What’s the Deal With Links From M.Biz? Should You Disavow?

Several times a week I get an email from a site owner who is asking whether they should disavow links to their site that come from m.biz and m.biz clone sites. I have been asked this frequently enough that I decided that an article on this topic would be useful to readers of Search Engine Watch. I’d like to preface this article by saying that some of what I am writing is simply personal preference as I do not know with certainty how Google handles these links. But, I will give you my thoughts and also some information that Google employees have stated that support those thoughts. I also would greatly encourage comments from those of you who have differing opinions to mine.

What Is M.Biz?

The site appears to be simply a search engine. The whois data for the site lists it as being owned by Lv ShaoHua and registered in southern China:

mbiz-whois

This area of China is called Shuitou, Fujian, and is known as one of the largest producers of stone in the world, exporting granite, marble, and all kinds of stone materials. When I read that, it made sense why I see so many link audits that contain m.biz subdomain links from sites like this:

mbiz-subs

And this is the real problem with links from m.biz. The site has thousands of subdomains. My blacklist of domains that I almost always disavow contains more than 2,000 m.biz subdomains. (We’ll get to more on whether you need to disavow these in a minute.) The problem with the m.biz sites is that they link out from thousands of subdomains to almost every site on the Web. No wonder it looks like negative SEO.

Take a look at this: A site search for mentions of searchenginewatch.com on m.biz shows more than 10,000 results!

mbiz-sew

And here’s an example of one of Search Engine Watch’s listings on an m.biz site:

mbiz-sew2

It appears to be a followed link that has keywords in the anchor. However, the reason that there are keywords there is because m.biz is simply taking the title of the page to which they are linking and using it as anchor text:

sew-title

Are Links From M.Biz Sites Negative SEO?

No, links from m.biz are not negative SEO. I can understand why someone might think that they are being attacked by a competitor when suddenly they see a whole bunch of new, potentially keyword-anchored links that are coming from many different sites. But these links are not a sign of a negative SEO attack.

Do You Need to Disavow Links From M.Biz?

This is the real question! Do you need to disavow these links? My short answer to this question is, “No, you probably don’t have to disavow them, but yes, I do disavow them just to be sure.” I am fairly certain that Google can see these links as just garbage links that don’t matter and that they know that they are not links that you made in order to increase your search engine rankings. Manual link penalties and algorithmic devaluations in the Penguin algorithm were created in order to demote sites that are overtly cheating. Google’s algorithms really should be able to determine that this influx of directory links was not a result of you creating links in order to manipulate your search engine rankings.

When Google employee John Mueller was asked in a hangout about whether or not to disavow links from m.biz sites, he said, “Usually we can recognize this kind of duplication, but if you want to be absolutely sure that they’re not counted…then adding them to a disavow file is generally relatively easy to do.” He was asked a similar question last year when someone asked if we needed to disavow links that came from sites that scraped your listing on dmoz.org, and he said, “Usually the dmoz scraper stuff are things that we notice as well. It’s not really something I’d focus much energy on.”

The point is that you really should not have to worry about sites that scrape the Web and link out to you without you asking for them to do so. However, I personally still do disavow these links simply because I don’t completely trust the Penguin algorithm to do its job in this respect. What if I have a page on my site that has a title of “SEO services” and then hundreds of m.biz sites link to them producing followed links all anchored with “SEO services”? Even though Mueller says that Google should ignore these, I would prefer to include them in a disavow file to be even more certain that they are not going to affect me.

I think that this is even more important for sites that already have some unnatural links. If you have received a link penalty in the past, or if you have been affected by the Penguin algorithm, which goes after unnatural links, then I really do recommend disavowing links that you see from m.biz. If you have a site that has never had unnatural links knowingly built to it, I think that you are most likely fine to ignore m.biz links.

How to Disavow Links From M.Biz

When I see links that are coming from sites like forums.m.biz and discussion.m.biz and stone.m.biz and chinastone.m.biz and the like, I simply add the following line to my disavow file:

domain:m.biz

This will disavow all links coming from all m.biz subdomains.

However, the real problem is with the sites that redirect to m.biz. In many cases sites will have links from domains like artificial-stone.com.cn or 6chinagranite.com that redirect to stones.m.biz or other m.biz sites. They’ll be listed in your reports from Webmaster Tools and other backlink checkers as artificial-stone.com.cn and not as m.biz sites. In fact, ahrefs.com reports that m.biz has more than 2 million links redirecting to it!

mbiz-redirects

The only way that I have found to find all of these links pointing to my site is to manually review my backlinks each month and add any new m.biz clone sites like the ones mentioned above to the disavow. So, in the above example, I would add the following to my disavow file:

domain:artificial-stone.com.cn

domain:6chinagranite.com

Unfortunately disavowing “domain:m.biz” will not disavow these links.

And…it doesn’t end there. M.biz also runs sites that don’t redirect to m.biz but instead just look similar such as the ones below:

fadongji.net

b2b.biz

yyyvvv.com

…and many others.

The other thing that I have been doing is making a list of every single m.biz site and sites that are similar to m.biz that I come across. After doing a large number of link audits, my list now contains several thousand of these domains. When I produce my link audit sheets, I cross-reference them against this list so that I can just automatically disavow them. But even with this blacklist of thousands of m.biz clone sites I still continually come across new ones regularly.

In Summary

Here are the take-home points of this article:

  • m.biz links come from a search engine linking to your site.
  • These links are not a sign of negative SEO.
  • You probably don’t need to disavow these links as Google likely ignores them, but there is no harm in doing so. I do disavow links from m.biz and similar sites for my clients’ link audits.
  • You can disavow all m.biz subdirectories by including “domain:m.biz” in your disavow file. But, for the non-m.biz sites like artificial-stone.com.cn you’ll need to disavow those domains individually.

Your Thoughts?

If any of you have insight on why m.biz has so many of these clone sites, please let us know in the comments. Do you routinely disavow these links? Or do you just ignore them? Comments are welcome.

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