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What are bad backlinks?

 9:50 am on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

What are bad backlinks - as in a site would be better off without them? I can see that large amounts of spam in UGC, or links from link farms are bad, but what about these:

  • Links from minor search engine SERPS? Does it matter whether the search engine is a real one (i.e. actually provides a useful service, such as a niche SE) or a scraper masquerading as an SE? Of course allowing SERPS to be crawled is bad practice, but some of these are strong sites.
  • Site wide links (from your own sites, relevant sites, irrelevant sites, footer links from WP themes..)
  • Scrapers (and what if they are banned? If they are not in the SERPS does that mean there is no effect?)



 11:24 am on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Generally speaking, you can target bad backlinks as "not useful" ones, i.e. see recent Google changes into guidelines: "webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share." See: [webpronews.com...]


 12:02 pm on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

How does Google evaluate "not useful"? Is a link from my blog to another site I run useful, for example?

The only one of my examples the "useful" criterion clarifies are scrapers.


 12:27 pm on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, a bad backlink is one that doesn't generate a lot of organic traffic in comparison to the traffic the page that is linking out gets. If the linking-out page gets 100 hits a day, and the link generates 2 or 3 click throughs a week, it's - in my opinion - a "bad link". The original point of a link was for people to click on it.


 12:35 pm on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, all links that are not related to your own site/blog, are bad links. It doesnt matter where they come from, as long as they are related. Site wide links...same story :)


 1:38 pm on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

Search engines - very minor - disavow
- scrapers - disavow

Sitewide from own sites - may be OK depending on whether the sites are big brands or not. Other sites I would remove, nofollow or disavow.

Scrapers - disavow as they don't provide value.


 2:59 pm on Jun 25, 2013 (gmt 0)

The original point of a link was for people to click on it.

Yeah, I've always thought that a link wasn't a link unless it got clicked.

And I think Google was granted a patent along those lines in the past couple of years, but I couldn't track it down. In the meantime, Bill Slawski had some good commentary on Google's Reasonable Surfer: How the Value of a Link May Differ Based upon Link and Document Features and User Data [seobythesea.com] that touches on many qualities of a link.


 4:13 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

How things change! I remember the question of site wide links from one's own sites coming up a few years ago and the consensus then was that they were fine.

@sem4u, do you mean very minor search engines, or that it is a very minor issue?

Links a reasonable surfer would not click on sounds like a good principle. I also wonder about links from sites that have high PR but few visitors are low value or harmful.


 4:38 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

A look at my site stats shows that all the links that I get the most traffic from are nofollowed (Wikipedia).

What does that do to the reasonable surfer model?


 4:41 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

If you jump out on Google and type: I think you will find a forest of knowledge to eat.
bruce clay link pruning


 10:19 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

I have been doing a lot of Googling, and as far as I can find out only sites with a fairly high proportion of bad links suffer: most of us do not need to worry.

There is another thread on the same subject so I should probably not have started this:

[webmasterworld.com ]


 10:40 am on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

@graeme_p - I meant very minor search engines.


 1:02 pm on Jun 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks sem4u. Makes sense.

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