• http://www.blueglass.com GregBoser

    “Yes, it sucks that these techniques sometimes work, especially if you are a searcher and have to wade through spam or your company is getting outranked by a spammy competitor. ”

    The interesting thing with this latest wave of outings is that there isn’t any correlation between backlinks being spammy and the sites benefiting being spammy. No real users were complaining to Google about JCPenny or Overstock showing up for the terms the cheated on. The only people upset were competitors.

    But what is even more unique about this new spam hunt is the fact that Wall Street is now the ones doing the investigating. After Overstock, and JCP, I got several calls from stock analyst types wanting to know if various brand names were spamming Google. And that might ultimately become Google’s best link spam algo of all time. :)

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    To clarify more about my tweet, I totally agree that Google catches many paid links and that anyone buying them is engaging in extremely risky behavior. My past post, Conversation With An Idiot Link Broker, has some more about this:


    Having said that, despite the years that Google has spent warning people that it catches paid links, I find it amazing that it didn’t manage to spot JC Penney (which is hardly an unknown company) ranking well for variety of competitive terms via paid links. This wasn’t under-the-radar.

    Now Milanoo ranking well for things like “summer dresses” — apparently through paid links — it’s again not giving me a whole lot of faith that Google’s doing its job stamping this stuff out.

    Paid links, spam links — we’re in a post-Panda world where the algorithm is supposed to be all tuned-up and doing a better job. And yet, I feel like I’m still seeing the same crud that got me worked up last September when I penned my How The “Focus On First” Helps Hide Google’s Relevancy Problems article:


  • http://asiaseo.com Adam

    One of our competitors is doing exactly the same, they have managed to secure spammy links on Chinese .edu and .gov sites, they are now ranking first place on google for a number of competitive keywords.

    Not giving me much faith that Google’s doing its job in detecting and penalizing these sites, neither does it give me much faith in the security of the .edu or .gov sites allowing the backlinks.

    I wrote about it here:


    If you do a simple google search for “buy viagra” site:.gov.cn” and you can see the 1000’s of .gov websites that contain spam outbound links.

  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    Danny, the point of my article was that we have no idea how often this type of thing is caught so when cases when it’s not caught hits the news, it’s impossible to know if that means Google is missing things .001% of the time or 50% of the time. Just seeing anecdotal stories here and there doesn’t actually tell us anything about how well Google is doing with spam detection.

    Adam, keep in mind that just because a bunch of spammy links exist (and that you can easily pull up a list of them using the site: operator) doesn’t mean Google hasn’t already detected and devalued them. Viagra is in particular a tough one because new spam pops up every day so it’s a never ending battle.

    BTW, I’m not saying that Google does an excellent job of spam detection and these examples are crazy anomalies. I’m saying that we have no idea whether they are doing an excellent job or not without actual data. All we know for sure is that they don’t catch 100% of it instantly.

  • Ethan

    Ha! I love Greg’s point. To paraphase a favorite writer of mine:

    “In a [market] where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught…. The only final sin is stupidity.”

  • http://www.geek.ro/ ChrisT

    I saw your J.C. Penney entry as well and I get the image you’re try to portray for Google and in a ideal world thats how it should work. But what you say its nothing like the real world.
    Everyone that watches SERPs has seen outrageous cases of ranking based on methods that
    were supposed to be dead decades ago. font size=1, font color matching background colors (hidden links). Hello ? Its 2011 this method was outdated years ago, yet I’m still watching one of my competitors ranking solely on hidden links from sites with no content, for years.
    Do you think that the thought that google will eventually catch up makes me feel better ? No, he won’t care if he gets caught because he already cashed in more than his work was worth while I’m looking stupid waiting for mighty google to catch up with decade old techniques. Guess who won ? And how much longer should I wait before starting to practice the same techniques that just work ?