7 SEO Techniques made Defunct by Google in 2007

 In General

I’m easing myself into work by doing a couple of blog posts before I start work on our clients! Along with neglecting blogging have have neglected reading Sphinn and other blogs recently. One of the Sphinn topics I noticed was by Copy Brighter on SEO techniques Google has smashed in 2007. One of the reasons I like posts like this is because I see so many SEO companies still practicing these techniques or advising their clients to use them. I have no doubt many of these companies will continue using the techniques throughout 2008 and onwards. One of the key jobs as an SEO is to actively read Blogs, Forums and other information sites in order to keep on top of the regular changes search engines make to their algorithms/rules. While it is impossible to know the exact Google algorithm it is often publicly announced when Google make an important change. Some of these changes include:

  1. Reciprocal linking. This is an out of date technique still widely used by many SEO companies and webmasters and it is important to realise that it is no longer a valid technique. In May of 2007 Realtors who relied heavily on reciprocal links were hit with a -30 penalty from Google, severely harming their business. If really need to do a reciprocal link it is best not to use a links page but to embed the link within an article or news item, this makes the link look more natural. Google also say it’s the excessive reciprocal linking that is not allowed, so swapping links with select sites that have a good authority within your industry should be fine.
  2. The “site: *** -sljktf” command (to show the supplemental index results). It used to be common practice to check which WebPages were in the supplemental index, as it would identify which pages needed some extra work doing to them. However Google has now merged all the pages into the regular index making it harder to identify which pages are under-performing.
  3. Directory Links. Another outdated technique still widely used. During 2007 Google hit many directories with a reduction in Page Rank. Sites using the directories should not be directly affected / penalised but have the value of the links from the directories reduced.
  4. Sponsored blog post networks. Google made quite a controversial move in 2007 when they penalised Bloggers who accepted payments to provide blog posts about websites, products, services and companies. Many websites had their Page Rank completely stripped away and has upset many Bloggers that generate some extra money from their Blog.
  5. Paid for links / Sponsored Links. Similar to the Sponsored Blog posts Google hit many sites that sold link placements on their site. This is due to people trying to increase their Page Rank artificially by paying for links from high PR websites. This is another move that caused much upset as many sites had a big drop in PR, many of the site did not even sell links.
  6. Dominating the SERPs with sub domains. Often used as a Reputation Management Technique allowing companies achieve multiple results from several different sub domains. This technique was devalued with Google making it more difficult for each sub domain after the first 2 to good achieve rankings.
  7. 10 Blue Links. This is not really a penalty but Google has shifted from provided strictly 10 website search results on page 1 to a mixture of results including Images, Videos, Blog posts and News Items. Google is making a big push towards relevancy and quality of search results making it harder for websites to rank in the top ten. This will mainly effect website with little content and deliberately made for Adsense.
James
I am the director of Dolphin Promotions, a full service web design and marketing company based in Blackpool, UK.
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Showing 33 comments
  • David Hopkins

    Good overview. Some thoughts:

    1 – I have noticed that there are still a lot of sites ranking that use huge reciprocal linking networks. Although I def. agree that this is a out of date technique that should be limited to only linking to authority sites.

    2 – The removal of the supplemental index was the greatest shame of 2007. I guess it was to stop people spamming a handful of links into their subpages.

    3 – If you have a low competition keyword it is still quite affective to get loads of directory links with your keyword in it, but you will probably need a dose of PR3+ links too. I have noticed quite a lot of sites still using paid directories at $25 a pop on N/A PR pages.

    4 – I have never used the blog networks personally, but know someone who uses this technique with very few links from other sources and his sites have not budged a bit.

    6 – The problem mentioned here has to do with heavy optimisation across too few sub domains. If you add more sub domains that are not heavily optimised this should not be a problem. There are also problems with aggressively optimising too many sub pages when you have don’t have many. If you add more subpages and don’t pour loads of crap links into them it alleviates this problem.

    Another thing that has become more apparent in 2007 is that sites that rely on hordes of load quality links are having their cache frequency reduced, particularly on sub pages. This can be solved by getting some high PR links in to balance out the rubbish.

  • James

    Very good points all of which I more or less agree with. I wont lie I do use directories etc occasionally, however it is only because the actual cost to do it is tiny so I don’t even bother charging a client for it, it is ridiculous companies charging for things like that. I have kinda stopped doing it just because it has little effect really.

    I admit I do see clients using recips that are still doing really quite well. In fact I recently started work on one that was doing it, though not VERY heavily, but it was still quite a lot. I moved them all to NoFollows and I am slowing cutting out the old techniques the former company used. They have improved quite a bit actually which I wasnt expecting so fast so I am quite happy, however it is early days so we shall see.

    Interestingly the techniques used on the site were all really poor and very out dated but it did still do well, though I guess it was largely due to the fact the site was dynamic and the client had a LOT of products with good unique descriptions. I hope the changes I do carry on making a great difference, as it will def help me confirm conforming to the basic rules still works.

