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Google’s John Mueller answered a question about getting links too fast and if that would trigger a penalty. The rate at which links are acquired is known in the SEO community as link velocity. John Mueller’s answer provided insight into the topic of getting links too fast and whether that results in penalties.

Background of Link Velocity

Some of the people who promote the idea of link velocity don’t cite patents or research papers to support their ideas. That automatically makes their claims speculative and not factual.

It’s important to point out that the idea of link velocity was created by the SEO community.

The idea is based on the discovery of a patent. The patent, among many things, mentions measuring the growth of links in the context of time. The patent is named, Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data.

This patent is about a lot of things. For example, it discusses understanding whether an older web page is outdated and if a newer page is more relevant.

Link velocity is the idea that a high rate of link growth is a bad thing. The patent describes how a new site with a high rate of link growth can be judged to be more relevant than an older site.

The patent contains information that contradicts the idea of link velocity.

This is what it says:

“Consider the example of a document with an inception date of yesterday that is referenced by 10 back links.

This document may be scored higher by search engine 125 than a document with an inception date of 10 years ago that is referenced by 100 back links because the rate of link growth for the former is relatively higher than the latter.”

See how that contradicts the idea of link velocity?

That passage highlights the propensity of some SEOs to pick which part of a patent they will believe because it fits their experience and which part they choose to ignore because it does not fit their narrative of how search engines work.

The patent has more to say about links:

“While a spiky rate of growth in the number of back links may be a factor used by search engine 125 to score documents, it may also signal an attempt to spam search engine 125. Accordingly, in this situation, search engine 125 may actually lower the score of a document(s) to reduce the effect of spamming.”

There it is. That’s where the idea of link velocity originated. Except it isn’t actually proof that link velocity exists.

The patent doesn’t explicitly say that the rate of growth is the reason why the search engine might lower the rate of growth.

It says that a “spiky rate of growth” in backlinks could cause the search engine to lower the score.

That’s not just semantics. The patent uses the word “spiky” one more time in the context of web graphs. Web graphs mean a map of the Internet as connected by links.

This is what the patent says:

“Naturally developed web graphs typically involve independent decisions.

Synthetically generated web graphs, which are usually indicative of an intent to spam, are based on coordinated decisions, causing the profile of growth in anchor words/bigrams/phrases to likely be relatively spiky.”

What that patent is really talking about is the smooth natural rate of growth versus a spiky and unnatural rate of growth.

A spiky rate of growth can manifest over the course of months. That’s a big difference from the link velocity idea that proposes that a large amount of links acquired in a short period will result in a penalty.

A site that attains sudden popularity and a lot of links fast could be indicative of increased topicality. In that case Google would actually promote that page higher. That’s part of the Query Deserves Freshness update.

A Google update from 2011, Query Deserves Freshness, promotes new content that is topical which can be signaled by an increase in recent links.

So to wrap up:

The patent does not mention link velocity. The word velocity isn’t mentioned.

The patent describes a “spiky” rate of growth as a spam signal.

It discusses rewarding sites that obtain links quickly.

The patent is from 2003.

Yes, that’s an old patent. So, apart from the fact that the patent discusses rewarding quickly obtained links and talks about spiky rates of growth and not link velocity, it’s an old patent.

That makes it less likely to still be a significant part of today’s algorithms. Even PageRank was replaced in 2006.

So all of that is the background on link velocity.

This is What Mueller Says About Link Velocity Will Link Velocity Cause a Penalty?

This is the question:

“If I build 200 backlinks in two days and didn’t perform any link building for years will Google still see this as black hat and penalize me?

What about link velocity?”

John Mueller answered:

“From my point of view if you’re jumping in with a question like this and you’re saying I’m going to get 200 backlinks in two days… then that sounds a lot like you’re not getting natural backlinks.

That sounds a lot like you’re going off and just buying them or having someone buy them for you. And that itself would be kind of the thing that we would not be happy with.”

Whether a Link is Natural is What Counts

Mueller is setting aside the link velocity question and focusing on how natural the links are.

He specifically says that the quality of the links being purchased is what will cause Google to take action, not the speed of the link acquisition.

Google’s John Mueller Addresses Link Velocity

Mueller then circles back and addresses the so-called “link velocity.”

This is what John Mueller says about link velocity:

“So it’s not so much a matter of how many links you get in which time period. It’s really just… if these are links that are unnatural or from our point of view problematic then they would be problematic.

