as you can to edit it so it either doesn't link to you or does so with a nofollow link. Changing the anchor text might help, but if that's going to be your strategy, you might want to play it as safe as you can and have them make the anchor text just the URL so there's absolutely no chance of it being interpreted as an attempt to "game the system" by doing what Google used to advise us to do: use anchor text to tell users and search engines what a page is about.



#9 chrishirst

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 01:50 PM

As said in a different thread, your URLs probably haven't been 'penalised' at all.

 

 

The links have simply been devalued.



#10 qwerty

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 04:00 PM

I think that depends a lot on what proportion they make up of the total number of links pointing to the site, and just how bad Google has deemed them to be. The former can be approximated, but the latter can only be guessed at, unless Google actually sends a message that the site is being penalized.

 

But long before Penguin, I saw examples of sites that were being genuinely hurt (as in not showing up for searches on the company name) because half or more of their links were coming from the same place. It happened to me, probably close to ten years ago. I got rid of the links and the problem vanished within a couple of weeks. I think now that the Penguin algo is out there, that kind of thing can happen because of too many of the same type of links or too many links with the same anchor text.

 

Just my opinion, of course, but based on real experience.



#11 rayjoy

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 11:29 PM

I appreciate the advice received so far, ...thanks. 

 

still not sure about the following:

 

2.  Will spammy links pointing to just one page affect the Google ranking of all the other pages on the site as well? 

 

3. If I make too much use of the disavow tool ( I may need to) will Google see this as a bad thing? 



I got rid of the links and the problem vanished within a couple of weeks.

qwerty - how did you "get rid" of the links?



#12 qwerty

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 05:14 AM

I had control over the site that was linking to mine, so it wasn't as difficult as your situation. I actually left the run-of-site links in place, but I recoded them to point to a new page on that site instead of pointing to my own site. Then I had that one page link to my site, so I went from about 300 footer links on the site to one link from the main body of the page, but that page was one that was linked to from the footer of every page on its site.



#13 qwerty

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 05:27 AM

In response (but not necessarily "answer") to your questions...

Will spammy links pointing to just one page affect the Google ranking of all the other pages on the site as well?

I think so, if there are enough of them, and they can be lumped together as a single tactic or group of tactics. I think they're likely to hurt the site for branded searches and searches that those links indicate you're targeting.

If I make too much use of the disavow tool ( I may need to) will Google see this as a bad thing?

I haven't seen anyone indicate that they've experienced that. Basically, disavowing a page or domain is equivalent to telling Google that you want them to treat those links as if they had a nofollow on them. I don't see any reason to think that having lots of links that are nofollowed can be a cause for concern.

 

What's not universally agreed on (even among the folks right here at HR) is whether there's any point in using the disavow tool if you haven't received a specific warning about your links from Google. I may in fact be the only mod or admin around here who believes there are cases where you ought to use it without receiving word from G. So while it's always a good idea to take advice as just advice, it might be wise to take my advice on matters of link troubles with even more of a grain of salt.



#14 rayjoy

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 07:37 PM

What's not universally agreed on (even among the folks right here at HR) is whether there's any point in using the disavow tool if you haven't received a specific warning about your links from Google. I may in fact be the only mod or admin around here who believes there are cases where you ought to use it without receiving word from G. 

 

Qwerty - I appreciate your answers. I know Jill thinks I have no penalties from Google to worry about, if I haven't received a warning note from them (which I haven't. ) But how do you describe a 90% reduction in traffic from Google as any thing other than a penalty?



#15 qwerty

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 09:22 PM

One could argue that it was the juice from those links that was helping you before, and while Google isn't penalizing you for having those links, they've taken away any benefit you were getting from them. If that's the case, then you're now where you'd be if you had disavowed the links.


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