Bounce Rate – Does Bing Provide More Relevant Results?

I am personally finding better results when using the search engine Bing recently. However, Google still has a huge gigantic market share of search results and I doubt that will change anytime soon.

I realize that my opinion is subjective – what does “better results” actually mean? Well to me, it means I am getting results that are relevant to what I am actually looking for and that is helpful to me based on my search query in the first couple of pages of search results. What does it mean to you? My own opinion was unscientifically confirmed when I took the “Bing Challenge” as well.

I wondered if there was an objective way to determine the “quality” of search engine results or the relevancy of them, based on data that I have. And for that, I turned to Google Analytics and used the data that Google provides me with.  I’m also thinking that the measure of bounce rate might be an interesting measure to use. For visitors that are referred to sites from either Bing or Google, which visitors stick around more often and which do not? There are some suggestions in the SEO world that Google uses the bounce rate of visitors to a site as one of the many factors in their search results algorithm to determine rankings for any search term.

According to Wikipedia:

Bounce rate (sometimes confused with exit rate)[1] is an Internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.

[...]

A bounce occurs when a web site visitor only views a single page on a website, that is, the visitor leaves a site without visiting any other pages before a specified session-timeout occurs. There is no industry standard minimum or maximum time by which a visitor must leave in order for a bounce to occur. Rather, this is determined by the session timeout of the analytics tracking software.

 

So, I’m using Google Analytics as the tracking software. Presumably, the bounce rate that Google uses in their tracking software is based on the same definition if there is one, that they would use in any part of their algorithm that uses Bounce Rate as a factor in their SERP’s.

I examined 6 different websites, all in totally different niches that I have access to their Analytics reporting. Four of those sites are directly controlled by my business, while the other two are clients of mine. The results were interesting to say the least. And the results beg the question: “Is Google truly the best search engine providing the most relevant search results for the user’s search terms and phrases?”

Is it possible that indeed, Bing provides superior results?

There are problems however, with using Bounce Rate as a measure of whether or not a URL was relevant to a search result. We’re told that the lower the Bounce Rate, the better. If we assume this is true, then Google has a bit of a problem.

On the other hand, a high bounce rate could mean that a searcher found exactly what they were looking for when they clicked through to a URL from a search result. If they found exactly what they were looking for; an answer to a question, a solution to a problem, or an article of interest that gave them pause for thought, they might not be clicking around the site they landed on for more information.

But let’s assume for now that a low bounce rate is preferred and how the Google engineers may have determined that a low bounce rate is a preferred as a measure of relevancy.

Let’s take a look at the data Google provides. This is for the dates between August 29, 2012 and September 29, 2012. These six sites have in common that they get a minimum of 1,000 unique visitors per month, with a few of them significantly more than that.

Site #1:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 35.94%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 16.83%

Site #2:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 41.16%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 37.07

Site #3:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 21.47%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 14.56%

Site #4:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 6.98%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 3.61%

(Above numbers are very enviable no matter who wins and I was very surprised at how low it was)

Site #5:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 11.88%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 26.43%

Site #6:

  • Google Bounce Rate: 44.31%
  • Bing Bounce Rate: 23.81%

In five out of the six website analytics data that I took a look at, there was a significantly lower bounce rate with visitors coming from Bing than those who arrived via Google’s search results. Granted, Google also provided a significantly higher number of referrers overall, but it generally matches the market share of each search engine.

So, if Bounce Rate is a determining factor in how well accepted a site is to a visitor, is it not interesting that Bing Results seem to indicate that they are providing better results overall as visitors are finding for whatever search term they used, some motivation to stick around more than Google users?

Of course, the answer could be more complex as perhaps the demographics and some other characteristic information of the users need to be taken into consideration as well. Having said that, although I’ve provided results for the top six of the websites that we monitor Google Analytics data for, the results are typical for all of the sites that we monitor.

I’m curious as to what you find when you compare the Bounce Rate of visitors to your site that have been referred by either Google or Bing. And how would you interpret these results?

