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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Did submission to download websites cause Google Panda Penalty?

Google Panda drastically affected my website's organic listing - since Panda 3.4 (March 23 2012). Total visitors reduced by 50% and hence the sales.

Due to my carelessness I didn't give much attention then. Because I want to complete new version of my product as fast as possible which I thought would boost the listing again. But I was wrong.

So I started getting deeper into studying the cause of  this. I made all changes to my website that may have caused Panda penalty - like duplicate content, thin content, etc.

However, now I am strongly suspecting that the cause for this would be duplicate product description on hundreds of download sites. Mainly, download sites that have multiple domains with same exact content, link farms, sites with porn content etc.

Did anyone get affected due to Panda?
Did you remove products from low-rated download sites to improve your listing?

Please share your experience. All over Internet they have given generic solutions. But nothing related to software product industry specifically PAD submissions etc. So I am posting in this forum.

Please help.
Gautam Jain Send private email
Friday, June 28, 2013
 
 
Do you have a Google Webmaster tools account? Any hints there?
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Friday, June 28, 2013
 
 
From what I understand, you need to use Google's Disavow Links tool [1]. I think I've been hit by Panda / Penguin due to a bunch (100's) of Chinese sites linking to mine. I haven't had a chance to read up on the proper way to disavow the links yet, so if anyone here has had experiences with the tool I'd be interested.

The tool itself looks very scary and final, I want to make sure that I don't accidentally disavow all the links to my site.

[1] https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main?pli=1
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Friday, June 28, 2013
 
 
First we wasted our lives  getting links now we are wasting them disavowing the same links...
Fine fools google made of us all...
And what a word- 'disavow' ?!! wow...
alexandar Send private email
Friday, June 28, 2013
 
 
No-one can be certain as Google goes out of their way to remain mysterious and deliberately not tell you what affects ranking.

However it's generally accepted that you cannot be damaged by incoming links, as else that would simply hand a weapon to competitors and create another form of arms race. I believe Google has even said that incoming links can't hurt you, though of course what Google says and what Google does is somewhat similar to government "statements"...

Note however that link EXCHANGING certainly can hurt you, as you're associating yourself with the bad guys. If you're in any kind of automated link exchange, get out.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
Reluctantlyregistered,

Incoming links can hurt you and will hurt you in certain situations. Google never said that you can not be damaged by incoming links.

Personally, I have not been affected by Panda (or I believe so), although I have submitted all my products to all PAD sites that Robosoft offers. I suspect that the key to this is a balance between low quality links and high quality links. If you do not have any high quality links, but a bunch of low quality links, then you have a problem.
Jim Morrison Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
Well certainly if you have a huge mass of dodgy links and no good links you have a problem - because you have no good links.

If you have a mass of good links you'll rank, it's as simple as that.




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
Jim, Matt Cutts mitigates a lot of those claims in this Hacker News comment from about a month ago (and the reply 2 down from the top):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5814667

I've certainly been guilty of wearing the tin foil hat when it comes to Google's search algorithm, but I think what most likely has happened is that spammy links that may have formerly helped rankings no longer carry weight.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
According to many sources on the web disavowing does nothing indeed. Even that irritatingly looking Matts Cuts guy says that "disavowing is not all and end all..."

And it rally doesn't make any sense if you stop to think about it for a moment.
They (google) use those links to grade sites and penalize accordingly. Where would be the logic be in offering than a tool to remove all those bad links? It is like you were caught by police for a bad deed and than instead of going to jail they let you 'disavow' what you have done...

What i think this whole disavow  thing is just nothing but a clever way for them to get 1000s of web masters to report bad sites.

So essentially this is  same as reporting piracy or copyright infringement or something like that but you are not aware that you are doing this because it is cleverly disguised as 'disavowing'...

