SEO Insight: Can Bad Links Hurt My Rankings?

Tue, Dec 23, 2008

Black Hat & Spamming

So you’ve worked hard to get your site SEO optimized with quality content that should score you big points in the rankings; or maybe you have signed on a new client who wants you to help them get recognized better out there in the search world by contracting your SEO services.  Whatever the case you will probably find in your SEO analysis that a number of “bad sites” are linking to you and the question on your mind is, “How is this going to affect my ranking?”

Let’s start about my talking about what a bad site is – spam generator, screen scraper, URL manipulation and malware are all words that can be used to describe a bad site.  It’s a site that is designed to interrupt or throw off the web experience rather than to compliment it.  In short, it’s the dregs of the Internet.

In SEO land we know that we can’t control who links to our sites – wouldn’t it be great if we could?  So why would a search engine punish us for who is pointing to our site? The good news is that in most cases they aren’t going to punish you. They know that most (if not all) sites have some questionable sites that are pointing to them. For the most part the search engines do a good job of classifying these sites and throwing out their effect on your rank. 

Having said that it is important to realize that bad sites linking to you could have effect your ranking in certain situations:

  • Does it appear that you engaged in a paid linking scheme to boost your rankings? If so, be prepared to be hit hard by Google and the other search engines. This is, in their eyes, a mortal sin.
  • Do you have more bad sites linking to you than good?  This can be hard for small sites just getting started, but percentage does matter.  If most of your inbound links are coming from sites that aren’t of high quality it can affect your ranking.
  • Have you engaged in link manipulation? When taking on a client project you may not know the answer to this as they might not know themselves what the “previous guy” did.

So what do you do if you find yourself being penalized for bad inbound links and you haven’t done anything to encourage it or participate in it?  First, fire off a letter to the search engines asking to be reconsidered.  Be sure to include a list of sites that are linking to you that you believe are hurting your ranking. Stick to the facts – in most cases if they haven’t detected anything underhanded going on they will work to recalculate your rankings.

Second, work on building the good inbound links. The more links you have coming to you from trustworthy sites the better off you will be.  Not only will it help improve your rankings, but it will also attract more readers from the other sites.  It’s a win-win situation and a good piece of SEO advice to follow every day.

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.