I am also curious as to how these numbers stack up against each other from periods prior to the major Panda and Penguin updates. I took a cursory look and interestingly to me, there was not quite as much of a spread between Google and Bing – which indicates to me that in Google’s “quest for quality,” they haven’t achieved it in their war against whatever they are warring over and making significant changes in their SERP’s (yes, two of the above sites were hit by either Panda or Penguin).

 

My Journey To Trying Mansaf

mansafYears ago, when I first started the blog, “Ianism,” most of my posts were about classical liberalism, libertarianism, and included some “debates” with opinion of both the left and the right. There were also posts about some of my own personal achievements, discouragements and of course, about my awesome sons and their achievements as well.

After some years (about five years ago), I got tired of the debating of politics and philosophy, met a woman, and thought that might be the end of “Ianism” although I kept renewing the domain name but took the site offline. Much has happened over those five years: Things unfortunately did not work with that relationship, my children are now five years older, my business has moved slightly in a different direction and I spend more time on search engine optimization projects although that has always been a major part of what I like to do.

Some things have not changed: I remain a classical style liberal in the sense of what liberalism originally meant and see no answers or logical proposals from either those on the left or right. I still enjoy writing, and to that end, some months ago, I decided to put “Ianism” back up. Mostly, I’ve written about search engine optimization here although that was not my goal when I did so. I planned on having an eclectic blog (against the advice of many who blog and say that a blog’s theme should be consistent and topical).

So with that in mind, I am now on a journey to try Mansaf. What is mansaf, you ask? It is a traditional Jordanian dish that includes lamb simmered in a special kind of yoghurt, along with rice, spices, pine nuts and almonds. How I discovered this dish is a bit of a story in itself that involves what I thought was a hilarious youtube video, followed up with some curiosity. But the beginnings probably go back even further.

Middle Eastern Food (My First Time)

I originally came to know of middle eastern food, the very first time when I was about 13 or 14 years old. My Northern Irish but Canadian resident father enjoyed trying different types of food himself, and one day, while we were out on a drive together, pulled into a small restaurant in Toronto somewhere. He wanted me to try a falafel – something I had never heard of but my dad had eaten before. When  tasted these balls (I had no idea what they were made of back then, and it would be some years before I discovered it was chickpea or garbanzo bean based), inside a pita bread wrap with a sauce along with onion, lettuce and tomato, I absolutely loved it! Occasionally, my dad and I would return to that restaurant over the years to have a quick lunch or snack of a falafel.

Later, I discovered a restaurant on my own when I was spending time in Toronto, working, at a corner along Lawrence Ave. E. That was well over 20 years ago, and I have no idea if the place still exists, but I was a regular when I was working in the area and during their open hours. It was then I was also introduced to Tabbouleh salad, which I love to eat.

My Own Experiments

Over the years, my own appreciation for a wide variety of different culture’s and world regions taste and style in food has grown. Although there are times when there is nothing better than my own “traditional” meat and potatoes, or fish and potatoes, along with Ulster Fry for breakfast, I have learned to try and enjoy many others, including Indian curries, Carribean, and Middle Eastern foods. In order to enjoy them whenever I want, I’ve had to learn to make them on my own. I can’t say that every dish I make would pass the test of being completely authentic, but they are pretty close, I’d say.

When you decide to try new things, it’s amazing what you discover, and how different tastes, spices, bitters, sweets and sours can all go toward a wonderful culinary experience. I love chickpeas on their own, but I also love adding spices and cooking with curry, or mixing them with other beans and using my own homemade Italian dressing over top.

Hummus became a favorite of mine as well. I can eat it on its own using a spoon, or as a dip with vegetables like celery and carrots, or spread on crackers. One can adjust the spices as they desire, and it makes for a great snack that is also very healthy.

So How Did I Get To Wanting To Try Mansaf?

Over the years, I enjoy reading history and current events. One of the countries in this world that has always intrigued me is Jordan. Stuck in the middle of a very “hot spot” on this earth, we don’t hear much about Jordan, but from what I’ve read, it’s a beautiful country and there is a relative peace and respect between the different religious groups that reside there. Jordan is a small country but has accepted refugees of both Muslims and Christians from its neighbours, and it seems to me, has tried to be a “calming” influence in the region. I’m no expert by any means on middle east politics, although I like the foods I have tried. Jordan just has always been a country that has interested me.

