Google Bowling Analysis and thoughts - I believe it's real
I've written a fair amount about Google Bowling which is setting up external links to clobber a competitor. While I've read about this, I wondered how "real" it was ... but now believe it is based on my experience.
I posted this over in DP, but thought I'd toss it in here to get any thoughts/feedback on my analysis, along with other war stories about Google Bowling - both folks who have been affected ... and maybe those that have actually done it! ;-)
Note that in my writeup I suggest/conclude that this negative penalty is actually a good thing for overall search relevance, but as with anything, has unintended consequences as it can be used as a weapon by nefarious folks.
I think I largely agree with your point of view, Hulk, but I'd still point out that no amount of bowling can knock over sites that have "grown roots" - that is, become trusted and respected over a long period of time (3+ years) in the search engines' indices. Is it fair? No. But, bowling is not a universally effective tactic, and I think that should be made clear in your piece.
Rand Fishkin - CEO & Founder of SEOmoz, a community resource dedicated to providing news, information, tips, tools and more for those in the SEO/M industry.
Thanx for the commentary randfish - yea, that had been one of my thoughts when I wrote this up, but I didn't commit to paper/HTML - I just added the following:
My guess is that Google Bowling is more effective against fairly new websites/pages that don't have a lot of established links. I.e. some sort of percentage threshhold of total links probably has to be reached before you get knocked down in the rankings. And the more links the target website already has, the bigger the bowling ball that would have to be employed.
P.S. BTW, thanx for your commentary - means a lot coming from someone like you.
As I understand it Google Bowling is more of a question of timing.
Does a site that has been bowled stay bowled or does it bounce back, and when it does it gets the full benefit of the ('forced') links?
Is there also a question of where the bowling links are coming from? I imagine that most links used to bowl a site would be from non-authority sites? (I don't know so correct me if I am wrong!)
If that is the case then do you need more of these, i.e. less power behind each link so more need to knock the site over - or is it just a sheer numbers game?
Or if you DO use authority links then do you need less, but then ultimately these cast a positive vote so the site ends up back stronger than ever?
And finally, is bowling more effective if non themed links are used?
Just dipping my toes into Google Bowling so found your article interesting.
I'll sort you out with some links and good luck!
Yea, I'd sure like to know how to "un" GoogleBowl a site. I have a couple of supporters with hundreds of site-wide's pointing at me ... so my guess is I should ask them to change their anchor text and randomize it. They were only trying to help, but yea, I can see how this would appear as a unnatural linking pattern ... and in my writeup, I actually say hats-off to Google to try to combat this. Certainly possible someone else out there (unknown to me) is firing an 800 pound Bowling Ball at me too though! ;-)
Rand when you say "roots" do you mean Trust or Authority values that the website has earned in Google? Maybe Trust Rank?
browsing the google historical data patent does explain a lot.
Its also only document level and not a site as a whole.
Read it will explain better than I can type it.
Very interesting read, Alek. I do think that Google Bowling may exist, but here's another theory about what happened to your site:
Relevance - This is tricky, since the keyword was a completely made up term. Over the course of the contest, Google's algo may have started to put together an idea of what they thought is relevant to "v7ndotcom elursrebmem". Something along the lines of webmaster/seo/search-engines.
All the information and links about Celiac disease could eventually have been determined to be irrelevant, according to what Google thinks "v7ndotcom elursrebmem" is.
A lot of people believe that irrelevant content and outbound links will hurt your rankings in Google. I'm pretty sure that type of analysis is way beyond MSN and Yahoo at this point. So that could explain the difference there.
Last edited by Sharpseo; 04-01-2006 at 04:02 PM.
To echo your last comment, I updated the stats page with data from today - currrent ranking is #2 in MSN, #1 in Yahoo ... and #17 in Google.
Pretty strong evidence of different algorithmic factors at play.
Since it ranked in the top tier at Google for a while (using basically the same om-page content), I gotta believe external linking factors is what caused it to start dropping about a month ago.
All I can say is that Matts blog has been #3 for the term SEO for quite a while. I dont see google bowling as existing at all.