blackhat

Penguin 2.0 And Beyond In 2013

2 Comments
May 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

 
Here’s the latest video from Matt Cutts talking about what to expect in regards to how Google will treat links in the coming months. The war on link spammers rages on and Google at this point in time is still heavily gamed and the results for any money making keyword is full of junk.

Pay close attention to what he says as this is an unusually long video for this series and it is full of insight. He covers not only Penguin 2.0, but all the other link changes coming to the table including;

  • What Penguin 2.0 will go after
  • How Google will handle hacked sites
  • How Google will go after tiered link building
  • How Google will better choose authorities in a niche..AuthorRank anyone?

I’m not too worried about these updates as we never target anchor text, nor do we actually build links for clients apposed to earning them. It’s a different world but if you’re wanting to run a real brand, you cannot be out there chasing junk links just to pick off those coveted keywords.

Here’s a transcript of the video for those who cannot watch it:

Opening and Disclaimers

Hey everybody, today’s webmaster video is answering the question: “What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?” Okay, so, first off, we’re taping this video in early May of 2013, so I’ll give you a little bit of an idea about what to expect as far as what Google’s working on in terms of the webspam team. In terms of what you should be working on, we try to make sure that is pretty constant and uniform. Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again, ya know, all the things that make a site compelling. We try to make sure that if that’s your goal, we’re aligned with that goal, and therefore, as long as you’re working hard for users, we’re working hard to try to show your high quality content to users as well. But at the same time, people are always curious about, OK, what should we expect coming down the pipe in terms of what kinds of things Google’s working on. One of the reasons that we don’t usually talk that much about the kinds of things we’re working on is that the plans can change. Ya know, the timing can change, when we launch things can change. So take this with a grain of salt. This is, as of today, the things that look like they’ve gotten some approval or they look pretty promising. Okay, with all those kinds of disclaimers, let’s talk a little bit about the sort of stuff that we’re working on.

Intro to Penguin 2.0

We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally, we call it “Penguin 2.0″. And again, Penguin is a webspam change that’s dedicated to try to find blackhat webspam and try to target and address that. So this one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and we expect it to go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.

Paid Ads/Coverage/Links

We’ve also been looking at advertorials that is sort of native advertising and those sorts of things that violate our quality guidelines. So again, if someone pays for coverage or pays for an ad or something like that, those ads should not flow PageRank. We’ve seen a few sites in the US and around the world that take money and then do link to websites and pass PageRank. So we’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcement as far as advertorials that violate our quality guidelines. Now there’s nothing wrong inherently with advertorials or native advertising, but they should not flow PageRank and there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure so that users realize that something is paid, not organic or editorial.

Examples of Specific Niches to Be Targeted

It’s kind of interesting. We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google. For example, there were people complaining about searches like “payday loans” on Google.co.uk. So we have two different changes that try to tackle those kinds of queries in a couple different ways. We can’t get into too much detail about exactly how they work, but I’m kind of excited that we’re going from having just general queries be a little more cleaned to going to some of these areas that have traditionally been a little more spammy including, for example, some more pornographic queries. And some of these changes might have a little bit more of an impact in those kinds of areas that are a little more contested by various spammers and that sort of thing.

Going Upstream and More Sophisticated Link Analysis

We’re also looking at some ways to go upstream to deny the value to link spammers–some people who spam links in various ways. We’ve got some nice ideas on trying to make sure that that becomes less effective and so we expect that that will roll out over the next few months as well. And in fact, we’re working on a completely different system that does more sophisticated link analysis. We’re still in the early days for that, but it’s pretty exciting. We’ve got some data now that we’re ready to start munging and see how good it looks and we’ll see whether that bears fruit or not.

Hacked Sites

We also continue to work on hacked sites in a couple different ways, number one trying to detect them better, we hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hacked sites detection that is even more comprehensive, and also try to communicate better to webmasters, because sometimes they/we see confusion between hacked sites and sites that serve up malware, and ideally you have a one stop shop where once someone realizes that they have been hacked, they can go to webmaster tools and have some single spot they can go where they get a lot more info to sort of point them in the right way to hopefully clean up those hacked sites.

Shout out to the Spam Lords

So if you’re doing high quality content whenever you’re doing SEO this shouldn’t be some big surprise you shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of different changes. If you’ve been hanging out on a lot black hat forums and trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff then it might be a more eventful summer for you.

Authority Sites

But we have also been working on a lot of ways to help regular webmasters. We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space, could be medical or could be travel or whatever, and trying to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority or a site that according to the algorithms we think might be a little more appropriate for users.

