Weekly SEO news: 15 February 2011
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Once again, paid links are a hot topic in the search engine optimization community. The website of J. C. Penney had number 1 rankings for many competitive keywords. It turned out that the J. C. Penney website obtained these rankings through buying links on over 2000 pages. Now that Google found the links, J. C. Penney faces a major problem.

Also in the news: the latest search engine and e-commerce statistics, Bing improves its search engine, Google and Microsoft are very similar and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Paid links: do you still have to worry about them?

Once again, paid links are a hot topic in the search engine optimization community. The website of J. C. Penney had number 1 rankings for many competitive keywords. It turned out that the J. C. Penney website obtained these rankings through buying links on over 2000 pages.

The paid links were reported to Google and many of J. C. Penney's rankings dropped from number 1 to number 70 and below.

What are paid links?

If you pay the webmaster of another site to link to your website, then the link is a paid link. Paid links can be used to advertise your website on other sites. As long as the paid links use the rel=nofollow attribute, Google doesn't have any problems with them.

The problem arises when paid links are used to get higher rankings in the regular search results on Google.

Google is very clear about paid links

Google does not like paid links. According to Google's official statement, you should avoid paid links at all costs:

"[Some] webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results."

Google even has an official form that enables you to report paid links to Google:

"If you know of a site that buys or sells links, please tell us by filling out the fields below. We'll investigate your submissions, and we'll use your data to improve our algorithmic detection of paid links."

Should you use paid links to promote your website?

The problem with paid links is that they work. As long as nobody notices that you're buying links, paid links can have a positive effect on the search engine rankings of your website. However, as soon as Google detects the paid links your website can get in major trouble.

There are several problems with paid links:

  • A competitor might report your paid links to Google and your website will be penalized.
  • A competitor might buy links that point to your website, report them to Google and your website will be penalized.
  • A competitor buys links to a throwaway domain, sees where they appear, drops the links and waits for you to buy them. Then the competitor reports you to Google for buying links.

While paid links can improve your rankings, they are also extremely risky. If you plan to build a lasting business, you should avoid paid links. The potential damage exceeds the benefits by far.

Your website must have backlinks to get high rankings on Google

Backlinks are very important to get high rankings on Google. That's why Google works so hard on filtering the wrong kind of links.

The links that point to your website should be from related websites and they should contain the keywords for which you want to get high rankings. Do not manipulate the links to your website by buying links and do not join automated link systems to increase the number of links to your website.

If you want lasting results, focus on ethical search engine optimization methods. There are many ways to get good links (related websites, blogs, social bookmark sites, directories, etc.). IBP helps you to get them all.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

StatisticscomScore releases January 2011 U.S. search engine rankings

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in January with 65.6 percent market share, followed by Yahoo! Sites with 16.1 percent and Microsoft Sites with 13.1 percent (up 1.1 percentage points). Ask Network accounted for 3.4 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL LLC Network with 1.7 percent. [...]

Nearly 17 billion explicit core searches were conducted in January. Google Sites ranked first with 11.1 billion searches. Yahoo! Sites came in second with 2.7 billion, followed by Microsoft Sites with 2.2 billion (up 13 percent), Ask Network with 576 million and AOL LLC Network with 296 million."

comScore releases "The 2010 U.S. digital year in review"

"The U.S. core search market grew 12 percent overall in 2010, driven by a 4-percent increase in unique searchers and an 8-percent increase in the number of search queries per searcher. [...]

Total U.S. e-commerce spending reached $227.6 billion in 2010, up 9 percent versus the previous year. Travel e-commerce spending grew 6 percent to $85.2 billion, while retail (non-travel) e-commerce spending jumped 10 percent to $142.5 billion for the year.

Google Microsoft 10 ways Google is the new Microsoft

"Microsoft dominated the desktop computer industry for the past 15 years with purported ruthlessness and cunning business savvy. These days? Don't look now, but the role of the tech industry's biggest bully and most dominant force is increasingly played by Google. [...]

From privacy issues to market dominance to passion among fans and detractors to government scrutiny, Google and Microsoft share more similarities than you may realize."

Bing results get more local and more personal

"First, something relatively simple: automatically tailoring search results based on your physical location [...]

Second, we're introducing a feature that helps Bing present the most relevant website based on an individual's previous searches. Here is where we really begin to see our theory come to life to show that different user behaviors benefit from different thinking around personalization."

NY Times: the dirty little secrets of search

"In the last several months, one name turned up, with uncanny regularity, in the No. 1 spot for each and every term: J. C. Penney. [...]

'I can confirm that this violates our guidelines,' said [Google's] Mr. Cutts during an hourlong interview on Wednesday, after looking at a list of paid links to JCPenney.com.

He said Google had detected previous guidelines violations related to JCPenney.com on three occasions, most recently last November. Each time, steps were taken that reduced Penney's search results — Mr. Cutts avoids the word 'punished'"

Search engine newslets

  • Video: when are Google spam penalties lifted?
  • New Chrome extension: block sites from Google's web search results
  • Can Google ever be a neutral news provider?
  • Web words that lure the readers.
  • Bing's local search feature could drive clicks and cash.
  • Can this man topple Google? (Wolfram Alpha)
  • Google CEO sees signs of Internet bubble.
  • Study: can you trust Google's personalized results?

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3. Success stories

300,000 readers will read your success story!

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.


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