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What Yandex's Linkless Index Probably Means For SEO

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by Scritty, Apr 12, 2014.

  1. Scritty

    Scritty Elite Member Premium Member

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    Yandex has gone (partially) link less. Is this a look forward to the future, or a blast from the mid 1990's when SEO was alive and well, but links played little or no part in establishing your position in the rankings.
    You might have read about this being new, the end of spam, the end of game-able SERPs.

    Just goes to show how some people won't learn from the lessons of the past. Google have very recently said they tried a link free index, and it was (in their own words) poor. Despite the noise of link spam, they found it was better to establish which links mattered and which links didn't and refine their algorithm that way, than rely on either on site, technical (speed etc) or visitor metric measures alone.
    Trouble is, all of those three can be bought, manipulated or gamed even easier than links can.
    First, here piece by SearchEngineWatch that announced Yandex?s new paradigm of link-less ranking. If you haven?t heard of this Russian search engines recent changes It might be worth taking the time to read it. It gives a very good account of the situation as well as the reasons for this change, or experiment.

    It?s a well written piece by an established and competent author. It gives the ?pro? side of the argument for change well.
    Where I have an issue is that it leaves out three very important parts of the puzzle.


    • Firstly, that for the first 5 years of internet marketing (or slightly longer depending on when you consider pure SEO based IM started) links were 100% irrelevant to search engine ranking. They had nothing to do with SERPs. Ignoring links as a ranking factor isn?t a ?new? thing. if it happens, it?s a return to the mid 1990′s
    • Secondly, that link-less ranking will not be the end of spam, just the end of a particular form of spam.
    • Thirdly, that the ability to ?game? just about any new method of ranking will not take more than a matter of weeks to emerge from anything that replaces link based ranking. Weeks? That?s being optimistic. Days more like.
    My own caveat here. I?m not suggesting that this is a good thing. I?m not advocating spam ? just pointing out that those that prosthelytize any new ideology often evangelise the positive aspects of a new idea while not considering the other side of the situation.
    From my own experience, this sort of announcement is almost a ?face palm? moment. How short people?s memorys are. Links were not a ranking factor in any way shape or form when I started in IM in the 1990′s. SEO was almost 100% on site content optimization.

    Techniques like spamming a sites keywords in the same colour as the site background, hiding data in images, over use of a sites META tags, self referential internal links and of course the popups and authority spoofing that marred just about any visit to any website that wasn?t an established brand name.

    Thing is - It worked. It was ?gamed? it was easy ? and not a link was involved anywhere.
    People called it SEO, people made money. Google hadn?t even launched.
    Then there were ?link discovery? rings ? Sites would form their own ?rings? not self serving, self made link rings as we know now ? but specific interest and niche rings
    You might remember these, some still exist today though they are few and far between and often only on sites that date back to when they had explicit benefit. See image below
    ?Go to the next site in this ring or a random site?..

    .. was a common strip to be found at the bottom of pages. The sites were not owned by the same person, they formed a community that realised that value of sharing traffic.
    WebCrawler?s also followed these links. These were maybe the beginning of the idea for the self created link rings that served link based SEO well until 2009. But at the time actual inbound links from 3rd party sites counted for nothing, or very little in actual search ranking terms
    Along Came Google

    Google changed all that, links were introduced as a primary metric for ranking and keyword spamming and all the other on page rubbish that went on in an attempt to ?game? relevance lost ground quickly. Even META data, that for a long time was considered a valuable addition to any site was first devalued and then made all but obsolete. Google?s attitude was
    ?Don?t bother with META data ? we aren?t interested in you telling us what your site is about, we will work it out for ourselves with our relevance algorithms thank you very much?
    When links were first announced as a SERP metric many in IM gave ?We?ll have to spend all out time writing and begging our competitors to link to us ? never going to happen ? this is the end of SEO?
    When Links Were Introduced As A Ranking Metric It Was Considered By Many To Be The End Of SEO.

    Thousands rage quit the industry after links were introduced as a primary ranking metric. It was suggested that Google had invented an all but un-gamable way of ranking sites. ?That?s it? they moaned, ?SERP?s will be dominated by the big boys now.?
    That was about 15 years ago
    You read that right ? at one time the idea of requiring 3rd party links for SEO benefit was thought by a large minority in the business to spell the end of SEO.
    There were no tools to get links, at all ? nothing ? not even desktop applications that searched the web to suggest potential link partners to send emails to begging for link exchanges ? they were years away ? there was nothing.
    Now the opposite is true. The end of links is thought to spell the end of SEO. Nay-sayers will cling on to anything ? esp. those inexperienced with the way things change or those with short memories.
    Let?s not be so naive. Let?s not make the two assumptions that even normally smart IM commentators are either making or overlooking in their ?this spells the end of spam and rank gaming? rhetoric.
    Using Visitor Behaviour As A Key Metric? Really?

