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Beware of Blog Carnivals

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4:30 am
February 14, 2014


MoneyBeagle

Member

posts 1466

Larry, thanks for the detailed clarification. I feel 100 times better now.

Member Site: Money Beagle

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2:41 pm
February 14, 2014


Barbara Friedberg

Member

posts 1302

Larry and all,

I sincerely appreciate all of the time you've taken to outline the intricacies, actions, and hypotheses regarding this issue. I read the initial post on Microblogger and spent some time talking to an SEO expert and all of your information is useful.

 

The cause and effect question will probably never be answered. 

 

At least it can't hurt looking for spammy inbound links in Webmaster tools. 

7:42 pm
February 15, 2014


Larry @ The Skilled Investor

Member

posts 53

Post edited 7:50 pm – February 15, 2014 by Larry @ The Skilled Investor


Larry, thoughts about a no link building strategy?

For example, should I be including many links in my forum signature like yours? How many is too many? Or do you see it as a free for all to try and include as many links as possible? Candid questions and sincerely looking for your thoughts as you have some excellent viewpoints in this thread.

I'm wondering if I've been too lax as I haven't done any link building except comment around on some insightful posts. Things seem to have steadily progressed over the years but I am very curious as to whether to do more, so my sites can grow further. Perhaps I should start with my own forum signature on my own forum.

Thx

Hi Financial Samurai,

My thoughts have evolved over the years. The Borg's core advice on links has been relatively consistent over the years: 'write good stuff and people will link to you; include links in your writing that will lead readers to useful stuff on the web; behave or we will spank you eventually.' The behavior of the Borg over the past two years in punishing bloggers without any guidance on salvation makes be wonder about the nature of evil. I have circled back to understand that resistance is indeed futile. I have learned that the Borg is an old testament style god.

If a person is still going to fudge linking at the edges, I think that one should: A) understand what one does (products and/or services) that will lead to many dollars if you can get someone on the web interested, B) identify a small handful of existing webpages that one has that already ring the bell with the Borg including those not on your own websites, and C) focus all intentional link building on those pages directly on other pages that link to those primary pages. Think about keyword phases that you want to rank higher with and carefully try a sustained and diversified multi-year effort to improve your standing with a link mix of keyword anchors, random text, and permalinks/URLs. All other link building efforts should be randomized and scattershot, but would still constitute the vast majority of your linking activity. Then, read the tea leaves and try not to tick off the Borg

Now about the signature links. I have not visited Yakezie much in the past year, but decided to get reengaged. I updated my Yakezie signature links so that I could make it easier for anyone who is interested to find my books, financial planning software, and a couple of my websites. I am following the Borg's core advice from the first paragraph above.

My signature links do not have anything to do with the A, B, and C parts of the second paragraph for two reasons. First, the more forum posts I have the more links there will be from a single website that are all the same. I have around 30 posts. You have 1,600 posts. Therefore, a forum signature is not the best way to be subtle with link building. The good news, however, is that this website is hard core personal finance with some authority

Financial Samurai, if you care about volume of traffic, you could run an experiment and pop in a couple of links to your Yakezie signature and then track your stats to see if it makes a difference. Even with so many forum posts, I doubt that the Borg would punish you. In fact, my guess is that the Borg would treat them link nofollow sidebar links on all pages. If you did see any damage, just remove the signature links and thing will return to their prior state.

The second reason also takes us back to the Borg. All these signature links have a nofollow tag added automatically. In the original theory, the Borg started telling everyone about 10 (?) or so years ago that everyone had to use the rel equals nofollow tag in links that we wanted to diavow, so that we could remain faithful to the code of the Borg.

