Why Does Google Hate Link Manipulation?

Mar 21, 2008 • 8:33 am | comments (7) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Anyone who knows the Google Web Spam team well, knows that they all have a huge distaste for link manipulation. In my opinion, it is more than just a distance for some of the web spam team members, specifically Matt Cutts.

Matt Cutts, a great guy, Google engineer since January 2000, has a strong, deep, gut wrenching distaste for link manipulation, in my opinion. Where do I get this opinion from? I don't think from our conversations but from watching Matt write and communicate with webmasters on link issues since early 2003.

Let me pull out one recent post by Matt Cutts that demonstrates it. A Sphinn thread, Matt writes:

Todd, what about a query like [symptoms of a heart attack]? The searcher wants accurate results ASAP, and might not have enough time or patience to research the subject thoroughly. We think about searches like this and issues like this all the time, which is why Google may come across as humorless when we talk about some linking issues.

I thought Eric made a pretty compelling argument. When you search, you don't want a search engine that is "fooled" by lower-quality links. And if you're trying to compete for search rankings fairly, you don't want a site that takes short cuts to do better than your site. That's why it's so helpful to have great content first and foremost and then promote that content well as opposed to just building links to low-quality content.

Just read that. Do people search for such things? I would think so. I don't think heart attacks are sudden always and I hear many people get them without knowing, they just feel discomfort. So Matt takes this stuff beyond seriously, but sometimes, I feel, personally. Imagine, spending eight plus years working at a company to build out a search experience that provides as much help to the searcher as possible. Now, imagine you have people come in and try to manipulate that? In my opinion, it would take a strong man to not take that somewhat personally. Of course, Googlers can't take it personally, but in some cases - it can be hard not to.

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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03/21/2008 02:47 pm

I am 100% with Google. Search has a function and it a service to inform people. The heart attack is a perfect example. Folks that want a quick buck and intentionally force their irrelevant URLs deserve no respect, no backlinks, no rankings...

Michael Martinez

03/21/2008 06:05 pm

Google would do a better job if it stopped allowing links to pass value. After all, relevance is not determined by who links to whom. Google needs to stop investing resources in trying to make a bogus concept work.

Terry Van Horne

03/22/2008 05:02 pm

Goole's problem seems to be that they are so enamored by the "algo that changed the web" that they won't except the flaw in it is that they didn't anticipate that people would buy links to manipulate the algo. They also diminish the effectiveness of the algo with each new fix as that changes the natural linking of sites because webmasters are accessing the impact on search rankings rather than users and natural citations. Each "fix" like rel="MoreBStoCome" just exacerbates the problem.

Chris Baldwin

03/24/2008 04:22 pm

Search engines like Google need a better way to grade links. A possible solution would be to devalue all newly created links until they are proven worthy by the quality of the site they are on or the traffic they send (or other). So "all links are neutral until proven valid" principle.

Zak Nicola

03/31/2008 09:47 pm

What about PR sculpting? I still have yet to come across anything from Google saying they are pro or con to it.

Robert Hedges

06/17/2008 07:31 pm

"Todd, what about a query like [symptoms of a heart attack]?".... from your own archives. This was exactly the point of my last comment submission ....manipulating search results using link farms (toward health consciousness and awareness). When you are over retirement age the urgency rises exponentially for those of us who don't have the luxury of denial. robert


02/15/2010 05:59 am

I'm sort of with Google on this but also, if someone is going to go through so much trouble to get their links out there, I think they deserve better placement.

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