Besides it opens the door for misuse. What if I all of a sudden ask ed them to disavow my competitors links? For example if  I was into wedding tables than I could put Andy's site domain in list of links to be disavowed and in doing so let Google think Andy's site is bad site...Because I'm so disgusted with it that I want to disavow it...
I don't know if I'm making myself understood, it is complicated...

P.S.
There is something gross in the word 'disavow'.  writing this my spell checker revealed to me that not once I typed it correctly...
alexandar Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
You can only disavow actual links to your site I believe, you can't just stick an URL in there to slander your competition - unless they do actually link to you.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Saturday, June 29, 2013
 
 
@ AC
Only if they decided to do the double check. But from the format and all the procedure of it (plain text file,one link per row) it seems to me that they will just parse the file and see what they can gain from it
alexandar Send private email
Sunday, June 30, 2013
 
 
> However it's generally accepted that you cannot be damaged by incoming links, as else that would simply hand a weapon to competitors and create another form of arms race.

On Tropical MBA podcast, episode 35, titled Sabotage SEO, the guys tell how their friend's commercial site got linked (presumably by a competitor) from thousands of low-quality sites. Overnight or so.

The rankings went down badly.

The guy is disavowing the links. The outcome is not yet known, but it is clear that generally bad links harm a site now.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, June 30, 2013
 
 
> Besides it opens the door for misuse. What if I all of a sudden ask ed them to disavow my competitors links? For example if  I was into wedding tables than I could put Andy's site domain in list of links to be disavowed and in doing so let Google think Andy's site is bad site...

The link is considered bad (or good) only in the context of the specific site.

A link from a Rails startup to the wedding site would probably be considered a low quality one, while a link from the very same startup to a financial advises for founders would probably be considered good.

The wedding site disavowing the Rails startup site shouldn't drop the quality of the Rails site among the startup sites.

Worst I can imagine is harming wedding sites within your particular niche.

But then again, I haven't seen anyone saying that disavowed links are in rankings of the disavowed sites. At least not now.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, June 30, 2013
 
 
"..the guys tell how their friend's commercial site got linked (presumably by a competitor) from thousands of low-quality sites. Overnight or so.

The rankings went down badly"

While Google does have staff that carry out hand-edits and won't confirm their procedures, so anything is possible, ask yourself a simple question..

If all it took to knock your competitors down was to send a few thousands spammy links at them, don't you think that would be a far bigger problem than it seems to be?

After all, it's not hard to create thousands of spammy links, I've done it myself and reaped thousands of bucks ranking a variety of sites for high value keywords - in the past, before Google figured out how to identify and then completely ignore such low-value links!

The difference between ranking #1 and #3 for hi-value KWs such as insurance or credit stuff, can be in the range of thousands of dollars per week. People can and do throw everything in their power to reach the top 5 and then go higher, desperate for that #1 spot which gets 80% of the earnings.

Entire industries sprang up around the concept of link building. I had a few go-to guys when I needs a few hundred or even thousands of links; there were many sites out there with blog networks etc. Creating spammy links was and is easy.

So easy that I don't, for one moment, believe the SEO industry hasn't already tried, and re-tried and tried and tried some more. Some of those guys are seriously anal and have HUGE networks to instantly spot any changes to Google's algo'. They know as well as anyone can what works and what is a waste of time, and most are happy to show off what they know to paid insiders and club members etc. I don't know of ANY that suggest the technique, yet if it WERE an effective technique then there would already be sites out there offering such a weapon as a service.

Hey, maybe I'm out of the loop, let's check...

Nope, no such services.

Sometimes sites drop suddenly. That happens for a whole bunch of reasons but "lots of bad incoming links" is something Google has invested a lot of energy into ignoring.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Sunday, June 30, 2013
 
 
> yet if it WERE an effective technique then there would already be sites out there offering such a weapon as a service

Sounds right. I'm not in SEO business, so I don't know if such services exist.

What is known now is bad links harm sites.

