By Ben Jacobsen
28 Oct 2020

SEO From Home: Vetting Links at Scale with Venchito Tampon

SEO From Home

On October 22nd, we hosted Venchito Tampon from SharpRocket on SEO From Home — Venchito discussed various way to vet link prospects at scale and explained why this vetting process is so important to successful link building.

Webinar Recording

If you missed the live presentation, you can watch a recording of the event below!


If you want to keep tabs on upcoming SEO From Home presentations, check back regularly here or keep an eye on our Twitter profile.


0:00:06.4 S1: Alright, you guys looks like we are live now, we're gonna let everyone kinda settle in for a few minutes here, I hope everyone's having a really good Tuesday so far, can't believe it's already October, the sixth of October at that. Welcome back, you guys. For those of you who have not been with us before or have not seen our series, my name is Ben Jacobson, and I am here with Page One Power, and this is our SEO from home series. It's basically a webinar that we get to sit down with some SEO industry leaders and experts, and we got pick their brain and talk to them about a variety of different topics and tactics and things that you can do to your site or for your clients, and will help you be better at SEO, marketing, the whole game. So we're super fortunate to be joined today by Patrick Stox, as he is going to be covering some really interesting stuff surrounding link attribution and all of the new link attributes that are coming out, how you can use those... What they're for, and all the different kinds of variations inside of that, so we're super excited. Before we get started, I did wanna let you guys know that we are still offering our e-book for free, so if you guys are interested in that, I'm just gonna post a quick link in that chat, it's an e-book about link building, we cover everything from doing research for your campaign all the way through complete execution of it, so we've put in a lot of time and effort into that, and cumulatively inside of our team here, we have quite a few years of experience, so we're super excited for you guys to have that.


0:01:35.5 S1: Let us know if you guys like it, tell us, send us a note or even comment, let us know if you've had a chance to check it out. That being said, we are going to jump right into our webinar today. If you guys want to ask questions, be sure to definitely click on the Q and A button at the bottom, you'll see that we Q and A or even the chat and ask questions away, you can ask myself or Patrick, of course. You said if you guys have questions in the meantime, be sure to ask those real-time, we'll get to those the best we can, if we don't happen to get to your question, we'll try to address those at the end also, if you guys are interested in following along, we're gonna be live treating today's episode as well. So if you guys wanna engage with us on Twitter, you can do at Patrick Stox and at page one power, and you can ask your questions there, we'll do our best to answer you there, so all of that... Without any further ado, Patrick, thank you for joining us today.


0:02:31.2 S1: I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us virtually here.


0:02:35.8 S2: Thanks for having me. I'm gonna have to go download that ebook too… So tell us a little bit more about what's going on. I know I've been out of day-to-day link building personally for the last year or so, tell me what's kinda going on with the new attribute tags and why they're important or why people should be paying attention to them.


0:02:59.1 S2: Yeah, Google just decided to change how no follow works or how they've been treating it for years, and then they added some extra tags, UGC and sponsored as well, and it's interesting because we don't really know what they're gonna do with the data, they're... How they're gonna use it in particular, I don't think they're using it for ranking even now, but it's allowing for them to crawl, and I'll talk more about it here. Awesome and super excited. 


0:04:08.0 S2: Alright, awesome. Sorry about that. It's been a while. Yeah, so this is gonna be Wizard of Oz themed. It's gonna be fun. I am Patrick Stox product advisor, technical co-brand ambassador at reps. Probably you've seen something I've written and seen me talk somewhere, I also organize a bunch of meetups, conferences, etcetera. I'm pretty active in the SEO community. So we're gonna talk a little bit about the history of no follow, and we're gonna count follow along with the Wizard of Oz. We had the web in the beginning, got Dorothy in Kansas, and along came spam, a spam tornado here. And Google just decided they wanted to do something about this. And so this is kinda how no fall came to be, everyone wanted Google’s page rank. That's really what differentiated Google links votes. Power between the sites. Everyone wants a Pay train, everyone spends... Well, not everyone, but lots of people started spamming, it would increase their page rank, they love seeing... See, I remember the toolbar, there was actually a tool bar, Page Rank, like zero through 10, or they're not available technically through 10, so they wanted to do this thing they called the no follow, and it's basically like, Hey, we actually want follow these links.


0:05:53.9 S2: We won't pass page rank through these links, and that's been their treatment ever since now, there's a lot of myths in the SEO community that said, Oh, Google follows the link still or they pass a certain amount of Page Rank through it. Well, it turns out that they confirmed last year, even though they said it again and again and again over the years, they did not follow the links, they did not pass page rank at all, they did... It makes sense that they should do that, but they just took no follow as absolute, we should not follow these, we should not pass any patron through these... The blog spam was really out of control, and that's what... No follow. That's why I came to be. Blog spam was rampant. Now, there were other spam techniques later, but at the time, it was a blog comments mostly, and it wasn't just Google, like a bunch of search engines were like, Yeah, that's a good idea, we should have some way to combat this, so in this launch, it was a combination from Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, all of them say, no follow. It's a good idea. We're gonna do that. We're gonna adopt that.


0:07:12.2 S1: So for those who may not have been familiar with working in SEO, 'cause I know that SEO is... It feels like an industry that a lot of people are new getting into, can you give an example of that kind of blog comment, spam that anyone who's owned a website, no time, example of why they did this from a very literal standpoint.


