Why is Google ignoring big sites using link schemes to manipulate rank?

Google came down REALLY hard on Demand Media 2 years ago after they discovered the site was using some really unethical tactics to improve their ranking with Google. They were what Google refers to as a “content farm”.

The company would base their content on exactly what search terms people were entering and then use key-word stuffing in order to rank high for certain terms. Google felt their content was cheap and that the company was intentionally trying to rig the game.

Greg Sterling from SEL told the LA Times, “When you generate articles based on keywords, you open yourself to the criticism that your content lacks sincerity,” he said. “Google felt that these content farms diluted the quality of its search results. So they tried to address that.”

Once valued at more than $1.9 billion–more than the New York Times, the company’s market cap is now less than $500 million after Google put the smack down in an effort to protect the integrity of their search results.

Many people celebrated the move and thought this was the end of big sites using SEO cheating schemes.

But now 2 years plus later some really big sites appear to be participating in the same sort of manipulation and Google has done nothing.

In their Guidelines Google defines ‘unnatural links’ as:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

So the following sites exhibit a consistent pattern of giving one another unearned and erroneous links and appear to be engaged in a linking scheme to manipulate their Page Ranks and freeze out any competitors.

The Examiner, AOL which owns WetPaint, The Inquisitr (no one really knows who owns the Inquisitr but they boasted 1 million monthly uniques in 2011 and have a pagerank of 6 and list The Huffington Post as a “partner” and they are based in Israel), Classicalite and some smaller content farms rising in the ranks like RealiTea, Enstarz, and Starcasm, etc. pump out enormous amounts of volume on a daily basis, but several people have noticed a pattern that strongly suggests these sites are violating Googles Guidelines.

The Inquisitr:

The Inquisitr is rated a 6 and is 6 years old.

It was founded by a former TechCrunch writer and sold in 2011. At that time it boasted revenues of 15k a month and 1 million unique views per month. Its located in Beit Shemesh, Israel but it’s not clear who exactly owns them. But their URL is registered by ENom which is DemandMedia. The Editor and Chief is likely the owner. His name is Daniel Treisman and he is a very liberal reporter.

The Inquisitr has been accused of Plagiarism by big sites like NPR.

iMediaEthics, claimes that In September of 2013 The Inquisitr joined the Daily Mail in publishing a retraction to admit that it published quotes from a fake interview with former James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore.

“The phony interview quoted Moore as boasting about his sex life and and appearance.  One such comment The People said Moore made was “I’ve have more women than James Bond.”  The error spread further because the Daily Mail re-published the fake quotes from The People. But, making matters worse, not only did The Daily Mail publish fake quotes, it didn’t give any credit to The People, therefore stealing the phony Moore comments. From there, many international news outlets picked up the quotes and credited the Daily Mail.”

The Inquisitr eventually retracted the story but the damage was done to Moore.

They also erroneously receive link credit and give link credits to the same sites.

There are numerous people online asking the question “Is the Inquisitr real news“, because it shows up in the SERPS as actual news but the sourcing and content is so poor people are wondering if it’s legit or not.

The Examiner:

The Examiner is rated an outstanding 8 and is owned by Clarity Media Group of The Anschutz Corporation owned by Philip Anschutz.

An 8 is a REALLY high Page Rank particularly for a source known for plagiarism and really shoddy content.

“Matt Smith of the San Francisco Weekly noted in 2007 that numerous articles and photos by Sharon Gray were from other sources, including the Sacramento Bee, and constituted apparent plagiarism. Smith suggested that the case showed that “free isn’t always a bargain.” When questioned, Jim Pimentel, executive editor of Examiner said,

“They’re blogs. They don’t get edited. We don’t give any direction to people on what to write in their blogs. And that’s standard operating procedure.”

“Pimentel said the Examiner has “a less-strict standard for accuracy and attribution in stories that appear on the Web” than for publications in print”

Ok so there you have it. Exec editor admitting they do not edit or give direction to writers so the content could be pure gibberish. Google claims that quality control is critical to rank well with Google. Perhaps this explains why The Examiner is giving so many gratuitous and unearned links to their pals.


