Publicity & Penalties

Sep 4th

Sphinn published a post about many general directories getting nailed by Google. It is a case of marketing too heavily to the SEO community without being able to face public scrutiny.

I recently saw a spam AdSense site covering just about every angle of the financial category, with

  • about a half million rented links (many are sitewide on PR8 and PR9 sites)
  • thousands of pages of near Markov generated quality content
  • ultra spammy internal site structure
  • a bad design
  • ranking for well over 10,000 unique Google search queries
  • likely making anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 per day from AdSense

Some high ranking sites can last for years as long as they stay out of the limelight. But when those sites get public scrutiny they need to have enough community influence to make a search engineer fear hand editing them.

BankRate can get mentioned on an Seo blog, get featured in the WSJ as a successful SEO play, and have a Sphinn thread mentioning their mirror sites and that is fine. If a smaller company were to do the same stuff they would stand a good chance of a hand edit. I discussed this difference a bit in a recent link building interview by Peter Da Vanzo.

As soon as non-corporate sites get mentioned on a popular SEO blog (as a success story or a spammy site) they stand a good chance of getting killed. My site that got hand edited by a Google engineer was nuked after I signed up for Google Webmaster Central and an SEO blogger mentioned the site.

The moral of the story is it is best to not seek exposure as or get categorized as an SEO play unless your brand is strong enough to hurt Google if they try to hurt you.

Published: September 4, 2007

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Comments

September 4, 2007 - 11:54pm

How do you rent a half a million PR8 and 9 links? That seems incredible to me, not to mention how expensive it must be.

September 4, 2007 - 11:57pm

Not that all the links are that high of a PageRank. Many of the links are sitewide on sites with a homepage PR of that level.

September 5, 2007 - 1:48am

That's why I always cringe when I see those "creating controversy is good" posts. A lot of times controversial posts/conversations can bring you too much scrutiny. I don't even post in Google Groups with an account that has an actual revenue generating site.

September 5, 2007 - 1:57am

You all might be interested in a recent article about Google published by The Economist. It's in the most recent issue.

Just my .02 but any company that sucks up as much revenue and personal data all while faining altruism (or whatever you want to call it) is dangerous.

September 5, 2007 - 8:36am

The problem with Google taking action against the most popular directories is that the lower quality ones are still ranking for their own names and will still attract submissions, even though none of the links are worth anything.

September 5, 2007 - 4:19pm

On the outside looking in, directories have certainly become a problem. Do you think that it will be too little too late? I suppose the best way to market is to stay as transparent as possible?

September 5, 2007 - 8:18pm

Hi Patrick. I suppose for Google that is not a problem. That is actually the goal. If you are getting ripped off buying garbage links that don't work then Google is happy with their net effect on the directory link building game.

September 5, 2007 - 8:21pm

Hi pbraish. Google is anything but transparent. They go out of their way to obfuscate stuff. Given their current marketshare and stock valuation what they are doing is working, at least for now.

September 5, 2007 - 10:55pm

"Hi pbraish. Google is anything but transparent. They go out of their way to obfuscate stuff. Given their current marketshare and stock valuation what they are doing is working, at least for now."

Man isn't that the truth. I don't think their value is going down anytime soon either. Some interesting thoughts have been rolling around in my head lately about directory marketing for D-owners and such. What is safe?

September 5, 2007 - 11:34pm

I sometimes wonder if google will start profiling webmasters... like if I use google reader to read this blog, does that spell trouble for a website I own?

September 6, 2007 - 1:08am

What is safe?

Being a legitimate authority that Google needs and can't clone. They partnered with AP...they didn't clone them.

I sometimes wonder if google will start profiling webmasters... like if I use google reader to read this blog, does that spell trouble for a website I own?

I don't see it getting to that level. I think that they just try to control some of the people and use that to manipulate the rest of the market through FUD.

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