0:07:39.2 S2: It would help your pages rank better, and you still see automated systems going these days, even though... So many blogs now just turn off their comment systems, you'll have tens, hundreds, thousands of spam comments every day, people dropping links like great posts you should check out, blah, blah, blah, or someone will actually try and contribute a little... I don't know, most just don't even try to try and hide it anymore, but yeah, it was basically people were commenting and automating the comments so that they get links back to their site, so the patron flows through so that they ranked better. And that was a huge abuse of the system, that's not how page rank was met, that's not how links were meant to be done. So yeah, I think we just kinda talked about this. So this is a little side story here, where it was made, basically the comments spam, blog comments, no follow, just said, Don't trust this on Follow this link. So it was a way to protect websites and basically stop some of the spam on the internet, and they had a lot of help with this, it wasn't just the search engines, so they had all the major like blogging sites at the time, some of these...


0:09:08.2 S2: I don't think even exist anymore. But it was lots of different platforms, even more platforms, like the list was huge, everyone was like, we’re sick of spam, we're tired of fighting this, we're tired of kismet or honey pot and all the different things to try and combat all of this spam, it takes website owner is a ton of time to go through that and weed out what's good, what's bad, that's why so many sites have just given up and just to save old comments now we even did that on its blog, just 'cause the amount of links that come in the amount of time, we probably had to have two full-time people just to manage comment spam, which is ridiculous, and it's getting harder to detect, I feel like maybe it's just me, but... Or maybe I'm just not as sharp in it, but man, I feel like managing any sort of comment section is just a nightmare because you... A volume, as you continue to grow traffic, which I think is something that we're all trying to do, you also are going to, at the same time, almost in parallel, going to be growing the amount of people that are engaging and submitting comments...


0:10:22.3 S1: Yeah, and the more popular your site becomes, the bigger target are for spam also, is the better your page rank at the time or... Absolutely.


0:10:30.8 S2: And it used to be people would be like, Oh, click here. Here's the full URL, and then people were like, What? Everyone sees that, so now they drop links and stuff, and it's basically a blank space thats a link, so you don't even see it unless you're looking at a code view rather than the Text View. So people got really creative. They put links in periods, in anything they could do to hide this to try and get their comment through, definitely seeing people doing anchor links in just spaces. It's tough. And so, so they were gonna make this difficult because there were so many automated solutions for common spamming, when one tactic is we kind of just go on to another thing, if something works, it's going to be abused... And in the past, it was kind of like everything worked, so gradually I was just kinda taking things away, they're like, No, no, no more buying links, some were exchanging links. Article sites, if you remember those eSign articles, etcetera, there are literally hundreds, thousands of them, and their main purpose was to regurgitate the same spun content, job links, etcetera.


0:11:56.5 S2: Directories, press releases. Form links, form profiling. Any time there's an opportunity, SEOs are gonna use it. Google's probably gonna say, get away, he penalize it. Anything that's too good. It will not last. Generally. Page rank sculpting,, people actually use no follow to try and pass page rank only to certain pages on their own website, so don't pass to my about page or my terms of service, 'cause I want my other pages that I care about more to have more links so that doesn't really work. Not totally sure it ever really worked the way that the patent is written, but I don't know, I don't know... 'cause wasn't there also some speculation that even... I don't crawl my About page, it still takes all of that into consideration and still checks it out.


0:12:53.2 S1: Right. I feel like that was something that was a lot of people that did a lot of research about that and found that it still adds some signals to the search or... Am I wrong? I'm not... I don't quite recall.


0:13:10.0 S2: If it's a link and it looks like it's gonna be clicked, it gets a certain amount of weight, so in that way, it's just... If you don't follow it, it doesn't mean that other ones get more weight, it just... That's kind of lost and gone, and I think it's probably gonna hurt you overall in general, suddenly you're about pages probably at least to other pages or whatever, probably isn't flowing as well, and so you kinda just hurt yourself more than anything, more than likely, you can actually model page rank through a site. But I don't think that's gonna do much good these days, widgets templates, I mean, there were a thousand ways, Web 2 0s so many programs for like, Oh yeah, let's do tearing video, gotta go, you have your main links, then build links to... Does, and then links to those, and basically each tier got more terrible and spammy, and finally Google was just like, No, we're done with this, and they really hit people hard and Penguin, I think was a wake-up call for a lot of SEO and a lot of website owners.


0:14:30.6 S2: Businesses just died over night. The penalty hurt. It really, really hurt. There's a little recommended reading here, This is actually their guidance, it's like 23 questions on building a high quality page, so there's a lot of talk about Eat, this is all the original questions, the things that they were trying to look for as far as... Is this a good over? Is this crap? This is bad. And then some wizard guys helped everyone. If you have seen Batman, you know that is to either day here and live long enough to see yourself become the villain, so Google... They were trying to do the right thing, they're trying to combat spam, it's what's best for their users, unfortunately, with these algorithms, especially Penguin when they really hurt a lot of businesses that were not just SEO companies, but these companies that got penalized, literally everyone... probably someone in every niche, anyway, they had a great business, tons of leads, and then overnight it was gone, so you have all these articles about Google Penguin when they really killed my business, they killed my website, blah, blah, blah, SEOs were finally afraid of Google, they have been told by Google, you don't do this for so long, but they're like, There's no repercussions, whatever.


