Bad Neighborhood Links Can Affect Web Site Rankings

Written on December 6, 2006 – 4:45 pm | by Shell Harris |

Linking to other web sites can hurt your rankings if you link to the wrong web sites. Links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web can have a negative effect on your rankings on Google and other search engines.

A Google official has recently commented on bad neighborhood links and how they affect your web site rankings on Google.

What are bad neighborhood links?

Google doesn’t like the following type of web sites:

  1. free for all links pages (FFA)
  2. link farms (automated linking schemes with lots of unrelated links)
  3. known web spammers

Linking to that type of site can have a negative effect on your Google rankings.

Is there an official Google statement about bad neighborhood links?

In a discussion in a webmaster forum, Google’s Adam Lasnik has recently clarified what Google looks for in regards to bad neighborhood penalties:

  1. There is no relation between outbound links and Google’s supplemental index“It’s unlikely that your outbound linking is causing your pages to be listed in the supplemental, rather than main index.”
  2. Google looks for bad neighborhood linking patterns

    “Also, be assured that we’re not looking to penalize folks for a ‘bad’ link here and there. Rather, our algorithms are tuned to look for patterns of ‘egregious’ linking behavior – both on individual sites and in the aggregate.”
  3. You should check the links on your web site”It’s certainly in your users’ interest that you regularly audit outgoing links on your site (especially prominent ones) to ensure that you’re not losing folks’ trust by sending them to inappropriate places or 404 pages.

Sure, it’s great to keep Google happy, but it’s usually more important (long term) to have your users be return visitors.”

What does this mean to your web site?

Google looks for linking patterns. That means that it may not hurt your site if you link to a bad neighborhood by mistake.

Many links to 404 error pages might cause ranking problems. It’s a good idea to check the links on your web site every now and then.

Source: Axandra

Shell Harris co-founded Big Oak on January 1, 2004. In a previous career he was a print & web designer and often developed the sites he designed before focusing on his current passion for search engine optimization and Internet marketing. He is an avid researcher, SEO specialist, company mouthpiece and is always looking for the next big thing in Internet Marketing.

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  1. 3 Responses to “Bad Neighborhood Links Can Affect Web Site Rankings”

  2. By DNL on Jan 15, 2008 | Reply

    Not sure what that means:how many links to how many web sites will hurt my site?
    One link is fine? 2 links are not fine?
    How about 3?
    What if I have an old authoritative and established website? the rules apply just the same? Any thoughts based on your experience?
    Thank you,

  3. By Bill Ross on May 14, 2008 | Reply

    Great tip. I have always suspected since they cant really penalize for inbound links as easily they look at outbound links. The best thing to do is to link to .edu, .gov and other sites that have relevant unique content to yours site.

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