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Overstock in Google Sandbox

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by bertbaby, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. bertbaby

    bertbaby Elite Member

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    I apologize if this was posted already but did not see this during a search. This is from SearchEngineWatch.com

    Overstock.com Lands in Google's Penalty Box Over Links-for-Discounts Deal

    Overstock.com was enjoying some great rankings earlier this year. Unfortunately for Overstock, Webmaster World began examining why they were seeing such great rankings for numerous common terms, a review which led to yet another mainstream news organization "outing" a major retailer for linking practices.

    Last night, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Overstock was boosting their rankings by "encouraging websites of colleges and universities to post links to Overstock pages so that students and faculty could receive discounts on the shopping site. Overstock said it discontinued the program on Feb. 10, before hearing from Google, but said some university webmasters have been slow to remove the links."

    In Overstock's case, the retailer offered discounts of 10% on some merchandise to students and faculty. In exchange, it asked college and university websites to embed links for certain keywords like "bunk beds" or "gift baskets" to Overstock product pages.

    After ranking in the top three of Google's organic search results, Overstock has now dropped to the fifth or sixth pages on searches for terms such as [vacuum cleaners] and [laptop computers], much like JCPenney suffered after being outed by a New York Times article less than two weeks ago. Forbes was also penalized this month for selling links.

    Links from .edu (and .gov) sites are viewed as the most trusted and authoritative by Google's algorithm. Overstock.com would highlight URLs and desired anchor text for the people to use.

    LOL and people ask is Blackhat SEO unethical? Only if you get caught.

    http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/110224-093044
     
  2. Monrox

    Monrox Power Member

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    Problem is, they're not bad. A good store will not necessarily have good links too. I use some tricks to rank my good stuff because I don't have a choice. No matter how useful a web presence is, it loses very easily to the next spammer. Every major player is using countermeasures but gets dropped if it goes public. And the search engines simply act surprised. In reality, wouldn't anyone be having employees to track big companies? As an example even the smallest aff networks have AMs assigned to the biggest players.
     
  3. bertbaby

    bertbaby Elite Member

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    I agree about using tricks and all the crap Google does to shroud their algorithm in secrecy encourages all sorts of gaming of their stupid SERP system. This is not CAN-SPAM so I say screw the Google billionaires and let's all play, just don't get caught! And never link directly to your money site!
     
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  4. JamesHenry

    JamesHenry Junior Member

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    Still on the first page is no sandbox.

    But I like reading that they were outed.

    Thanks
     
  5. aldragon

    aldragon Power Member

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    ^^
    Experienced members here should know that sanbox does not exist, but penalties.
    Hexalor closed a thread yesterday showing a video from late 2009 with a white board in the backround that says : secret pagerank scalling factor is 42. This was an error of Matt cutts and his team too and people that have understood what it says there have their websites with the best serps. The 42% is the exact match of the sum of the value that google gives in the Algorithm to the Link Popularity of a specific page of the website ~ 22% + a 20% for the anchor = 42.
    There are also some more things you can deduct from that using a simple tool such as SEOmoz bar
     
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  6. bertbaby

    bertbaby Elite Member

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    Based on the observations shared by BHW members the term "sandbox", to myself at least, refers to either a penalty for spammy links that drops a site rankings for keywords or a complete removal from the top search pages to the Internet hinterlands.

    Whether it's a drop or removal is dependent on a site's authority or in this case Overstock's Adwords campaign. Money talks.
     
  7. Monrox

    Monrox Power Member

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    Well it makes perfect sense for a sandbox to exist and here's my argumentation: If an object is graded on factors and these factors were suddenly to experience a big flux, you take down the object until the grading is recalculated. Changing the object on each step of recalculation is very inefficient. For example, when copying files, if you move the animated dialog with the progress bar around, it freezes during the movement. The progress is stored internally and updates after it again becomes useful to do so.

    When I read case studies against the sandbox, the argument usually is "it has never happened to me, so it does not exist (and I build a lot of sites, so you must trust me on that)". This is most probably because those people have never made such a difference to cause the big flux I explained above.

    That is also the reason why pages in the sandbox come back stronger. Penalties do exist but they are a completely different thing. You don't come back higher after being penalized and why would you? It would defeat the whole purpose of a penalty. At best you simply regain your previous position.

    Personally I welcome the sandbox and throw everything I can at the website while it is in there as it can only positively influence the end result of the recalculation.

    As to the number, first I don't think they hold webcasts in the same room where they discuss strategies on white boards and secondly, there are many types of links. An editorial link without an anchor weights more than a comment link with an anchor but less than an image link with a tag and an anchor and so on. And it is not a secret at all, the algo is patented and as such is also publicly available for study. I wonder how many IMers have actually read the stuff.
    http://www.seoguide.org/se-patents-papers.htm
     
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  8. richcamp

    richcamp Regular Member

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    Thats make sense, when you want to rank something you dont know you'd put it in a place where it wouldn't disturb ranks you already know.

    This becomes interesting, if sandbox (or whatever you want to call it) is caused by the SE recalculating your position, wouldn't do anything that causes the SE to recalculate you position again is not good? i.e if you keep throwing backlinks at it, based on that theory, you'll either stays sandboxed until your true position is known or you get into the next one again as soon as you get out for another recalculation.
     
  9. tonlilaz

    tonlilaz Executive VIP Premium Member

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    looks like overstock managed to crawl out of the sandbox....
     
  10. CoyoteAssassin

    CoyoteAssassin Elite Member

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    Older article but good read. I didn't realize the larger companies coudl face these issues but it makes senses.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  11. Monrox

    Monrox Power Member

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    You would be right if there were unlimited domains. Currently there are approx. 200 million.

    Of the 100 or so million list I have, about 50 000 are pr 6 and above and I can get a link relatively easy (meaning in an economical amount of time) on maybe 10 or 15 000 of these. Once a site is in the sandbox, I flood it with links from there. When I am out of domains I must necessarily stop. And then the site comes back stronger. To keep making it rise I would have to start linking from many many more lower PR domains which for me would be a waste of time. Better to create 10 other sites and apply the same sandbox+high PR strategy again in the same time span.

    The SEs are not inherently looking for frequently updated websites, or such with a keyword in the domain etc. etc. They are using these factors only as a way to find content that is relevant. But when they see that visitors don't click another result after being on your page for just 2 seconds and instead spend minutes navigating your websites (low bounce rate), the keywords are 3-5% (no stuffing), and 50% of the high pr sites in existance link to you, there must be something the webmaster is doing right (aka providing value).

    All this requires great content of course. I've always liked the idea 'you need BLs to get to the top and content to remain there'. I usually pay $15 to $20 or more for an article which is mostly easy to recoup considering the rewards for offering great content. My writers are usually domestic teachers I find offline.
     
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  12. LeakyWeenie

    LeakyWeenie Registered Member

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    Wow, what a delicious thread that took care of my info appetite.

    Sandbox, no sandbox, I've been in it and out of it. And I still don't know if I believe in it. Thanks for making me think a bit though.