Why Google Might Rank Sites With Bad Links Highly

By: Chris Crum - April 1, 2013

Today’s Webmaster Help video from Google doesn’t appear to be an April Fools’ joke. It’s just Matt Cutts responding to a question like normal. The question at hand is probably something a lot of people have wondered:

I’ve seen multiple websites that appear in the #1 spot for various keywords, whose backlink profiles are pretty low quality (i.e. lower quality blog pages). Why wouldn’t Penguin have moved these sites further down in rankings?

“There’s a lot of possible reasons,” says Cutts. “One is, Penguin is geared for certain types of spam, but it’s not geared for every type of spam. For example, it doesn’t help with hacked sites. So if a site is being propelled up the rankings on the basis of illegal hacking of sites, that’s not something that Penguin attempts to tackle. There are other other algorithms that try to tackle that.”

“The simplest explanation might just be that we don’t want that to rank, but the algorithms haven’t gotten good enough yet. We need to make sure that things get better. If that’s the case, we’re happy to get spam reports or if you want to show up on a forum, or a webmaster forum, and say, ‘Hey, here’s a site that doesn’t look like it should be ranking,’ we’re happy to hear feedback like that.”

He also notes that unless you’re the site owner, you may not be getting the complete list of links for that site.

It seems fairly likely that much of the time it’s that explanation about the algorithms not being good enough. As Google has noted on plenty of occasions in the past, no algorithm is perfect, and Google tweaks them all the time.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.3ac.couk Gary Taylor

    Here’s a case study I just wrote which is relevant to this video whereby I threw a load of low quality/spammy exact keyword links at my blog and got it to the first page of Google in a few weeks…it was short lived though – A testament to Google


    Hope you find this useful, especially those who are considering trying to cut corners with SEO…it’s just not worth it.



  • http://www.mcmdream.com/ MCM

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my weblog thus i came to “return the favor”.
    I’m attempting to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/ Nick Stamoulis

    I know it’s so frustrating as a site owner to see a site that is breaking all the rules and benefiting from it. For as powerful a force Google is on our online lives there are still cracks that some sites are going to slip through. Penguin was only the beginning, in my opinion, and I’d be willing to bet those cracks get narrower and narrower over time.

  • http://www.amahousse.com amahousse

    J’ai l’impression de jouer avec des règles qui changent tout le temps et où les tricheurs ne sont pas sanctionnés, c’est très perturbant.
    Cependant, j’ai un site de vente en ligne qui progresse et j’essaye de suivre l’actualité, mais je dois dire que les interviews du Chef Seo de Google me posent un problème, est ce normal que les réponses aux questions soient toujours une esquive?
    Je pense que Matt Cutts pourrait devenir un très bon politicien.
    En attendant, un peu de concurrence serait une bonne chose.
    Cordialement et merci pour vos articles

  • http://www.graciousstore.com Nina

    Thanks for always giving us updates on Cutts’ responses to Webmasters’ conerns

  • http://www.travelagentbangalore.com Samson Daniel

    I think those site owners are lucky. I have website domain with keyword and with good links still my website has fallen down the same is not the case with Yahoo search then why is Google using such tools. Website owners and webmaster have worked hard and paid hell of money to reach to good level and falling and disappearing overnight is really sad.
    Even creating Good and Bad links is not easy task it is only the strikes and final business that matters. No one is perfect but why not appreciate the hard work.

  • http://wpresponsive.org Responsive Theme

    It seems tricky nowadays trying to figure out what to do with our sites. Google says one thing and then you’ll find competitors doing what Google said what NOT to do, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting those competitor sites. There doesn’t seem to be a rule book to follow and it can be quite frustrating when you see “offenders” performing well.