Google Penalizing HARO Links? Not Really.

Apr 30, 2014 • 9:08 am | comments (29) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization
 

HAROBill Hartzer wrote that Google has targeted HARO, Help A Reporter, links in the latest manual action of unnatural links.

HARO links? Really? Would Google do that?

Well, not exactly. The links were because of HARO but the links that caused the penalty were not on helpareporter.com. Bill told me it was due to an interview received through HARO, which was then syndicated on other sites. The other sites were called out as bad and unnatural links.

The bad part is that it wasn't like this person generated a press release with links and submitted it. They were interviewed HARO, someone wrote something up, it was published and the interviewee was penalized by Google because of it.

So the source of the link was through HARO but the link itself was not on helpareporter.com, it was on a site that syndicated the content.

Either way, it is a bit strange and I hope to dig into this more and post a longer story on Search Engine Land later today on this.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Comments:

bhartzer

04/30/2014 01:18 pm

Thanks for clarifying this, Barry. Yes, the links are NOT on the helpareporter.com domain. I don't think that's the real issue, as people expect that the links that they get or the mentions that they get in articles are ever going to be on the HARO site. We responded to legitimate HARO request for quotes, and then the media outlet decided to do really spammy or fish stuff that's against Google's guidelines. So since our client is linked from that spammy media outlet site, the CLIENT gets dinged and penalized.

Marie Haynes

04/30/2014 01:19 pm

Something doesn't sit right with me on this one Barry. One syndicated press release or article isn't likely to get a site penalized. There would have to be many more.

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2014 01:22 pm

Of course many more, but one of the example links was a site that linked to this site because of a HARO interview. I didn’t think I had to spell that out, sorry, crazy day for me and rushing everything.

Marie Haynes

04/30/2014 01:29 pm

No worries. :) So I think what you're saying is that they got a penalty, and one of the example links was one that came as a result of syndicated content that originated with a HARO interview. I haven't had my coffee yet so hopefully I'm understanding things right. :) I've often seen good links, or syndicated versions of good links being given as examples. Sometimes we'll get a good link from a totally natural article mention as an example...but then when we dig deeper we still have self made article links that we haven't dealt with. In one case we got a totally natural link as an example and we told Google, "Look...this is natural. We're not removing it." But, in that case, there were two other example links that were unnatural links. (Frustrating ones because they weren't on any of the backlink checkers or WMT, but that's another story.) My point is that Google is not out to penalize a site because they had one or two pieces of syndicated content linking to them. Every link based penalty I have always seen has been because of long standing blatant attempts at manipulating Google.

bhartzer

04/30/2014 01:30 pm

Marie, there ARE more links, and the site IS penalized because of other links, not just these links. I'm cleaning up a client's links. But the problem here is that the links that Google gave as examples during the reconsideration request response are links obtained through HARO and through a press release. They're legitimately obtained links. I hope that clarifies it a bit for you, Marie.

Marie Haynes

04/30/2014 01:33 pm

Makes sense Bill. I wasn't sure, but it sounded like the story was saying that HARO was being taken down like a blog network or something like that. Out of curiosity for the press release links you got as examples, were there any keyword anchored links in them?

Barry Schwartz

04/30/2014 01:42 pm

Thanks Bill, sorry I didn’t make that clear.

bhartzer

04/30/2014 01:50 pm

Marie, all the links are branded links, no keyword rich anchor text links. For the press release, it's a syndicated press release, and it even has the name of the newswire at the top of the press release, as all the others typically do (newswire - date) in quotes.

bhartzer

04/30/2014 01:52 pm

In this case, there are 3 example links. Two are from original articles from HARO requests for quotes. The third one is a syndicated press release.

Antony Jackson

04/30/2014 02:36 pm

With the syndicated press release, the advice has been to nofollow the links for almost a year now http://www.seroundtable.com/google-press-releases-nofollow-17151.html

bhartzer

04/30/2014 02:59 pm

Antony, I realize that press releases usually include nofollow links. And the major newswires do that. But you cannot stop a site from picking up your press release and writing about your news... or syndicating the press release and NOT including a nofollow link. That's what happened in this case. We had no control whatsoever of some site picking up our press release and writing about our client. And including an outgoing link, which then apparently got flagged by Google as being an inorganic, unnatural link.