It’s like it doesn’t really matter how many or in which time.“

That is a clear statement that the quality of the links, whether they are natural or unnatural is what counts.

Mueller states that the rate of link acquisition and the time period those links are acquired in are not a factor.

Some in the industry will continue to hold on to the idea of link velocity. Many will say that their experience proves it exists.

But what one sees is one thing. What caused what is seen is something else. Two different things.

I have provided the background showing where the idea of link velocity came from and why it’s never been an accurate SEO theory. John Mueller’s response seems to confirm that the concept of link velocity is not a factor. More importantly, Mueller confirms that it’s factors specific to the link themselves that matter.

Watch and listen to John Mueller answer the question here:

You're reading Google’s John Mueller On Link Velocity And Penalties

Google’s John Mueller Speaks On Seo For Dark Mode Websites

Google’s John Mueller recently discussed whether or not there are specific SEO considerations for websites with dark mode settings.

This topic came up during the Google Webmaster Central hangout on October 18. With dark mode settings for websites growing in popularity, it was only a matter of time before Mueller was asked about this.

Here is the question that was submitted:

“We want to implement a dark mode for our website. Do we have to consider anything in relation to SEO?”

Mueller begins his response by saying he’s personally a fan of the dark mode trend. He thinks it’s cool and not something he expected users would have ever wanted from websites.

When it comes to SEO, there are no problems with using dark mode. There are also no special considerations. Dark mode is handled by CSS, and the way CSS is implemented on a website doesn’t affect how Google crawls content for indexing.

Dark Mode as a Ranking Factor?

Mueller made sure to clarify that dark mode is not a ranking factor. Though he lightheartedly entertained the idea that perhaps it could be one day.

If dark mode becomes widely implemented on websites, Mueller said it might make sense to serve dark mode sites to users if the phone they’re searching with is also set to dark mode.

To be clear, Mueller says he doubts that will actually happen, but it’s still interesting to think about.

Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below, starting at the 28:39 mark:

“I think this is totally cool. I really like the trend to ‘dark mode’ websites or ‘dark mode’ apps in general. It’s something that I wouldn’t have expected a few years back, that people would want to have kind of this dark mode/light mode setup.

With regards to SEO that’s absolutely not a problem. Usually people implement this using CSS, and the way you implement things in CSS doesn’t affect how we would pick things up for indexing. So go for it, I think that’s really awesome.

I don’t think dark mode would be a ranking factor. So, maybe, at some point in the future if dark mode is really, really popular then maybe we would need to highlight dark mode sites in search when people have their phone set up to dark mode. But I don’t know if that would actually happen, or if it will really go that far.”

Google’s John Mueller: Total Number Of Backlinks Doesn’t Matter

Google’s John Mueller says the total number of backlinks a website has doesn’t matter at all to the search algorithm.

One good link from a relevant website can be more impactful than millions of low quality links.

This is stated by Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO hangout recorded on February 19.

A site owner submits the following question to Mueller: “What matters most? The number of unique referring backlink domains or the total number of backlinks?”

At times known for his vague answers, Mueller couldn’t be more clear in explaining how little either of those factors matter to Google.

Read his full response in the section below.

Google’s John Mueller on Backlinks

Google doesn’t assess links that way, he explains:

“I don’t think we differentiate like that in our systems. From my point of view, I would tend not to focus on the total number of links to your site, or the total number of domain links to your website, because we look at links in a very different way.”

What matters to Google when it comes to links is how relevant each one is to the website it’s pointing toward.

That’s how Google determines how much to weigh individual links. The total number “doesn’t matter at all.”

In theory a site could build millions of links across millions of domains, and Google could end up ignoring them.

“We try to understand what is relevant for a website, how much should we weigh these individual links, and the total number of links doesn’t matter at all. Because you could go off and create millions of links across millions of websites if you wanted to, and we could just ignore them all.”

Mueller says a single link from a relevant source can send a stronger signal to Google about how it should treat that page.

He gives a hypothetical example of a page getting linked to from a major news site. Google would see it as an important page even if that’s one of the only links it has.

“Or there could be one really good link from one website out there that is, for us, a really important sign that we should treat this website as something that is relevant because it has that one link. I don’t know, maybe from like a big news site’s home page, for example. So the total number essentially is completely irrelevant.”