    Fake traffic ? fake traffic that is almost undetectable as fake by any search engine ? is stupid easy to mimic now. Here?s what will likely happen.
    Black Hat automation will simply adapt. It won?t be ?Buy this link product? ..it will become ?Buy this fake traffic product?. ? Imagine the tag lines.

    • Great retention metrics
    • Low reported bounce rate.
    • Auto search pages.
    • Follows your on site links just like a real visitor.
    • Fake referrer.
    • Undetectable by search engine analytics.
    • Can spoof IP address or use private proxies
    • Full randomization included
    • 100% Realistic traffic
    Some products like this already exist (low key ? hard to find ? currently of limited use) but better ones will spring up within weeks ? maybe even days. And they will work.
    The End Of Spam?

    Yeah right!
    Email spamming will almost certainly be ramped up should the value of link spam be lost. Expect massive email blasts for those in the darker recesses of IM who want to sell. Email scraping and sending tools will become more commonplace. ?Anti spam? and ?Can-spam? rules are practically unenforceable in 85% of the world. Got a problem with spam from Uganda, Bolivia, former Soviet states and any of the hundreds of areas of the world?
    Two choices. Ban emails from 85% of the world, or prepare for massive server blocks in those countries to turn their email spam cannons on and commence spraying. I find it unlikely that either of those options is acceptable. It would mean accepting massive spam ? or accepting that 85% of your global audience are ?dumb? and you can only speak to them down a one way channel. A likely end result being that the WWW becomes a fragmented local market web with big corporations losing access to massive areas of the global market as newly industrialized but poorly policed nations take offence at being communicated to in one direction and form their own communities.
    Swap World Wide Web for the Fragmented Local Markets ? cliques if you prefer.
    The Ungamable Ranking System?

    Don?t make me laugh!

    Here?s the thing. The web is massive right?
    To operate an effective indexing of something this massive is not in the capabilities of real people to do on a URL by URL basis. It?s just not possible and never will be.
    An automated algorithm will always be used. While an algorithm is used there will always be methodology and a general rule set applied.
    Any rules set ? in any sphere can be gamed or leveraged. That?s the nature of rules, especially those governing something as massive as the internet.
    Also consider that Google, despite their protestations are not primarily there to ?enhance a visitors experience on the internet? they are there primarily to ?make money for shareholders?
    Up to the point where improving visitors experience also improves their bottom line ? then Google will do it. The minute it costs more than it returns? They won?t.
    They aren?t an altruistic web clean up charity, nor are they the ?web police? with any federal or international powers to do anything to anyone ? other than decide where to put a site in their directory. That?s where Google?s power starts and ends. That?s it.
    The End Of Links?

    People will still move from one site to another via links. That is their prime purpose.
    Links and offsite SEO are not synonyms. Links move traffic. Google piggybacked the idea and saw how links could be used as a measure of popularity, but links existed for their primary purpose long before Google decided to use them as a KPI for popularity, and will continue in this primary purpose if Google ever decide to drop this measure.
    Links will continue to perform their initial and primary function of moving traffic long after (or IF) the idea of links as a SERP factor is gone.
    Final Thought?

    Having easily visible links from authority sites to move traffic will always be of huge benefit to webmasters. Always was, always will be

    Scritty
     
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  2. Gyuman82

    Gyuman82 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    Interesting stuff.

    I agree a linkless algorithm is probably many years away if it ever comes to fruition.
     
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  3. winosergio

    winosergio Regular Member

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    Linkless is useless. Maybe I am a little narrow minded, but i think the system is good as it is. 3 or 4 years ago spam was dominating the first spots in the serps with little effort you could be ranking in days with xrumer profiles etc. Nowadays you can rank with spam, but you have to be more sofisticated, or get quality backlinks, or just having a good quality web and you rank naturally. So Google knows, if you are able to rank this way, and investing time and effort, you are more likely to have a good website, 4 years ago whoever could be able to rank with ease, it does not happen anymore. But there will be always crap sites ranking, but now less than ever in my opinion.

    Google knows if you have the skills to rank, you are likely to have the skills to have a good website in general, not always.

    I think the system is very good so far, better than ever.
     
