The Saga Continues

Well a few weeks has passed and the site continues to rank properly. I mean, we aren’t really getting any handbag or Louis Vuitton traffic (barely anything) but instead, we’re getting a lot of specialized footprint queries. (I would mention them here but I fear that I would only worsen the issue!)

As such, the site has received 62 spammy comments within the span of a few weeks which isn’t bad! It’s kind of funny if you think about it… this site has a lot of spammy links so Google is suggesting that spammers come play here.

Oh boy, I have to watch out the words I use within the context of these posts.

When you write on the web, imagine your third grade teacher looking over your shoulder and reviewing everything you write. That’s the kind of eerie feeling I have as I write this. Except that instead of a third grade teacher, we have Google’s RankBrain reading my every word. Stop judging me Mr. RankBrain!

In fact, if you can read this Mr. RankBrain, please send me visitors that are interested in learning SEO. Tell them to come here and to look up my Traffic Research program, that’s where they’ll find all the best (and latest) research on what ranks sites on the web.

The Louis Vuitton Links Are In!

It certainly took a while however the links for our Louis Vuitton experiment site have finally appeared inside webmaster tools. At first glance, it appears that not many of them come from fashion websites. Instead, they seem to come from a completely random assortment of sites.

Incoming Links For Louis Vuitton

Incoming Links For Louis Vuitton

Another interesting note is that Google is only showing as having 179k registered links whereas Ahrefs was claiming the number to be closer to 1.2m. That’s perfectly normal as we know that Google doesn’t like to show all the links it has found (probably because it ignores them) so that, in theory, implies that it IS counting approximately 179k links.

The Anchor Text Distribution

So what does this mean?

Well, we can look at the anchor text distribution as well:

louis-vuitton-anchor-text

And surprisingly, a part from the brand name being repeated over and over again, there isn’t anything awfully horrible about it. There are definitely a few odd words here but overall it seems as if we’re centered around the site name. Does Google look at the site name and then ‘accept’ an irrational use of it in the anchor text? What if the anchor text was for handbag instead of Louis Vuitton? Would it trigger anything else then ?

Here are some theories:

First, I’m still functioning under the assumption that the site will be penalized at any moment. It hasn’t been yet, however I’m quite sure it will be soon.

In the event that we don’t see an official webmaster tools penalty, I suspect that the reason for this is because the incoming links have a strong correlation with the domain name. Does this make sense? What kind of algorithm and/or code would you have to write in order for Google to look at a domain name… and then accept all variations around it ? I suppose it could be done where you could score how close to the domain name the anchor text is.

However, in my experience, I have seen sites with exact match domains be penalized for their main keyword (which also happened to be closely related to the site name). Maybe they received a penalty due to another factor? I don’t know.

Another interesting fact is that it seems that we are included in some RSS feeds because some of the incoming anchor text actually includes the name of a recent post published on this site!

Louis Vuitton’s Performance

So how does the site currently perform in the search engines? Well… not bad! We’re definitely not going after any keywords here however when you type: “Louis Vuitton Experiment” into Google, we’re ranked #2 after about a week. And of course, the #1 result is the official Louis Vuitton site.

louis-vuitton-experiment

So the site does not rank amazingly well… however, it certainly ranks better than your typical brand new site with absolutely no links. I’ll have to test out the performance a little more in the future to see where we actually stand.

 

A Week Later – No Information In Webmaster Tools

So it’s been about a week and unfortunately, webmaster tools does not have an update for us! This is unfortunate as I figured I would have some kind of news about the site. It appears as if Google is taking it’s time with the new site… even if it has millions of links.

We’re getting crawled on a regular basis:

crawled

And we’ve even been found by people trying to leave comments in the fashion industry. However, no real traffic a part from referrals, bots and direct people.

Theory of a new site in fashion

This lack of development in webmaster tools indicates that Google is not overly worried about the site. I’m thinking that because the site has never had content on it, Google does not know what it should do with it. So really, it’s the combination of on-page and backlinks that would cause a penalty. (Meaning that the on-page content has to align with the links?) Therefore, if the links have nothing to do with the content, Google will just ignore them?

Who knows.

So far, Google is treating this site like a perfectly new site, without millions of backlinks. Will this change in the near future? I’m tempted to set up a sub-page, optimized for a keyword or a term in order to see if it ranks in any meaningful way. Maybe it just takes more time for a new site to collect data inside webmaster tools.

Only time will tell!

 

Indexed in Google! Are We A Fashion Website Yet?

We did it! I hate to sound all cheesy however a few hours after posting the first post, we managed to get the site indexed in Google. We are now considered a fashion-search-engine-experiment site!

Here’s the proof:

Louis Vuitton Has It's First Post Indexed

Louis Vuitton Has It’s First Post Indexed

The methodology was easy. I installed Webmaster Tools and then I submitted it to the index via the fetch and render feature that’s included in the options.

So that answers my first question about the site: It can be indexed in spite of having 2.3 million backlinks, most of them being spammy and/or low quality.

Next Experiments

The next thing I’m anxious to see is how well it ranks for certain keywords. Obviously, I’m not expecting much! However there is a big difference between brute-force checking the index via a site:website.com command and naturally finding the article you found.

For instance, if we search for “Louis Vuitton Experiment” (aka, the title of the site), we would ideally want Google to list our site first (I’d even be happy with a top 10 finish). Unfortunately, we’re no where to be found at the moment! (However, it’s only been 20 hours since Google indexed this site… and therefore, I want to give it a few days before passing judgement).

My theory:

I theorize that when the Googlebot crawls a link and finds a 404 (aka when the site does not exist) it does not count that link. However, once the page goes live, any link that Google finds is counted. This leads to a pretty odd scenario with regards to link velocity.

