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I love that Google's going to regularly share updates they make to their crawl, ranking and search ecosystems, but it also frustrates the @#$%! out of me that they continue to make these iterative changes without focusing on the biggest problem in their results - paid link spam overwhelming other relevancy signals.

Either they need to throw in the towel and stop claiming that link spam doesn't work and gets penalized/banned/value removed quickly OR they need to expend serious engineering efforts to make those threats a reality. The current model is so broken that it's harder day after day to tell businesses and marketers not to engage in spam when their peers are so blatantly winning with it.

Please Google, please. Live up to the standards you promote. I can't wait to support you all the way.
Mason S's profile photoLee Goldberg's profile photoColleen Friess's profile photoAlex Alex's profile photo
Can I +100 this? I agree the additional transparency is welcome. But it's frikkin infuriating to focus on more organic techniques and to have the most difficulty in overcoming competitors employing an exclusively paid link strategy.


/rant over.
I can't help but feel like more and more of these updates are features and tweaks, and really have nothing to do with improving the core algorithm or search quality. It's like when Windows adds 76 bells and whistles, but then crashes 25% more often and I need twice the memory to run it.
Lol +Pete Meyers. It was that very thing that ultimately resulted in me going Mac haha.

Unfortunately there isn't really as simple a solution in search terms. :(
The symptoms of too many people trying to find too many things to do, that probably dont need doing.
Mason S
Yah I really have felt more frustration with Google as of late, especially the new organic-less results. Covering all above-the-fold areas with paid ads seems to go against their philosophies that they spout to us.
+10000 at +FeeFighters ( we are SO frustrated by this. We've got a pagerank 6 site that is a value-added comparison shopping site for payments... got there by working our ass off to get coverage/links etc, but if you do this search you get a bunch of shitty low pagerank sites that are mostly scamming their customers. Looking at their backlinks is hilarious. In the past 2 days I've had the same crappy experience when looking for insurance and surf schools in guatemala. So annoying! Google are you listening?
I agree that link spam in general is so prominent. I have a few clients where their competitors have tons of link spam going to their site and they rank higher no matter what we do. From paid to fake forum profile to irrelevant blog comment posts this is getting ridiculous. It's a shame that the people who are working to play by the rules and to get relevant links can't get ahead. Hoping they make a serious change to the algorithm.
I can also confirm that some of my competitors are clearly buying unrelated, spammy links in mass bulk which has definitely helped them rank for some big terms. I feel it is short term gain, long term pain......Their time will come!
Couldn't agree more with your sentiment Rand. It's frustrating to see competitors rank from the most overtly spammy links across the web that even the most basic level of investigation will reveal. Each time I hear Google roll out a ranking update I check to see if they have been penalised, but no, there they are sitting atop of the search results again.

It gets harder and harder to keep the team focused on doing the right thing while these sites carry on their merry way without a hint of penalty being applied against their tactics. I'm fast getting tired of my own message "sit tight, Google will get them, one day"... maybe they wont.
Thanks for posting this, Rand. Hopefully the "powers that be" will listen when someone of your standing in the community speaks.
Absolutely, +Rand Fishkin . I know Google has a SPAM reporter but I wish they'd launch a 'backlink spam' reporter tool. Guys like me who are doing a transparent and honest job at getting clients ranked could point to a ton of companies, including Fortune 500 companies, that are paying for backlinks. It's time this get flushed out in the open. It's a hundred million dollar+ industry that's destroying Google and hurting honest businesses that can't compete with the tens of thousands of dollars a month some big company will throw out there.
THANK YOU for saying this. Every time Google comes out with an "improvement" these days, it's just so horribly and obviously NOT an improvement that it makes me cringe. Seems like the low hanging fruit - spammers and paid links - would be relatively easy to fix, but it's just not a priority, apparently.
+Wendy Boswell Yeah it needs to happen, but I'm sure it's not easy. I have a little sympathy for the guys... I picture them trying again and again to finally fix the spam issue, only to find the solution makes things even worse... Sadly, spam is ingrained in the web ecosphere. If there was a simple, algorithmic change to fix the problem, I think it'd be done long ago.
Thank you for speaking up about link spam. I was wondering what happened to Googles' Panda, wasn't it supposed to address paid link spam? Or did the spammers figure out how to neuter Panda?
as i see it The problem google has is they cant just get rid of the paid links as a signal or the whole algorithm would shift to much and they risk loosing what they worked for so they need to slowly change it over time nudging people to do real white hat seo - The problem is until google changes enough we are forced to do these crapy paid methods etc to so extent if we want to compete
+John Mueller My understanding is that there's a few thousand of those reports sent in daily (maybe many, many more) but I've never seen action taken in response within a reasonable timeframe. Granted, eventually (6-12 months, often longer), a site or page that's been reported may fall out of the rankings, but its usually only the most aggressive ones.

If you'd like loads of examples, I'm sure the inbound marketing community could provide hundreds very quickly.

And thanks for replying - the presence and participation from folks on the Webmaster Tools has always been quite refreshing and welcome.
+Rand Fishkin I don't know the numbers of reports that are submitted, but they really help us to improve our handling of these links. It worries me when I hear that experts like you & the others here are seeing these issues, and I'm not sure that the details are actually making it to us. A lot of these issues require a detailed look at the specifics so having those kinds of exact data-points can really make a difference, even if it doesn't result in visible action being taken within days (though I agree, it can be frustrating to submit reports and not see visible changes right away).

Anyway, regarding the other changes that we post about, I probably don't need to mention that we have a lot of people working on search, so just because we make one change, doesn't mean that we're ignoring other problems :).
No one will ever be able to keep up with the speed and pace the blackhat linkbuilding industry is working nowadays. It doesn't matter if you report 10.000 "bad" links/ or domains as "bad" linksources today, when those linkspammers just move on to new hosts, domains, techniques and stuff... if Google doesn't develop a robust algorithm against extensive linkspam there's no solution in sight... my biggest fear in this context is the well known collateral damage the web is taking by the Algorithm excluding the wrong domains and punishing some of the good guys mistakenly...
If they kill those affiliate sites ranking in Top10, their Adsense income would be pathetic ;]
I couldn't agree more. Google let's fix these issues.
+Rand Fishkin If I am not mistaken, there was a post on +SEOmoz about the future of SE ranking factors and the idea was that back-links will be the core ranking factor till the time when whole scheme/protocol of the Web changes and is not going to happen in the near future.

For me there is no way out. Why? Just imagine Google somehow can determine the link is irrelevant (e.g. by scanning keywords on that website) and stops giving value to it while as there will be still value from relevant websites, which can be easily found our by SEOs. What happens next? Will they stop selling/buying links? No! They will be purchasing links from relevant website, website owners will have needed keywords on their website to selling links effectively and the prices will be much higher than now.

Purchasing or not purchasing back-links is rather a philosophical or ethical question, but a SEO one.

There is a way to stop buying links - give no weigh to back-links at all, but off site ranking factors have always been of major importance because it is something (as considered) website owners can't control. Then what will be left - on-site factor and social signals?
Google went Blekko on content farms. Why don't they do go Blekko on links as well and just display all links and other metrics of each site that go into the rankings? This way everybody could take a quick look at their competition, find and report paid links.
+stativa dan No, everybody is abusing now, 2/3 of them because they don't know better due to the clandestine Google ranking signals. When the algo goes public and abusers will be spotted by everybody else including their competition. Blekko does that as well and there is less spam. You're a pessimist.
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