Logically, creating bad links for a competitor should work? I do not see a reason why it wouldn't... unless the whole bad links and disavow think is a smoke and mirrors.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Sunday, June 30, 2013
 
 
Google updated their advice at
 https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/34432?hl=en

from

"In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages"

to

"In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share."

They are not even talking about links any more. It is about "using" and "sharing" now.

Source: Search Engine Land
 http://searchengineland.com/google-changes-ranking-advice-says-build-quality-sites-not-links-163931
AK Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
alexandar
"First we wasted our lives  getting links now we are wasting them disavowing the same links..."

well not according to Reluctantlyregistered:

"The difference between ranking #1 and #3 for hi-value KWs such as insurance or credit stuff, can be in the range of thousands of dollars per week"

Thousands of dollars per week is real money. Where there is real money, this will go on. If and when Google money dries up, you will see no one will care what Google says or does. But till then...people hay while the sun shines.
codingreal Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
I meant people make hay while the sun shines.
codingreal Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
Well perhaps I should add that I was one of those webmasters and I have experienced the difference in earnings between the #1, 2 and 3 spot - and #4 chump change.

You can't simply say "it is known" without at least something to back it up. It's certainly known that a large volume of spammy links doesn't HELP any more but I still see no evidence that it actually hurts.

I'm a sales copywriter, not an SEO expert. I don't consider myself a guru at SEO to the point I'd charge money for my advice - but I HAVE made a comfortable living with a couple of dozen websites that I SEO'd the living daylights out of. I've hung around with serious millionaire experts, I've run campaigns producing thousands of incoming links, with link-wheels, bookmark banding, matrix loads and all sorts of stuff you've never even heard of - and I've never come across a case of bad links actually harming.

AS LONG AS you don't link TO bad sites or networks.

There's one particular site ranking for a "bad credit" key phrase that made me a lot of money. If I could just spend a few hundred bucks throwing 10,000 spammy links at it to get my #1 ranking back I'd do that all day every day for a week. But I know it would be a waste of time.

Google went from dumb enough to rank my 2 page site at #1 and pay me thousands because of 800 forum profiles created in one day with Scrapebox, to smart enough to ignore and discount such links, as a boost OR as a weapon.

There never has been a time when they could recognize "bad links" but were somehow fooled by those "bad links" at the same time.

Which is just simple logic really, isn't it?




AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
> There never has been a time when they could recognize "bad links" but were somehow fooled by those "bad links" at the same time.

Please let me settle it in my head. You're saying that:

1. Site A having a ranking N will not go either up or down by adding new spammy links; the bad links will be recognized by Google as such and ignored.

2. Site B which had ranking N before in part because of large number of bad links will drop in ranking because now Google recognizes and ignores the bad links.

3. The abuse of this by spamming the competitor is thus not possible.

Well, if you're right, this is a much better implementation from Google that I was led to believe.

What the point for building the disavow tool then? Isn't it a waste of time?
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
Yes and yes.

Regarding the disavow tool, look at what Google actually says:

"This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool."

Read this bit again:

"and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you"

Why would you be confident? If your rank drops and you have spammy links, that just means Google has discounted those links now and they don't work anymore.

Google's number 1 aim is to figure out what are good links and good sites, and which are artificial and spammy, right?

I don't think you need to make a hat out of tin foil to realize that people will panic and spoon-feed Google exactly where they are getting their spammy and PAID links.

Google really, really, hates paid links, as most are impossible to detect by algo (because you wouldn't pay good money for obviously spammy links, instead the killer links look entirely organic and pass on genuine PR. That's why they're valuable, see?)

Now, if you had some form of recourse and could sue Google for dropping you even further after revealing your paid and spammy links, I'd say great. However you can't, and they even warn you that you may suffer a further drop than the one making you panic already - in which case you'd have to be a blithering idiot to tell Google where you get your paid and spammy links, wouldn't you?

Yet people will do exactly that, meaning that tool is vastly more useful to Google than it is to you.

