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Can Inbound links hurt you in Google?

     
1:33 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Can inbound links hurt you in Google? I never believed they could and it doesn't really make sense that they could. After all, you could be sabotaged so easily by a competitor this way. However, I'm reconsidering the issue due to three things.

1. Google is working harder on discerning paid links from purchased links (collateral damage is my concern here).

2. A well known link building expert has expressed a belief that incoming links may hurt you (again, collateral damage).

3. I have just found a network of sites that are linking their hundreds or thousands of worthless pages to the individual pages of one of my sites.

Obviously, number 3 is mainly why I'm writing this. This could be an attempt at sabotage. This could also be an attempt for these sites to boost themselves in google's eyes by "becoming associated" with an established site (i.e. linking out to authority sites). For all I know, they do this "mass linking out" to many established sites in an attempt to boost themselves.

So, should I be worried about this? Could all of these new incoming links from these spam maggots potentially hurt me? If so, what should I do about it?

2:18 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There are many many useless and junk websites linking to well known established web sites. If that is the case they would lose their reputation but they don't.

What I know is, getting paid links or junk web sites linking to you will neither boost your web site reputation nor will hut your reputation they are just there unless search engines believe that it is a useful link to take into account.

2:50 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Any opinion as to why they're linking the individual pages of their many sites to the individual pages of my site?
2:54 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Apparently there is a theory that outgoing links (to respectable websites) help rankings of a website. I am shocked to see that adult websites/splogs link to one of our websites that focuses on marketing, business strategy, advertising, etc.

[edited by: tedster at 3:09 pm (utc) on June 6, 2007]

3:07 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Apparently there is a theory that outgoing links (to respectable websites) help rankings of a website.

The algo should be able to detect whether the link is "on theme" or not therefore if one has a page full of "on theme" links it would be reasonable to assume the page is some kind of widget reference page or directory etc.

I have one specific trade widget directory that has nothing but outgoing links to relevant "on theme" sites and it easily ranks #1 for all its 200+ pages and, of course, it has a lot of incoming links people bookmark for trade references, however I believe its original authority was created by its "on theme" outgoing links.

YMMV.

3:24 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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This is fast becoming an IT urban legend!

No, inbound links are not a problem in terms of SERP. For if they were, the technique should be widely used to discredit competitors.

Matt

3:35 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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" it would be reasonable to assume the page is some kind of widget reference page or directory etc."

It's not like that. These pages that I'm referring to look like this, and for the sake of the example, assume my site is called www.yyyyyyyywidget.com

--------------------------------------------

Get a free tutorial on blah blah

Need a loan for blah blah?

Get a degree in blah blah online

Low interest rates

(then at the bottom of the page is a link back to their home page and also a link to a specific page of my site)

Home

www.yyyyyyyywidget.com/widget-how-do-I-make-a-widget.php

------------------------------------------------

Every one of these pages looks similar to this and each one of them links to a different page of my site. My site has nothing to do with any one of the pages that are linking to me so the links aren't relevant, and to an outside observer might look as though I'm trying to pick up a lot of deep links to my site.

Question: Why are these guys doing this?

4:17 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Question: Why are these guys doing this?

Did you try to contact them and ask the same question?

4:24 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have seen some times where inbound links have hurt a site. This would only happen on a new site or a site that has very few links. You could not hurt a site that was already doing well. It may only hurt a site that already has a few strikes against it.
4:30 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have the same problem: few days ago a network of sites started to publish garbage text on their pages, and at the bottom of it, as if there was a "footer" they started to put:

Home ¦ Link-to-my-internal-Urls

If you browse this page with style "on", you'll see just the footer: if you browse this page as a bot will see it, it will be full of nonsense text garbage and then "our" footer at the bottom.

Of course, we have never asked to be linked by these sites.

But, in doing this, what could be the purpose of these people if not trying to either:

- acquire reputation by linking respectable sites like ours

- put us under a bad light as Google might say "mmh.. these respectable site is linked in a footer by this site.. may be they are buying links? let me penalize them".

I can't see no other explanation to this strange behaviour and I'm worried too...

Pizzaguy: "Did you try to contact them and ask the same question? " no, as all those whois have dummy entries: we have contacted the hosting provider which in this case might be the only visible face for us.

4:57 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"Did you try to contact them and ask the same question?"

I was thinking about it, but I'm holding off until I can research it more. Who knows. Maybe its nothing. From what I can see so far, they pages aren't even indexed in google or yahoo and maybe they never will be. Then again...

"Home Link-to-my-internal-Urls"

Sounds like what I'm seeing. Maybe this is fairly widespread.

