Medical Sites Caught Google Handed Buying Links

Dec 30, 2013 • 8:20 am | comments (36) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google handedGary Illyes, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst for Google Switzerland, who was recruited back in 2011, responded to a few threads over the holiday break. Here are two medical related sites that are complaining they don't get traffic from Google. His response, the sites are involved in link schemes.

In one Google Webmaster Help thread the site owner said:

We are a group of six highly qualified medical professionals (two doctors, two MSc MRI radiographers and two general radiographers). We designed ‘mrimaster’ to teach radiologists and radiographers all around the world.

Gary responds:

I would like to point out that buying links or participating in dubious link exchange campaigns is against our Webmaster Guidelines:

After spending a few minutes trying to find the root cause of your site's problem, I stumbled upon a few pretty low quality sites that all have an anchor back to your site with the anchor text "what is an mri". I don't know who placed them there (it might have been your SEO) but this is really bad and if I were you I'd spend some time cleaning up these kind of links.

In the next Google Webmaster Help thread the site owner said:

My site has unique content so much so that it received backlink from .ca gov, reputed public organization, facebook shares, share by email, bookmarks etc

However, for past couple of months, stats of per day visitors have nosedived. From 700 visitors a day to only 100 and sometimes 80 visitors a day.

Gary responds:

In general the post from Amit you found can be applied on most of the situations, however you also want to read our Webmaster Guidelines, especially the section related to links: More specifically:

After spending a few minutes trying to find issues I stumbled upon a bunch of links with the anchor text "prescription drug" and "prescription drug information" that are obviously placed for manipulating PageRank. As usual I don't know know who placed them there (it could have been your SEO), but I'd work really hard removing them.

That is called getting caught Google-handed.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for colored hands

Previous story: Google: Don't Change Your URLs For SEO Purposes


Jonay Pelluz

12/30/2013 03:43 pm

So, what is it more important the quality of the content or the links? :-)


12/30/2013 04:17 pm

Stuff like this always make me more nervous about negative SEO. Google doesn't know who puts down links, just that they are there. Was it your SEO? Maybe, but then again maybe not.


12/30/2013 04:36 pm

they ban quality sites, but not ban amazon for 50 links in footer (at homepage) to their sites (PaGeRaNk manipulation, against same section of this subsection of google criminal code). Double Moral & Double Standards, mr. google.


12/30/2013 08:57 pm

It´s the quality of your links. Google could not care less if the quality of the content is better than the quality of the links. The links trump all. Pretty dumb search engine really :)


12/30/2013 08:59 pm

Normally I do not comment to negative news on linkbuilding techniques, but today I'm just going to do it. Fact: Without links youre just not going to be found on the first page of Google on competitive keywords, check out your competition with some backlink checkers and see how 'organic' their links are. I will assure you they don't. Response: I do not know why a link is 'bad' because of its anchor text. If the website is about MRI scanners and is is placed in relevant content and context. Then why should'nt we want to send a reader to a website were he/she can find more information on the subject This is exactly the reason why anchor text is so important for organic rankings in the big G. Or should we nofollow every link we send out to other websites and lets see what happens to the organic results?


12/30/2013 09:08 pm


Robert Lewis

12/30/2013 10:27 pm

Like J_Boch said, negative SEO could be at play here. There is no way to prove who/where/how low-quality links got directed at a site--it could have been the webmaster buying low-quality links OR it could be his/her competitor directing low-quality links to the site to damage it.

troy redington

12/30/2013 11:35 pm

Those are amazon owned sites. Google has stated that footer links are ok when they're all under the same network of ownership. They're also not blatant seo "prescription drug" links.


12/31/2013 01:15 am

Negative SEO or not, it does not matter. Google wants to drive people into Adwords. If the webmaster wants Google traffic, that is their alternative. Either way, Google wins. I think NSEO will become a much larger topic in 2014. Try cleaning up 10,000, 20,000 or even 100,000 links. That aint going to happen, assuming you can even find them all. Point, click and boom! Ranks are gone and you are labeled as a link spammer/black hat!


12/31/2013 10:11 am

Troy I don't think this is true, but if u can link me to somewhere google says its okay to link to your other sites in the footer (without nofollow) I'd really appreciate it because I'm scared to link my sites up even though they are related!! Thanks mate

Michael Martinez

12/31/2013 02:29 pm

Nonsense. Google is just tired of the spammy links. After 15 years of being made to look foolish you would be tired of them too.


12/31/2013 02:36 pm

It's not hard to run Xrumer or some other software for free and blast thousands of links at any site. Don't have the software? Just spend $5 on per key competitor and you can take down your competition. This has been going on for well over a year now. Heck, I might as well try it myself for 2014 - not a bad resolution, since nobody believes it goes on ;)

Michael Martinez

12/31/2013 02:43 pm

You get the Non Sequitur Award for the day. Happy sail boating.


12/31/2013 02:46 pm

cool! So everybody can put such links (if not "prescription drugs" type of links), to get link juice and no penalties. Do google has confirmed your opinion? Any links to information what "google has stated"?


12/31/2013 02:49 pm

In reality this is not true. Google constantly show examples of such footer links as spam. Their dream - one company = one website. I don't have idea where troy find "google has stated that footer links are ok if under same ownership". In reality it direct violation with their "quality guidelines". But since no any reaction from them for long time, it easy to understand - what size of player is matter. Big players can do anything they want.