0:16:16.4 S2: As long as it works. Keep doing it. I was guilty of a lot of that myself because it did work unfortunately, and there didn't seem to be... You hear the same thing for years, Don't do this, but you're like, It works and nothing's happening if I do it, so this was them just finally clamping down and they're like, What, you're done. This is over. A lot of sites were scared, they just decided to like no, follow all link, so I wanna be linking out, blah, blah, blah, I don't wanna be accused of being part of a link network, so was just no follow every single thing on the side, and they're scared about, I don't wanna get a penalty for selling links or for being part of any kind of link network or anything like that, and it really became a recommended strategy for at least two or three years, I kept seeing this in SEO industry blogs, where they would just recommend, just don't just now follow all your outbound links, which is crazy, right? It was everywhere, in certain countries, it was more prevalent than others, but it was really kinda everywhere, and even some names you would recognize, were recommending people do this, I don't think that was really ever a good idea, but now we have a ton of sites that are just completely no follow on all their external links, and then people would have weird thing with recovery strategies...


0:18:08.4 S2: I don't remember one, we called it worker, something that involved redirects and blocking Google, which is weird 'cause it's the AM blog. They can't follow, they can really see the signals, but anyway, or is it in wins and so there were weird theories on how to recover and that kind of thing, rather than like, Let's actually put in the work and fix this stuff, they wanted quick fixes and how can I get back to where I was the fastest? And simply put, it wasn't gonna happen like you had all the spam that was working in your favor before that's just taken away, and so there's no way you're gonna get back to where you were from some weird method, you took the shortcut to start with, so why should you just go back to where you were in rankings other SEOs, they abuse other things, it's going to happen any time there's something that works, they're gonna look for it, so redirect and expired domains, building on expired domains. People started blocking links, especially affiliates, so they would basically block a path in the robots that text from crawling and then start linking out that way, it would basically be like they link to themselves and then that redirects, but no Bots are allowed to follow that way because on their website is blocked, so they're like, Well, if they can't see melodies other sites, then they won't penalize me or they won't see my affiliate links.


0:19:54.8 S2: You really shouldn't block affiliate links, but most affiliate networks actually still do, it's really interesting to hold over items from that era, which I say that era, what, seven, eight years ago now. Hasn't been all that long, but it's still bad practice, bad information, it's hard to get rid. PBNs became a really popular tactic for a while, I think mostly people have realized building a bunch of PBS is probably more effort than doing White Hat SEO, doing regular SEO these days, but I would say like this didn't work fairly well for a while, especially with affiliates or lower competitive niches, you probably can still get away with it just 'cause they basically have no links, so if you're doing any kind of links, but you probably have better way of to get links and less time consuming, less costly. Guest posting is dead, right?


0:21:05.6 S1: Than... Well, let's see, let's see… we've been thinking that for awhile.


0:21:14.0 S2: It's another one that's good has been saying, and so are like, Well, this still works way too well, and so we'll see how long this lasts or how they cracked down on this... I'm not completely sure what they would do or to completely stop it, sub-domain-ly seen some fully seeing this was popular coupon sites, so you had coupons that every single side of the web, it seemed like, because coupon site would just pay and have the sub-domains, and then that would make all... All this stuff ranks better, so there's a lot of other things, there's just... There's still a lot of people who abusing different techniques. And Google decided like, Okay, we get it. We're hurting people. Let's stop that. So what they've started to do instead is they're being nicer they're like, we won't penalize you, instead we're just gonna ignore all those crappy link... She build all the things that we say, don't do that. Maybe that's what they're doing for a lot of guest posting now, I'm not 100% sure. I'm sure they are, at least some of them, but basically anything that they're like, Well, you shouldn't do this, instead of saying, Well, you did that, so you're at fault.


0:22:39.5 S2: They're like, Well, we're just gonna kind of ignore those not pass link signal, so it's kind of like they're already no following them, all these links, they're like, We're just not gonna pass any value through any of these tactics that we’re like... Don't do that, which they kind of have been doing for a long time anyway, affiliate link, they basically were now following them for people anyway, so all the people that I were like, Well, let's do these things at Google, it doesn't even know I'm on it and have all these redirects to don't know, so that was really helpful. And now they've introduced sponsored and UGC, which is user-generated content. And these are basically just other types of no-follow links with additional information, so a sponsor, you're supposed to say, I bought this, or this is an affiliate link, I make money off of this somehow, and user-generated content for a form for blog comments, they're like... I don't control that content, someone else gets to add that content to the site, so it's basically... It wasn't me, I didn't add that. So maybe don't count those links to the same 'cause it's not editorially given by the website itself, so again, sponsor paid affiliates, that kind of thing.


0:24:12.6 S2: That was the official like, yes, this is for affiliates, you should have this on the affiliate links or no follow them, because really you can still use no follow-up for everything also. And UGC, again, forms, blog comments, etcetera, anything where you don't actually control the content that gets posted, if you know, Barry Schwartz, he was the first person on the web that we saw us a sponsored attribute, which makes sense because he monitors everything that all Googlers say all the time, but he went ahead and added to his site within a day of the announcement, so I'm pretty sure, that's the very first sponsored link on the entire web, classic Berry's yeah he’s a beast. It's incredible how he is on top of everything, and so obviously, this was interesting for H REPS too... So we went ahead and added this within two days of the announcement, we were monitoring UGC and sponsored attributes on links. Well, we didn't know what kind of an impact it would have. And I think we probably would have delayed it a little bit if we had realized they weren't really gonna do much with these attributes. So in the past, what happened with no follow was Google completely ignored the links, they didn't use them for crawling, which surprised a lot of folks, including me, I thought for sure they would at least crawl them, and they didn't pass signals, and there's been many variations of SEO saying over the years, that no follow passed of some kind of signals through some kind of page rank, like all 15% or the 20% or 30%, they're like, Well, they have to use them, right, they have to use these links in their index why would they not...