Quality over quantity is what matters to Google.

Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:

For more coverage of this hangout please refer to the articles below:

How To Use Google’s Magic Eraser On Android And Iphone

When it comes to editing photos, there are a lot of great tools out there, such as Snapseed for basic edits on your phone or more robust options like Lightroom or Photoshop. However, some pretty awesome tools are also available in the built-in Photos apps on your iPhone or Android phone.

You might want to use a more robust photo editor to remove background objects that ruin an otherwise-perfect picture. Removing background objects in photos can serve various purposes, such as enhancing aesthetic appeal, drawing attention to the primary subject, addressing privacy concerns, and maintaining professionalism in product photography. Thanks to Google’s Magic Eraser, you no longer need to worry about using different photo editors.

Google has continued implementing new and useful tools and features into the Google Photos app on Android and iOS. One example is the Magic Eraser tool, and for the first time since it was introduced, you can use Magic Eraser on practically any smartphone.

What is Magic Eraser?

Magic Eraser is an AI-powered editing tool that allows you to remove unwanted objects from your photos. It was first released in 2023 as an exclusive feature for Pixel phones, but it is now available to all Android users through the Google Photos app.

This is one of the most helpful photo-editing tools we’ve ever used, making it easy to get rid of people or objects in the background you don’t want to see. It has also sparked a bit of a revolution in other photo editors, as we’re seeing more and more implementations of similar features, all powered by AI.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Magic Eraser isn’t what it’s capable of. But instead, Google opened up Magic Eraser for everyone, integrating it into Google Photos. The only “catch” is that if you want to use Magic Eraser on a non-Pixel Android device or an iPhone, you’ll need to be subscribed to Google One.

How to Use Google’s Magic Eraser on Android

Open the Google Photos app on your Pixel or Android device.

Select the photo that you want to edit.

Tap the Edit button in the bottom toolbar.

Swipe to the left and select Tools.

Tap the Magic Eraser button.

Tap the Erase All button to remove any of the suggestions.

If not, use your finger and circle or highlight the item(s) that you want to have removed.

Repeat for anything else that you want to remove.

Once you’re finished, tap the Done button in the bottom right corner.

How to Use Google’s Magic Eraser on iPhone

As a reminder, if you want to be able to use Google’s Magic Eraser on iPhone, you’ll first need to be subscribed to Google One. Google One is a subscription-based service that offers expanded cloud storage, additional benefits, and premium support across various Google products. By subscribing to Google One, users can get extra storage space for Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos, which can be shared with family members.

The service also provides access to Google experts for technical support and exclusive features and benefits, such as discounts on Google Store purchases, Google Play credits, and more. The subscription plans come in different tiers, offering varying storage capacities and pricing options to suit individual needs. Pricing starts at $1.99 per month for 100GB of additional storage and goes up to a whopping 30TB of storage for $150 per month.

Provided that you’ve already signed up for Google One, here’s how you can use Google’s Magic Eraser on iPhone:

Open the Google Photos app on your iPhone.

Select the photo that you want to edit.

Tap the Edit button in the bottom toolbar.

Swipe to the left and select Tools.

Wait for the image to be processed.

Tap the Erase All button to remove any of the suggestions.

If not, use your finger and circle or highlight the item(s) that you want to have removed.

Repeat for anything else that you want to remove.

Once you’re finished, tap the Done button in the bottom right corner.

Tips on How To Use Google’s Magic Eraser

Magic Eraser is a powerful tool that can remove various objects from photos, including people, power lines, and even graffiti. It is a great way to improve the look of your photos and remove any unwanted distractions.

Here are some tips for using Google’s Magic Eraser:

Make sure that the photo you want to edit is in focus. Magic Eraser works best on photos that are in focus.

Use a light touch when drawing the box around the object you want to remove. If you draw the box too large, Magic Eraser may remove more than you want.

You can adjust the size of the box after you have drawn it. If you accidentally remove too much, you can undo the changes by tapping the Undo button.

Magic Eraser may not be able to remove all objects from photos. If Magic Eraser cannot remove an object, you can try adjusting the box size or using a different editing tool.

Google’s Magic Eraser is a powerful tool that can be used to improve the look of your photos. It is a great way to remove unwanted objects from photos and create stunning images.