“Borderline Quality” Sites… Possibly Good for Sites that Were Pandalized

We’ve also been looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals and we think we’ve got some to help refine things for the sites that are kinda in the borderzone/in the grey area a little bit. So if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality that will help sites that might have previously been effected to some degree by Panda.

Ranking Multiple Pages of Same Domain for the Same Query

We’ve also heard a lot of feedback from some people about that if I go down three pages deep I’ll see a cluster of several results all from one domain. We’ve actually made things better that you’re less likely to see that on the first page and more likely to see that on the following pages. And we’re looking at a change which might deploy which would basically say that once you’ve seen a cluster of results from one site then you’d be less likely to see more results from that site as you go deeper into the next pages of Google search results. And that has been good feedback that people have been sending us. We continue to refine host clustering and host crowding and all those sorts of the things. But we’ll continue to listen to feedback and see what we can do even better.

Back to Hacked Sites

And then we’re going to keep try figuring out how to get more information to webmasters. I mentioned more information for sites that are hacked and ways they might be able to do things, we’re also going to be looking for ways we can provide more concrete details, more example URLs that webmasters can use to figure out where to go diagnose their site.

Conclusion

That’s just a rough snapshot of how things look right now, things can absolutely change and be in flux we might see new attacks, we might need to move our resources around, but that’s a little about bit of what to expect
over the next few months in the summer of 2013.
I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m really excited about a lot of these changes
because we do see really good improvements in terms of people who are link spamming or doing various black hat spam would be less likely to show up I think by the end of the summer. And at the same time we’ve got a lot of nice changes queued up that hopefully will help small/medium businesses and regular webmasters as well. So that’s just a very quick idea about what to expect in terms of SEO for the next few months as far as Google.

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Spam Still King In Google SERPs

1 Comments
October 11  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

So we’ve had a Panda, Penguin and EMD update all within the past 30 days, the Google search results should be pretty clean right? We most definitely shouldn’t be seeing link spammed, keyword stuffed, EMD based 3-5 page max websites ranking for some of the most lucrative keywords…right?

Well I decided to check one of those keywords for the sake of seeing what’s going on and it seems even worse than last month to be honest. Below are my results for the keyword “payday loans online”, so obviously these won’t be the same everywhere. I’d like to hear what you folks are seeing because one of out ten results being an actual brand is kind of scary. The majority of the results crossed out below all had thousands of links dumped at it within the past month. As well, they only have 3-5 pages max so you’d like one of these updates took out these kinds of sites?


 
This is laughable to say the least although the latest Penguin update was just a refresh, and not a tweak to the algorithm itself(correct me if I’m wrong on that one though). Matt has been caught saying that the next real update will be “jarring and jolting”, so we’ll see what’s up in the coming months. I imagine they’re trying to get these updates out of the way before the holiday


What about non-shopping results?

While not every top 10 result is going to be this bad, but I just keep saving searches I come across as a user and this was a recent find of mine. I have a BenQ projector and recently had to figure out what was going wrong with it and how I could fix it. You’d think BenQ would come up on the first page, but instead it’s 99% FixYa and their pages are mostly just disguised Adsense ads and no real fix for anything.


 
More so annoyed more than anything really….link to your crazy search results in the comments below if you have something to share.

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Link Spammer Complains To Google About Spam Not Working

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August 13  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

I just caught this while helping out companies on Google’s webmaster help and thought you folks might get a laugh out of this one. There are sadly way too many “SEO’s” who have 0 clue as to what’s against Google’s TOS in regards to building links. This bloke is definitely lost at sea as you’ll quickly figure out from reading his post:

Hi,
 
I’m doing only white hat SEO for my site www.e07.net but it is caught in Penguin update and it has given low ranking, it should be on top for the keyword “forum posting service” it is on the seventh place.
 
I don’t know where I made the mistakes.
 
Thanks

Yikes… While 7th place is no penalty, his site will surely end up much worse over the next few weeks. I know most of you forum owners most likely want to punch this spammer in the face so settle down… one more will bite the dust soon. A quick look at the site’s link profile shows more ignorance as they’ve just been spamming forums with a couple of targeted anchor texts. This is exactly the kind of stuff Penguin is automatically looking out for in its hunt – not to mention ALL the links are of one type.


 
So this brings me to another point. If you’re hunting around for a service provider to attract links for you, do your homework on them. A lot of folks have no idea what to do and where to start, so knowing what’s going to cause your business trouble in the long (or short) run will make your life a whole lot easier.

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Can Competitors Harm Your Rankings?