When I began to write this post, I mentioned that there was a humorous youtube video involved. The other night, I came across a silly but humorous video of some guy “fooling” people into thinking he was a woman while the song “Call Me Maybe” was being played. It’s a bit racy to say the least, but the reactions in the video are quite funny. At least I thought so. Its probably not a video that you want to watch if you’re easily offended by an extreme degree of immodesty, and certainly not something that I pursue, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when I watched it. It was also my first introduction to the song; although I love music, most of what I listen to is “older” stuff, and I seldom have a radio on.

The title of the video caught my eye though. It is named “Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen (Chatroulette Version).” I wondered, “what is a ‘chatroulette version’?” and decided to Google it. Turns out that it was the mechanism the videomaker used to shock people in the first place and make the video. Out of curiosity, I went to the website, and thought I’d see what it was all about. Well, most of it seemed pretty stupid, and a waste of time, but I did end up having a conversation with a person from Germany named Lucien, who happens to have relatives here in Canada. We talked for a bit, discussing music and other subjects when Lucien had to leave.

A few moments later, I had the pleasure of conversing with a Jordanian named Ali. This was a great conversation, as we both respectfully discussed just about every subject from politics, philosophy, learning, life dreams, and telling each other about our families. And it was during that conversation that I learned about Mansaf, with Ali sending me to a webpage about this very delicious looking dish.

In my further research, I discovered that this dish is not just about eating a meal, but the traditional way of eating it is about showing hospitality and bonding with those you are supping with. Traditionally, one shares the dish with others, using their fingers and following certain protocol including being careful to not put your fingers against your mouth, only the food, using the right hand while the left hand remains behind your back. This video explains more, including how Mansaf is prepared: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrKOGtcWHIo

Considering the “meaning” behind serving the dish to others, out of a sense of hospitality and friendship, I was quite honoured when Ali invited me and suggested I visit Jordan and he could share Mansaf with me. We both may come from different cultures and even different systems of beliefs, but it was obvious that the belief and desire for the wellbeing of our fellow man was quite evident, and I very much enjoyed making an acquaintance with Ali, and look forward to getting to know him better, while also letting him get to know me better if he so wishes. Ali seemed very interested and curious in all manner of subjects as well as quite knowledgeable, characteristics I admire.

After having made his acquaintance, I do hope that one day I could be able to travel to Jordan and eat Mansaf with Ali and his family. Unfortunately, I think that day would be quite some time away. In the meantime, I still do want to try Mansaf, even if I have to make it myself.However, there is a challenge.

The Challenge – Jameed

Traditional Mansaf requires an ingredient called Jameed, a type of yoghurt made from goat’s milk, and then dried into very hard balls. It is then reconstituted with water when it is to be used for eating or cooking. Drying it out was a way to preserve yoghurt when there was no refrigeration. However, learning how to make Jameed is not easy, as apparently many families guard their recipe closely.

I have not been able to find a source for Jameed anywhere near where I live, so it would appear I have to learn to make it myself. I do have access to goat’s milk, but I don’t know how to make yoghurt. But I can learn. But then, I do not totally understand the drying process of the yoghurt in order for it to become Jameed, so perhaps some experimentation is in order – but traditionally, it is dried outdoors, either in the sun or the shade, and it might be a bit too late in the year here in Ontario, for that.

First things first; I will need to get some goat’s milk and learn to make yoghurt with it. Then I will try to figure out how to make Jameed with my yoghurt. Then, I will study and see if I can make Mansaf with some wonderful tasty Ontario lamb that I buy from a local farmer.

If I am able to visit Jordan, I will certainly accept Ali’s invitation to eat Mansaf with him! If Ali is able to visit Canada, I hope he will accept my invitation to visit with me and I will feed him well, too – perhaps if by then I’ve learned to make Mansaf, with a non traditional Canadian version of it! :) We’ll see how much progress I can make on trying to learn how  to make it.

