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.
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.
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’…