• Dennis House

    I have to disagree w/ the premise that “the websites with the ability to allocate resources to manipulative link acquisition are most often the ones with the best websites”.
    I think we’re forgetting about the large amount of marketers out there that who have the resources and knowledge to acquire extremely manipulative links whose only goal, most often, is the short-term profit associated with spammy, “blackhat” techniques.
    I can’t see google ever seeing this as OK, or, ignoring it as the “slums” of the SERPs. I can’t see them ever being okay with any portion of their product being considered a slum and I think we all remember the spam that took place, i think last year? ..surrounding Ugg boots. You could argue this is a vertical that might not be able to “acquire links naturally at a volume capable of accurately sorting the SERPs”,
    and we could imagine the implications that would be associated with Google leaving the SERPs the way they were under the premise that their product (Google) couldn’t produce a better result without those spammers manipulating it the way they did.

  • http://ninebyblue.com/ Vanessa Fox

    Unfortunately, this article suffers from the false premise that “If these verticals were to exist solely on content strength alone, they’d do so based more on random chance and variance more than anything else”, which assumes that Google has no other signals for valuing content other than links.

    Content owners looking to achieve long term success probably shouldn’t build their businesses based on the assumption that Google will overlook violations to its guidelines for certain verticals.

  • http://twitter.com/rosshudgens Ross Hudgens

    Vanessa, that statement isn’t an absolution. Definitely, other factors come into play, but if these factors rolled on the variance link standpoint, links – the most indicative factor – would likely outweigh many accessory factors, at least in the current model.

    Of course, Google could pivot to some other model like they do for Local Search and almost completely eradicate these editorially cited SERPs (and maybe they should), but, for now, it is my belief that these manipulative links actually enhance the search results in the taboo sectors. I would agree that perhaps, though, webmasters shouldn’t be moving forward with these practices just because that fact is currently true.

  • http://twitter.com/rosshudgens Ross Hudgens

    Clarification – “Definitely, other factors come into play, but if the SERPs were sorted as they are currently, with links being a most improtant factor in competitive SERPs – links, even is less, random amounts – would likely outweigh many accessory factors, at least in the current model.

    Of course, Google could pivot to some other model like they do for Local Search and almost completely eradicate these editorially cited SERPs (and maybe they should), but, for now, it is my belief that these manipulative links actually enhance the search results in the taboo sectors. I would agree that perhaps, though, webmasters shouldn’t be moving forward with these practices just because that fact is currently true.”

  • http://twitter.com/rosshudgens Ross Hudgens

    Meant to say “even in less” above, I’m really good at this comment thing.

    Dennis, I would not consider Ugg boots as a manipulative vertical. Although not as social as say, sports news, it definitely is capable of brand mentions and etc that would sort itself out should manipulative link practices not exist. I mean the worst of the worst – pharmaceuticals, porn, payday loans – etc.

  • http://www.highrankings.com/seoservicestwitter Jill Whalen

    This is, in my opinion, exactly what is wrong with Google right now (and for the past few years). Relying so heavily on links as they do, they miss a lot of the naturally good stuff, in favor of the manipulated “maybe” good stuff.

  • http://www.organicSEOconsultant.com/ Miguel Salcido

    Ross, fantastic topic and bold hypothesis. I agree that not everyone has the vertical, or the means much of the time, to produce link worthy content consistently. This is truly and art form and only the most creative, and most expensive, consultants can execute in low link efficacy verticals.

    The foundation of Google’s algo is based on linking, it is what set them apart from everyone else back in the day. If they remove the foundation the algo crumbles. Linking will always, IMHO, be a heavy factor. I have yet to hear anyone with any good ideas on how Google could ever replace linking as a major factor. And I am sure that Google has had some of the brightest minds in the world working on this for years and years now.

    But are Google’s results really that bad? I hear alot of people complain about what is wrong with Google’s results. Sure there are some queries and niches that are spammy but those results are such a small percentage of overall results that it is laughable. For the most part Google is a fantastic, highly relevant search engine that the great majority of the world gladly uses to “find stuff” online every day.

  • VinceLin

    Found this on Ross’s blog. If you think about it, most really competitive verticals that have a ton of money – it makes sense to invest in link building and also invest on the site itself. Wouldn’t it correlate to a higher quality website? Over time, the amount of continuous, ongoing effort to remain on top means that these sites have earned their due, survival of the fittest.

    @37a7cbdafe4473cfdc6a1716a15d6710:disqus 
    Agreed – however, NO ONE else has been able to come up with a replacement for links, (the idea originated from Stanford research PhD papers where the more referenced a paper was, the more likely it was of higher authority)

    There simply isn’t enough computing power to analyze things otherwise right now. Maybe once day we’ll figure out pure semantics and even then, you need a variable that extends beyond time  and measures ongoing “useful”, “valuable” effort…