Finally – thank you Ali for the introduction to you and your family’s lives in Jordan. The time we live in is pretty amazing, when we can communicate with complete strangers so far away, and learn more about each other, and form friendships that go beyond borders.  And thank you for letting me know about Mansaf and your invitation of hospitality towards me. It is very much appreciated.

Now, onto learning more about Mansaf, but tonight I will have a simple but tasty North American style hamburger, with onions, tomato, lettuce and mustard.

 

 

Not The Pepsi Challenge But The Bing Challenge

I remember years ago as a teenager, going to the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto during the late summer. It was a time when Pepsi Cola was doing some major marketing and they instituted the “Take The Pepsi Challenge.” At the Ex, there were tables set up where people could sample a glass of Pepsi and a glass of Coke to take this challenge, to see which one they preferred. You were not told which was which before sipping from each glass, but after sampling, you were asked which one tasted better to you.

Microsoft has initiated their own challenge in an interesting way, although you are not tasting anything. On a website owned by Microsoft, they are asking you to rate Bing’s search results Vs. Google’s. I first learned about the website via the Twitter post made by “Lord Of Seo” when he twitted “People chose Bing nearly 2 to 1 in a blind test. Which will you pick? #bingiton at http://www.bingiton.com/Landingpage.aspx?form=&publ=&crea= …

People choosing Bing 2:1? Well, I’m not surprised as I myself have begun to prefer Bing results over Google’s for quite some time now. Not only Bing, but also the search results that duckduckgo.com  provide seem more relevant to my search queries.

I thought I’d give it a shot myself and headed over to BingItOn. You’re asked to type in a search query and then select what you think are the best results, five times (each time, using a different search query). You’re also offered the option of rating the results you see as a “Draw.”

In my case, I was not surprised to see that Bing slightly won. I chose the Bing results for three rounds, one round went to Google, and one was a “Draw.” Here’s a screenshot of the results:

bingiton results - bing wins

As I wrote, I’m not surprised. I personally think Google’s search results have deteriorated drastically in recent months. It seems to me that in all their efforts to get rid of so called “web spam” and their attempts to be everything to everyone, they’ve actually done a worse job at providing good results for what I am looking for. It seems I am not alone in this thinking. In a way, it’s sad for me as I used to love Google. I was rooting them for them and always hoped they would be more successful, and harbouring my own dislike for Microsoft, I never thought I’d see the day when I might begin recommending Microsoft’s  search engine Bing to others.

Interestingly, in looking at quite a number of websites that I monitor Google Analytics for, I’m seeing a higher bounce rate for visitors that are referred to those sites from Google’s SERP’s than those from Bing’s SERP’s. What does that suggest? More study is needed, but it suggests to me that Bing is providing results to its users that are more relevant in the first place. Bing users are liking what they see when they land on web pages to a higher degree than Google users.

Getting back to that “Take The Pepsi Challenge” test – as a teenager I thought I preferred Coca Cola. I have to admit that I was taken aback when I chose Pepsi over Coke, and since then, it’s been what I have purchased when I do want a cola beverage.

Will you take the Bing It On challenge yourself? I’d love to know your results – feel free to post them in the comments below after you head over to Bing It On here.

 

A Horrible House Fire Tragedy – Can You Help?

I have just found out that my ex-wife (Angela McCleery) and her husband (Steve Lindsay) who reside near Oxford Station and Oxford Mills, Municipality of North Grenville, Ontario, along with my 22 year old son (James Scott) and Steve’s 17 year old son Sean, have lost everything in a house fire. The house burnt to the ground while they watched with only the clothes they have on their back. Indeed, from what I understand, Angela had to flee the house wearing her pyjamas. There is literally nothing left of their house or possessions.

This happened yesterday (Sunday August, 27th, 2012) and details are just starting to arrive my way.

My heart aches for them at this time, and I have no idea at this point if anyone else has created a help fund for them on their behalf to assist them through this emergency – so at this time, I am going to begin one. For the time being, any financial donations can be sent to my PayPal address, ian@pairowoodies.com

Clothing donations are also badly needed. I will post clothing sizes as I find out.

