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Gee Google, Thanks For The NON-Answer

by PotPieGirl on October 10, 2008 · 7 comments

Is THIS “Advice”?

Google came out and offered some inbound link advice yesterday. Google mentions how links TO your web page are one of the many ‘signals’ to Google that decide on the importance of your site (or web page). Also included in those “signals” is the actual content found ON the web page. Ok, got that. Content and inbound links…. Not really a newsflash there…but ok. But then the Google blog post talks about WHO is linking to your web page. They don’t want links TO a web page from “spammy sites“. Okayyyyyy… I have some questions about that.

The Importance Of Links TO Your Web Page

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love Jason Lee Miller’s articles over at WebProNews. His writing style is amusing and interesting to me and he usually has a unique view point of the topic at hand. He manages to offer me at least one valid point and one much-needed giggle in each article.

Anyway, last night I read one Jason’s latest articles at WebProNews talking about Google’s latest advice on inbound links. I was a bit excited as I began reading his article with the hope that Google would at least hint at some answers to questions many of us have about links coming into our sites, web pages, lenses, etc.

I was disappointed. Turns out, it was a great post full of non-answers. In fact, the post didn’t ANSWER a thing for me, but it DID leave me with MORE questions.

What Does Google Say About In-Bound Links?

According to this recent Google Blog post by Maile Ohye (Developer Programs Tech Lead) -

“Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance. Other signals include things like our analysis of your site’s content, its relevance to a geographic location, etc. As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank (one of many factors in our ranking algorithm). And quality links often come naturally to sites with compelling content or offering a unique service.”

Ok, Google likes links made TO a web page that are voluntary. They like good content. And, as “many of you know”, relevant quality inbound links can affect your PageRank. These things combined effect how our page comes up in the Google search returns. Content and links. Got it?

Well, ya see, while this may be a new concept to some reading this, reality is, this “advice” is NOT news to many of us that have been around for awhile.

Content Is King – But Who Is The Power Behind The Throne?

It’s been said ALL over the internet – “Content Is King!” – meaning that all good rankings START with the content found on your page. Now the term “quality content” is deemed by Google’s analysis of your page, not by Google’s opinion of your content or whether you made Google laugh when they scanned your page.

So Google analyzes your page and decides its relevancy by a computer algorithm – there is no opinion about it. It is all based on specific metrics. Google counts on in bound links to that web page to give the opinion side of “importance”. Based on this, it is quite possible that opinions about a web page can improve the ranking of a web page even more than the algorithm can, isn’t it?

Google may deem your web page not that “important” to a search query, but if ol’ Queen of Links comes into play, she can push King Content to the top.

Women are the heartbeat of everything, aren’t we? =)

Now, read what the Google blog says NEXT about inbound links:

“Let’s say I have a site, example.com, that offers users a variety of unique website templates and design tips. One of the strongest ranking factors is my site’s content. Additionally, perhaps my site is also linked from three sources — however, one inbound link is from a spammy site. As far as Google is concerned, we want only the two quality inbound links to contribute to the PageRank signal in our ranking.”

One link is from a “spammy site”. Google doesn’t WANT links TO a page from a “spammy site”.

At first glance, that makes perfect sense. Who DOES want a link to their web page from a “spammy site”??

But upon further reflection, I have to ask….

What IS A “Spammy Site”?

There is an algorithm that determines quality content, so what is the algorithm that determines a “spammy site”? Is a “spammy site” also considered even MORE “spammy” by the links TO that site (or lack of)? Now, we all have our opinions on what a “spammy site” is – but what are the Google FACTS that determine this?


And more importantly…

Google, Please Answer Me This -

How in the WORLD can I STOP a “spammy site” from linking TO me? If “spammy sites” link TO me, then those non-important “spammy sites” have now BECOME important because they link TO me? In turn, this makes MY web page LESS important?

Uhhhhhhhh…. Your Honor, I Object

I know this has been re-hashed over and over again, but doesn’t this reconfirm that there is real power to game this ‘advice’ on inbound links and really hurt your competition?

Wow, lookee there, Joe Competitor’s site is now ranking higher than me. Hmmm… better go find or go build some ‘spammy sites’ and link to Joe’s so Google sees his site as less important.

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

Did Google just tell us that “non-important sites” really ARE important?

Why do “spammy” sites even get an opinion?


Paul October 12, 2008 at 1:36 am

I read their statement as suggesting that they will only count the two good links and NOT count the other one. In other words the spammy sites can link to you but Google will give them no weight at all towards your page rank.

PotPieGirl October 12, 2008 at 1:53 am

Hi Paul =) I sure hope that is the case. However, the whole thing makes me a bit uneasy.

Thanks for reading!


Cat October 12, 2008 at 11:30 am

I also read this in the same way as Paul. Google must know that we don’t have any control over who links to us (I hope so anyway!)

Kellie Davis October 12, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Hi Jenn,

Excellent insight into this article. I like the way you have read past the rhetoric and into the article. Basically, I think the only thing you miss google saying was “we’re not telling how we do it so nah nah nah nah nah” because the believe themselves above this kind of talk. I however do not, as you well know! I find your insight into these issue to be very en pointe; you target specific arenas and speak to your target which makes those of us who don’t have the time, energy or ability to do your research, much more easily able to understand these small but ultimately life-giving concepts for our sites. Thanks for that. Also, I got the job of Department Chair of World Languages at the school! A tiny stipend, more stress but a title and no cafeteria duty. I’m glad because it’s a stepping stone to a full supervisor’s job. Anyway, thanks for the article and I love you! (I’m Potpie Girl’s Sister – which makes me what? Burned Crust Critter?-hmmm we’ll need to work on that.

Insane senile blogger October 22, 2008 at 7:11 am

I don’t see Google ever punishing a site for a spam link(s). It would be far too easy to get a competing site banned if they did.

Insane senile bloggers last blog post..Does Life Imitate Art?

Abi November 6, 2008 at 6:40 am

oh yes they did! i built an awesome website for the first time paying for domain and hosting.. it started ranking superb for my main keywords when i started getting link spam from hundreds of blogger blogs within days! next thing i know, i’m out of index for like 2 months..

it returns to the index, and gone again in a few weeks.. took me great effort to stabilize the ranking.. but the wounds still remain.. i’m still cleanin em’ up!

Frank Carr December 7, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Google has said many times that you won’t be penalized for incoming links. They fully realize the competitor scenario you mentioned. Matt Cutts even mentioned that you don’t have to worry about someone linking to you from a ‘bad neighborhood’ site because it may actually not be considered a spam site by Google.

I think what they mean is that Google’s algorithm will downgrade or simply not count what they consider spammy links when calculating your PageRank and search placement. Thus meaning there’s nothing to worry about unless your rankings are entirely dependent upon these sites.

Frank Carrs last blog post..Earn Online Cash with Quick Article Writing

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