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What are sitewide links and why are they bad?

 10:20 am on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

What are sitewide links? Why its bad for Google?

For example: I have 5 main services pages and I am giving those services link with keyword in the left side column of my website pages.

Services Keyword and Links:

Blue widget - www.example.com/blue-widget
Green widget - www.example.com/green-widget
Red widget - www.example.com/red-widget

Is it good or bad?

Thanks in advance.

[edited by: aakk9999 at 11:33 am (utc) on Nov 15, 2013]
[edit reason] Sample domain used is a real domain, please use example.com - it can never be owned [/edit]



 2:29 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

There is no rule that sitewide links are bad. You can look on Google's Webmaster Help site and view all of Google's Webmaster Videos on YouTube and you will not see a clear statement that sitewide links are forbidden. That's a fact.

The problem with links, any kind of links, happens when there are signals indicating an intent to manipulate the algorithm. Is it done in a manner that is "search engine friendly?"

The phrase "search engine friendly" has been twisted from it's original intent (easy for a bot to crawl) to now mean that it's great for ranking purposes. If something you do is done in a manner that you feel is fantastic for ranking purposes then, as a rule of thumb, it's probably manipulative.


 4:48 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's also worth noting the distinction between:

- Sitewide internal links (links to your own pages), and...

- Sitewide external links (links to pages on other sites).

Sitewide internal links are normal (it's unusual to find a site without any). Sitewide external links can be legitimate, too, but often they're paid SEO links, so be sure that your site can withstand a manual review if you use them.


 5:36 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

but often they're paid SEO links

I'm inclined to believe that sitewide links are mostly innocent unpaid links like blogrolls and such.

The paid link industry has mostly moved on and is primarily interested in other forms of paid links.


 5:48 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

The paid link industry has mostly moved on and is primarily interested in other forms of paid links.

I have an editorial site, and I still get requests to buy links (usually from companies in the UK, which seems to be the last bastion of old-school link buying).

But yes, many sitewide external links are "innocent," although I don't see as many blogroll links as I did a few years ago.


 9:25 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

If there are sitewide links to another site, and you are concerned they might be seen as manipulative, then why not just put a rel="nofollow" on them?

Isn't this a typical scenario that the nofollow is meant to solve?


 10:08 pm on Nov 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Isn't this a typical scenario that the nofollow is meant to solve?

the original (2005) purpose of the rel nofollow attribute was to indicate an untrusted link. (i.e. comment spam)
Official Blog: Preventing comment spam:
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/01/preventing-comment-spam.html [googleblog.blogspot.com]

now the rel nofollow attribute is also a paid link prophylactic.
rel="nofollow" - Webmaster Tools Help:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/96569 [support.google.com]

while they don't specifically say so it is implied that the rel nofollow attribute may also be used for unnatural links, which in some cases a blogroll link would apply.
Link schemes - Webmaster Tools Help:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en [support.google.com]


 10:55 pm on Nov 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just to clarify something, is the OP talking about sitewide links (from the Blackhat perspective)? Or are we talking about navigation links?

Your website is example.com and you're linking to subpages of the same domain from the sidebar?

In that case, the main thing is that you linking to your product page using an exact-match anchor text "blue widgets" won't suddenly perform magic and make you rank #1 for that term. Internal links do matter but unless your domain is considered an extremely hight authority, it just won't happen.

And the other thing is over-optimisation. If you have a page selling blue widgets and all incoming internal links have anchor text "blue widgets," the page title is "blue widgets," all the heading tags have "blue widgets" in them and every other sentence mentions blue widgets, it's like sending Google a signal saying - hey, I'm trying to be a bit manipulative here :)

There's nothing wrong with sitewide internal links. In many cases you simply cannot avoid them no matter how hard you try. Your "Home" link is a sitewide link! Will you unlink your "Home" link fearing it might cause trouble?

The key is to link to pages to help the visitor find stuff. If you think linking to "Blue Widgets" from every page of your site will help people navigate better, then do it.

I don't know how big your site is but it's worth setting up site's architecture in a way that the PageRank doesn't dissipate too much. In other words, think about how you channel the "link juice" to the most important pages of your site. That's why hierarchical approach works well for so many websites:
Home -> Category -> Product1, Product2...

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