Assuming Google re-crawls all 2.3 million links in 7 days, does that mean that the link velocity for this handbag site will be several hundreds of thousands of links per day? That would be awkward. (And would likely result in an insta-ban. I guess we’ll know by the end of the week!)

However, maybe that’s not how it works. Another idea is that Google either ignores all the historical links (Created when the site did not exist) and maybe it will forever ignore them. If this were the case, then I would assume that the site would continue to persist, without ever receiving a penalty… however it would rank just as well as a site with 0 links.

One interesting thing to note is that our “real” link velocity is currently declining (according to Ahrefs). I must admit, it’s a little weird to have a brand new site with a declining link velocity. As the numerous low quality links are removed, this site should tank like a rock in terms of backlinks which will should provide us with more interesting data to analyze.

I already set up Google Analytics to measure any incoming traffic and we’ve even started getting our first comments. Comments are always a good sign, right?

Louis Vuitton Comments

Louis Vuitton Comments

Now if only those links inside the webmaster tools would load up! Let me know how you believe Google is handling the links in the comments.

 

A First Look At The Louis Vuitton Site

I’m sure it took all of 3 seconds to realize that this isn’t the official Louis Vuitton site. Not even close. In fact, I have absolutely no interest in handbags. This domain was purchased our of sheer curiosity in order to satisfy my search for knowledge of how things work on the internet. You see, the reason I recently purchased this domain was because it was A) available and B) because I noticed that it had received an incredible amount of low quality, spammy links from around the world.

Just how many?

Millions!

A First Look

See this screen shot taken from Ahrefs illustrating the ridiculous amount of backlinks pointing back to this site:

Louis Vitton Link Statistics

Louis Vitton Link Statistics

And we can see that someone else (definitely not me) has been busy massing links to this site via automated methods which is producing a ridiculous link velocity at the time of this writing. (I actually registered the domain AFTER most of the links have been built)

Is the handbag market really that competitive?

Is the handbag market really that competitive?

So I registered the domain and like a giddy little child before Christmas, I installed Webmaster tools to see all the magic. I immediately expected there to be a huge manual penalty, possibly an award for being one of the top 500 most spammed sites in the handbag market. I could only hope.

Louis Vitton Webmaster

Louis Vitton Webmaster

To my surprise, there was nothing there! No action taken against this site. Nothing, nada! I must admit, I was a little disappointed because I was actually hoping to be able to measure the effects of pointing this site to various different targets to see if there were any ranking fluctuations. However, in spite of the site having over 3 million handbag links pointing to it, it hadn’t received a message from Google yet.

What’s taking so long?!

So what’s happening? Well the theory at the moment is that because the site didn’t even exist (it wasn’t even registered) when the links were built, Google didn’t assign it a penalty. This would mean that in order for Google to penalize a site, it has to exist in the first place. (In retrospect, this makes perfect sense… however, I had no idea this was the case before the Louis Vuitton experiment).

My friend have all assured me that it’s coming though.

One day, it will pop-up, out of no where and you’ll finally see a message in your webmaster tools. I’ll be honest, that’s what I have been waiting for!

What I’m even more curious about is when the “Links To Your Site” will start listing all the links.

Links To LouisVitton.ca Aren't Displayed Yet

Links To LouisVitton.ca Aren’t Displayed Yet

The wait

Honestly, I have been refreshing webmaster tools for approximately 2 weeks after confirming the webmaster tools account and nothing has popped up yet. Why is this? Does the site have to be live in order to populate the Links To Your Site? I suppose if the site doesn’t exist… then it cannot have links to it, or can it?

Now I’m convinced that eventually one day I’m going to be greeted with a message saying the site has been abused. Will that be fair? I mean, I purposely registered the domain knowing there was an excessive amount of links to it. However, what if this same scenario happened with another domain and the person registering it was completely unaware of the situation. What if he thought it was just a good domain name in the fashion industry and to his surprise, it was available?

He might spend hours and hours crafting a perfectly nice site, only to wonder why it’s not ranking or even being indexed in Google.

Which leads me to one of the first questions that I’m anxious to answer. Will it be indexed in Google? Or will Google outright refuse to index the site due to the copious amounts of handbag links pointing to the site?

This is actually going to be the first post on the site and therefore it will be interesting to see if these words ever see the Google spider. It is entirely possible that the algorithm outright banned the site and even though there is no manual action, it is still completely blacklisted. This would also be interesting as it would provide more insights on the difference between algorithmic penalties and manual ones.

Who’s Did This?

When you think about it, it’s quite interesting for people to believe that the handbag market is so competitive that you need to build 3.2 million backlinks in order to rank anything. As I previously mentioned, I did not build the links… however, someone else did. What was the idea behind it?

“Let’s build a bazillion links so we can rank for a week?” (Does that work?)

Don’t they know that this doesn’t work anymore? (At least I’m pretty sure it doesn’t).

What kind of results are they getting with other sites? I mean, it must take quite a bit of energy and resources to produce such a ridiculous amount of power. Even though we have scripts, bots and automation, you’re still looking at quite a lot of spam.

One theory is that they are doing it not for Google, but instead, for another search engine. It’s possible that they are profiting in the fashion market by getting the trickle of traffic that comes from all the search engines that do not have such strict anti-spam measures. Maybe this works on Baidu? (I suppose I’ll know if I start getting a lot of foreign traffic.)

Up-Next

Well I’m certainly not going to start selling fake purses here (or real ones either for that matter). Instead, I plan on posting updates on the progress of the site and the results of this little experiment. Hopefully we’ll learn more about how Google handles sites like these and that knowledge will help us understand less severe cases. If you have any theories, comments or something you would like me to check out, then feel free to post it in the comments. Stay tuned!