We took action on vivint.com because it was spamming with low-quality or spam articles like
- https://web.archive.org/web/20130919184930/http://anadesign.... for "Alburquerque NM home security system"
and a bunch more links, not to mention 25,000+ links from a site with a paid relationship where the links should have been nofollowed.
When we took webspam action, we alerted Vivint via a notice in Webmaster Tools about unnatural links to their site. And when Vivint had done sufficient work to clean up the spammy links, we granted their reconsideration request. This had nothing whatsoever to do with Nest. The webspam team caught Vivint spamming. We held them (along with many other sites using the same spammy guest post network) accountable until they cleaned the spam up. That's all.
Digging a bit deeper I found that the bottom two links you mention Matt are both scraped from a site called freshome.com. This raises the question should sites/brands be worried about content that gets scraped and put on low quality sites? That sort of "manipulation" seems quite inorganic.
My second question is what about Nest posting on Freshome.com as well found here:
THEN we see the scrapes on the same sites found here:
Notice how both NEST articles are found on doyoulovewhereyoulive.com AND arch.itect.us?
Case in point, Nest has links from the EXACT SAME SITES and didn't get penalized. This raises a huge red flag. If these links are the reason that Vivint was penalized, I'd love to hear how Nest somehow managed to escape a penalty.
How is this possible? Matt is the ultimate super-nice guy, and I think he's sincerely helpful and motivated, but he's nonetheless the keeper of a smoke screen.
I think this way of handling (better: brushing off) issues is unacceptable for a giant corporation whose search branch personifies the Web for a way too large amount of users.
Google is in a position of monopoly, at least on a cultural basis. Even if they don't exploit their power with evil intentions, they still retain it. They corporate mission may state what they want, but I don't get why that should be enough. It's a Public Company, and nobody should ever be satisfied with answers of the "take our word for it" kind.
And that "don't be evil" mantra? I've seen much too shit in the last few years to still believe it's not just an empty marketing motto.
I think the other problem is that search doesn't matter as much to anyone else. Yes, Microsoft made Bing, but Bing is essentially a side project for MS -- their crown jewels are Office and Windows, and everything in the company revolves around that.
Just like everything MS does ultimately comes back to Office and/or Windows, everything Google does ultimately comes back to search. If a company with resources, like Amazon or Microsoft, made search a top-tier priority, they could take marketshare from the big G.
One potential move that would greatly assist Bing, for instance, would be for Microsoft to make Android phones and put Bing as the search provider instead of Google. They could team up with Amazon and use Amazon's app store. Instead of doing this, Microsoft released a totally separate platform. Why did they do that? Because Java is competition to C#. Who cares about C#? Microsoft cares, because C# (and Xbox, and...) is about keeping Windows the dominant platform for any and all software, because that's how you keep selling Windows licenses and keep Windows shipping on every PC sold. It's all about protecting their lock-in. If MS embraced Android, they may help Bing, but they'd be undermining the Windows lock-in strategy.
Every company comparable to Google has similar problems. DDG is noble but nowhere in the type of ballpark where they can realistically compete (for now).
That being said I make sure that DuckDuckGo is always one keypress away, I still haven't managed to make it to a full switch but I try and use it more and more.
There's nothing in the mission statement about making money...
If you mean Google has to make money to survive in the long term, then that's absolutely true, just as it's true for any other company (Microsoft, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo etc.)
I don't see any evidence that Google is more profit centric than any other company.
Paving the way to hell have always looked great from the outside, you know, because of all the good intentions put towards it.
I have tried reporting a website that buys 100% of its links (I used to work for them and have tons of proof) and is being rewarded with 2.5-3mil hits a day from google and yet no one seems to care! Is there a way to get my point across or do I have to write a blog post that gets picked up by HN to get any action taken?
If none of those work, I often pass on spam reports that people tweet to me (or when they do a blog post and tweet me that link). You can also tweet to @googlewmc (for Google Webmaster Central). Or if you add an email address on your HN profile, I'll drop you a note.