WetPaint is 12 years old and rated an impressive 6. They also are giving out erroneous links to the same sites again and again.
Wetpaint has a very long history of plagiarism allegations for stealing images and content.
WetPaint is AOL which helps explain why it always tops the SERPS despite the very low quality content since Google owns 1 billion dollars worth of AOL. WP is FAMOUS for the Bait and Switch click-bait. Where they use popular keywords in a title and act like they are providing you a nugget of intel on that subject while the article provides absolutely no intrinsic value to the reader. The reader feels tricked.


Classicalite is 2 years old and has an impressive Page Rank of 3. They also are giving out erroneous links to the same sites again and again.

Classicalite is allegedly all about “News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More”. They started covering D list celebrity gossip last year despite the fact that they have consistently promoted themselves as a site about music.

Emily Wittmann is the CEO of Classicalite as well as MusicTimes and Mstarz. In fact the three companies have several of the same employees and they all cover the same stuff—celebrity gossip. Emily comes from AOl which Google owns.


Celebdirtylaundry.com is 7 years, 10 months. It has a very impressive Pagerank of 5/10. It is an approved Google News site. And it advertises that it is looking for sites to participate in link exchanges with them. I have seen countless examples where CDL is giving or being given erroneous link credit for a story. Google claims to frown upon “link exchanges”, yet a site that is blatantly advertising this scheme is not penalized at all.celebs_dirty_laundry_link_exchanges


1: Here is a good example. Classicalite links to The Inquisitr but The Inquisitr links to Towleroad and RealMrHousewife and they link to the actual source which is just the Bravo interview on WWHL. Shane Jordan at Classicalite gives out theses gratuitous links constantly.

I am just going to spell the links out for you so you can see the full name of the stories….



So “MrRealHousewife” reiterated EXACTLY what Andy Cohen said on the show. In other words The Inquisitr knows this but is pretending MRHW is the original source so they can give him a link. And if by some small chance it’s a simple mistake then its horrible reporting. So either way this is unacceptable. They also give Towlroad a link for the EXACT same information. So they are not merely erroneously sourcing 1 site, they are erroneously sourcing 2.

Ok, here is who Towlroad sources…just Bravo…same video they all extracted this info from.
href=”http://example.com/article” rel=”nofollow”>Article Example



2: Classicalite links to WetPaint, WetPaint links to FabFitFun.

http://www.classicalite.com/articles/7790/20140427/reunion-vanderpump-rules-cast-recap-season-3-jax-taylor-stassi-schroeder.htm bad ass bike

But Jax and his new bad-ass bicycle still apparently aren’t enough to lure back his long lost love, ex-girlfriend Stassi Schroder, away from her Big Apple boyfriend (via Wet Paint):

http://www.wetpaint.com/stassi-schroeder/articles/2014-04-21-moving-nyc-boyfriend-changed-life rel=”nofollow”>

Stassi has quit her job at SUR and is living in the Big Apple with boyfriend Patrick Meagher, telling Fab Fit Fun that she loves NYC.



3: Fashion & Style links to The Examiner. The Examiner links to the Bravo website.


Fashion & Style erroneously sourcing The Examiner

Upon quitting SUR, Schroeder said in an interview with The Examiner, “I’m very thankful for my time at SUR….”


Stassi never “told The Examiner” anything. She simply wrote in her Bravo blog like she does every week.

circular links
The Examiner reveals the real source is Bravo

According to a new Bravo report published on Feb. 12, “Vanderpump Rules” star Stassi Schroeder is now revealing how she quit SUR and what she is up to now.


4. Kdramastars is linking to The Inquisitr and they are linking to the original source an interview with Gossip Girl. Everyone should be linking to the original source.


“You know, I would never want to say that someone’s jealous of me and sound conceited but I think that everything I’m getting in my life right now is what she’s looking for,” stated the “Vanderpump Rules” cast member, according to The Inquisitr. lindsay cronin

She continued, “So I think she’s maybe jealous of where my life’s going because she wants nothing more than to get married and have babies and have that happy life.”

“You know, I would never want to say that someone’s jealous of me and sound conceited but I think that everything I’m getting in my life right now is what she’s looking for,” Scheana revealed during a November 17 interview with Gossip Girl. “So I think she’s maybe jealous of where my life’s going because she wants nothing more than to get married and have babies and have that happy life.”
Read more at http://www.inquisitr.com/1618366/does-scheana-marie-think-her-vanderpump-rules-co-star-stassi-schroeder-is-jealous-of-her/#S5lqzjVKD3Dap65G.99
5. Lindsay Cronin of Celebeat is linking to WetPaint. WetPaint is just quoting the information from Twitter

“Earlier this week, Taylor went under the knife with Bravo cameras in tow for what is sure to be several dramatic moments for the show’s upcoming third season.”