12/31/2013 03:03 pm

spammy links even on amazon, wikipedia and youtube. but they not care about spam on this sites.


12/31/2013 03:09 pm

This is how to lose an argument. Michael has given the perfect example of how it is done. For that Michael, you receive the wooden spoon for debating. Congrats and all that :)

Michael Martinez

12/31/2013 03:35 pm

There was no argument to lose. Perhaps you're just bored on this long holiday weekend.

Michael Martinez

12/31/2013 03:37 pm

So you're saying the spammy links on Wikipedia do not use rel=nofollow?


12/31/2013 03:39 pm

Nobody believes it but those who are at risk. That would be webmasters & SEOs who already have bad links. How long have we been hearing about this boogieman with ZERO evidence to support?


12/31/2013 03:44 pm

It isn't that some links have appropriate keyword anchor text. It is a problem when most or all of them do. That just shows that someone is trying too hard or spamming. This type of black & white, all or nothing thinking is why many fail to do well with SEO.


12/31/2013 04:20 pm

Perhaps you are :) Nice straw man presented to round it off :)

Michael Martinez

12/31/2013 05:09 pm

Sorry, friend, but only one Non Sequitur Award is given out per day. That is what the "daily" means. You no longer need keep trying for it.


12/31/2013 05:52 pm

it not about nofollow. It about pages & links created only to increase ranking in google. It just a doorway pages. No any content, only links boilerplate (where is panda?). Also links to wikipedia sites also not using nofollow, but it easy to understand.


12/31/2013 05:58 pm

but if member of internet coalition, i think they even can use xrumer without any consequences. :)


12/31/2013 08:46 pm

Hmm, the comment you responded to was regarding negative SEO. YOU replied with something vague: "Google is tired of spammy links". I responded that negative SEO (read: creating spammy links to sites other than your own) is very easy to do. You clearly do not understand what a non sequitur is.

Michael Martinez

01/01/2014 12:07 am

Ah, yes, well Wikipedia is certainly a low-quality collection of crap but Google likes it and there you go. You just have to outrank the crap with better content. I do that quite often myself. How about you?

Michael Martinez

01/01/2014 12:14 am

The article is about Google catching a site buying links. Someone dredges up the Negative SEO Cookie Monster. Someone else dips into the world of Google Bigfoot scaring all the happy campers into Adwords. I point out that this is all patent nonsense, complete tripe, and ridiculously silly speculation (without going into so much detail as this comment). You jump in with a link to FIVERR in an apparent attempt to disagree with me. You obviously missed the whole point of my comment and flipped back to the earlier nonsense. That's a non sequitur. A big one.

Chris Koszo

01/01/2014 12:42 am

@disqus_4JqLr5A2KG:disqus , adding on to what @troy_redington:disqus said, it'd be wise to keep in mind that not everything is black and white. Sometimes it's about the spirit of the rule, and not just the rule itself.


01/01/2014 02:07 am

yes, i agree with you. But google and their algorithms see everywhere only black and white (hat?). So we just operating with their "natural/unnatural false logic". Google destroying sites for totally questionable things and their rules not clear. I give you example: overoptimization. Are googlers tell us anything about it? They give us very common and thin information. How you think for example - recent posts block is it overoptimization or not? Experiments show what - yes. And there is billion of such things. Everything this just confirm idea what google UNABLE to index natural content. Any website created by people who don't know this pitfalls will destroyed by google pets. And quality of articles is not important here, because "overoptimization" (i still not talking about links, they are poison - and top HQ 1 million dollars content will destroyed because one link (negative seo or similar things). But amazon not care... and win! because pandas & penguines not touching white listed sites. Even Matt Cutts not tell us anything (even about something like 1 day penalty).

Gracious Store

01/01/2014 03:12 am

It is good as Google pointed out the reasons why there is a huge drop in the traffic to this professionals' website. It will be very sad if this is the handiwork of bad SEO company who might have charged these guys "pounds of flesh" and then turned around to do this shabby SEO for them


01/01/2014 03:57 am

not only crap on wikipedia, however it have lot of pages & anchors created especially for seo purposes (what google not like so much, at least at their "criminal code"). However google put it in approx every organic top 10, using knowledge graph wikipedia data. It like google white-listed site, which displayed when relevant or not relevant at all. I not will surprised if we will get news what google already purchased it or some "biggest & hidden" sponsor. But is it a real competition? No, it just website which google ranking by another method (not like everybody). Same as for amazon & google & internet coalition websites.


01/02/2014 07:22 pm

Cool, Google just confirmed that negative SEO is very possible and very easy. Get to work all.


01/03/2014 08:49 am

big elephant not see problems of small peoples. They protected high authority sites from negative seo, however all new & medium authority sites are vulnerable.


01/05/2014 03:19 pm

Does that mean Google even have an eye on a blog with traffic as less as 700 visitors/day?

Spook SEO

01/30/2014 04:42 pm

Good for them, they are pretending that they don't have any black deeds on their Seo. And it's obvious. But I don't think so if Google has and eye on some most visited blogs and e-commerce who has not been ranked yet on SERP.

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