I have tried the first link several times with no luck. I've heard that it's a myth that it actually gets checked but seems that may be wrong :)
I will try all the other avenues mentioned and worst case will fly to Seattle to report this site in person. Site that is blatantly spamming is plaintube and is ranking for an insane amount of adult terms. I'll try to get my point across via the methods you described. It would be wrong of me to hijack this thread to get my point across anymore. Thanks for your time.
I'm surprised that such tactics work in 2014, and am just as surprised that I got your attention. Hacker news is a powerful place!
I think the only thing that made it a tad fishy was the timing. It just seemed like the acquisition happened, then the penalty tight after.
Regarding timing, Blekko did a neat site called http://www.spamclock.com/ that claims a million spam pages are created every hour. It's safe to assume that Google algorithmic + manual protections against spam have to operate at that scale. As Del Harvey pointed out in a recent TED talk at http://blog.ted.com/2014/03/19/how-to-keep-240-million-twitt... , "[At Twitter], a one-in-a-million chance happens 500 times a day."
And since Google operates on an even bigger scale than the volume of daily tweets, you end up with these sort of occurrences. For example, it's virtually guaranteed that some website's rankings went up today, and they happened to start using AdWords today. Likewise, it's virtually guaranteed that some website's rankings dropped today, and they happened to start using AdWords today. There's no causality there--buying AdWords doesn't help your Google ranking--but to that particular website, it might look like causality even though it's just the law of large numbers. I think the logical fallacy is called "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc"?
Yeah, but the perception of a conspiracy is the price you pay for handwavey/non-specific guidance about what's wrong. If your notices are not specific, then it's hard for people to know definitively whether or not they are in compliance. The flip side of that, of course, is that if you are fully specific then bad actors will exploit that in order to game the system. But that's the price you pay for ubiquity. Taking your power for granted may backfire on you if a regulatory agency or a jury decides you are not as objective as you believe yourselves to be. Intent is less important than how it manifests from the perspective of a disinterested bystander.
the disconnect probably happened because you feel that telling people through an internal tool is adequate.
Why dont you simply include these links in your notice, so that there is no ambiguity?
So Google's banhammer is wielded by humans with biases...that much is clear...but do we really know the order of cause-and-effect here? Perhaps this suspicious timing was an inadvertent screwup of Vivint's...that is, right after Google's acquisition of Nest, someone on Vivint's marketing team thought, "Oh shit, better step up our back-link game"...and then took it to a level that triggered a Google investigation. That chain of events could also explain the coincidental timing...and also could mean that both Cutts and Vivint's CEO are both telling the honest truth, as far as they know (not all CEOs are privy to the actual workings and details of their marketing teams)
If only Google could get rid of their Doucebag salesman as well...
The reason of all that nonsense seems to be this article:
and notifications in Google Webmaster Tools that tell people that spammy links point to their website, but do not tell them specifically which links Google does not like. I understand that Google uses link data mainly to estimate popularity of a website.
I don't understand why so large company, a global monopoly with so large revenue, and so much data gathered, can't figure out which sites are more popular than others without wasting webmasters' time. What's so difficult about that task? Why shift any work burden on website owners?
If this task is too difficult, maybe it's time to support the competition, or create a serious competition. Maybe Google does not deserve to be the largest search engine and get all the profits.
So now, after the penalty hammer comes down the automatically placed junk supposedly has to be manually removed by the website where the spam was posted, usually accompanied by some vaguely threatening words to the effect of 'if you don't comply we'll use the disavow tool'.
I wish them good luck and refuse to honour any of these requests, they can disavow until they're blue in the face.
See, sending out those vaguely threatening emails is still almost at 0 penalty (it is an automated action) but using the google disavow tool requires a human.
Preferably google should add some really nasty captcha or hard to solve puzzle there for every link disavowed.
I wouldn't have paid to read your comment though, probably because I don't care about SEO. (Not a reflection on your comment.)
also, they continue to sell ads for these branded company searches to other competitors
But this is par for the course when it comes to small businesses interacting with Google. They don't give a crap about helping. They will gladly take your ad dollars, but anything outside of paying them is seen as an offense that can result in your company being banned.
Google is evil. Let there be zero doubts.