How many million webmaster hours have been spend on this nofollow tagging across the world since then? 10, 20, 30 million or more? For years, the Borg told us that these nofollow links would not pass the G-juice onsite or offsite. Website teams at many thousands of companies spend years sculpting G-juice flows within their sites to optimize their web presence. Then, around two years ago Matt Cutts commented casually in an interview that nofollow links are now no different than links that are followed and that they now bleed off the G-juice proportionally. He actually said that the Borg had made the change a year prior and 'nobody noticed', so this was no big deal. Millions of hours of dancing for the Borg, and the Borg just shuts off that part of the circuitry. Really? What will the next dance be after the various flavors of Penguin, Panda, and on and on?

I like to write, but part of the reason I have made lengthy contributions to this forum thread is that I finally got ticked off about the link hamster wheel. My time in life was the most precious thing I have. Getting one website slapped around for six months without any guidance as to why I was being abused was the final straw. Like a battered spouse, I should have already known better from this previous nofollow crap.

Maybe I have also wasted time here with the things I have written, but if I can save other bloggers from spending a lot of time making adjustments in response to this huge black box with unknown, hidden rules hurdling through that Internet and dimming random websites, then perhaps that is some form of public service.

I have learned that resistance is futile and that I get to keep my head if I kiss the Borg ring, am a good boy, and allow myself to be wired up to make my contribution to their stock price. Furthermore, I have learned to do what I like doing, which is writing rather long fact and research based articles and books. The web is an endless hamster wheel for millions because everything is so ephemeral. The eyeballs and ad clicks business model is not a way to get rich, so it is better to decide to do what you enjoy while you are serving the Borg and riding along on the web.

Cynically yours …

My financial planning and investment ebooks are here:

Financial Planning Books

Editor, Carnival of Financial Planning

Make your post submissions here

Developer of VeriPlan:

Lifetime Financial Planning Software

Personal finance and investing websites:

Pasadena Financial Planner

The Skilled Investor

9:06 pm
February 15, 2014


Financial Samurai

Admin

posts 1803

Thanks Larry. I had no idea about the no follow now being the same as do follow. Well, I guess that makes commenting around and participating in forums more worthwhile then yeah?

The one thing I have done is write about once a week on Yakezie.com and have a link or two back to FS that is relevant. Surely this has helped over the past four years but who knows. Yakezie.com is a platform for all Yakezie Members to use to write insightful posts and help build their link profile at the same time. For some reason not many take advantage.

I do wonder whether because I've done no intentional link building beyond the occasional guest post, comments and forums, that I could go on an aggressive link building mission and not be hurt? I have to imagine there is some type of ratio before a penalty gets initiated.

Regards,

 

Sam

Financial Samurai - Helping you achieve financial freedom sooner, rather than later.

Yakezie Network Founder 

2:20 pm
February 16, 2014


Larry @ The Skilled Investor

Member

posts 53

Post edited 2:54 pm – February 16, 2014 by Larry @ The Skilled Investor


Financial Samurai said:

Thanks Larry. I had no idea about the no follow now being the same as do follow. Well, I guess that makes commenting around and participating in forums more worthwhile then yeah?

The one thing I have done is write about once a week on Yakezie.com and have a link or two back to FS that is relevant. Surely this has helped over the past four years but who knows. Yakezie.com is a platform for all Yakezie Members to use to write insightful posts and help build their link profile at the same time. For some reason not many take advantage.

I do wonder whether because I've done no intentional link building beyond the occasional guest post, comments and forums, that I could go on an aggressive link building mission and not be hurt? I have to imagine there is some type of ratio before a penalty gets initiated.

I am not sure that that is the correct interpretation. As I understood the situation from the commentary of people who seemed knowledgeable in SEO at the time, it meant that:

A) any link with a nofollow tag would still supposedly be ignored from the perspective of search engine results credits

B) any link with a nofollow tag would be treated the same as a do follow link in terms of passing on whatever linking value that page has earned

(Sorry if my terms are not precise about this, because again I am tired of all this shadow boxing. But those interested can search and find a lot of commentary. Search something like "Matt Cutts nofollow". Realize that this crap just goes on and on and is still evolving and Matt is still commenting. I have stopped paying attention to the details. Also, note that there is not such thing as a dofollow link. I just use the term to denote a link that does not have the rel="nofollow" tag.)