Marie Haynes

04/30/2014 03:14 pm

Bill, were any of the links from press releases keyword anchored? EDIT...and if they were not, does the site have OTHER press release links that are keyword anchored?

bhartzer

04/30/2014 03:54 pm

As far as I know, press release links are branded anchor text.

CaptainKevin

04/30/2014 04:13 pm

This is more evidence that Google's overzealous link policy is severely flawed. If a Google employee can't identify natural links through a reconsideration request review, just imagine how bad the algo really is. Good luck with the site.

Mark Warner

04/30/2014 04:33 pm

This has nothing to do with Haro and I don't think that the name should even be mentioned here.

bhartzer

04/30/2014 06:17 pm

Mark, why do you think that? We responded to two separate HARO requests. Those separate requests ended up being legitimate articles posted on media outlets. Google then flagged the links from those articles as being inorganic links. There is no way we would have been mentioned or gotten those links if it wasn't from HARO.

Yo Mamma

04/30/2014 07:04 pm

LoooL Google getting penalized. Google Gmail account scans might have breached a US privacy law. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27223079 "We've permanently removed all ads scanning in Gmail for Apps for Education, which means Google cannot collect or use student data in Apps for Education services for advertising purposes," wrote Google for Education director Bram Bout on a company blog.

Jeff Ferguson

04/30/2014 07:47 pm

Because HARO didn't cause the problem. Saying HARO caused these issues is like claiming the AP or any other news service is doing the same thing because crap sites are stealing and replicating content. This is definitely not a HARO issue.

bhartzer

04/30/2014 08:43 pm

It is a HARO issue when they apparently are vetting reporters and media outlets before they are allowed to post requests to their network. And when one of those vetted sites use spammy techniques that get sites they link to to have Google penalties then there's an issue. Just like using MyBlogGuest to connect with a blog, and if your site got penalized because of that connection, you would probably blame MyBlogGuest for it, as well. Same with PostJoint, as well.

Jeff Ferguson

04/30/2014 09:09 pm

Nope... Still not a HARO issue. HARO is just the connector, not the instigator.

Jitendra Vaswani

05/01/2014 05:17 am

Bhartzer were the links were dofollow or nofollow ?

Jitendra Vaswani

05/01/2014 05:18 am

Mari syndicating content is bad for SEO I think, please clear my doubt ?

Marie Haynes

05/01/2014 01:27 pm

If you're syndicating content with the intention of getting links then yes, that's not good practice. It's ok to syndicate press releases to get information out about your company. But a manual reviewer can tell if one of the intentions of these press releases is for the link juice.

bhartzer

05/01/2014 01:57 pm

Jeff, I see your point. However, if it was only a few links, maybe one or two bad links obtained through HARO, then fine. I can get past that. But we're talking multiple HARO requests here that are generating multiple inorganic/unnatural links that Google is flagging. So again, if it's one or two links then fine: but it's not.

bhartzer

05/01/2014 01:58 pm

They are dofollow links, Jitendra. But the links are branded, anchor text is the company's name.

Jitendra Vaswani

05/01/2014 04:57 pm

ok ,, sir, I have doubt, does sharing same content on high PR article directories helps in SEO, many big brands are doing and they r ranking well on Google

Jitendra Vaswani

05/01/2014 04:58 pm

But Marie I am seeing many companies doing article directories submission , they r sharing same content. Why they still rank top of Google.

Marie Haynes

05/01/2014 05:17 pm

That's like saying, "Why did I get a speeding ticket when other people are speeding and not getting caught?" Also, you have no idea whether those links are now disavowed by that company.

John

05/05/2014 11:01 am

people need to stop using google. it totally corrupt spyware company which now only about their profit & about stealing your private web browsing datas.

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