Risk Taking Google Dependent Businesses

The StarTribune recently ran a story about a Minnesota based above-ground pool company that’s heavily Google dependent for business:

The Backer brothers say their online business, B. W. Inc., wouldn’t last long if it appeared way down the list of a Google search. “If you’re not on the first page,” said Jay Backer, “you can see 50 to 60 percent drops in business.”

That’s a tough way to run a business.

As Google continually tweaks its ranking formula, the Backers find themselves up and down the company’s search results. It’s a common frustration among many small business owners, as the Internet company makes unannounced changes, cloaked in secrecy. “We’re guessing on a moving target,” Jeff Backer said.

It’s true that Google’s ranking formula is not public data, it’s well known that one of the largest factors influencing rankings is the quantity and quality of inbound links to your site from other websites. The more people (credible people) that link to you, the higher you’ll rank vs. similar sites competing for the same search terms (in this case, stuff like “above ground pools”).

So, while Google doesn’t share that information, we can still take a look at the quantity and quality of links to a given website to get a feel for how credible they may be perceived to be by Google.

I decided to check out this company’s site, familypoolfun.com, to see what I could see. Here is an example of sites that are linking to an above ground pool company in Minnesota:

*.bristolbayadventures.com
*.internetmarketingservicessite.com
*.themlsonline.com/
*.roguerivertrips.info/
*.creative.com/
*.beartoothoutfitters.com/
*.skagwayfishing.com/
*.jjjinvesting.com/
*.upwardrankings.com/
*.twincityattorneys.net/
*.alaskafishon.com/
*.humidorvault.com/

You may ask yourself, “why the heck are Alaskan fishing companies linking to an above ground pool company in Minnesota?” and if you did, you’d be onto something. The deal here is that a lot of the links to familypoolfun.com are coming from pages like this one:

http://resources.bristolbayadventures.com/services.asp

Which are just long lists of links to unrelated businesses:

resources.bristolbayadventures.com/services.asp

Now, think about this from Google’s perspective: Google is trying to rank the most relevant pages they can find for the term “above ground pools” at the top of their search results. One of the companies competing for that term has a ton of links coming into their website from hundreds and hundreds of different websites. So far so good. But, on closer inspection, something strange appears to be going on here. The links aren’t really endorsements from the other websites, are they?

Here are a few more examples of pages linking to familypoolfun.com:

– prague-car-rental.com/linkman/links.php
– www.autorepairmanuals.biz/site/573683/page/591489
– www.psychic-reading.tv/links2.htm
– www.rugscarpet.info/resource.php
– www.sanjosepodiatrist.net/link_1.jsp

Google eventually figures out a way to correct for this type of gaming, and gets back to providing the high quality search results their users have come to expect from them.

4 thoughts on “Risk Taking Google Dependent Businesses”

  1. So who is creating these links and for what purpose? Is B.W. Inc. hiring an SEO company, and the SEO company is either buying links on these pages, or just creating hundreds of bunk pages and listing all their clients on it?

  2. For fun, I counted no less than 16 times the words “ranking” or “rankings” appeared in that Strib article. I did not see the word “analytics” or “conversions” appear. Indeed a tough way to run a business.

  3. @Reuben, they appear to be attempting to game Google by acquiring tons of inbound links. The examples I cited tend to be low quality links that are either paid for or gained through reciprocal link campaigns where two sites agree to link to each other. It looks like quite a few of those sites are linking to each other, so they are probably using a 3rd party link building service where they each installed a script onto their site that allows the 3rd party to manage the links appearing on their site. In exchange for hosting links to other sites, links to their site appears on the other sites in the network. In the end, a bunch of sites that probably haven’t even heard of each other are interlinked, providing a bunch of noise in the signals Google is looking for when attempting to determine relevancy.

  4. @Paul, the day Google detects the interdependent nature of the links is the day they discount their value and the day that the participants take a back seat to those who’ve rightfully earned high rankings.

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