The following questions from my readers are answered in this document:

“My catalog has lots of repetitious text, does this count as SPAM?”

Complete Question: On my site, when I write my descriptions for my products, they are all the same thing just with a different size associated with it. There are about 100 products; does a search engine look at that as content spam since the text is saying the same thing over and over again? (full color, double sided printing on THICK 120lb Coverstock) I obviously will be marketing to these keywords. – Scott C.

Answer: Online catalogues and shopping sites are rife with duplication… that is their nature in many cases and Google appears to have little problem with it. That said, these pages may not rank well because of the duplication so you have to ensure to create unique, relevant and detailed content wherever possible to boost the credibility of the site.

“Why do my backlinks not show up on Google?”

Complete Question: “I often read your articles (even if I haven't put all the advice to use yet) and thought you might be able to help. No one else has been able to yet. The problem is with the backlinks on Google; there are none showing to my site. I am unable, as were my hosting company, to come up with a reasonable explanation. As you can see there are plenty of sites that have my web address on them linking to them - just type into the google search bar to see (some of) them. Also if you do the same thing that I did on Google, search link:  on Yahoo and MSN, you do get some of the my backlinks to come up.

If you have an explanation as to why these links do not show up on Google I would be most interested to hear from you as it has bewildered myself and quite a few professionals I have asked.

Answer: I took a look and the number of backlinks your site has on Yahoo (34) and on MSN (10) and I am pleased to say I have an answer for you:

A large part of my job revolves around deconstructing the tactics that a client's competitors use to succeed and ultimately provide an improved strategy to my client; we call this competitor analysis . When creating these reports a core step is the analysis of the backlinks for every competitor I am asked to review. During the backlink analysis for any analysis I have done there is only one thing I will bet on; in every situation Yahoo and MSN provide a far more accurate telling of the backlinks that each competitor has. This is why many of the excellent link-analysis programs like OptiLink recommend using Yahoo! to conduct link analysis – it is far more accurate.

So why, might you ask, is Google not as forthcoming? The answer is rooted within Google's growing popularity and the stakes involved in attaining top rankings that everyone strives for – Google simply does not want to give too much information away that might aid those who wish to improve rankings. As a result, the number of backlinks revealed by Google is often dramatically less than there actually are. This does not mean that Google has not seen the backlinks to your site, but merely that it has chosen not to reveal these backlinks.

Additionally, I should note when backlinks do show up on Google they are often from only the highest quality sites; those that are already considered credible themselves and are undeniably relevant to the linked website.

As an example of the absolutely mind-boggling differences between Google, MSN and Yahoo backlink results, here are the latest stats for my site : Google (842), MSN (9,501), Yahoo! (25,178).

In summary, I expect the reason you are not seeing your backlinks appear on Google is that you simply do not have enough of them. In addition, the ones that you do have are not of a high enough calibre for Google to merit revealing them. The result is you may not see any backlinks appearing on Google until you have 5 more or 200+ more… there is no firm ratio. For now, continue the battle for more relevant backlinks and I hope that my article gets you a few in itself.

For more information on what constitutes a “quality backlink” here is an appropriate article “ What Exactly Are Good Backlinks? ”. Here are some other articles and postings that may prove interesting to you:

“Why are my sites performing well on Google's datacenters but not on”

Complete Question: My site has been sitting at #2 in Google for some time now under my core key phrase.  It has recently disappeared (right around the New Year) into the never-never land. When I ping Google I get and if I go directly to that IP and search for my keyphrase - my site comes up #2.  I also went to Google Datacenter comparison site: and all datacenters return my site at #2 under. How can that be?  What does that mean?  I also noticed that overall number of the results found by is significantly different than number of results found by the individual data centers. There has to be a logical explanation to this, yes? – Michael G.

Answer: I am afraid the days of trying to make sense of datacenters is long gone because Google's load balancing measures negate the certainty of knowing which datacenter you are probing by IP ( see this video from Google engineer Matt Cutts discussing this very issue). In your case I tested this search from my office computer and found your site position #2. I also ran some searches through anonymous surfing websites (three proxies in total ranging from the middle USA and from a proxy in the UK ) and found your site placed in the following positions: 1, 1, 2.

If you are seeing differently then it is possible your nearby datacenter is not ranking you well but I agree this is an oddity – unfortunately these do exist. The fact is, however, your site is performing extremely well across the board as far as I have been able to tell. In order to get a more accurate reading of where your site is ranked I recommend checking your ranking through each of the following online proxies:

If you are still interested in learning more about datacenters then I recommend participating in threads like this at WebmasterWorld.

I feel I was not able to answer why you are seeing such drastically different rankings from your computer. If anyone else has some thoughts or advice for Michael in this regard please post your comments or email me and I will be sure he gets the message.

Submit your SEO questions to me (Ross Dunn) using StepForth's online form and then tune in to the StepForth SEO Blog for your answer! Please note that my schedule can keep me from replying for up to a few weeks but I always try to respond in as short a time as possible! If you have an urgent matter please contact StepForth on our toll-free number at 1-877-385-5526 and ask for Bill Stroll who will setup a time for you to speak with me personally.


Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

January 18, 2007

Ross Dunn is the CEO of StepForth Web Marketing Inc., a web marketing company founded in 1997 and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. StepForth provides cutting-edge search engine optimization services that provide highly successful, targeted results for its clientele. Ross Dunn is a Certified Internet Marketing and Business Strategist (CIMBS) with a background in web design and business management. His broad Internet experience in combination with a talented staff has made StepForth a name synonymous with top results.

Search Engine Guide > Ross Dunn > SEO Answers #13: Duplication, Google Backlinks and Datacenter Headaches