0:26:20.9 S2: Well, they simply didn’t... They didn't even crawl them, which is kind of amazing. They completely respected them. Now, as far as signals, we've talked about page rank, but they use other signals, at least the two that are well known, anchor text, which is the text of the link itself, and then the surrounding texts are the text around each of the links. So now they're getting more... It's not just page rank, but they're also getting context about saying like, Here's what the page was kinda talking about, and how they're linking to this other page, so they're getting more information about the new page basically that way. So these are great, it's great information for them to have to make the results more relevant, I think, definitely... So now what they're gonna do is they're going to treat them as a hint for ranking, and what that means is some of them may pass pay rank and other signals, others may not, or they may just use the anchor text for stuff and not the page rank part, we basically don't know what they're going to do still, they just get to use them however they want at this point, they could still choose for most links or even if they really want for all links to say, we're not actually gonna use any of this for ranking, and it's the same with sponsored in UGC, we sponsored that should tell you like, Yeah, someone bought that.


0:27:56.5 S2: So in my opinion, a stronger signal then they'll follow to confirm, yes, this has paid for in the same with UGC, UGC versus no follow is like why I might add now follow, because I don't wanna vouch for another side or something, but in a UGC section that may be used completely no follow, just 'cause you're like, I don't trust anything that comes out of that, people who are ridiculous, they're gonna have all sorts of stuff, they're gonna drop links.


0:28:27.0 S1: So maybe they'll determine to use one one way in one another way. It remains to be seen still. So is there a possibility that using something like a UGC tag would pass almost discretionary signals perhaps, to where you're saying, Hey, I'm not vouching for this, but if it's like I am in allowing this area, because I think that what's being created by the user is gonna be beneficial to my site. I think of a review, if you're thinking of a review page or something, that could be really beneficial, if someone's like, Here's a link to my product, here's a video of me using it. So have you seen any sort of conversation surrounding passing some signals and not all signals with something like that, 'cause that was what initially came to my mind when I was thinking of user-generated content. Have you seen anything like that? Or any ideas surrounding that?


0:29:29.3 S2: It's basically that they haven't announced anything yet that we don't know what they're going to do exactly. That's a really great point. If it was me personally, I would have said that you should probably ignore anything from user-generated content areas, but what you just mentioned is a great use case, which means even for UGC, there may not be one treatment. They're gonna look at all the data and then figure out, is some of this good? Is it all bad? How can we use this? More than likely, it's going to be very murky, before we didn't use it, we didn't crawl it, now, it's a hint and we can choose what to do, and likely that's gonna change depending on the situation.


0:30:14.5 S1: 'cause I think that there is a... Clearly, I think everyone would ideally like to have some sort of ability to allow comments on blog posts and things like that, but as a site owner, as someone who's worked for a lot of different companies that help manage websites, it's just, it's overwhelming to where if you don't have a full-time team, like you said, like you guys have so much traffic at that point, they've become so daunting, but I think that it's almost kind of handicapping you a bit by not allowing you to leverage that in maybe the best way that you could... And also keeping in mind like you are missing out on some potential organic opportunities to help link, but I'd be curious to see what's going on with that and that... 'cause this came out 2019, right? Yeah, it's been about a year now. Okay, yeah, so it's interesting that we haven’t seen anything really... Even as far as a trajectory of where that's going...


0:31:25.1 S2: About all we know is… has mentioned that there were several projects ongoing where they were looking at using the data, but basically nothing has launched in Google yet, he said, he'll let us know when something does and tell us hopefully, some about how they're using it, but it's gonna be very, very mixed now, I think before it was very cut and dry, you don't... Don't use these now it's like, maybe we do, maybe we don't. So it's gonna be, I think, harder for SEO is to troubleshoot things unless they provide better guidance on what they are using and how they're using it. I mentioned, it's not only they're able to crawl in index, but I also are treating this as like we're able to use the different signals from the links now... And this is all very recent. One of them was last September, the other was, I think September was like, we can crawl them, and then a March that we can actually use these... Start using these signals, but again, nothing that we know of has officially launched, I feel like it's been a long time since we've had any kind of a core update, maybe in the next core update, we'll see something around that, some speculation here from my part...


0:32:57.6 S2: This is total speculation, but it's... Things that make sense. They actually have mentioned they're gonna use it for spam identification now, we've talked about some like the values like will I pass all this, whether I use some of the signals while I pass some kind of partial value, basically they can go kind of any way they want with that, with every single link, it could be different from page to page, from site to site, they provide better guidance because otherwise it's gonna be really difficult to kinda trouble-shoot different things, is that what you were gonna say...


0:33:36.6 S1: Oh, I was just saying it, I can imagine them going in and finding specific industries, 'cause what comes to mind is like when you think of influencers or travel bloggers, those sorts of people that are relying on paid content, sponsored posts, I think a lot of that is really aware. That was what struck me initially is, because there is so many things, if you… a little bit more in the marketing space, but in Instagram and Facebook, they rolled out not too long ago, the requirements for listing as sponsored content, and I could see this being somewhat of a parallel move, I'd be curious to see if it is going to be affected universally across all platforms, or if it's something where they're gonna trial it on an industry that's just really right with that influencer travel blogging and that sort of thing.


0:34:38.8 S2: Well, social media sites are a great example, who just no follow all links basically, or no follow on all of those networks, being able to see who is sharing what… powerful Twitter profiles about SEO sharing, SEO articles, those seem pretty relevant links that they probably wanna include in their index, so being able to get that additional information... I don't know, it's gonna be really interesting. I think the results are gonna be a lot better from this change when they... When they do start rolling things out, see it makes sense, the popular content, see how it's shared, who is sharing, and all this stuff is great information to say, This seems like the right kind of article that we should be showing at the top versus one that's not shared that people aren't talking about. And they don't use social signals, well, now they don't really have to use, number of... They can just look at the link data and say, these profiles seem relevant, they're sharing this content, it looks good, they probably can use things like that. So for me, I don't know, sometimes I'm like, should I pass value? Not on a real thing, a little joke, it's not a thing they use that...