This is a terrible tragedy that many of us fear, and when it actually happens to someone you know and care about, it really hits close to home. If you can help, please do so.

I will update this as I can.

Update:

Clothing needed:

Women’s shirts, size Small, Dress size 8 or 9, ladies shoes size 8, Pant size estimated 8 or 10.

Mens size 32 waist 34 length and size 30 waist 32/34 length jeans/pants

Mens S M L shirts, Size 11 and Size 12 shoes
The sons are 22 and 17 years old.

Best address for donation of clothing and shoes at this time:

Angela McCleery
C/O Doris McCleery
P.O. Box 73
Kars, ON K0A 2E0

PayPal donations c/o ian@pairowoodies.com

Second Update

More information – the fire started in the garage, and Steve attempted to extinguish it while Angela called 911. However, it spread too fast and too quickly, and although Steve attempted to try to save some items like photograph albums, he was unable to do so. There is nothing salvageable – and I know that even though my older two sons were not living there, they still had much of their childhood possessions and stuff at the house. The other two sons, James and Sean, have nothing left.

Steve built the house himself, even hand milling the timber himself that went into it’s construction. It is a tremendous loss of of both a home and one’s own love and labour. However, we are thankful as devastating as this is for those involved, that there was no loss in life and that no one was standing near the propane tank when it exploded.

Donations Update

Thank you so much to those who are working on clothing donations.

Financial donations so far – $100.00  $150.00 $350.00 $375.00  $790.00 $890.00  $990.00  $1,015.00 $1,115.00 $1,155.00  $1,165.00(Thanks so much to everyone so far!!)

Donator List

Those who have helped, are helping or have made pledges of help in some way, including financial, donations, etc, our huge thanks. This is not a comprehensive list, but only those who I personally know about:

Judy Boneschansker, Lisa Turner, Helen Asimikis, Joe Gorscak, Heather Boneschansker, Melaura Boneshansker, Tara Stephen, Anonymous, Anonymous, Beverley Bible, Steve Henry. Peter Finch, Ben Treen, David Hafernik, Julie Magson, Ted Murphy, Pat Halbach, Ruth Morris-Vaillancourt, Catherine Finch, Grace Stephen, Darcy Rumble

Update – A Note To The Cynics (Sadly There Are A Few)

I hope I am not the only one to have found it offensive during this difficult time some members of my family have gone through, for some people to ask along the lines of, “Well, didn’t they have insurance?”

Well, yes, thankfully they did. That insurance however, is not going to take away the pain and anguish of having just lost everything. Even though eventually, there will be insurance money, why do some seem to be more focused on the fact that “EVENTUALLY,” they will probably be comfortable again? Why not help and make them as comfortable as we possibly can NOW during this horrible time they are going through?

I am so very thankful for the people that have wanted and have actually helped at this time right now! I care about them, I care about my son who is basically at the moment homeless and without any of his possessions, even if eventually some of them that have monetary value will be replaced with insurance money. Much of what they had that has no monetary value but has huge personal value which will never be replaced and cannot be replaced, but we has caring humans can (and thank you so much to those who are of the same mind) try to do what we can to make their lives more comfortable, above and beyond what the insurance will pay for at this time.

There are transportation costs, food costs, and clothing and other expenses that will need to be paid for that will be unexpected. There may be loss of immediate income. I have no idea and I’ll learn more over the coming days.

And yes, it is not just my sons, but my ex-wife, and although she is my ex-wife, she is still family to me and my family. Our families go back.. way back.. to Northern Ireland, before she and I were even born, and I still love her family members including her mom and aunt.

I am very sorry to those who have responded with a sense of “well, the insurance should cover this and that…” yes, that is reassuring – in the meantime, please note: EVERYTHING has been destroyed. They need cash for shampoo, deodorant and other personal needs, food, comfort, and the fact that they know genuine people, and not just some insurance corporations, care. For me, it is wonderful to see the outpouring of support towards my sons and their family.

