Why are these sites exempt from Google penalties?

by eddy55
27 replies
  • SEO
  • |
Many SaaS web-builders have a site wide follow-link on their customers websites, and are getting good rankings! Isn't this a violation of webmaster guidelines since the link isn't editorially placed?

Big companies like allyou.net, carbonmade.com, format.com all have a site-wide follow link of each of their customer's website and really game the search.

Are they not penalized because the subject matter of the business and the customer are similar (eg. artists/photographers?)

Google's web-master guidelines state "creating links that weren't editorially placed or vouched for by the site's owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. " and further specifies "Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites".

Why aren't these sites being penalized? Is this SEO technique legit?
#exempt #google #link building #penalties #penalty #penguin #sites #unnatural
  • Profile picture of the author yukon
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    Exactly, If a client doesn't want a link on their domain page the link wouldn't exist.

    Same goes for any web/dev clients with footer links.
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  • Profile picture of the author SEO Power
    Following what has been posted above, sitewide links aren't even low quality or toxic links. They are as natural as a contextual link. I get sitewide links when I can and don't reject them just because I think Google 'might' penalise my site because of them.
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  • Profile picture of the author eddy55
    But isn't it an unnatural link profile if you have thousands of links from the same IP block?
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    • Profile picture of the author godoveryou
      Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

      But isn't it an unnatural link profile if you have thousands of links from the same IP block?
      Obviously if the sites are ranking it's not that unnatural.
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  • Profile picture of the author seoboyz01
    Here's a quote from the page you are talking about.

    Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example:
    Visitors to this page: 1,472
    car insurance
    The template owner has a right to put his site credit links at the footer of a template, linking back to his own site.

    A footer link that says, 'site created by (link)' is not so offensive to Google as one that says, 'apartments for rent in Dubai' on a site that has nothing to do with apartment rentals.

    This latter type of backlink is pure spam and has nothing to do with the creator of the template.
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  • Profile picture of the author Oziboomer
    Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

    Why aren't these sites being penalized? Is this SEO technique legit?
    maybe it's because these sites are cool and have got a ton of social proof.

    No affiliate links. no ads and have a clear purpose.

    Great examples of how to go about things in a professional way.
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    • Profile picture of the author GaryCarlyle
      You wont get penalised for just linking from forums etc. Google can be gamed a bit but they are good at knowing if you are just linking to your site from a forum to help people and for a bit of traffic or if you are doing it for the reason of SEO. They have a lot of factors now. Including being able to link a Google profile to search patterns and whether they look a lot for black-hat stuff. They are not silly. Do link build but if you feel you are being spammy then presume Google will know you are too. even if you get away with it for awhile doesnt mean they wont work it out one day.
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  • Profile picture of the author eddy55
    So, if I build a software-as-a-service website builder and have thousands of customers/website with unique domains, it's a perfectly legit technique to do this:


    or this?


    I've been reading tons of articles on how site-wide links are bad and you'll get penalized for it.

    To me, this looks exactly like what Google describes as an unnatural link:
    https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356
    "Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines: Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites"
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    • Profile picture of the author seoboyz01
      Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

      So, if I build a software-as-a-service website builder and have thousands of customers/website with unique domains, it's a perfectly legit technique to do this:


      or this?


      I've been reading tons of articles on how site-wide links are bad and you'll get penalized for it.

      To me, this looks exactly like what Google describes as an unnatural link:
      https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356
      "Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines: Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites"
      This footer backlink is the payment these host or site providers get for giving the free host space to the user.

      Likely this type of sitewide backlink is not considered the same as the one you are referring to. I'm sure Google is more than aware of free host space providers and how they always link back from site users pages on the footer. Surely they have made allowances to allow such backlinks.

      Also, is it possible, these backlinks you are mentioning is a no follow backlink? There's no penalty for no follow backlinks.
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  • Profile picture of the author WareTime
    The very reason for most free WP themes existence.
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    • Profile picture of the author eddy55
      As I said, they are do follow back links.
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  • Profile picture of the author linkbuildr
    Many web design companies have been getting penalized for Designed By links that are not nofollow. They are against Google's TOS, they just most likely haven't been effected yet, that or the links are already devalued by Google and that's that.
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  • Profile picture of the author eddy55
    Ya, @linkbuildr that's my thoughts exactly. But it seems mostly everyone on this forum seems to think it still works and is kosher.
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    • Profile picture of the author BenJackson
      Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

      Ya, @linkbuildr that's my thoughts exactly. But it seems mostly everyone on this forum seems to think it still works and is kosher.
      As a WP theme biz owner, I can vouch that the footer links are certainly low-quality, but 4 million links is 4 million links

      Also, this is not a secret or something we need to guess about. Check out elegantthemes.com, woothemes.com, etc. Just look at their link profile and their rankings.
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  • Profile picture of the author paulgl
    Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

    Google's web-master guidelines state "creating links that weren't editorially placed or vouched for by the site's owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. " and further specifies "Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites".