So, here is an example as I understood the situation about two years ago. If a page contained ten links and eight were no follow and that page had whatever magical value (authority, pagerank, whatever pseudo-"Borg bitcoin") that page had earned from the perspective of the Borg, then as the nofollow system was originally set up all the value of the page related to linking would be split among the two do follow links and passed forward to wherever those two links were pointing. (Remember that this nofollow system and busywork was all Borg imposed starting in 2005 (?). It was not a standard that other search engines necessarily adopted.)

Now, roll forward to about three years ago after millions of hours were spent nofollowing links to conform to the rules and to shape the flow of page authority within and between websites. Then, unannounced the rules were changed by the Borg so that nofollow and do follow were treated the same from the perspective of passing the link value of the page.

Now, in this example whatever value that page had would be divided by all ten links. One tenth of the value would be passed along through each of the two do follow links. One ten of the value would be passed along the eight nofollow links into a blackhole that did not benefit any of the pages that those links pointed to from the perspective of enhancing their search engine results rankings.

Then, a year after that change, Matt Cutts gets interviewed and casually spills the beans about the change and says that nobody noticed (which apparently means nobody important complained loudly in public). This is yet another reason to believe that nobody really knows what is going on inside the black box and since the circuits in the black box keep evolving, then cause and effect viewed from outside are impossible to discern.

I have no real clue about how valuable or not commenting is or has been with respect to enhancing the external passage of link value, when comments automatically get a nofollow tag, which happens on most websites. Originally and after this change, nofollow links were never supposed to pass any link juice value. Of course, the addition of new comments would renew and expand the content of the particular page, which apparently helps the website, because new text seems to ring the bell loudly with the Borg.

The real impact of the change apparently was on the websites themselves. Before, apparently link juice did not bleed away and after that a black hole seemed to have opened up. Some of the SEO and webmaster commentary that followed related to whether is was even worth it to allow comments on a site, since they would bleed link value and most webmasters were increasing overwhelmed by comment spam. Now, from the webmaster's perspective, instead of commenting looking solely like great idea that would renew and expand page content, there was a new quandry of added page content versus link value bleeding. Dance sucka dance.

Finally, regarding concerns about penalties, etc. I do not think any of this stuff has anything to do will bloggers manually writing content, linking, link festing, commenting, etc. Manual activities are probably not the problem. For years, the Borg (in its defense) have fought constantly evolving spamming on a grand scale of business interests with budgets and SEO minions both in house and contracted. Machine linking techniques and hired content minions are employed extensively. Bloggers are like scattered prairie dogs in a giant game of wack-a-mole (I love wack-a-mole). However, in this game there are also many giant Dune worms. The Borg continually fights the giant worms and the blogger prairie dogs are just incidental road kill. After any major change to the ranking system there are winners and losers.

Recently, for example, whenever I search for "how to do" anything the top ten SERPs are littered with "ehow dot something" pages that are just brief rewritten product manual excerpts. Most often they are useless, so you have to keep digging past the top ten listings. I used to get a lot more forum pages in the top ten, and those results were more likely to answer the question I had.

Ehow is just an example of one of those giant worms. Will ehow get wacked in some future round of this game? If they do, then a lot of prairie dogs will go with them as collateral damage. Then, all the prairie dogs will notice they lost a few hundred dollars of Adsense revenue and waste time scratching their heads about what "they" did to get punished. Meanwhile, ads will still be placed on billions of webpages and the Borg will keep getting fed. They have an almost unlimited volunteer worksforce and no responsibility for that workforce. Sweet.

