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Link Development Forum

Link Quality checking
How do i know the quality of links i link to

 11:53 am on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

what i would like to know, is how do i determine whether a site is a one in many link farms. if the site's pagerank is above Zero, and it appears in the index of all major serach engines- does that guarantee it is not a part of big network of "bad" sites?
I am not sure i know how you guys determine these thing..
can you suggest something?



 12:09 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's not a guarantee - visible page rank is 3-6 months out of date, and the SE listings may be on the way out.

But taken with other factors, like ...

- what the site looks like
- is the site 'clean'
- how relevant the site is to your visitors
- how you heard about the site
- what linking policy the site has (do they link sensibly?)

... it can be useful information


 2:05 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

how about use your eyes? I mean if you think there is a list of criteria you should consider each link against, you are over analyzing in my opinion.

Does the link you are about to link to help your users learn more about the product/service/information your site provides?

Does the link you are about to link have a robust thriving site?

Does the link have PR=whatever? forget about PR.. there are plenty of decent sites on the web that have low or no PR (maybe they are new sites). Make linking decisions for your end users, not for PR.

I keep seeing references to "bad neighborhoods" in posts but defining that term can apply to so many situations. Forget about "bad neighborhoods" and look at the site as it stands on its own. Does it link to other decent sites or a bunch of sites irrelevant to your own?

If the site benefits your end user, link to it. If you aren't sure, don't do it.


 2:30 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'd have agreed with you a year ago ... but times change. Many seemingly harmless links can seriously damage your Google credibility, and 'relevancy to visitors' really is not a sufficient check, though it is probably the most important.

I'd strongly recommend a checklist of criteria - though I'm happy for you to disagree with mine :)


 3:44 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I still think asking for a specific list of criteria to use when making linking decisions is over analyzing things a bit only because it might cause you to look at criteria that should not be considered. There are decent quality content rich sites out there that look like crap and there are gorgeous sites out there that contain only crap. Remember the old adage "you cannot judge a book by its cover".

The most important thing to think about is usablity for your end users. Does the site you are about to link to enrich your user's online experience by linking them to an additional knowledge gateway?

You know your business better than anyone else so its a decision you have to make on your own based on what you know about your own business and what you think most benefits your end users experience.

Don't judge a site based on their PR, alexa ranking, trust score or whatever. Because some sites that don't benefit your user's experience might have decent ranking scores. The mindset "will linking to this site help my ranking in X search engine" is wrong.

There will be those that will argue with me and tell me that what I am telling you won't help your search rankings. Who said linking should be done as a search engine function?

As Yoda might say, "you must unlearn what you have learned".

At the end of the day I think you have to judge a site on it's overall content/quality value and then decide if that site benefits your end user's experience. Forget about how you think the site you are about to link to might affect your search rankings. If the site benefits your end users, you aren't going to get into trouble for linking to it. Linking decisions should be made based on what is best for your end users. Think of linking as a branding function, not a search function. As junk is filtered out of the search engines, sites that link as a branding function will maintain rankings.


 3:55 pm on Dec 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Many seemingly harmless links can seriously damage your Google credibility, and 'relevancy to visitors' really is not a sufficient check, though it is probably the most important

just one more comment to keep this on topic.. agreed you can damage your credibility in Google if you link out to sites that aren't relevant to your end users but let me share some insight from my 10+ years of doing this work.. if you link out to a site irrelevant to your own either by accident or arrogance, G isn't going to penalize you immediately. Google is very good at determing an honest error from high volume irrelevant linking. I see it every day.

If you aren't linking in high volume to irrelevant sites, you have nothing to worry about. If you are actively exchanging links with other sites and you are concerned about staying in Google's graces, simply make your linking decisions based on what benefits your end user and keep your volume slow/natural. That means don't link out to or obtain links in volume that exceeds more than 25-50 links per day.

Here is a red flag you can add to your criteria list: If you find a decent site that benefits your end users and they have lots of quality content BUT they are linking out to junk, avoid linking to that site because you don't want to be associated with sites that have poor link strategy. You might even let the webmaster know politely why you won't link to his or her site.

I have only seen Google downgrade or penalize sites that link in extremely high volume to irrelevant sites. As long as you avoid that type of chicanery, you have nothing to worry about. Of course you also have to maintain quality regularly updated content but thats another discussion and I am trying to stay on topic here. Just wanted to remind you all its not all about links. Links are only one part of the equation.


 12:24 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

thanks everyone for your comments.
I am promoting an adult dating site and all i see around are sort of sleezy garbage sites..
yes- they do have content, PR and links exchange programs but who knows? our site has vanished completely from MSN.com, (although doind OK in ggole & yahoo) and in my efforts to figure why i am begining to think that maybe we linked to some crappy adult sites without knowing so!
so again, you are right but still, how do you determine bad neighborhood? how can you tell without being G..?


 6:25 pm on Dec 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

In your area, I suspect it's a matter of finding what is not a bad neighborhood!

It's all about links; your best bet is to use nofollow wherever you can - but there's no simple answer; experience is the best tool, and acting fast on suspicions is the best action.

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