0:36:08.9 S2: Do you do... What would be ignored? But one of the things they did say that one of the reasons they did this is that even Google was missing 50% of the web, now whether that's an overstatement or not, I was actually at that presentation, and he literally had a graph and it was like... Half the web blank, literally a graph and then half of it was playing... I don't know if that's an exaggeration or if even Google was missing half the web, that's kind of insane, if that's true, simply because of no follow tags, now, they definitely were missing some important things, but generally, I would say, just because one site no follows something doesn't mean there's not 20 other ways to crawl to that page, site maps via Google Search Console, indexing the other websites, there's usually other paths, so if that's really the case that it was half the web, that is absolutely bonkers, but


0:37:12.6 S1: It's just close enough where you feel there's... I feel like there's an… to that just from... 'cause I've seen what you're referencing, the amount is pretty staggering.


0:37:23.8 S2: Yeah, it's insane. So there were tons of tweets around this, because it was a big thing if Google's really missing half the web, that's crazy. So why did they change the no follow? We talked about this sites just did it... I have a bunch here, but we added one more that would have been great for the side social media networks, they're all like no followed links, a Wikipedia, tons of major news sites, there are sites and entire countries because we should now follow all external links become so prevalent from all of their influencers that entire countries are difficult to crawl, even HREPS have respected no follow in the past, and we could see it, our data for certain areas was not the best because we were respecting that.


0:38:25.4 S1: Yeah, what are you seeing as far as... Does that statistic seem to vibe with what you guys see when you do your cross with HREPS... I wouldn't say 50%, no.


0:38:43.8 S2: But I would say it definitely helped. If you even look at our program, you will probably see when we change that, is that we have a big data page and you can see our index pages and that kind of thing over time, and you'll probably even see when that happened. So publishing sites, again, specifically called out by Google for doing this, which is true, every forbes, all just kinda do this blanket... The interesting thing is, with the new attributes, you don't have to do anything if you don't want to, it's basically all up to you, they're saying if you had no follow-up before on paid links, affiliate links, just you can leave it as no follow if you wanna give them the additional information and put a sponsor tag up there, you can... But I would say this was maybe influenced from Danny Sullivan going over to Google because he's basically, you don't have to do anything if you don't want, you don't have to make any changes. And that's a retorts usually obsess over every single update like, Oh my gosh, I gotta have authorship, which then went away, and the running joke for a...


0:40:02.5 S2: But they launched stuff, people focus on it, and I don't know if amp it, but everyone was so focused on amp for a while there. When they launched the like, Oh, we gotta do a... Google is pushing for amp. Now, I feel like besides News, I don't know that people really did amp. And I don't know that amp really lasts because now they're making it so other websites that are fast, we'll get the same benefits as amp, so it's like... We'll see how that goes. And there's a definite bit of cat and mouse, that kinda goes on I feel like. Yeah, so this is just straight up say, You don't have to do anything if you don't want to. There's no penalty. We're not gonna punish you. There's basically, there's no enforcement for using the new types, so this is from earlier this year, but I wanted to see, were people adopting this at all, and we'll probably update this again next year and just see how it progressed. But we looked at the top 10, 10000 sites in our database to see just kind of the usage of no follow your GC and sponsored, and one of the interesting ones, 10 out of 6 of all back links to these sites were no followed...


0:41:21.6 S2: That's the one out of 10 links to these top sites are completely no followed, that is way higher than I ever expected, but I guess I'm not really surprised because again, tons of sites do a no follow for all external links, but it's a pretty huge amount these are some of the biggest sites out there now, they're also... Those sites that are linking to them or linking to a ton of other sites, and if Google wasn't crawling those... Yeah, they definitely could have missed some sites in that, and then 3.6% of all internal links are no follow, so if you don't know this HRS has an internal link database as well, it's actually multiple times bigger than our external database, people link to their own page is more than the other pages, but we're the only ones with the data and 3.6% internal... No, follow is insane. The only reasons I could think people would do that would even be page rank sculpting or because they're trying to keep something out of the index.


0:42:33.6 S1: Yeah, I was thinking, I was like, This seems like a really odd number, why would you not follow your own links, but again, I think it might be, like you said, driving from some of those maybe antiquated techniques that people were trying to gain the system a bit.


0:42:51.4 S2: Yeah, it should be zero. 0% internal no follow. I cannot think of a... I've tried, I've talked with other SEOs too, and I... Show me one legitimate use case of no follow on an internal link, one reason it would help you, one reason you should use it, I've gotten none. If I was Google I would just ignore every one of these because it's just website owners shooting themselves in the foot by doing something they shouldn't do.


0:43:22.6 S2: So if I was doing a project at Google, I would ignore that completely and probably have better results because of it, now, whether they do that or not, I don't know if you could... Hopefully, they'll announce something. And then I looked at the different domains using UGC and sponsored tags, and they're still fairly new, this was maybe five months in when I was looking at this, I would say I was surprised that as many sites as I saw did use UGC, half a percent of the top 1000000, that's actually pretty good for just a few months in, because those sites typically are the ones that will do updates quickly, they have longer time tables, they're not gonna adopt the latest greatest and do this thing, they're gonna move slower than other websites. Sponsored... basically, no one is using that yet... It will be interesting to see how this changes next year because again, people weren't really required to do this, there's no benefit for them to do it, and yet people still did it, which is fascinating to me, 'cause I would put that on my backlog basically as never do this because why would you if there's no benefit?


