I log into GWT a few times per month and mainly use it to run keyword reports. Today, I decided to browse my link report and found three troubling items at the top.
1. An obvious scraper with eBay affiliate links had 74,000 links to my site, all to the home page. 2. An IP address that returns a 404 has 12,000 links to my site, distributed across 16 pages. 3. A site that Google Chrome says is known to distribute malware (thanks Google Chrome, only the second time I've ever seen that screen) has 11,000 links to my site, all to a deep product page.
I doubt any of these sites are having any impact on my day to day business and I'd normally just shrug it off and move on. However, these are bad neighborhoods that I'd rather not be associated with.
Google and other SE's are smart enough to see through this, right? Should steps be taken? Can steps be taken?
Yes - WMT now shows an immense amount of unfiltered backlink data - whether those links are being ignored in their sporing or not. I think it's just intended as an FYI
these are bad neighborhoods that I'd rather not be associated with
Bad neighborhoods are only associated with your site if you link to them, not the other way around.
That said, a sudden large influx of off-theme backlinks can be a sign that your site was hacked and the spammer wants to boost the value of cloaked links that they inserted. So do check that possibility.