    Why aren't these sites being penalized? Is this SEO technique legit?
    Well, if you use them...you are vouching for them and you agreed to use something
    with a link to them. Nothing could be clearer.

    Besides, "can be considered" is a fudge factor term. It means that 99.999%,
    google could care less....google never says anything set in stone in cases
    like that.

    I can't believe so many here have so much time as wonder about other
    peoples sites. Why not just be resolved to kick butt with your own?

    Paul
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    • Profile picture of the author eddy55
      Originally Posted by paulgl View Post

      I can't believe so many here have so much time as wonder about other
      peoples sites. Why not just be resolved to kick butt with your own?

      Paul
      For the longest time that was my link strategy. I had many clients, and as I got new ones each month I'd slowly grow in the ranks. I started upping my seo work, and then got burned. Assuming some sort of algo-penalty, I started to clean up and removing links that didn't match their guidelines (site-wide links on my client's sites). Didn't seem to improve the situation and seemed to make things worse.

      Now my link profile is totally clean... and rankings are in the dump.

      How to you replace a natural link profile of over 600 domains which grew slowly over 3 years? I tried doing it programatically on the backend, by restoring links on a few websites each week. After about 4 months, I had restored site-wide links on all 600 sites. I couldn't measure any substantial correlation of improvement from the changes. I figured when I no followed all 600, and later removed the links completely, they must have catalogued all the sites as some sort of network and filtered them out. They are all legit sites by actual customers, albeit mostly images, so perhaps they are low quality sites in the eyes of google?

      Frustrated, I decided to nofollow the links again, so I could focus on my SEO efforts and not have to worry about any penalties.

      That brings me to today..... what to do? It looks like this technique is still used. Some forums and blogs say "DON'T DO SITEWIDE LINKS" ... some people here say to do it. I'm running a real business, with real customers. I'm losing lots of revenue with bad serp positions right now. I can't afford to make anymore mistakes.
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      • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
        Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

        For the longest time that was my link strategy. I had many clients, and as I got new ones each month I'd slowly grow in the ranks. I started upping my seo work, and then got burned. Assuming some sort of algo-penalty, I started to clean up and removing links that didn't match their guidelines (site-wide links on my client's sites). Didn't seem to improve the situation and seemed to make things worse.

        Now my link profile is totally clean... and rankings are in the dump.

        How to you replace a natural link profile of over 600 domains which grew slowly over 3 years? I tried doing it programatically on the backend, by restoring links on a few websites each week. After about 4 months, I had restored site-wide links on all 600 sites. I couldn't measure any substantial correlation of improvement from the changes. I figured when I no followed all 600, and later removed the links completely, they must have catalogued all the sites as some sort of network and filtered them out. They are all legit sites by actual customers, albeit mostly images, so perhaps they are low quality sites in the eyes of google?

        Frustrated, I decided to nofollow the links again, so I could focus on my SEO efforts and not have to worry about any penalties.

        That brings me to today..... what to do? It looks like this technique is still used. Some forums and blogs say "DON'T DO SITEWIDE LINKS" ... some people here say to do it. I'm running a real business, with real customers. I'm losing lots of revenue with bad serp positions right now. I can't afford to make anymore mistakes.
        If Google gave your site an unnatural links penalty they have already discounted the links, nothing you do with those links will have an impact.

        If your old rankings were based on the unnatural links and Google is discounting them, you no longer have the backlinks that resulted in your old SERPs.

        Add to this your site was hit with a penalty, many have found when hit with a penalty you have to be SEO whiter than white and work harder to gain SERPs than before. Consider it a trust issue, your domain is no longer as trusted as before the penalty.

        All you can do is go 100% whitehat SEO and work on backlinks that won't cause a problem.

