So yesterday google announced a link research tool. They included it into their webmaster tools pages, and it was meant to facilitate link research for one’s own domains.
However, the tool was wide wide open and allowed quite detailed analysis of ANY website and its external link structure.
The SEOs clever/fast enough seized this opportunity like crazy. Researching competitor’s inlink is often not easy. The number of useful tools is limited (yahoo site explorer, msn link tool) and Google’s own link command stopped working reliably several years ago. So, having a tool that quickly and comfortably let’s you do the job was a blessing that lasted a bit more than 24 hours. Enough time to research entire sectors, link neighborhoods and domain cities that go usually undetected and rank high in Google because they are simply to complex for the current algo.
What are the consequencies of this error? More spam in Google index. This window of opportunity created by Google helped some SEOs to gain more insight into the way blackhat/greyhat heavyweights link. Those unscrupulous will follow them and exceed them in the methods revealed by the tool, the rest of us will most likely use those principles in a rather conservative (but still very useful) way….
Both groups will contribute to increase competition levels in all high-profile sectors. I already had several inquiries on travel sector (both global and Spanish speaking markets). And while I personally have no intention to benefit from this error, many others will.
This development is very similar to the gaffe by AOL when they released huge quantity of search data that is still available for analysis in some places… Privacy-wise, it is not so bad, but spam-wise, the effect will be stronger.
One wonders, seeing the stupidity of the error, how safe are our Gmail, calendar, spreadsheet, desktop search and any other data we keep in Google’s hands. Hopefully the person responsible for the error is packing his lava lamp and cleaning his cubicle in Googleplex. Firing him/her is the only possible signal that Google strives to keep our data safe…