Aaron Wall wrote up a great post about Google and shopping comparison websites. In his post, he also mentions the current drop in traffic/ rankings of BizRate.com.
“I am uncertain if the drop in Google was algorithmic or editorial, but BizRate’s Alexa ranking is off sharply over the past couple weeks, and if you look at top keywords they ranked for on Google (via Compete.com, SEO Digger, or SpyFu), their site is no longer ranking for many of them.”
While I believe that this drop was caused by a mix of both algorithmic and editorial influence, most of BizRate’s top rankings seem to be coming back already. At least, the stuff that I have been tracking and from where I can see it…
BizRate happens to be one of those sites that I have been tracking for a while now, mainly because of their aggressive link buying tactics. They used to have tens of thousands of anchor text optimized links pointing to almost every page on their website. The majority of these links was paid for; footer links, sidebar links and numerous ad box links. You name it, they had it. As you can see, BizRate was (and still is) a great example to keep an eye on.
Aaron’s post inspired me to dive into BizRate’s backlinks once again. I have been doing this in more than one occasion, but this time it was different than before. Lots of the news websites, that were selling direct links to make up for the ongoing drop in news paper subscriptions, have been removing, altering or nofollowing their sponsored links. What used to be a block with irrelevant text links, turned into a Google AdSense Ad. Complete footers went pink because of all the nofollows and direct links suddenly turned into redirects. Even several of the famous BizRate link blocks got slapped with rel=”nofollow”.
Google’s October FUD Campaign seems to be working out exactly as planned. More and more ad publishers are complying with Google’s rules and advertisers are backing out of renting links because of their fear for a penalty. Only a few will go underground and some will remain to use the same strategy. However, this will be resulting in fewer direct, paid, anchor text rich links, what will lead to multiple shifts in highly competitive SERPs.
And this is, in my opinion, one of the things that happened with BizRate. Publishers got scared and nofollowed or removed the sponsored links, what resulted in a huge drop in anchor text rich links. This, combined with a little touch of human influence, lead to these changes and a near zero visibility in Google for at least a few days.
BizRate will probably alter their link tactics and choose for something safer, which means that Google got what it wanted.