This month marks the one-year anniversary of the SEO Report Card. During this time, I have received many kind words from both readers and report card recipients — words of gratitude and encouragement — for which I am grateful. I hope to render even more assistance in 2007.
Now that you know Google’s tough stance on text-link-buying, the unwelcome scrutiny from Googlers who might be reading this article probably wouldn’t be what our eager volunteers had in mind when they put their name in the hat for a review. Therefore, I’m going to pick another site, one that has not solicited my help.
In Googler Matt Cutts’ classic blog post “Tell Me About Your Backlinks,” Matt regales his readers with his analysis of websites of brave attendees during Q&A at his session at PubCon and their dubiously “earned” links. He alluded to the powerful tools he has at his disposal when logged into the Google VPN (Virtual Private Network). Given how easy it was for me to quickly spot link buys without the benefit of Google’s sophisticated tools, obvious link buys such as the ones I am about to point out are probably on, or soon to be on, Google’s radar, and thus in danger of being completely discounted.
So, without any further ado, let’s sneak a peek at underwear etailer Freshpair.com and a small sampling of its backlinks.
Some of the links are obviously paid links due to the nearby “sponsored link / ads” verbiage (e.g. Topix.net/business/apparel)
Some are obviously paid links due to other link ads on the page being completely off-topic, commercial in nature and of the “red flag” type — casinos, pharmaceuticals, mortgages, fantasy football, etc. (e.g. Sportsblurb.com/sports-bras.asp)
Some of the paid links are on dodgy, R-rated sites (e.g. Mzarb.com/embarrassingstories/Embarrassingfartstories.html)
Some of the paid links come from questionable link neighborhoods, where the link sellers themselves have acquired many dubious links (e.g. A1cool.com/cool-underwear.php)
Some links are cleverly folded into the body copy of pre-existing relevant articles. However, those pages were of the static and unchanging variety, so the sudden introduction of paid links into such pages after years of stagnation probably sticks out like a sore thumb to the engines. (e.g. Breastofcanada.com/media/030212-Mercury.html)
Somewhat surprisingly, Freshpair.com is absolutely dominating in the Google SERPs (that’s SEO-speak for Search Engine Results Pages) for highly sought-after undie-related terms, like “panties,” “bras” and “underwear.” However, their extensive, questionable link buys, along with over-the-top keyword-stuffing in href title attributes on the home page and in the body copy on internal pages like Freshpair.com/catalogsectionwomenbrand7.html, leads me to think that Freshpair.com is in a very precarious position.
Regardless of whether Cutts or his Google colleagues on the Webspam team read this, I imagine Freshpair.com’s kingly status is only fleeting. Improvements in Google’s spam-catching algorithms will eventually catch up with their site and render those hard-bought links impotent; perhaps all this will earn a penalty for the keyword-stuffing in the process. Time will tell.
SEO Report Card
Home Page Content: C
Inbound Links and PageRank: C-
Indexation: A Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure: B
HTML Templates and CSS: C
Secondary Page Content: C
Product Page Content: A-
Keyword Choices: A
Title Tags: A-
OVERALL GPA: B
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