12 Comments
May 28  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Google has changed up its wording from “There’s almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.” to this lovely bit of scary wording;

Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. If you’re concerned about another site linking to yours, we suggest contacting the webmaster of the site in question. Google aggregates and organizes information published on the web; we don’t control the content of these pages.

It’s pretty safe to say competitors can harm your site with links if done right, especially if you can do it yourself….they’re not going to be able to tell. There has yet to be any big and legit sites having a problem with links as it has mostly heen lousy affiliate sites. Most of the people complaining in the webmaster forums and Google’s help section have had not so good sites.

I’m not sure what else to say on this topic other than just focus on building up a real brand with more value to it that a set of links pointing to your site. What does your user want (apps, user engagement, deals, give aways, great content etc)? All of our clients that focused on these aspects have not been touched at all by any of the algorithm changes over the years, so it is possible to do good by Google.
 
Read it yourself: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34449

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The Future Of Google Spam?

6 Comments
May 3  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

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Buy Cialis Online Google Results

2 Comments
April 26  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

So the super duper spam attack Google algo update hit this week and continues to roll out, so what do the search results for some of the most spammed keywords look like? Well let’s take a look at buy Cialis and see what we can find ranking in the top 10 for one very competitive keyword.

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Negative SEO Fiverr

11 Comments
April 21  |  Black Hat  |   Ryan Clark

While this is most likely just a quick way to make a few bucks while jumping on a trend, we will however see an influx of these services. I’ve been enjoying the debating on whether or not you can penalize a site with boat loads of links. If you can buy yourself a bunch of junk links and end up in all sorts of trouble, why couldn’t someone else. There’s no way to tell who paid for those links so we have an interesting year ahead of us still.

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PRWeb Called A Link Scheme & Spam On GWC

7 Comments
April 15  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

I thought this would make for an excellent topic because there is a lot of talk and debating on what is link spamming these days. Press releases have long been a great way to get legit and worthy news out to the right people and of course links are a bonus of that. I don’t think that using a service like PRweb or any of the top wire services is spam unless you’re releasing useless/fake news just to get an anchor text link…then we’re getting into link scheme territory.

So onto my Google Webmaster Central Help section this morning which is a morning ritual of mine while drinking my coffee. It’s a place webmasters go to inquire with non-Google employees as to why they’re having a problem or issue with the big G. Keep in mind the regular “help” aka bionic posters are NOT Google employees and this sometimes is a frustrating thing because they, like most SEO’s including me from time to time, think they know all. They however do know a lot and are helpful for the most part although the tone coming from a lot of them usually entails a negative touch and or a whole lot of sarcasm in their responses. If this were happening with just about any other company those people who have been fired long ago as it’s a disgusting way to handle customer service. I don’t claim to be a saint either as I have been sassy from time to time within my posts.

So this morning I was reading a thread about a company claiming that competitors built spammy links to their site and they ended up getting penalized. So we’ve all heard this before but the bit that stuck out was when their bionic posters claimed that submitting a PR with PRweb is nothing but link spam.

seo101Level 15 Post reply

Apr 14 (11 hours ago)

Why do you submit via PRWeb for? It is to get links isn’t it? That is what PRWeb offer (they have “SEO” on their home page!). That self promotional link building … that the very definition of a link scheme!
Besides, I see nothing newsworthy about your site that you even need to do press releases!!!!

You can continue to delude yourself about your link building. Until you get over that, your site will continue to languish in mediocrity.


You are also making a fool of yourself re the class action law suit. Google has no contractual obligation to you or your site (written or implied) to give you any organic ranking, so has they have broken no contractual obligation, so you have no case!

Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal did talk about press releases briefly in a 2011 Pubcon interview and it’s one of the few references I can find on the web about the topic. They pretty much lay it out like I’ve mentioned on how you should go about utilizing a service like PRweb.

Question: Are PRWeb and press releases considered black hat due to duplicate content?

Matt Cutts: Press releases are going to other people and asking them to write about you. Instead, work hard to produce high quality content on your site and people will want to write about you. It is harder to fake natural than be natural.

Amit Singhal: The content must be high-quality and useful from a reader’s perspective. If the content is high quality and you work hard for the users, it is OK.

So this is kind of a touchy subject and I would love to hear what the wire service and inbound marketing community thinks of this. Google is really cracking down on manually built link building processes but I don’t think you’ll ever run into a problem if you steer clear of putting keyword specific anchor text in your press releases. Those who have been paying attention will know that site/brand links are killing it in the SERPs lately and you best be just letting those natural links coming in.

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