It must be one of the most devastating things in the world to see your every belonging be destroyed. That the insurance company will eventually cover much of it is not much of a great thing, when your photo albums have been destroyed, you are not sure where you are going to be living in two or three days.

Thank you so much to those who are helping in spite of the fact that yes, eventually they will be doing ok. Right now, the very fact they have to deal with insurance companies and everything else is a loss of immediate income as well as the loss of everything else that has been suffered.

Personally, I don’t care if Angela and Steve end up with thousands and thousands more and above what any insurance company pays out. Steve built the house with his own hands, right down to milling the timber (and probably cutting the trees) that made the house. No insurance company can ever pay for that kind of personal loss. My son Alex told me that the look on Steve’s face as he watched the house he built, burn down will be forever etched in his mind. The grief, the utter disappointment, in watching what you proudly built, destroyed. Nothing can pay for that, as we as humans and people that love, can help at least in the interim, to make their lives more comfortable. They are homeless right now, and even if an insurance company helps to cover some or most or even all of those costs, they are still without home, RIGHT NOW. I am saddened that some don’t get that, and I do appreciate so very much those that do want to reach out and give what they can to help with the utter desperation and obvious terrible circumstances they are in. Why not help them be more comfortable at this time?

Everything has been destroyed. They need underwear, socks, stuff that no one should donate. There are costs to grieving that no insurance company can pay. We can’t even pay for that except to help them be more comfortable. No government agency can help pay for that; only individuals who care can help with that. Angela fled the house in her pyjamas. Things we take for granted like drivers licenses, (on top of everything else) was destroyed. Her eye glasses need to be replaced, and probably will be at some point – maybe paid for by insurance money – in the meantime, what? If she is stopped by the police while driving and can’t produce her drivers licence because her purse as well as everything else was destroyed, then what? And that is just a very small tiny fraction of the things they need to think about and deal with right now.

I also know that Angela, Steve and my sons will eventually give back as well, after they have rebuilt and got their lives back to some sense of normalcy. I know that for a fact. I know their character in that regard. It is the way they were brought up. It is the way we would all like to be brought up and what I value, I know they value.

I know they need help, and if in the end, they receive so much of it, I know they will give it back when they can. In the meantime, I want to make sure they have the help, that they can get deodorant, underwear, socks, access to healthy food, try to get back to some sense of normalcy as fast as possible, some level of comfort as fast as possible.

And if they end up with some additional comfort above and beyond basic necessities, then all the better for them, having had to have gone through such a terrible, traumatic and horrific experience. And if your cynical.. fine.. hope it never happens to you, is all I can say. A million dollars can’t pay for the trauma, but a few extra bucks and realizing that the human spirit is caring, and people do want to help, and they will do what they can to help, is priceless, above and beyond insurance or Red Cross assistance.
And that is what I am thankful for. Thank you to those who have reached out and have offered or pledged help.

Angela is no longer my wife, we’ve had our disagreements over the years, but there is absolutely no way in hell or heaven that I would ever take any joy in what has happened to her and the sons we had together, or even if it was just her and her partner. If you’re cynical, and think that the insurance company is good enough, or the Red Cross.. then please don’t even bother responding. Just keep your thoughts to yourself. Thank you.

And thank you to everyone else who is shocked, who has a sense of human decency, of wanting to help, of something deep within themselves to share pain, and want to help take away pain. We’re not waiting for the government, or the Red Cross, or the bureaucracy of insurance companies. Help is needed now. And how dare the government statist cynics place a value on loss that is just monetary, and respond with nonsense.

Thank you.

Google – The Stupidity of Even Thinking Of Backlink Penalties…

… for links that are so called “dodgy” or from “bad neighbourhoods.”

I have seen so many web masters now worrying about their backlink profile, and for good reason. Google has not been very clear about how a bunch of backlinks that they don’t trust, could affect your own site’s search engine rankings. In the past, Google has indicated that backlinks would not hurt you. The belief was that Google would simply discount links its bots would find while indexing the internet, that their algorithms placed little or no value on.

