This morning we had a client lose all of the hard work we’ve applied for the last four months. This client was making their way up the rankings for a number of competitive keywords and were sitting at page two in Google, about to make it into the first page. Then disaster. Not on page two, three, four or five, but relegated to page six, and for some terms, past page ten!
It smelt like a Google penalty, in particular a -50 penalty. But I didn’t understand, we hadn’t purchased any links, all of the links we obtained were on topic, relevant, using a range of anchor text. So I went to the source to see the outcome. Googling the clients URL I discovered they had over 600 links, amazing since we’ve only created about 60 for them, six months ago they had about 70, so something odd was going on. Close inspection of the sites linking to them revealed a heap, I’d be guessing at least 500 sites, were other Australian businesses with links pages.
And then it twigged. I’d remembered the client was involved in the Traffic Accelerator Program last year. They hadn’t created a links page themself, but every month they were emailed a list of websites to link to, including the anchor text and description. So presumably, all the other companies involved in the program had also been emailed my clients details and asked to add them to their links pages.
That means about 500 sites are linking to my client with exactly the same anchor text and description. Clearly Google doesn’t like that, so they’ve updated the algorithm.
These pages are spammy, but more importantly they are just not useful – they add no value for anyone! The title on the pages is either links, resources, useful links, useful websites, or some other red flag that says to Google “I am spam” or something to that effect. They link to other websites that are completely unrelated to each other and provide no value to the user whatsoever. If you Google the URL of any of the sites in the Netregistry Traffic Accelerator video you will see the what I mean. Obviously for the companies that appear in the video their sites are strong enough to take take the penalty, which indicates they have a number of links that outweigh the spammy links, but for most in the program, these links would be all they had.
I’ve always maintained links pages and reciprocal linking are a waste of time. Now it seems they are detrimental.