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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3070 - May 22, 2013 - ISSN 1539-5065    3 of 3

When It Comes to Link Spam, Google Is a Harsh Webmistress

By David A. Utter
May 22, 2013

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Before Google came into prominence, when Larry Page and Sergey Brin were first drumming up support for their search engine, web users had a smattering of choices for finding links. There were options like Yahoo, Hotbot, Altavista, and more. Some were better than others, none were what one would consider at the level of Google's PageRank quality.

Success begat an industry of search advertising, which helped astute ecommerce pros among others reach their target market; and search engine optimization (SEO), for helping websites nudge their way into the highest value, above the fold, first page organic search result placements.

The latter is a blessing and a curse for Google, which has to employ an ongoing antispam effort to keep those organic results from becoming cluttered with less-than-optimal content. Google's Matt Cutts recently announced the company would step up its efforts against those trying to game the system.

Google's less-than-tolerant stance against linkspam has been growing for some time. An analysis published by Portent offered this direct opinion on the topic: "there's no safe amount of manipulative links in your profile."

Portent's report found Google's "Penguin" updates are bringing the hammer down hard on linkspam, with each update likely to crack down harder than the one before it. From the report:

In the initial Penguin update, the only sites we saw penalized had link profiles comprised of more than 80 percent manipulative links. Within two months, Google lowered the bar to 65 percent. Then in October 2012, the net got much wider. Google began automatically and manually penalizing sites with 50 percent manipulative links.

Portent suggests some steps to consider for one's site when it comes to evaluating the kinds of links coming in to it. Their essential advice distilled to one sentence: "If your business didn't get a link through real marketing, take it down."

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to media@davidautter.com and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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