Google’s Martin Splitt On Indexing Pages With Infinite Scroll

In a recent Javascript SEO Office Hours Hangout, Google’s Martin Splitt answered a question about infinite scrolling and preventing indexing of scrolled content as if it were part of the main content.

Infinite Scrolling

Infinite scrolling is a way to keep feeding similar content to users. A JavaScript will sense when a user nears the end of the web page and load additional content for the site visitor to read.

The problem though is when Google sees the additional content and mistakes it as being a part of the main content. That would be a catastrophic outcome because it would likely lead to lower rankings.

Here is what Vahan (Search Engine Journals lead developer) asked:

“…We have implemented infinite scroll on mobile. In the past we had it on the desktop. My concern is would Google index the infinite scroll articles as part of the main article which is first?

The Ajax URL for each of the page queries has a no-index applied. Is there any guarantee that the appended content will not be indexed as a part of the main web page?”

Martin Splitt answered:

“The answer is it depends on how it is implemented and how we see it in the rendered HTML.

I would highly recommend checking out the testing tools to see the rendered HTML because it depends a lot on how you build your infinite scroll and how we can discover additional content.

But if it’s like for instance using some sort of link that tells us to go to another URL and then that URL is no-indexed then we would not see that content.”

Martin apparently declined to say definitively whether Google is seeing the additional content or not. His suggestion that this is something that should be checked using Google’s tools is the best way to confirm how Google is rendering a web page.

Martin Splitt didn’t mention it, but Google’s Mobile Friendly Test will display the HTML of the rendered web page. So if Google is indexing the additional content then it may be shown in in the HTML section of the rendered web page results.

Martin didn’t mention it but I’m pretty sure the tool is an accurate representation of the rendered page.

Vahan then added:

But the AJAX URL which sends the content of the next article has a noindex header tag ( x-robots-tag: noindex ) applied. So that makes me somehow confident that appended content will not be indexed.

But I would like to like how I can make sure that if next scroll the articles will not be indexed as a main part of the article.”

Martin again indicated that he can’t say for certain and that this is something that should be tested in Google’s tools.

Martin’s response:

“I don’t know. I’m not fully sure how we see the rendered HTML.

Use the testing tools, specifically the URL inspection tool can help you figure out how the rendered HTML looks like if rendered HTML somehow still contains the additional content because the viewport has changed or something like that then we would index it as part of the main page as in like the page that you’ve seen.

And then no-indexing that doesn’t really help that much. “

Martin then lists things that can go wrong with infinite scrolling:

“It can also be that you accidentally no-index the content that was previously on the page so that you might end up no-indexing too much.

I would always test these things and look at the rendered HTML. The rendered HTML tells you what we are seeing. You can use the URL inspection tool to see what we have crawled, so you see it in the crawled rendered HTML.

But you can also use the live test to see what we see if we would do it again.

So it depends really is the answer in that case.”

Watch the Google Office Hours Hangout:

More Resources

What To Do If You Clicked On A Phishing Link?

Key Takeaways

Phishing is a way to get you to disclose information or provide money.

Phishing is a large-scale attack of opportunity.

If you’ve been phished, stay calm, file a police report, talk to your bank (if applicable) and try to rid your computer of viruses (if applicable).

The best defense against phishing is knowing what it looks like and avoiding it if possible.

What is Phishing?

That’s pretty much it. Very simple, yet very devastating. It’s the top way that cyberattacks are started, nowadays. I’m going to get into what a phishing email looks like later, but there are a few common ways a cyberattack happens via phishing. The kind of attack is relevant for what to do next. 

Request for Information or Money

Some phishing emails will request information, like a username and password, or they’ll request money. We’ve all probably heard about the Nigerian Prince scam, where a Nigerian Prince emails you saying that you’ve inherited millions of dollars, but you need to send a few thousand in processing fees. There are no millions, but you may be out thousands if you fall for it. 

Malicious Attachment

This is one of my personal favorites and I’m going to introduce it with an anecdote. Someone working for a company, who’s never handled a bill for the company, gets an email saying: “Bill overdue! Pay immediately!” There’s a PDF attachment. That employee then opens the bill–despite never having done so before–and malware is deployed on their computer. 

Malicious Link

This is similar to the Malicious Attachment, but instead of an attachment, there’s a link. That link can do a few things:

It can redirect to a legitimate-looking, but illegitimate site (e.g.: a site that looks like a Microsoft log-in page which isn’t). 