    Also I tried the paid linking thing a little bit with some personal site, to be honest it didn’t really have the benefit that I hoped at the time, it was early this year and I would say it is a lesson learned. Its all about trial and experiment I guess!

  • David Hopkins

    It is good to see that some people are opting for the higher quality approach to link building in the spamasphere. Ripping through people’s backlinks, you rarely see anything other than spam.

    I think as long as you want a keyword that is not very competative the directories can still be quite useful. Even for free submissions most will let you put any garbage for the link text. Enough link text coupled with some high quality links seems to do the trick. They are also quite useful for ranking for longtails.

    Never tried paid links. I know that there are some companies that charge thousands of pounds a month and all they do is buy in paid links. If you check out insurance related terms you can see this in action.

  • James

    Oh yeah its obvious loads of companies still sue paid links, and well any trick in the book really. I’d probably do it myself if I thought I’d get away with it. Unfortunately I do not think it is worth my reputation to use any techniques that are too dodgy. One technique that bugs me is the javascript resources button that opens up a load of keyword rich text. It is more grey hat than black hat and loads of sites seem to get away with using it, hopefully Google will punish them one day.

    Oh and by the way I really like your site. We really need to pull our finger out and make ours xhtml. Though I can come up with a never ending list of things I want/need to do and just never find time!

  • David Hopkins

    I quite like this method for of collapsable JavaScript divs although I do it in a way that improves the user interface and gets a few more keywords in the mix. I think its fine as long as its not spammy content liks comma seperated lists.

    Thanks for your comliment. I was in the same boat as you with always wanting to make additions to the site, but am more focused on making things work now. I don’t see any point in putting quality content on a web design site when all web design will do is serve to keep you on the bread line 😛

  • Baby Girl

    There has been some quality comments on this article and generally a go post to start with.

    While i agree with 95% of whats been already said, and don’t want to repeat everything, i don’t thing the post / comments have given enough weight to the amount of spam links and spam network that are out there.

    Home many times a day must i check backlinks and find splog after splog spewing out 20 articles a day of woffle with a few keyword links in. Somtimes these pages have a pr3+ (Whether they were previously quality sites i don’t know).

    On the plus side of this, PPP (Pay per post) sites do offer excellent value for money. With an average cost of about £2-5 per link, and the links being permanant, they definatly seem a more cost effective option than paying a monthly fee for banner / text link on some big shot website, when no ones’s going to click them anyway, although saying this, PPP links alone are worthless, as i feel it needs to be used on only a quality PR site anyway.

  • James

    Oh I don’t have anythign against pay per post, I think it is great, especially the fact that it gives the smaller bloggers chance to earn a few quid. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop Google from disapproving though.

    Unfortunately I think the problem is that a lot of techniques people use innocently then get exploited by other people and Google then decides to penalize it and in the process of doing so they hurt a lot of innocent people.

    Also the comment regarding splogs, I am not that clued up on the black hat work techniques but from what I gather each splog only has a limited time to generate money until Google drops the site. However a splogger will churn out so many splogs they create them faster than Google drops them so the income remains constant if not grows. I think they then focus on generating income from the dropped splogs from Yahoo/MSN as they are more lenient with spam. No matter that Google do Black Hats will find ways to earn money from them.

    Also I think a lot of the time the splog sites with good PR are just domains that have been bought up rather than earned the PR themselves.

  • Baby Girl

    If for the sake of the discussion you equate a blog to a journal or magazine. Then by putting a few PPP on there i think is only a natural thing todo, ie; to capitalize on the blog audience. Ideally readers and advertisers would want the adverts to be related to the blogs content.

    When google peanlizes these blogs for PPP i think its like google is saying, in effect, ‘You cannot advertise your website unless your using our advertising scheme… or have access to a huge spam network’.

    Maybe google doesn’t like PPP as it has the potential for ‘google bombing’ and generally to dilute its algorithm.

    Leading on from this would possibly be to discuss how search could be advanced which is beyond the scope of this comment. 🙂

  • Utah SEO

    This is a great compilation.It seems like a few things were in the works for years (reciprocal linking) and a few were out of the blue ( removal of supplemental index). I dont think an SEO out there didn’t see reciprocal linking being jeopardized at some point, it was barely a best practice when it was used.

  • Baby Girl

    Quick way to get around ‘reciprocal linking’ is to setup a links page, get lots of reciprocal links, then delete links page. voilla.

  • Come on

    Come On

  • andrej

    6 – So when is Google going to start treat subdomains as folders? This is not a good news for me, as I’m doing some SEO experiments on my subdomains.

  • SEO London

    Thanks for compiling this info.

  • Scott Demaret

    So, just what techniques are left

  • UK Graffiti

    Have clocked most of these – apart from the subdomains. On page optimisation is where its at in 2008.

  • Glasgow Web Design

    This has help clarify things a little. But the murky world of SEO seems to be getting murkier. I guess there will always be new tricks and tactics to foil big G and their every expanding plan to take over the planet!