Google would LOVE you to think that dodgy artificial links will damage you, and they'd LOVE to de-rank sites and pages using them - but they know if they did they'd be handing a weapon to people like me, who wouldn't hesitate to use it.

They're not that stupid. Instead they're relying on people like you to be stupid enough to tell them exactly which sites and links are artificial and paid for.

Don't do that.



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
> people will panic and spoon-feed Google exactly where they are getting their spammy and PAID links

If true, that's too funny and at the same time cruel to the SEO community!

Let the black SEO folks turn themselves in. Or let their clients to turn them in. Let them tell on each other.

Brilliant. And so not Do-Not-Evil... more an Evil Overlord thing. :D

Even SEOMoz published at least two posts on how to use the disavow tool... and I could remember a podcast from another author, and a few other articles to the tune "if you tank, disavow"...

P.S. You've made my day with no regards if you're right. My brain is in overdrive now, can use that intellectual boost for some stuff useful to me (not spammy links though :D)
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Monday, July 01, 2013
 
 
One more thing to consider. The day I removed adsense code for my site my impressions fell by 50%. The same exact day (in google analytics it is obvious)

Well...Coincidence or not?
alexandar Send private email
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
 
 
Well I've been called a conspiracy theorist over that but yes, I do think Google tends to help sites that make Google money.

I'm suspicious like that :)

Officially the Goog will tell you that the Adsense department and the rankings department have absolutely nothing to do with each other, apart from both being owned by the same company and funded by the same revenue...



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
 
 
> Well...Coincidence or not?

And why would you expect them delivering you the valuable traffic for nothing?
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
 
 
@ Vladimir
I think you are that kind of a guy who would ,never mind  the prompt, always say somthing sarcastic or oposite aren't you?
alexandar Send private email
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
 
 
>Google went from dumb enough to rank my 2 page site at #1 and pay me thousands because of 800 forum profiles created in one day with Scrapebox

I do hope that doesn't mean you have been automatically posting spam on forums. I really hate that I have to spend my precious time deleting automatically posted crap on this forum and my blog. Given that you are mentioning it on a public forum, I hope I have just misunderstood.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
It's worth having a look at http://www.scrapebox.com/ if just to get a insight into of the dark side of the internet. It's a veritable tool box for automated spamming, referral spam and automatic traffic generation. Quite an eye opener!
Andrew Gibson Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
Not spam posts Andy, what, you think I'm evil..?

Just a profile, one per forum. You'd never know I was there, unless you checked the membership roll and noticed someone who joined but never posted.

I believe the technical term is "lurker" ;o)

Spam posts are pretty pointless anyway, as they don't last. Static profiles are (were) better - unless you're throwing up a Blogger site to grab trending but temporary traffic to make a 24, maybe 48 hour killing with Adsense..  But I wouldn't do such a thing :oD

Seriously, my 'black hat' days are looong over. I keep up with the scene no more than necessary to help clients and strictly white hat.


*smiles angelically*



AC
Reluctantlyregistered Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
>It's a veritable tool box for automated spamming, referral spam and automatic traffic generation. Quite an eye opener!

asshole  + automation = bigger asshole

I have a part written blog post about this. Struggling to come up with a snappy title though.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
>Just a profile, one per forum.

I guess that isn't causing anyone any real hassle. I am surprised it ever conferred any benefit though.
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
> asshole  + automation = bigger asshole
> Struggling to come up with a snappy title though.

Haven't you just came up with one? Kinda snappy.
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Thursday, July 04, 2013
 
 
+1 Vladimir, I think that's a great title.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Friday, July 05, 2013
 
 
I'll hopefully get round to writing it one day. Very busy with a big new release at the moment.
Andy Brice Send private email
Friday, July 05, 2013
 
 
>>asshole  + automation = bigger asshole
>Haven't you just came up with one? Kinda snappy.

I went for something similar:
http://successfulsoftware.net/2013/07/14/asshole-x-software-asshole-at-scale/
Andy Brice Send private email
Sunday, July 14, 2013
 
 

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