Saturday, April 23, 2005

Google's Link Dampening Filter

For SEO’s and self-proclaimed equivalents, it’s considered a must to have at least an opinion on the supposedly new ways Google is finding to “punish” our link building strategies. Most of these views don’t stretch much beyond educated (and not-so-educated) guesses and aren’t based on a great deal of substance. Few and far between are those who admit to guesstimating, rather than actually knowing anything. Nothing wrong with some guess work, especially in the absence of anything more solid (like a paid spy inside Google – candidates apply here), but let’s not get carried away.

I get particularly annoyed with people who seem convinced that certain types of links can get you “penalized” [that word again!]. I think this goes back to about 10 years ago or so, when everyone was warned not to link to or get links from “bad neighbourhoods”. By the latter were usually implied link farms, FFA pages and such like. Well, linking to this kind of pages serves little or no practical purpose, so don’t do it. But you can’t be responsible for who links to you, bad neighbourhood or not. That would leave the door wide open for abuse by competing sites: anyone could submit your pages to a handful and more “bad neighbourhoods” and drop a mini Google bomb at your home page. Google Webmaster guidelines clearly state that you cannot be penalised for this, as it is completely out of your control.

I feel that the “out of your control” argument largely applies to just about any type of link and will elaborate with a few examples in my next post, in particular trying to defuse the reciprocal links controversy a little.

Proceeding by elimination, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that any new link dampening filter, in addition to those already in place (relevance of text anchor et al.), can only be based on a time stamp factor. Newer links, perhaps also from newer sites, would carry less weight for a period of time that has been called the “sandbox” period or “probation” period. That would be quite a fair algo tweak.

To be continued.


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