  • Bathroom Vanity Cabinets Guru

    Google attacked the paid links deal hard. It was quite funny to see the so-called “A-listers” moan and groan when their Pagerank was sunk. And the sad part is many of them are still pushing paid reviews and TLA. Seems a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it?

  • seo

    A very good analysis, Thanks for taking the time to research on this and I am enjoying your blog..

  • Mark from Just Web Designers

    I’m pretty glad that points 5 and 6 got hammered. I’m not sure you’re right about #1 though. I still see lots of sites dominating Google in lots of industries solely through reciprocal linking.

  • acne

    Great post here, I’ll definitely be linking to it from at least one of my sites.

  • Robert from Industry Specific

    Excellent information. This site is a must for all those that are looking at optimizing their websites for search engines.

  • Søgemaskineoptimering

    #11 – deleting a linkpage… thats bad girl 😉 it will work for sometime, but it wont be easy to receive links after people found out you did that.

  • HiTechWebsites

    The funny thing about this link business, is that it seems to be defeating the search engine’s purpose. I have been looking at the web sites with the top ranking search results for certain keywords, as you do. I have noticed that some have very little content but are ranked very high due to their inbound link number. There are some sites with terrific content that are at the bottom of the list. So basically the average person wanting to find good quality information will possibly not find it on the first 3 pages. They will, however, find pages with a lot of links, which is not what they really want. Libraries might come back into fashion after all.

  • HiTechWebsites

    Hey Scott, I find myself asking the same question “What options are left?” Does anyone know why your ste would show no links in Google when you do Link:www.yoursite.com but in the webmaster tool it shows external links? Puzzled!

  • Stuart Rutter

    I have been experimenting with my site trying different techniques to try and find the best combinations which I can potentially map on to my clients sites. What I have mostly found is that credibility counts. The single most important played link I got was from Yahoo directory. This quickly got my site added to Demoz and the Google directory and I saw my site go up the rankings.

  • Richard Metcalfe

    Google just want, want, want and what we have they want that to. They seem to rule everyones website world for e.g. if you have a blog or website you know what its like to do SEO. I mean even the name it self is search engine optimization and the largest search engine is Google. They do this do that and nearly everyone is ruled by PR. I once read something in an article about SEO it stated

    “If your not listed on Google you don’t relay exist.”

    I thought that was a bit unfair who wants to be told what they can and cant do. At the end of the day though the fact is 95% of us do, so a big thumbs up for pointing out all the aspects from your research much appreciated.

  • Speeding Ticket

    #2 seems to have affected other operators as well, making it difficult to guage your site and other competitive sites.

    I agree with most of the comments with maybe the exception of building reciprocal links and deleting the links page!!!!

    In any event, my experience shows that there is more to link value than meets the eye. When reciprocal linking took a hit, about 20 of my sites were visibly affected – while another 30 or so were not. This was the same for the paid directory PR crash. Many sites stayed the same.

    Suffice to say I still believe the best way to achieve rankings for your site (or your client) is to dig around for mid PR links (free), make honest valuable comments on high PR blogs and then supplement this with one or two high ranking authority directories.

    Seems to work for me – for how long, one never knows.

  • FTA Keys

    Comment #24: heck, even just quietly adding a nofollow a week later is better than deleting the links page! But I digress…

    Comment #25: It’s true that links are now ultra dominant. If something changes, a lot of sites will be in trouble. For the time being though, SERPS do not seem to value content as much as everyone thought they would after the Google changes last year and their so called semantic updates.

    Although reciprocal linking is said to be irrelevant by most up to date SEO’s, it’s odd how some can have such an effect. Last month I tested 2 PR6 recips on one of my test pages. It helped me rank up approx 10 spots to #11 in google for a search term w/ approx 200 searches per day. This has not always worked on test sites but it seems there are still a few cases where it helps. I’d say, if you know of 10-20 of these sites, it never hurts to recip from a decent link/resource page.

    Just my 2 cents!

  • FTA Forum

    I agree, recips do still work, but its hard to figure out “why” and “when”. Multiple tests have shown us that they sometimes work and sometimes do not. I think the “PR” of a page is becoming negligible – maybe Google keeps it there to see how many of us are link building.

  • Anh Wu

    I agreed with most of your points, except that reciprocal links. How can you get natural links? If everyone wants the same things, very few willing to link out.

  • Stiesch

    This is a great compilation.It seems like a few things were in the works for years (reciprocal linking) and a few were out of the blue ( removal of supplemental index). I dont think an SEO out there didn’t see reciprocal linking being jeopardized at some point, it was barely a best practice when it was used.

  • FTA Forum

    Has anyone read about Google penalizing paid links? About Google actually taking info from people and discounting large pay directories? I read this on another high authority blog.

    This post is great. Although I still search for recips – I often wonder if Im living in the past with this method. My sites still rank, but maybe because of the other SEO elements I use. So hard to tell with the Google shifts…

  • Jillian

    Hi,
    It is good to see that some people are opting for the higher quality approach to link building in the spamasphere. Ripping through people’s backlinks, you rarely see anything other than spam.

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