Overstock SEO Campaign: Punished By Google For .edu Links Tactic

Welcome to the party, Overstock! Incentivizing teachers and students to post links on their .edu sites? That is awesome. Well, I guess it’s awesome until someone at WebmasterWorld alerts people to your recent success. And it’s awesome until Google catches you and drops all your rankings. Just ask JC Penney.

Additional coverage:

From the WSJ article:

Overstock’s pages had recently ranked near the top of results for dozens of common searches, including “vacuum cleaners” and “laptop computers.” But links to Overstock on Tuesday dropped to the fifth or sixth pages of Google results for many of those categories, greatly reducing the chances that a user would click on its links.

Aw, c’mon. That doesn’t even make sense. Does the media know anything about SEO? And really why does the media continue to put SEO in the same bucket as aggressive, super awesome link building tactics? Because really, most SEOs wouldn’t know the first thing about coming up with awesome link building campaigns like the one that Overstock has been using. Granted, Google caught them. But that is always the risk of a great link building campaign, especially one that drives a disproportionate number of .edu links. That’s where they went wrong.

Building a ton of .edu links is dangerous, as it’s so easy to see those links in a link report. In fact, if most of your links are coming from .edu sites, you might as well have a parade to announce them to Google! Too many of those links too fast – and your history! Well, I’m sure that Overstock.com enjoyed several months (maybe years) of top results from this type of link strategy. Good for them. And thank Jebus they didn’t blame it on their SEO agency. Because that would be really lame.

The point is: In today’s Google, you’ve got to be *REALLY* smart about your link building. Not too fast. Not too slow. Diversify your links. Don’t get thousands of crappy links (aka the SearchDex method), but don’t get too many too-good-to-be-true golden .edu links (aka the Overstock method). In fact, I think we all remember one of the recurring themes from Goldilocks. The third try was always “just right.” For her, that worked out great. But for us SEOs and link builders, we don’t get three tries. We need to make it right the first time.

Laters haters.

PS. Google, I think we all would really like to know how much is too much? The 2 most recent stories involved link building methods that are downright flagrant. Are you not de-listing these sites because they are ‘too big to fail’? Sure, you are probably scaring other companies into thinking that link campaigns are a bad idea. But me thinks that the blackhats out there are loving the fact that you are not de-listing these major brands. Juts sayin’…

 

 

6 thoughts on “Overstock SEO Campaign: Punished By Google For .edu Links Tactic”

  1. “Not too fast. Not too slow. Diversify your links. Don’t get thousands of crappy links (aka the SearchDex method), but don’t get too many too-good-to-be-true golden .edu links (aka the Overstock method). In fact, I think we all remember one of the recurring themes from Goldilocks. The third try was always “just right.” For her, that worked out great. But for us SEOs and link builders, we don’t get three tries. We need to make it right the first time.”

    Well, you do have three tries, and how many tries you want. just buy a shabby .com aged domain and test your linkbuilding techniques.
    If I was the CEO of some big company, you can trust me my first action would be a big marketing campaign including in every part “We are not indexed in Google – Search for us elsewhere” even might get some pennys from Bing / Yahoo for doing it.
    Big companies are the only ones that can rebelliate against google. they want the control of everything and it totally gets on my nerves! What is wrong with offering discounts to people to get .edu backlinks? In my point of view, it only demonstrates the good quality of the website! And so, their rankings. Can you tell me overstock isn’t good?!
    There aren’t “big” websites ranking #1 without SEO. If they don’t do SEO, some bad website will do, and start getting big and take their costumers. Google is starting to impose the law of jungle here. You must build bad links to hide your good links. It wouldn’t surprise me if old 2003 linkbuilding techniques (like link Pyramids) would start working fine again… So far from what i’ve seen google guidelines have been smacked down since their last “Content Farm Upgrade” a month ago. Tons of Doorway pages are showing up again as #1 for long tailed keywords…

    Good post once again!
    Cheers

  2. Google has it’s rules, and even though they make sense or not, they are the 800 lb. gorilla.

  3. Hi! What is so great about having inbound links from .edu domains? You didn’t explain that part at all.

  4. The SEO game is complicated-but if it were simple, everyone would do it. Not too fast, not too slow. OK-I guess!!!

    My guess is that most of us are in no danger of building too fast. Just stay away from the black hats, and we will be OK. But, to get that ranking…..it can be a fine line!

  5. So if what you say holds true. Instead of building links for my site I should just buy some .edu links for my competitors and they will get punished leaving the top ranking to me.

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