I think Google and its web spam team are a bit messed up if they think that they can penalize websites that have dodgy links linking back to it, as if the website owner or someone they may have hired, are the ones responsible. Let me explain why:

Years ago, I was pretty anal about going through my website statistics. It wasn’t just the top referrers I was interested in, but it often amused me to check out the large numbers of referrers I’d get that would only refer perhaps one visitor in the entire month. My curiosity was due to the fact I was always interested in any new links my site might have received. It was kind of neat, to me, to see that some site in my niche, with a Russian domain extension, and that had content similar to my niche, had discovered my site and thought it worthwhile to link to.

However, I also discovered that there were some pretty bizarre websites linking to me that had at least one click through to my site as well. At first, I could not understand why a website located in an Asian country that seemed to be all about popular Asian singers, would be linking to my fly fishing site.

There were also times when I would go to a web page that had supposedly referred some visitor to mine with a link, and there was no link there at all, although there would be links to dozens of other sites. Odd that a website would place a link to my page, someone clicked it, and then the link is removed.

But this does not always happen where the link is removed. So what could be the point of this? Most of these sites that seemed totally irrelevant to mine also appeared pretty junky with low or zero PageRank, while my site had a PR of 2 or 3 at the time (4 today).

Well, it struck me one day while I was doing a search for something, and Google returned some site’s Awstats in their results: Perhaps there are some website owners or some so called SEO people who set up systems to create links from their sites to better quality sites, then automate clicks on the links, thus generating a referral in the other sites’ statistical and website analytical packages. Knowing that many websites have their website statistics packages configured so that Google can easily discover and index them, this could provide hundreds and thousands of backlinks to their site from higher quality sites.

That was the only reason I could think of; otherwise what was the point of some ugly website about the hottest Indian Singer, or some corny adult porn site doing with a page of links that included one to a fly fishing site? I would see sometimes hundreds of these types of referrers in my analytics programs (back then, I was using a website analytics package called “http-analyze,” developed by the German company, Netstore.de. I don’t think they continue to do any development on website statistics), however, there are many many websites configured with Awstats and similar packages that are not password protected and that Google has indexed.

I have never hired outside SEO help for that website, so I absolutely know without any doubt, that any link to that site was not anything I did or ever asked for, from these “bad neighbourhood” or irrelevant websites.

And now I’m supposed to worry or be concerned about this? I’m supposed to be concerned that some other website has linked to me, clicked on the link, with possibly the sole purpose of Google indexing my Awstats installation, and finding a link back to their website? And hundreds of them doing this to my site?

That’s insane. I was speaking with a website owner of a very high quality site, aimed at a very professional niche, who advised me that they had recently received a “Unnatural Link Warning” letter in their Google Webmaster Tools. They said, “Ian, I did some checking and found a bunch of really gross pornsites linking to us, and I have no idea why. Even the pages that they have the links don’t make sense.”

This particular website that they own has a PR of 5. Is it possible, that a network of low quality adult sites, could be creating the links themselves to this site and other sites, just for the purposes of getting a link back to theirs from any analytics packages that Google might be able to crawl? It very well could be the case. And if Google is seeing this, and somehow it’s causing a flag, then Google really needs to rethink their whole idea of penalties for websites.

I have a concern that Matt Cutts and the Google Web Spam Team have got such a hardened attitude toward what they call “Web Spam,” that they have gone way overboard, in their attempts to solve what they see as a problem, hoping to give themselves a pat on the back, but in the end, there is that old George Doubleya Bush attitude of brushing off collateral damage they have caused.

I do care if my websites have links that are linking out to dodgey websites. It does come up at times; I might have written an article, referring to something on another site and linking to it, but over time, that domain has since changed hands and now is nothing like what it was when I first wrote the article. I have to keep my eye on that kind of thing. But does Google now expect me to also keep an eye on who is linking to me??

That is just insane. Just as the idea of a “disavow link” button in GWMT’s is insane – I don’t have time for that, do you? Who has time to go and look at every link, and manually “disavow” it? That’s just ridiculous, and many website owners are not even savvy enough to know what they might or should do.

What do you think?