0:44:49.4 S1: With the Sponsored tag on there, and again, it's something that is, as you mentioned, it's not required... They're saying If you don't wanna do it, don't do it. So in the case of where obviously, you're not supposed to be paying for links, but if you're admitting that, Hey, this is a partnership that I'm doing with X, Y, Z company, is there like a... I guess, is there a reason for anyone to... 'cause I feel like that's almost outing yourself a little bit like, Hey, this is… Someone gave me money to post this, It's not my genuine feedback. Do you think that that could play into why there's such a low utilization of that upfront, or do you think that there's... Maybe it's just a lack of adoption? It could be either... Any number of reasons. Yeah, I'd just be curious. It almost seems like... 'cause I think that's something that, again, coming from my background in marketing, it seems like something where the idea of like, Hey, I am an influencer and X company wants me to do this, or this is how I make my money, is by driving link traffic. I think people are a little timid about that, and this is really interesting...


0:46:11.0 S1: I'm curious to see what the adoption of that is going to be and how it's going to affect people long-term, especially when I feel like people are maybe a little timid to admit that they're having paid links in certain capacities like that...


0:46:26.3 S2: Well, they should be no following them anyway, but... Yeah, yeah, it's one of those things where it's kind of a gray area that... You're right, people probably don't wanna out themselves, they're saying this is an optional thing, so why would they do it? And unless Google gives people a really good benefit or a really good reason to do it, I think the adoption will be really low, but it could be they just don't really need a lot of data around this anyway, because they already have no follow or follow. And they can use other things, I'm sure they've been identifying sponsored links for years and years and years and discounting them already and paying where they can.


0:47:18.3 S1: It'd be interesting, I think just one last point on that is because you are analyzing such large sites, to your point, the ability for people to move quickly and adapt to new changes, I'd also be curious to see how that number shifts when you start looking at maybe some sites that are in that more middle ground area, medium-sized sites, small companies, individual publishers, if the adoption is higher there because they have the ability to move more quickly, or if it's something where larger corporations are maybe just sitting on their hands a little bit 'cause they're not entirely sure how to move forward with it.


0:47:58.7 S2: I'll talk a little bit and admitted it, about how I think this will happen. Cool, I also looked at the internal usage of UGC and sponsors, so again, people linking to other pages on their own website, and I found it kind of interesting, I did think like, Oh, UGC sort of makes sense. People are probably referencing... Communities are referencing another page on the site to help people... Etcetera. That makes sense. Sponsored, does that make sense to me who buys a link from their own website, I don't really understand how or why that data is here, and the only thing I could come up with is, again, the people that were masking affiliate links before using their own... Like a redirect through their own domain, maybe they mark the sponsored, although they're preventing crawling of them anyways, I don't know if that helps them, but that's pretty much the only thing I could come up with is why they would even be sponsored attributes on internal links. So just a couple of quick takeaways. People are adopting UGC and sponsors, it's not a huge amount, but it's there, which was more than I was expecting at the time, and I would say they're definitely over using...


0:49:33.2 S2: No follow both externally and internally, so I think Google is gonna ignore a lot of that usage... And this is going back to how this is going to give drive adoption. If you remember, when I talked about no follow originally, it was like other search engines helped them, and then all of these platforms, well-being is gonna use these hints also, and then I pull down the CMS systems where I could find them for these sites and you'll see, WordPress, UGC, it's actually built into WordPress now in the comment system, they added that and so sites that were up-to-date, etcetera, we did see this for them, sponsored, I didn't find anything in WordPress Core, but there are several plugins that add sponsored two links, including affiliate links, which again, is how I think it ended up getting some of the ones through like the internal links, I think that's how this made it into sponsored... Made it into internal link attributes, a mistake almost. It redirects through this and then it just adds it to sponsors to us as an internal link on their website.


0:50:56.3 S2: Gotcha, but I didn't see too much across other platforms, again, this was like five months into these things launching, even being announced, so WordPress move quick, not surprising some of these others, I'm not sure if they added support yet or not, but it's entirely likely over the next year. So people will get on board. That was just... Someone will get bored. A lot of these are open source. I'll just go ahead and contribute something, it'll get adopted into the core and the bam, all the sites that run on these platforms will have it, I think that's gonna be their path to adoption is an individual website owner, unless you're very short, you're not gonna go add sponsors to these posts and stuff to your links, especially when there's really no benefit, like a tech team is gonna look at that, a … team is gonna be like, What does it get me? Why are we doing this? Or nothing. Okay, yeah, I'll do that like 20 years from now unless the platforms, the sides run on, are adopted and force this out, I just don't see it going at... Or Google will have to give people a reason to do it, in WordPress 5.3 is when they added this for UGC, and this is what I was talking about, if they don't give some kind of carrot or some kind of stick, this is gonna be really, really slow.


0:52:36.7 S2: The platforms would do it because again, someone gets bored, they wanna contribute to an Open Source project, individual websites, I don't see... SEOs pushing for this. I haven't heard of any SEO like saying, we absolutely have to go ahead with a UGC tag to this, and then I think we're the driver of stuff like that, so if we're not pushing for it because there's no reason to push for it, I don't know that... It's really gonna happen that well, or that fast, but this is kind of the only care that we have so far, is that, they're saying if they get enough data, they'll be able to train their algorithm and then eventually you won't have to use no follow at all. My personal thought of that is like, Let's let someone else trade the algorithm, like cool. Eventually, I won't have to do anything, but I don't have to do anything now.


