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Are these backlinks hurting my rankings?

     
7:01 pm on Nov 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I've never done any link-building besides a DMOZ link. I just noticed that the first two sites listed for inbound links in WMT both look pretty spammy. One has about 220 links in and the other has about 200 links in. How can I tell if those links are hurting my Google rankings?
12:35 am on Nov 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I've felt from the first time I ever heard of ROS (run of site) links that they couldn't possibly be natural. This view changed slightly with blog rolls, but only if they represented a small chunk of a site's inbound link profile. Scaling down from ROS links to c200 inlinks, it's unlikely that that many links would occur naturally either. Perhaps if you're Microsoft, it's natural that you'd have 200 inbounds or more from Wikipedia, but in general, a number that large will probably raise a flag.

IMO, that flag will be weighed against other signals Google has about your site. In your case, it sounds like you didn't artificially build backlinks, so I wouldn't lose sleep over the situation, but, depending on other factors I'll mention, I'd do my best to get rid of the links.

Try a nice email request first. Perhaps, if these sites later try to extort money from you, you could suggest to them that they leave you no choice but to use the Google Disavow Tool, which you understand might adversely affect their reputation, and you wouldn't want that to happen... etc.

I suppose this kind of situation could devolve into Double Negative SEO, a whole new thing to look forward to. ;)

There's one view that has it that you should consider ongoing pruning of obviously manipulative links as a part of site maintenance. Those who promote that view suggest that the backlink quality bar is likely to rise over time. On the other hand, disavowing links can be an incredible waste of time and energy, better spent on creating good content, and I can understand those not wanting to do it.

It very much depends, I suppose, on how strong your current link profile is, and on the quality of your site to attract good inbounds naturally.

If your backlinks are weak and you think you might be vulnerable, getting ahead of the curve and pruning the worst of your backlinks might not be a bad idea. If you do this, keep notes in condensed form in a spreadsheet, noting email requests sent, dates, etc, to include in future Disavowal requests... just in case all that becomes necessary.
12:35 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Ouch. I was hoping for a different answer.

I think my backlink profile is weak. I haven't done any link-building besides a DMOZ link. I certainly have some links but I haven't noticed anything incredible. I hate to think that some spam site can damage my rankings. They aren't even targeting me. I always tend toward the hands-off approach when it comes to links but maybe that makes me a dinosaur. I guess it's up to me to stay on top of this sort of thing with the Disavow tool? Is that what most people do these days?
1:28 am on Nov 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Tonearm... a rushed reply to calm you a bit...

I think my backlink profile is weak. I haven't done any link-building besides a DMOZ link. I certainly have some links but I haven't noticed anything incredible.

Sounds like you really aren't sure, but haven't done anything to prompt worry. Natural and unmanipulative may turn out to have been the best approach, assuming you've gotten known on the web and your site is worth linking to.

Keep in mind that the disavow tool is mainly for people who've shot themselves in the foot by building up a spammy link profile. In your case, it sounds like the tool should be the last thing you try. I suspect that Google would give sites like yours a fair amount of warning. Chances are that you're not even be on their radar.

If the inbound links you're worried about look really spammy, try nicely to get them taken down, but, as I mentioned, don't lose sleep over it.
11:53 pm on Nov 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Got it, thanks Robert. I don't think I've been affected by any of the Penguin/Panda stuff which I attribute to having done no link building. I'll relax.

From the very little you know about my site, is there any sort of inbound link I should be on the lookout for, or is a completely hands-off approach to inbound links safe?
 

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