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  4. Scritty

    Scritty Elite Member Premium Member

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    I agree. I'm not promoting the linkless system - far from it. I'm pointing out the obvious flaws in it, and the rather naïve assumptions that people are making like "The end of spam" and "the end of gaming SERPS" and "the end of SEO" - a bigger pile of festering cock-fudge would be hard to find anywhere. Not one of those ideas or assumptions would be a result of going linkless. Quite possible the polar opposite.

    Scritty
     
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  5. togerr

    togerr Registered Member

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    Thanks for taking the time to write about this. There will never be the so called "the end of seo",
    Links maters or not, social signals matte or not............. seo and black hat will be there.
    Wherever money is involved, things will be gamed, always. example: football betting, casino, seo, government tenders, etc etc
     
  6. umerjutt00

    umerjutt00 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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  7. tony_d

    tony_d Elite Member

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    A significant and considered contribution - thanks Scritty.
     
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  8. stugz

    stugz Junior Member

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    I remember most of that stuff from the 90's. Such a pity I wasn't far-sighted enough to get in to this game back then. On the topic of fake traffic products I think you are out with your assessment of days. It can be done within hours.

    I could easily have a working prototype within 30 minutes. Within 24 hours I could iron out all the little extras that might be checked for with javascript - screen resolution, operating system etc.
     
  9. lancis

    lancis Elite Member

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    I can almost see how its gonna end...

    Yandex & Google will switch to traffic based algorithms.
    Traffic bots will make the web spam teams busy.
    Google will continue developing the next big social network.
    Meanwhile, somewhere in a garage, Sergey Brin and Larry Page will create a new link based search engine, that will dominate the market.
     
  10. Ghoast

    Ghoast Power Member

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    Great post Scritty, it's funny that you mention the 'spoofed traffic services' - about a year or so ago I had a new site on page 1 ranking about number 10. I know Google monitors visitor behaviour and will demote sites if users return back to the SERPs after staying on the site for only a few seconds, so I designed a little tool to send visitors to the listings for my keywords, click on competitors then leave after a few seconds, then go to my site and not return to Google. I always thought that this could be an insanely poweful addon for SEO work, and reading this post has reminded me why I was so interested in the idea in the first place! Back to the workshop I think!
     
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  11. ok888

    ok888 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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  12. rob1977

    rob1977 Power Member

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    Thought provoking indeed, it will be interesting to see how things pan out,
     
  13. Scritty

    Scritty Elite Member Premium Member

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    Great thoughts there Ianics. Yes - I can see that. Google still exist, but the brains move off when the corporate entity has too much inertia/corporate friction to move fast enough to keep up with the changing face of saearch and a new SE is developed.

    Nice post buddy :)

    Scritty
     
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  14. Kn9Isler

    Kn9Isler Junior Member

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    I had same thoughts after I red the post on SearchEngineWatch - fake traffic.
    Imagine how the kids out there will abuse it for neg seo. They will send junk low bounce traffic and you will have a penalty?
    Oh well....
     
  15. Reyone

    Reyone Elite Member

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    Great post once again!

    I think this is the reason why everyone in this industry needs to start working on "marketing" rather than just SEO. I've always been a firm believer that no matter what the SEs do, if you can do actual marketing you will always be on top and ahead of them. But of course, marketing cost a LOT of money and it is not available for everyone.

    In regards of the changes, I'd say that Google will keep developing their algo the same way they have always done it, to increase user experience and to bring up what matters. I believe links will keep losing value or change in a radical way and that a shit ton of other factors will keep coming into play.

    Again, awesome post, keep bringing them!
     
  16. madoctopus

    madoctopus Supreme Member

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    LOL at end of SEO. LOL at end of links.

    First, links are a currency. As such, link acquisition produces a cost (direct or indirect, obvious or not so obvious). That is why links work better than no links. It is also why big players have it easier.

    Ideal SE is one where you can safely assume all sites/pages are legit and free of any dark motives. In other words, if you run a Google Mini on ur own intranet, you can consider it to be an ideal SE. The moment you go on the public web, the axiom stops being valid and you have a SE that has to take into account sites that are gaming their way up the relevance scale. Only way to have an ideal SE on the internet is to have absolutely no financial motives involved. Obviously it is quite the opposite in practice.

    Another option would be to rank only one single domain that you know is clean - e.g. Wikipedia.com for information and Amazon.com for shopping. Then what happens is instead of SEOs focusing on Google as a method of gaining traffic and money they will focus on gaming Wikipedia and Amazon, which they even do now.

    Links are an upgrade from on-site SEO, which can be gamed 100% since you own and control the site 100%. Going back to no links is just dumb, unless you choose to ignore completely the presence of BH SEOs.