My financial planning and investment ebooks are here:

Financial Planning Books

Editor, Carnival of Financial Planning

Make your post submissions here

Developer of VeriPlan:

Lifetime Financial Planning Software

Personal finance and investing websites:

Pasadena Financial Planner

The Skilled Investor

6:48 pm
February 18, 2014


Larry @ The Skilled Investor

Member

posts 53

Post edited 6:56 pm – February 18, 2014 by Larry @ The Skilled Investor


(Note: This was pasted from a LinkedIn email from Barbara, which she authorized below.)

Larry,

Somehow, I couldn't respond to you on the Yakezie forum, but I wanted to thank you for your extensive information. I really appreciate how much effort you put in to your comments on the bloggers lair.

Unfortunately, I am left somewhat befuddled. Which are worse, inbound or outbound links? How do I know if a link is bad or not? I took your advice and downloaded to a spreadsheet all my inbound links and then segregated those that I thought were bad…. But how do I know for sure?

You are more than welcome to cut and paste this letter in to the forum. Further, you are welcome to disregard it, as you have already spent so much time on this topic.

I'm going to sit tight for now and take a wait and see attitude. Although my search traffic has dropped about 30-40% since August, I received no penality. I'm not doing any carnivals. And I'm done freaking out!! Thanks for your information..

Warm regards, Barbara

Hi Barbara,

This whole thing is overblown. First, nobody really has a definitive answer to your questions.

Second, if you do not see a notice in Google webmaster tools saying that one of your site's has a problem (is in violation of the "rules") then there is not a problem. If traffic drops, it could be just because of yet another change that has nothing to do with you. Or, something might have happened to your social traffic and may have nothing to do with the Borg.

Third, since so much of this is shadow boxing, it is probably a waste of time for most people to bother to do anything. However, you could go into webmaster tools and look at trends over time related to individual pages on your site. It is probably a good idea to understand where people land on your site and where they might be coming from anyway.

Most search based site traffic usually lands on a small portion of published pages. If you have changed some of those higher traffic pages and traffic drops, then this could be something you might have done. That is why it is probably a good idea never to remove text from a page, but only to add text to a page. Why a page already rings the bell with the Borg might not be clear, so removing text might mess with the page's popularity.

If you did not do anything and traffic changes are associated with search engines, then the reason for traffic increasing or decreasing is on the other side, and the why of the change is not clear. If your activities have been similar in nature and cumulative over time, then abrupt changes are probably do to changes in search engine algorithm modifications. (Also, blips can happen around the first of the month, since I understand that is when the Borg rolls out the revised indexes a couple dozen search results server farms.)

Fourth, "inbound or outbound links" are not inherently good or bad. The Borg is looking to prevent schemes that artificially enhance SERPs rankings in unnatural ways. But in truth, the general problem is that the vast majority of linking on the web is unnatural. Also, webmasters can control outbound links and thus the Borg assumes some level of quality control on the behalf of webmasters publishing links.

However, inbound links are what drives SERPs rankings in addition to a myriad of other black box factors. I remember commentary years ago that in general inbound links tend to have either zero or greater value and not a negative value. If inbound links can have a negative value, then there are all sorts of bad actor strategies that competitors could employ against each other's websites.

What the Borg seems to look for is the orchestration of inbound links in various unnatural ways that indicate that those links were not just put out there by the goodness that is in the hearts of the hordes of webmasters who naturally fall in love with a particular page on a website. In its heart, the Borg believes in a world filled with puppy love.

Anyway, just be happy publishing what you want to write. While it is a good idea to understand traffic though analytics, it is probably much less productive to waste a lot of time changing what is already published on your site or poring through lists of inbound links when the Borg has not explicitly slapped your hand with a notice. The more time spent mucking around shadow boxing, the less time you have to write what you want. To me, writing is much more gratifying than this other demoralizing SEO stuff.