0:53:33.5 S1: So why would I... So it's not really a great carrot even... Yeah, it almost seems like that's almost even alluding to if you're not having to use no follow-up, does that also mean that sponsored and UDC is also gonna go the same way, they're like, Hey, we already know, since you guys... Are they saying... It's kinda hard to understand obviously, but it's almost like if they're trying to... They're taking this giant overarching no-follow blanket, and they're trying to allow users to self-sort into the applicable categories, and if they're saying they wanna potentially do away with no follow all together, would that in turn also mean doing away with the new tags that are coming out? Yes exactly that. Interesting.


0:54:28.0 S2: So it's basically if you give them enough data that they can then recognize what is a page link, what is a user-generated link versus that the site generated... Or when should I pass value? When should I not... Once they can make that decision on their own, they no longer need us to help guide them.


0:54:49.2 S2: So we could probably all go, just go, no, follow everything and screw up their entire plans, but don't do that. Like no, revolt. Yeah.


0:54:59.8 S2: Let's mark everything wrong, and then when the machine trans, it's gonna be like, What is this another decade? Yeah, so again, they said basically, the only carrot is we could potentially not have to tag these links in the future, I don't know that that's a strong enough argument to really drive an option, but they may really not, because they've already sort of been doing this let's ignore these links. Lets, these are definitely paid links, these are scholarship links, the thousands of things that SEOs have already grown and we've already trained them, so much data, so they may not need a whole lot more refinement data to actually get this right. Here's some additional information on these. You can have more than one attribute, so even though UGC kinda works the same as no follow, you can use both if you want one form or blog comments, you can use UGC and sponsored, together. So if you do any kind of paid content syndication, you have ad tutorials or you can pay for guest post, and so it's not you that's right in the content, that's the side on or you're taking someone else, something else is content you're putting on your website and with you can say, someone else wrote that and they paid me for it.


0:56:45.2 S2: Gotcha. Interesting, this is a bit technical, but basically, according to the standard, you should always have a space that separates these different attributes, but Google, as with many things in their cars or the web is a messy, messy, messy place. This comes from a technical SEO who's seen everything wrong a thousand ways, I've probably still not seen everything wrong, every way that it could go wrong, so they're going to allow a lot of things... So spaces, commas, semicolons, they're really flexible because basically people just do this wrong in a bunch of different ways. So one thing that we saw early on was people would try to tag an entire page as UGC, so that's when they're trying to do this, we'll be like, well, can I just say this whole page is user-generated content, so they're gonna add it as a meta-robots tag for instance, does not work that way, each and every individual, but link has to be tagged with the attribute for them to apply, so there's basically no page level way of doing this, which would make a lot of sense if they allow it... Actually, if you're gonna see...


0:58:15.2 S2: And people will want to say this whole page was generated by, or iIt was written by someone else, but right now you just have to apply it for each link that's added within the content area, and then just don't use it to block block pages from being indexed. There are better options. I mentioned this earlier, when Google was like, 50% of their web is going well, there's other paths to content just because no follows, I'll link to, I don't know, some private login page or whatever, doesn't mean you didn't submit that in your site map or someone linked to it externally, they basically no following was never a good way to block, block a page from being indexed, there are tons of other options that are better for that, but I think this is one of the reasons we saw so many internal links used or... So many internal links with the no follow attribute were just they were trying to keep something from being found and not a great way to do that. And that's all I got.


0:59:28.6 S1: Awesome, that was super informative. Thank you for that. Like I said, it's been a long time since I've been working day-to-day in link building and stuff, so being able to understand that a little bit more in-depth was super informative. We did have one question pop up here, it was a little off topic, so I wanted to hold on to it for the end here, and I'll read it to you. So does the link building have any relation with the IP address or the CDN network? Further details on that, if you wanna publish three articles, which will be a follow link, but from the same IP, will that impact link values?


1:00:10.9 S2: Three articles from the same, so just to ignore IPs... But I would say that's an old myth, well, I don't think it wasn't a myth back then, but the web has evolved, it used to be... Most sites had their own IP addresses, etcetera. Now, they mentioned cdns when you have millions of sites on the same IP range, same with massive posters, etcetera. We've actually discussed that, even removing the IP data from our database to help prevent some of them, it's like this, because basically the IP address where the links come from just do not matter. Again, millions of sites are on CloudFlare, millions of sites are on Akamai, fastly, GoDaddy hosting, BlueHost, blah, blah, blah. It's gonna be the same IP range. Some of those shared boxes have thousands of sites on the same... On the same computer with the same IP address, so generally, I would ignore IPs from any data.


1:01:22.2 S1: Awesome, and then another question popped in, what value, if any... Could a no follow back link have for your website?


1:01:32.5 S2: Right now, I would say that's still zero in the future, again, it will depend, they might pass full value, even though it's no follow, it's because it's a hit for them, not a directive, they can basically do what they want with the data. Personally, I would be... If I was Google, I would probably be looking at Wikipedia and all Wikipedia links are no follow, well, it's a community curated resource with tons of links to related things for all these topics, I would probably be passing value through those links. I think it makes sense. So again, right now and none in the future, potentially full value.


1:02:21.8 S1: Yeah, I think it'll be really interesting. Also alluding back to what we were seeing earlier, like they mentioned No follow could be completely going away, so the value of that inherently right now is zero, but as that goes away, obviously that value is still gonna to be zero, but what that was actually taking the place of the meat behind it, the fact that it is something that should not be indexed or crawled by Google from what you're indicating, that value could then turn into something later on down the road. No follow. Attribute aside.