    Links are not perfect though. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a perfect solution to this problem and frankly I think given the task at hand (keeping BH in check) Google is doing a great job. Mainly not through technology but through propaganda. If tomorrow people would realize how easy it is to game Google, and have even the basic correct understanding of its limitations, you'd experience an explosion of web spam that ranks high.

    Another aspect I want to point out is that blackhat and web spam are not synonyms to poor quality. When most people think of this, they think of crappy looking useless sites. Proper BH/spam is when u use automation and various techniques to build something high quality at a fraction of the cost. My BH sites are better than 80-90% of the WH sites competing against them. Unless I tell you exactly what I am doing, if you analyze the sites you would absolutely think they are WH sites with years of work and tens of thousands of dollars invested into them. In reality they were built in less than a week with less than $1000. There is BH/spam and there is stupid/lazy/unskilled BH/spam. Do not confuse the two.

    I can tell you big players use BH techniques, I know because I have an eye for it since I do it too. cNet, TestFreaks, news sites, etc. they all use BH techniques. Is just not the commonly known techniques but really smart stuff.

    Another thing is most people are parrots. What I mean by that? You know how you say something and a parrot repeats/imitates your sounds? The parot doesnt understand what you say, but can imitate you. Same with most people, even those calling themselves SEOs or specialists. If Mat Cutts farts, the parrots start to make "fart waves" on the internet, propagating flatulation. 99.9% of IM "specialists" don't know shit in reality. They think being a SEO or IM is an actual skill. Is not. That's like thinking that reading on hacking forums or knowing about various hacking software makes you a security expert / hacker. Just like most hackers are in fact script kiddies, same way most SEO's are something equivalent. How many SEOs actually think, architect and code their own tools and how many just use what they can buy publicly (e.g. Scrapebox)? Scrapebox is a decent tool especially for the money it costs. It is very popular. The problems it solves existed long before its development though. How many people had developed their own software to solve those problems prior to Scrapebox being launched? Spinning is quite a well known technique. How many people thought at the idea behind spinning before they heard about it from others? And even so, how many people even understand spinning properly? I hear people say "spinning doesn't work" all the time. Many people think that. Is not true. A more accurate statement would be "YOUR spinning doesn't work" and even that is incorrect because I've ranked sites with 100% gibberish content. So is not even the quality of the spinning alone that's at play but the fact most people expect spinning to be 100% of the solution which is just dumb. You can't create a site from spintax and do absolutely nothing else (no links) and expect to become a millionaire just because spinning works.

    Long time ago I bumped into BlueHatSeo.com and I was amazed by some principles there (it's the principles that are valuable not the actual techniques). 80% of them I thought of myself but the missing 20% were really cool. Thing is, today, after years since that blog was made, 99.9% of the people reading it think is useless because the techniques don't work today and are simply incapable following the underlying tech ideas.

    Why all this detour from SE and algos? Because I wanted to explain why SE are not full of spam -> it's because 99.9% of the BH SEO's suck at it! If an algorithm is able to beat you - a human thinking and adapting himself all the time - then you really suck at it. I know it's harsh but I believe its the truth.

    Why do links work? Because nature has a tendency to win over artificiality. In other words, a site that is truly great will get more and better links than a BH site and at a higher rate and with no effort. So, while you can rank with BH and even with low quality, you will never beat something that is naturally superior. You're just getting the leftovers. Also, expecting to build a business overnight is just dumb. Amazon didn't became what it is today overnight. It took them years. Have you even saw 1st version of amazon.com? Was crap by today's standards. But they improved continuously and got better and better and just worked on it and grew slowly. And now they're a giant.

    At the same time links are a popularity metric not a quality metric. The distinction is important. An article in wired.com about XYZ quantum mechanics theory would get 1000 links. The research paper that documents in detail XYZ theory would get far less. Which one you think is of higher quality? Same way, some bullshit article that propagates disinformation would get a lot more eyes than something far more accurate and in-depth but that is hard to follow or understand by the average Joe. Reading skill of most internet users is super low. Comprehension is even worse. That's why you can loose a reader/visitor very easy, they're simply to dumb to stick with you.

    Also, most people like to be deceived. They beg for it. They will be very interested in "5 Tips to Loose Weight Fast" but they will throw away an in-depth book on physiology which explains exactly how and why you get fat. They want quick and easy "fixes" to their crap lives. They don't want to change their life and improve. They just want a quick fix for the symptoms. You can extend this to anything - from weight loss to what dildo model you buy.

    But for you and me that's great. It makes us money. The dumber a visitor is, the more psychological triggers he will fall for and end up putting money in our pocket. And at the same time, he gets what he wants. So win-win. Who am I to judge him for being superficial?!