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Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

Sep30

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2009/09/30 10:24 AM RssIcon

Back links are the life blood of PageRank. Having quality back links pointing back to your site is critical to how much search engine traffic or link juice Google will send your way. Everyone is always talking about building relevant backlinks and backlinks from websites that have a high Google page rank. But what about backlinks from bad neighbourhoods, bad or questionable sites. Will Google penalise my site for this?

The simple answer is No! But it is a little more complicated than that. To understand this answer and indeed the question, lets understand what a backlink is and what a bad neighbourhood is.

What is a backlink?

Backlinks, sometimes referred to as inbound links, inlink, link backs. A backlink is an incoming link to a website or blog from another website, page, directory or blog. A backlink is a HTML Hypertext link on another page that points to a page on your website.

Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the most important factors for determining that website's search engine ranking. In the search engine optimization (SEO) world, the number of backlinks is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (though other measures, such as PageRank, are likely to be more important). In short, a backlink is a vote of confidence in your site or page. At least it used to be.

What is a bad neighbourhood?

Everyone knows that a bad neighbourhood can bring down property values, and the same thing holds true on the Internet. Much like a literal bad neighbourhood , an Internet bad neighbourhood is filled with questionable sites, some of which may even be harmful.

A bad site is also any site that is involved in questionable tactics to manipulate search engine results and or rankings.

Search engines do penalize sites that use different tricks to manipulate search results. Here is a list of some questionable types of websites to avoid:
  • Sites with spam domains.
  • Sites that focus on gambling, adult topics, selling illegal Drugs.
  • Sites that have a mirror site with exact same web links.
  • Sites that try to boost their ranking by using illegal techniques such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content (or lack of any original content), hidden text and links, doorway pages, deceptive titles, machine-generated pages.
  • Sites that have uncategorized link directories - Link Farms.
  • Sites that have outbound links to sites with bad reputation.

Read this short article on Google's Webmasters Tool’s site: Link Schemes

Does Google Penalise Backlinks?

The answer is absolutely not. But that does not mean you might not suffer other indirect penalties. Think of it logically. Getting backlinks from bad neighbourhood is not something that we can control. Sometimes, our competitors will insert our links in bad neighbourhood too.

Think of it this way. A competitor hates my guts, I am always beating them in the SERP’s and Pagerankings. They then sign up to one or many of the bad sites and start inserting links that point back to my site. Is it logical or even fair practice to penalise such behaviour, especially when I had no knowledge of such activity.

You know the answer to that.

This is often termed as backlink sabotage. The obvious tactic, is to do everything in your power to avoid backlinking from bad neighbourhood sites, this includes you not getting involved in such practices.

What will happen, is that your link juice will be highly diluted or even non existent. Therefore you are not directly penalised, but you derive no benefit from it. PageRank is not only about the amount of inbound links, but also, and perhaps more so about the quality of those inbound links. Links from Related/Relevent sites give more link juice

What will I get penalised for?

The only you way you will get penalised is if you Link Out TO Bad Neighbourhood sites. Linking to a Bad neighbourhood may categorize a web site as a part of the network. Google uses the term; “birds of a feather flock together”. You know the age old saying that you can tell a person by the company they keep.  If you choose outlaws or bad guys for friends, you are considered to be one of them.

The question you have to ask is, do you want you website or blog to have bad company? If not, then do not link to those sites. If you do, you stand a great chance of being penalised or even banned.

Determining if a site is in a bad neighbourhood can take some experience, but using this simple tool, you can actually spot some of the most obvious infractions, like hidden links in articles.

Conclusion.

Google will not penalise you if you have backlinks from questionable sites. This does not mean your site  will not suffer indirectly in some way. Linking out to questionable sites will get you penalised, possibly even banned. Do not participate in questionable tactics to manipulate search engine rankings and or search engine results.

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10 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

I have to agree totally. It would be totally unfair to penalise a site for having links everywhere as then a whole industry would grow up to diss your competition's sites

Regards
Graham
Twitter @grahunt

By Graham on  2009/09/30 10:58 AM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

Another post explaining stuff that seems complicated, in a simple way. Thanks Robert, as always, very helpful.

By Mike CJ on  2009/09/30 11:33 AM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

Cheers for this Robert. You have cleared up a lot of my queries lately. Much appreciated.

By Gordie Rogers on  2009/09/30 02:42 PM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

To be honest...PR doesn't count for anything. To give you an example I have sites with a PR of 4/10 and it doesn't nearly rake as much traffic as the ones that I have that's way below that.

Search google for Golf holidays...http://www.google.co.za/search?hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-GB%3Aofficial&hs=gxz&q=golf+holidays&btnG=Search&meta=

The second item in the search result has a pr of 3 while the third one has a pr of 4. All that it means is that You won't gain insane amounts of traffic by just upping your PR.

By AntonRSA on  2009/09/30 03:50 PM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

Blimey! I didn't realise backlinks were so important. Thanks for putting me straight Robert

By Kevin Tea on  2009/09/30 05:21 PM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

@Anton,

You correct, PageRank has nothing to do with Traffic. In its simplest form, it is a vote of confidence. Yes many times a Search will return pages who's page rank is lower but may indeed appear higher in the SERP. This is because there are more factors involved when displaying Search results.

Many people confuse Google PageRank, with a SERP position. SERP has got to do more with Relavant Content and keywords. Page rank is link juice given to you via a vote from another site through a link from their site to yours

PageRank really helps the user understand the importance of a site or page. But strictly speaking, many who use Google to search have no idea of PageRank. All that they are worried about is wheather Google returns the answers they are looking for.

Pagerank has got todo with long term goals, SERP rank has got to do with the here and now.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/09/30 05:48 PM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

That's right Robert. Thanks for clarifying.

By AntonRSA on  2009/09/30 07:22 PM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

Thank you for clarifying that. Its something I had been wondering about for awhile and now I feel a lot better. Really great site you have here.

By Jessica Guerro on  2009/10/02 07:48 AM
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Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

@Jessica,

Thanks for the great compliment.
I am sure glad that the post was able to help clarify some things.

By Robert Bravery on  2009/10/02 08:02 AM
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Are Cloaked Sites a 'Bad Neighborhood'? Re: Does Google penalise back links from bad neighbourhoods or bad sites?

'Cloaked Links' (just to make sure everyone knows) are links displayed through links to a frame-building site. In the example of my link (a cloaked link to a cloaked-link-builder), I get backlinks displayed on others' cloaked links' frames in exchange for displaying others' links on my cloaked-links' frames.

I realize that a lot of the neighborhood's innate goodness rests upon other members choosing to 'cloak' links to good audiences; but I'm wondering if Google has some filter on it that automatically demotes cloaked links.

By MythMan Jay on  2009/10/12 08:46 PM
 
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