M.Biz and the Penguin Penalty

by Dave Curtis on 09/02/2014 · 4 comments

in Algorithmic Penalty, Google Algorithm Updates, Penguin

What To Do if You Suspect Google Has Flipped Your Site The Bird

Google’s Penguin Update to their algorithm seeks out links from spam link sites pointing to  any other website. If there are too many of them then the Penguin algorithm eventually demotes the site those links are pointing to. Most SEOs report that in their professional opinions m.biz links do not trigger the Penguin penalty. I do feel they trigger a penalty (based upon my own experience so far) at least for now. A client with a small but fairly thriving business very recently began being linked to by the m.biz directory and within a month had over eleven hundred links pointing to the site from this Chinese directory. What made it worse was that the links were all follow links, and as I’m only working on that site once or twice a year (on call) I was unaware of anything going on there until my client called in panic that the site had almost overnight stopped doing business. I did some searches in Google and sure enough, pages which were on page one and two were now demoted to page 300 or lower. Logging into Google analytics showed the drop-off but Google Webmaster Tools made the picture dramatically clear: algorythmic-penguin-automatic-penalty-applied   From August 18th to August 25th (when I put in a disavow links request to Google) the site had received virtually no traffic from links showing up the Google’s SERPs. The speed with which the disavow resulted in a turn around surprised me as I expected the site to remain where it was for at least another week, and this was particularly surprising to since what I’d read on blogs and heard in a video by Matt Cutts, algorithmic demotions required longer to correct than manual penalties. Whatever the reason, the site (which had about eight or nine hundred backlinks reported by Google to start) was suddenly inundated with almost double that amount of follow links from m.biz and hundreds of automatically generated m.biz subdomains and main site categories within a month. links-to-your-site   Though there may be some other explanation for the sudden drop, I feel fairly certain that as no new product pages had been added in a while and there was no keyword stuffing or over-optimization going on (and nothing else on the site was changed from the period of the drop to its sudden increase again in traffic) I’m looking at this as a reasonably pure sample of what effect m.biz links actually have on a site if not disavowed. While many sites may have several thousand back links pointing to them already (and may only sell a small number of items so the m.biz directory creating a dozen low quality follow links to each product may only result in a hundred or so links), this site had relatively few backlinks and sells over 120 products.  So while sites with thousands of varied quality backlinks to them might not be strongly penalized automatically by Penguin, I suggest that it might be wise to take heed once your sites are linked to by them and not wait to put in a disavow just to be on the safe side. I am continuing my investigation into what other than m.biz may have caused this issue, but so far am not finding anything suspicious as of time of this writing.

Matt Cutts, Google’s Chief Web Spam Engineer has this to say about actions taken against sites for what it deems as suspicious links:

A final word here to add is that content trumps backlinks when it comes to Google search engine return page position results – “Content is King”, and “Backlinks are Queen” . …but not forever. On May 5, 2014 Matt Cutts, Google Chief Web Spam Engineer said this about backlinks and page content:

“Inevitably what we’re trying to do [as a search engine] is figure out how an expert user would say, this particular page matched their information needs. Sometimes backlinks matter for that; it’s helpful to find out what the reputation of a site or a page is. But for the most part, people care about the quality of the content on that particular page, the one that they landed on.”

So if your budget won’t permit keeping an SEO on retainer and you’re calling on an SEO only intermittently to add another patch or band-aid to your site to keep fixing sudden nosedive declines, then you’re courting an inevitable disaster. Remember – Content is King, and if you can’t write your own, if you don’t have the staff to do it for you, then read my backlinks article and I’ll tell you where you can find some excellent, inexpensive copywriting services to do your writing for you.

1 chris November 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

I’m working for a client who has the exact same problem, recent penguin penalty and 100 recent links from m.biz. Will disavow and update here – hopefully we get the same result.

2 L Grantham December 24, 2014 at 5:19 am

Thank you for sharing your experience with m.biz and the correlation you observed between when the backlinks from m.biz showed and Queries/Impressions/Clicks dramatically fell off in Webmaster Tools Search Query Report.

I have worked with a client with this same situation. However, there hasn’t been a snap back like you experienced after using the disavow to remove those links.

Did you catch it just before the most recent Algorithm Update?

Thank you.

L Grantham

Switzerland, FL

3 Sonya Lynn April 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Any advice on how to get m.biz to stop linking a website?

Every m.biz link that is showing in our google account is actually forwarding to the same Chinese website with different variations of domain names. Very strange!

4 Dave Curtis April 28, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Hi Sonya,

I don’t think that there’s anything you can do once they’ve got your site indexed. However for future sites (and possibly the one already linked to) by editing the .htaccess and blocking all of China’s known IPs or by using a plugin like IQ Block Country to block China from crawling any of your new sites’ pages. It’s possible that this could also eventually lead m.biz to drop your existing sites from being crawled over time if their servers are registering your site as unreachable.

One word of warning about a plugin like IQ Block Country though, it can lock you out of your own site and then it’s tricky getting back in – even disabling the plugin doesn’t work. So I would advise editing the .htaccess file instead if possible.

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