This one is funny because its really absurd. Jax “tweeted” “via WetPaint”??? This shows you that these sites know exactly what they are doing.


“I can’t believe they are filming my surgery Monday gonna be kinda cool to watch it in the fall,” Jax tweeted over the weekend, via Wetpaint, letting fans know that the ordeal will be filmed.

“I can’t believe they are filming my surgery Monday gonna be kinda cool to watch it in the fall,” Jax tweeted Saturday. After the surgery, Jax had sweet tweets for his Vanderpump co-stars. “I couldn’t thank @twschwa enough for dealing with me all morning and miserableness you are a great friend to me I owe you when iam (sic) better!,” he tweeted, along with a gushing, “I wanna thank @LLPJMadrigal  @TomSandoval1 @scheanamarie  for meeting me home from hospital today great friends I have  #veryblessed.””


6: Classicalite links to the Examiner (Lindsay Cronin) Lindsay Cronin at The Examiner is just quoting a random person on Twitter calling them an “online source”.
Though Stassi told reporter countless times that she would only consider doing a reality show if it came to her, it appears the fame addicted reality troll just couldn’t say no to the Bravo limelight (via Examiner):




6. Classicalite is sourcing The Examiner. Mary Jane at The Examiner sources Radar Online.

At least his old buddy/ busboy James Kennedy says Tom won’t talk to him, just because he is having sex with his ex-girlfriend (via Examiner):

“Yeah, my relationship with Tom is over… Kristen and I have been friends for a while… But I guess one thing led to another after a couple bottles of wine.


However, during the reunion, it was revealed that Kristen had slept with a busser at SUR named James Kennedy. The two have been dating since then, but Tom isn’t too supportive of the relationship. According to a new Radar Online report published on Feb. 21, “Vanderpump Rules” star Tom Sandoval isn’t talking to James or Kristen after learning that they hooked up.

“Yeah, my relationship with Tom is over,” Kennedy has revealed about his friendship with Tom, as they had been friends prior to the hook-up. “Kristen and I have been friends for a while… But I guess one thing led to another after a couple bottles of wine,” he chuckled. “Tom shouldn’t be so mad about it, but their relationship was a bit of a mess to be honest… I never really meant to hurt him, but he has cut off total communication with Kristen and I.”

7. See here is another one by Lindsay Cronin where she is citing RealiTea as the source and in fact the real source is Reddit. RealiTea is sourcing Reddit.


Please note that this is just a handful of examples out there from the named sites. I have seen this same thing countless times. It’s not a mere coincidence.

If this were just 1 or 2 cases you may be able to say it’s a mistake, but it’s very consistent. The same sites create these erroneous link chains. The big clue is when the source is “via______”. They know they cannot legitimately say “so and so said in an interview with The Examiner”.  So they say “via The Examiner” which is their way of ‘not really lying’. But it is lying. They are lying to and deceiving their readers and sending them to all of these sites who deliver the exact same information over and over again in order to increase the groups ranking and thus profits and depriving the actual sources of their earned link juice.

And before you say “oh well these are just small sites and its not having a large overall impact”, think again. These are huge sites and they are growing exponentially. Remember how Demand Media grew to a multi-BILLION dollar company using these sort of shady tactics and these sites are well on their way to outranking the big sites they are stealing from like RadarOnline and Bravo (in fact in some cases they already do).

Link networks for the purposes of manipulating Page Rank are a clear violation of Google’s guidelines and Google should come down hard on these sites and force them to start from scratch. Additionally they are cheating the actual sources out of their proper credit and pushing those more valid sites further down in the SERPS. This behavior hurts all of us and it’s high time Google take some action.


One thought on “Why is Google ignoring big sites using link schemes to manipulate rank?

  1. I do not understand much about SEO, but I have been looking at Google spam from the viewpoint of what ends up being thumbnailed and featured prominently on news.google.com. Using that filter, and looking primarily at the science, health and tech categories, I have been maintaining a list on my non-commercial blog here: http://igibud.com/wordpress/?p=704. If Google product forums are any indication, there are a lot of users who complain about this, and a few vocal publishers who repeatedly defend Google tooth and nail, ignoring or pretending to ignore reality.

    Liked by 2 people

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