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What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO is improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site or page from the search engines using natural organic and algorithmic search results (SERPs).

SEO is actually a component of SEM (Search Engine Marketing). Which encompasses many avenues with which to promote a web site or page.
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October 30, 2007

Google's PageRank Slap | Immunize your Site


Last week, Google executed a "PR Slap" if you will. The entire webmaster / SEO community has been up in arms about this bold move by Google. On 10/24/2007 Web Pro News posted a list of sites "slapped" and their associated PageRank reductions. There are some pretty heavy hitters in the list, such as washingtonpost.com, forbes.com, problogger.net, andybeard.eu, and seroundtable.com, just to name a few. As you can imagine many of the site owners are pretty upset. Many rumors an theories were flying around, but with a cool head Andy Beard reported that while many of the sites penalties appeared to be link commerce related...There were others that just didn't look to be participating in and link selling or buying.

Many of the reputable sources that have received a penalty are part of extensive blog networks, and they have one factor in common. They have massive interlinking between their network sites.

Now yesterday 10/29/2007, we have Search Engine Journal reporting an email from Matt Cutts on the matter. Matt says this...

The partial update to visible PageRank that went out a few days ago was primarily regarding PageRank selling and the forward links of sites. So paid links that pass PageRank would affect our opinion of a site. Going forward, I expect that Google will be looking at additional sites that appear to be buying or selling PageRank.

So Matt confirms the selling of links, and adds that they have considered "forward links" of sites. This says to me, that it does not have to be a site selling links to get busted. You may just be lending PageRank to a neighboring site. I would think that this is how the PageRank system is intended to work, but apparently Google has some means of determining a level of "malice" with your outgoing links. I am very concerned that the whole world with have a "fear of linking" epidemic. As you can see above in Matt's comments Google will be looking at more sites.

So what of these sites that were penalized? I checked several, and many are cleaned up already. However, there are many in the list that have used what I will call "unsafe SEO practices". I did find some link selling, some hidden text, obvious link selling "buy a link here", sold links hidden away in Java Script, affiliate labeled link lists not "nofollowed", some traffic widgets, and as Andy pointed out some pretty serious interlinking. I did find some sites that in there present state show no signs of a valid reason for the penalty....But only a few.

Have we learned nothing? Has Google not been telling us these things for some time? Why would any site STILL have it's blogroll or advertisers labeled as: Sponsors, Partners, Affiliates, or Paid Ads? Additionally, why would anyone think it would work to use such labels and then hide the links in Java Script, with the label...Usually bold or a heading tag right out in the spider-able open? Do we not realize this is hidden links? Hidden text...Most of the time this is just a coding error in my experience....But clearly if you have violated other guidelines, you would seek to avoid raising suspicion for such a simple mistake.

Some of the issues are not so easily analyzed, nor repaired. Sites and blogs that are part of huge networks have clearly been penalized as well. I take issue with this, at least partially. In my opinion, if a webmaster doesn't own these sites or there is a huge amount of reciprocal linking afoot...Then this is how Google's ranking system is intended to work. Just like above, for the sites still getting Google's attention with those obvious "Look at me I am selling links" words...Then natural or not, you are asking for trouble.

So, if you have no idea why Google has giving you a PR drop.....You have only to look at your links, Ads, and forward link profile. This not new information. I have said it before, and I'll say it once more...If you are spending more time trying to "beat" Google, than you are trying to follow the rules and move forward....You are making a huge mistake. Google appears to be quite serious about this, they warned us, they gave penalties...And still many webmasters think they are somehow immune or have found such a means to "beat" the system. Google has not even spared the large authority sites, what would make you think your site will be exempt? No crying foul when you have broken the rules and got caught.

Peace and SEO

Melanie Prough
"Baby"
**Disclaimer: The sites mentioned in the first paragraph are not necessarily the sites used to gather the information regarding "unsafe SEO practices". I checked a great deal of sites, and the findings are general for all of the sites inspected.



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2 Comments:

DazzlinDonna said...

Sorry, but I have to point out something that you seem to have misunderstood. You say:

sold links hidden away in Java Script is an unsafe SEO practice

and:

why would anyone think it would work to use such labels and then hide the links in Java Script, with the label...Usually bold or a heading tag right out in the spider-able open? Do we not realize this is hidden links?

None of that is true. Actually, using Javascript to present sold links is something Matt Cutts has stated is a good thing to do. In this post on his blog, he says in the comments:

Aaron Nimocks, I believe AdBrite constructs their links with JavaScript so that links are being sold for traffic, not to affect search engines. Things like JavaScript, the nofollow attribute (or meta tag), or doing a link through a redirect that is robots.txt’ed out would be techniques to sell links for visitors/traffic, as opposed to trying to influence search engine rankings.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Melanie Prough "Baby" said...

Hi Donna,

I think if a site has a big old heading tag announcing "sponsors" or "buy a link here" labelling a Java Script hidden box...Then they are clearly asking for trouble.

Additionally, a few of these sites have made errors...and the links are in fact showing as backlinks.

It is sneaky, and unecessary. These are NOT AdBrite Ads...These are regular sold text links, and image Ads. Why would they not just use a "nofollow". Instead, they draw attention to their whole site, most of which had "other" issues as well.

We have known for some time that the algo is going to grab certain terms like "sponsored", and "buy a link"...It's no surprise at all that the majority of these sites drew Google's suspicious eye.

Hidden or not...I believe the intention is the same. Google does not spell out every detail of every guideline either..We are expected to use common sense.

--Melanie