        David
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        • Profile picture of the author eddy55
          Thanks David. That's what I was suspecting. I wasn't formally given a penalty via webmaster tools, but one day when I was getting overzealous with SEO (optimizing image alt on the clients sites) I had a crazy traffic going to the site and then ranking dropped one day almost to nothing, which I quickly took action on and revert the image alts and started reviewing the links. I would suspect its pretty obvious when 600 of my links get no followed in a day. They must have something to track and identify changes like that to find networks and disregard them.

          Is there anyway I can leverage my client's sites?
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          • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
            Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

            Thanks David. That's what I was suspecting. I wasn't formally given a penalty via webmaster tools, but one day when I was getting overzealous with SEO (optimizing image alt on the clients sites) I had a crazy traffic going to the site and then ranking dropped one day almost to nothing, which I quickly took action on and revert the image alts and started reviewing the links. I would suspect its pretty obvious when 600 of my links get no followed in a day. They must have something to track and identify changes like that to find networks and disregard them.

            Is there anyway I can leverage my client's sites?
            No, not in a 100% safe way that you control.

            If they link to your site manually, awesome web design company review sort of thing that would be good, but that rarely occurs.

            If you are trying to leverage clients domains for your SEO gains (which ethically is dubious if the client doesn't have control) IMO the safest way is a single link from the home page only with anchor text variation if you have a lot of clients. That being said, if you think you've already been hit by Google for these links, do you think they have value now?

            The home page tends to have the highest PR, so best page for a link. I've read Matt Cutts say Google do sometimes discount sitewide links: would make sense to not count say a sitewide link which generates 100 backlinks the same as 100 backlinks added to the equivalent webpages spread over 100 domains. Worst case scenario a sitwidelink is like a single home page link, though I doubt Google would go that far at downgrading sitewide links, probably more like worth a home page link + additional SEO benefit (say 10% of the sitewide links count), but not full SEO PR benefit.

            I'm speculating as it's difficult to test.

            Also take into account manual reviews, do you want tens of thousands of backlinks all pointing to the same webpage with same/similar anchor text all from a footer area and from unrelated domains. If you worked as a Google manual reviewer with a limited amount of time to review a domain would you be impressed with your backlink profile?

            David
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  • Profile picture of the author SEO-Dave
    As a WordPress theme developer I used to add a sitewide link to the theme support/download page until after generating millions of backlinks this way (PR6 internal pages) Google slapped the domain with an unnatural links penalty.

    I expect it's a case of numbers, like I said I generated millions of backlinks, had tens of thousands of webmasters using my free AdSense themes so was an enormous SEO footprint.

    Now I add a single home page link with a very easy option to disable it. If a thousand webmasters used a free theme of mine, be lucky to get 100 backlinks.

    So Google will penalize theme developers for their backlinks.

    David
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  • Profile picture of the author ventureprofits
    Having a sitewide link like that does not prove that your website is spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author ahmansoor
    As a top web design company may do such thing unintentionally, google simply ignore such links ('site designed by...' kinda links in the footer).
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  • Profile picture of the author samjom
    Site wide follow-link is completely unnatural and not editorial. It won't help in getting traffic at all. But yes its depend on Google It is going to consider this, sometime they consider it as spam link and penalize site and sometime not. But as internet marketer, we should avoid this because it hurt sites and create unnatural backlinks for site. Either we should unfollow these sidewide links or we just avoid link. Yes we can put name like "Web design by JOM Web Media" without link.
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  • Profile picture of the author eddy55
    What do you think of this one.... Wordpress.org has keyword anchor links on all their customer websites!



    Take a look at any of their sites, they all have a footer link with some sort of keywords.
    https://wordpress.com/fresh/
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    • Profile picture of the author nik0
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      One of my sites ranks solely on sitewide footer links as well, it ain't that bad, just have to be careful with what anchor to select.

      Same when I use forum signatures, my site would never rank anywhere for the anchor I use in my signature (though signatures are nofollow these days and very weak in nature) but just saying. Footer links don't have to neccesarily hurt rankings.
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    • Profile picture of the author yukon
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      Originally Posted by eddy55 View Post

      What do you think of this one.... Wordpress.org has keyword anchor links on all their customer websites!



      Take a look at any of their sites, they all have a footer link with some sort of keywords.
      https://wordpress.com/fresh/
      Sub-domains.
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