5:02 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"But, in doing this, what could be the purpose of these people if not trying to either:
- acquire reputation by linking respectable sites like ours
- put us under a bad light as Google might say "mmh.. these respectable site is linked in a footer by this site.. may be they are buying links? let me penalize them". "

These are the only rationales I can think of as well. And I wouldn't even be concerned about it except for recent statements by Google and MC regarding the new emphasis on the detection of paid links. I have to admit, one of the first things that leapt into my head was whether or not a competitor had purchased links to my site to torpedo me.

9:15 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I just posted this response in thread about personal networking sites, but applies here also, so...

I've been working on a clients site that has something that may be similar. They've definately been hit with a penalty due to incoming links. They have NO outgoing links, NO on page SEO, and haven't touched the page itself in several months.
I've hesitated to post in the -950 thread, as it's not the classic -950 penalty. Yes, it does rank on last page for some searches. But it doesn't show up on first page for any searches anymore - not even for their domain name or other very unique terms they were #1 for.

It is a site that has been indexed for a few years, but has been used as a landing page for PPC advertising and had very few backlinks. They've been getting links over last 2 months - dozens of good, fairly strong links, and maybe 200 bad links they purchased cheap.

They also have backlinks from other members of the same team that have little PPC sites that are hosted on the same server, so that may contribute, or be, the problem. But this site does not link out to any other.

I know many people say "incoming links can't hurt you". I believe that is probably true for established sites. But new sites with little link history? I see no other explanation for this site being hit than incoming links - either too many too fast, or links from partner sites that G sees as a spam network.

9:24 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Not ranking #1 for your domain name is the classic sign of the "Minus Thirty" penalty. It usually indicates a "loss of trust" -- that is, Google has decided that something heavy is going on in the area of trying to manipulate SERPs.
9:52 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Not ranking #1 for your domain name is the classic sign of the "Minus Thirty" penalty.

Thanks, that's what I thought. Only the symptom here is they appear at the end of serps, or not at all. And it has come and gone a few times over last 3 weeks.

I hope it's not a manual penalty like the -30, that requires a reinclusion. Seems kind of brutal to kill a site for getting some bad links, or too many too fast.

10:07 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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tedster, any speculation as why this is appearing at the bottom of these pages:

"Home, Link-to-my-internal-Urls"

Sabotage? O an attempt to gain credibility by linking out to an established site?

11:26 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hard to guess - I've seen it done for both reasons. The competitive sabotage angle appeared to work just a little bit over a year back. But even then it only seemed to have an effect against domains that already had some kind of spammy shadow over them with Google.
11:43 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Incoming links that expose some types of canonical URL problem can sometimes have an adverse effect; but only if the site itself is also capable of "generating" that URL from another internal page of the site too.

I wrote about that effect a year to 18 months ago.

11:51 pm on June 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm seeing those links on what purport to be directory type pages related to gambling/betting. If you look at the source code, the pages are obviously cloaked in some way. They have tons of keyword stuffed, gibberish type content and hundreds of links. All you see is the so called directory. The link to my page is actually displayed, but, in the source code, is buried among hundreds of other links which are not displayed.

One thing we know about blackhatters is that everything they do definitely has a purpose. Whether it's an attempt to lend some legitimacy to the page is anyone's guess. But, there has to be a reason.

5:59 am on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Is there any actual evidence spammy inbound links can hurt us or is it more of a hunch.

I have wondered if it could hurt site -950 style. For example they would be no problem unless your page was borderline on the phrase based thing. At that point the repetition of flagged anchor text in in the inbound links could put you over the edge. But this is pure speculation.

4:46 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Unless Google actually make an official statement that they are penalizing for "bad" inbounds, we can only assume that they simply aren't counted. Logically, I can only see Google operating a penalty if they are confident the "bad" website is owned, or affiliated in some way with the "good". Maybe the WHOIS data or IP of the webservers in question would give them enough to do that, but if that was the case, a competitor or saboteur wouldn't be able to hurt you unless he somehow could create a connection between his site and ours (other than simply by linking).
7:20 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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In regards to -30 Penalty and reading the following thread
[webmasterworld.com...] it mentions:

“Suspected problems:
Overly optimized (many pages with same keywords in title and h1)”

Does “Overly Optimized” mean repeating same keyword on different pages or does it mean to use the keywords repeatedly on one page?

[edited by: tedster at 9:02 pm (utc) on June 7, 2007]

9:02 pm on June 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Don't confuse the minus 30 and the -950; they are VERY different:

[webmasterworld.com...]

As a general rule, my sense is that people use "overly optimized" to mean many repetitions of the target keywords in all sort of elements on the site, plus many exact matches of title and H tags and anchor text.