Larry

My financial planning and investment ebooks are here:

Financial Planning Books

Editor, Carnival of Financial Planning

Make your post submissions here

Developer of VeriPlan:

Lifetime Financial Planning Software

Personal finance and investing websites:

Pasadena Financial Planner

The Skilled Investor

7:46 pm
February 18, 2014


Edward Antrobus

Fort Collins, CO

Member

posts 1008

I'm going to sit tight for now and take a wait and see attitude. Although my search traffic has dropped about 30-40% since August, I received no penality. I'm not doing any carnivals. And I'm done freaking out!! Thanks for your information..

Second, if you do not see a notice in Google webmaster tools saying that one of your site's has a problem (is in violation of the "rules") then there is not a problem. If traffic drops, it could be just because of yet another change that has nothing to do with you. Or, something might have happened to your social traffic and may have nothing to do with the Borg.
Most search based site traffic usually lands on a small portion of published pages. If you have changed some of those higher traffic pages and traffic drops, then this could be something you might have done. That is why it is probably a good idea never to remove text from a page, but only to add text to a page. Why a page already rings the bell with the Borg might not be clear, so removing text might mess with the page's popularity.

If you did not do anything and traffic changes are associated with search engines, then the reason for traffic increasing or decreasing is on the other side, and the why of the change is not clear. If your activities have been similar in nature and cumulative over time, then abrupt changes are probably do to changes in search engine algorithm modifications. (Also, blips can happen around the first of the month, since I understand that is when the Borg rolls out the revised indexes a couple dozen search results server farms.)

I've had the same issue. Over the past year, I've lost 70% of my Google search traffic.No penalty, no alignment with algorythm changes, just a relatively slow and steady drop until my traffic has reached the point where AdSense gives me a penny just because they feel bad. Terms I used to rank well for, I'm now on the third page or later and am beaten by sites that have lower metrics for things like PageRank, mozRank, Domain Authority, and Page Authority. Everything screams penalty, except for the lack of any penalty showing.

That site has participated in a grand total of 5 carnivals and hosted one. No paid links. I did go back last year and nofollow'ed a bunch of links from moderate quality "free guest posts" I stupidly accepted early on.

I'm starting to call this the "Black Hole" penalty, because I feel like I'm falling into a black hole of search engine rankings from which light (and my posts) can never escape.

 I'm looking for editors, beta-readers, and some demographic research for my upcoming novel, Once Upon a Saturn Moon. If you like reading soft sci-fi thrillers, maybe with a touch of romance thrown in, you can find more information at http://seampublishing.com/once…..aturn-moon

If You Can Read, You Can Cookhttp://www.ifyoucanread.com | Think you can't cook? If you can read this sentence, then you can.

SEAM Publishinghttp://www.seampublishing.com | eBook formatting and publishing service

12:24 pm
February 20, 2014


FamilyMoneyValues

Member

posts 812

The last few times I hosted carnivals, it seemed like I got many more submissions from companies just trying to advertise….not the helpful pf posts we used to get.

FamilyMoneyValues
Blog: http:blog.familymoneyvalues.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Family…..neyValues/  

9:49 am
February 22, 2014


My Personal Finance Journey

Member

posts 3159

Very fascinating topic here! Sorry I haven't stopped by much recently. I've been buried in putting together my grad school dissertation. 

I will definitely say that blog carnivals were much more popular when I first started blogging in 2010. Then, in 2012 when Best of Money went on hiatus, I wondered if folks were losing interest in them.

Here recently, it appears that Festival of Frugality has switched to running monthly editions instead of weekly editions, maybe due to the decline in submissions. I stopped by Carnival of Personal Finance, perhaps the most popular and most established carnival, and it appears that there are only about 20 submissions get featured each week vs. the ~70 submissions that would be included several years ago.

Overall, my hope is that this will blow over eventually, everyone will stop worrying about it, and start submitting to carnivals again since it has been a beneficial way for me to get new exposure over the years. 

Jacob @ My Personal Finance Journey

Visit me at My Personal Finance Journey

Email me jacob@mypersonalfinancejourney.com

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