It can download and execute a virus or other malicious payload on your computer. 

It can also go to a site that locks up user input and makes it seem like you’ve downloaded something malicious and asks for payment to unlock. 

What Do You Do If You’ve Been Phished?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Keep a level head, take a few deep breaths, and think about what I’ve told you here.

Keep your expectations reasonable. People will be sympathetic and want to help you, but at the same time, there are things you just can’t do. For example, it’s difficult to recover money after it’s been transferred. Not impossible, but difficult. Another example: you can’t just change your Social Security Number (for U.S. readers). There’s a very high bar you have to meet to have that change made. 

Regardless of what happens, call your local law enforcement. In the U.S. you can call the police and the FBI. Even if they can’t help you with your immediate problem, they aggregate information for trend management and investigations. Remember, they may ask for a copy of your hard drive as evidence. Evaluate whether or not you want to pursue that as an option.

If you make a payment for any of these forms of phishing, filing a police report will help with the next step, which is calling your bank or credit card fraud department to initiate a recovery action. That may not be successful, ultimately, but it’s worth a try. 

Requests for Information or Money

If you provided your Social Security Number or other personally identifiable information, you can contact the three major credit agencies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to freeze your credit. 

That prevents fraudulent lines of credit (e.g. loan, credit card, mortgage, etc.) from being taken out in your name. That is a very American-centric recommendation, so please contact the credit authorities in your country (if not the three above) to address fraudulent lines of credit in your country. 

Malicious Attachment

Chances are that Windows Defender, or your malware detection and response software of choice, will stop this automatically. If it doesn’t, then you’ll see very significant performance issues, inaccessible encrypted information, or deleted information. 

If you can’t address the problem using endpoint malware software, then you may need to just reformat the computer and reinstall Windows. Here’s a straightforward YouTube video about how to do that. 

But I’m going to lose all my important files! If you don’t have a backup, yes. Yes, you will. 

Right now: start a Google, Microsoft, or iCloud account. Seriously, pause reading here, go set one up, and come back. Upload all your important files to it. 

All of those services let you access your files from your computer and use them as if they were on your computer. They also provide for version control. Your worst case scenario is ransomware, where the files are encrypted. You can roll-back file versions and get back to your files. 

There’s no reason not to set up cloud storage and put all your important unlosable files there.

Malicious Link

If the Malicious Link deployed a virus or malware and you’re having problems with it, follow the directions in the previous section, Malicious Attachment. 

If the Malicious Link asked you to input a username and password, you need to reset your password immediately. I would also recommend resetting your password wherever else you used that same password with the same or a similar username. The sooner you do that, the better, so don’t put it off!

How Can You Spot a Phishing Email?

There are a few things to look out for to identify a phishing email. 

Is the message from a legitimate source? 

Are there significant misspellings? 

This isn’t telling on its own, but in combination with other things indicates that something may be a phishing email.

Is the email urgent? Is it prompting you for immediate action? 

Phishing emails prey on your fight-or-flight response to get you to act. If you’re being contacted, say by the police, call the police and see if they’re actually looking for you. 

Most payments you make aren’t in Google Play or iTunes gift cards. 

Along the lines of the above, a lot of fraudulent schemes ask you to pay with gift cards, because they’re largely untraceable and non-refundable once used. Official organizations or law enforcement won’t ask you to pay for things with gift cards. Ever. 

Is the request expected? 

If you’re being told to make a payment or be arrested, have you done the thing you’re being accused of? If you’re being asked to pay a bill, are you expecting a bill?

If you’re being asked to input a password, does the site look legitimate? 

If you’re redirected to a Microsoft or Google login, close the browser completely, reopen it, and then log in to Microsoft or Google. If you’re being prompted to input the password for that service after logging in, it’s not legitimate. Never input your password unless you, yourself, go to the legitimate website. 


Let’s cover some of your questions about phishing links!

Follow the instructions above. The good thing about an iPhone, iPad, or Android is that there’s very little in the way of web-based or attachment-based viruses or malware for those devices. Most malicious content is delivered through the App or Play Stores. 

Congratulations, you’re ok! You spotted the phish and avoided it. That’s exactly what you should do with phishing links: don’t input your data. Work towards not even interacting with them next time. Better, yet, report spam/phishing to Apple, Google, Microsoft or whoever your email provider is! All of them provide something. 


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