1:03:02.6 S2: So it would be interesting to see what they do with... As things are changing with the environment, I feel like there's a lot of people that are doing influencer and they're doing their own self-promotion especially, and especially this year, I feel like a lot of people are kinda getting their side hustle on... So it'll be interesting to see how they manage and work their way through these next few stages where they figure out what that attribute really means. Yeah, I would imagine the first few months, the reason we haven't seen anything yet is, it's probably all been data gathering, and then it's gonna require a... Well, the webmaster team and developers and engineers, and they're gonna have to look at this data and try and make sense of all that, they're gonna have to tag data in different ways to say the show out there, if not, is that a paid link is that an affiliate link, do we pass value there, there's a lot of decisions that they're gonna have to make, and it's more than likely, no matter what they launched, they're gonna have to make adjustments to it anyway. But yeah, it's gonna be a process.


1:04:20.1 S2: I had someone actually reached out to me a few weeks ago, and they're like, Do you think they've done this yet? And it takes a while. They can think it probably most of the tomorrow if they really wanted, but to get it right, to get that data tagged in a way that they don't have to continuously make adjustments is going to take them some time to look through what the plan is, a big place, there's so much data to go through, I imagine that someone has spent weeks just looking at links, looking at how they are trying to look at different page attributes and tagging this stuff, and they hate their job. But someone has to do that, and it's probably multiple people that are having to do that, just to even come to some kind of consensus on like how we should treat these things... Yeah, I


1:05:13.7 S1: Mean, especially 'cause this could have massive ramifications potentially, like right now, it's not... But like we saw with the Penguin update, if they're rolling things out and to your point, they probably are taking their time because they're wanting to ensure that they're not destroying a blog or site by penalizing if you don't have sponsored or if you don't have user generate they probably wanna make sure that they're taking their time, just for your point, to make sure that they're not posing themselves and having to rebuild from scratch again, another question just popped in here, 100 links with high spam score, but all of them are no follow. Do we have to disavow those in GSC?


1:06:09.5 S2: If they’re no follow, no. If you wanna be super cautious if they show some kind of a pattern, you can... But if they are no follow, basically they're dropped from the link index already and they're not gonna be counted against you for now... Jeez, I didn't think about that. What if they just started saying like, Oh, even though these are no follow, they have a history of doing this or they're showing a clear pattern of link spam... Well, they said though, they use the data for detecting spam more so... Yeah, it makes sense. If you're overly cautious. Yes, I'm not sure. I would do that for 100 links, unless there was some kind of a clear pattern though.


1:07:03.3 S1: Yeah, I think what we've seen and probably what we would advise is pretty similar to that, I think you are... If you're hesitant enough or it's a concern enough to where you're asking right now, that might be enough of the answer that you're looking for, and again, take us with the grain of salt, but I think that if it's something where you're like, Man, this is... We're getting a lot of spam and we're no following to what we're talking about earlier, they might change that, if you wanna be extra careful if you're like, I got nothing to do with these incoming spam links and I don't want to be associated with it, I think that's kind of where the original half the webs no follow is coming from, but I think it might be worth exploring at least to see how spammy those look and if you think that it could hurt me in the future, but yeah, 100 weeks to go through as It's not easy to ask.


1:08:02.9 S2: I would n't know who's looking at, but I don't know. This is me talking personally, not as an HS representative for a second, I've looked at the methodology for the link span for several tools. I'm not comfortable with any of them. I think anyone that just blindly trusts those will do more harm and good if they just do survive the links that are in those spam reports, because a lot of the things they're counting to spam just simply are not spam.


1:08:34.4 S1: Good, that's a really good point to bring up is maybe even double check through some of those links and make sure that they are really high spam scores and not just something that's getting auto-flagged because it might have been adjacent ly related to something that was family in the past, sometimes you can still get really positive links to get caught up in the spam there too. A great question. I think that's just about all we have. And we actually are about 10 minutes over the hour. So that was perfect. That was really good. Do you have any other closing thoughts? If you were to maybe talk with everyone that gets the chance to see this with one take away, I know we kinda already hit on it, probably not really affecting it a whole lot, but if you're maybe talking to other CEOS and their clients have questions about this what kind of pieces of advice would you be able to offer them that they can maybe go to their higher up managers or if they're working with an agency of their clients to kinda have that conversation about In the tags.


1:09:37.1 S2: Just be careful with blanket, should not have been following every external link, you also should be here... No follow on your own website again, what was that? 36% internal links, no follow. I have no use cases... No, I would say that really should be zero. Things like that, I think you're doing more harm. Are good.


1:10:04.2 S1: Definitely. Well, awesome, Patrick, thank you again so much. We really appreciate you taking the time to sit down and go through all the new link tributes with us, and taking the time to join us for this episode today. Thank you guys for tuning in. We really appreciate you guys joining us each and every time, we'll be back here, I think I got another one coming up next week. So we'll see you guys back here. If you had to step away for any time you have this episode recorded, we'll have it up on our website later this week, you guys have any other questions, definitely feel free to reach out to admin power or Patrick ARF, any of these guys are super happy to talk with you. Thank you again, Patrick. Thanks, you guys. We'll see you guys next time.

Ben Jacobsen

Ben Jacobsen: Marketer, Photographer, and perpetual tinkerer. If he isn't behind a keyboard, he's traveling in the mountains looking for the next adventure.