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Can links from a directory hurt even if they are nofollow?

4:04 am on Jan 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member from US 

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joined:May 6, 2004
posts: 650
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I ran into a situation where a site that looks like it should be doing OK in google is doing poorly.

- The home page shows pr0
- It has been up since about Oct.
- IMHO it is a totally legit site and not in one of the 'shady' industries
- No manual penalty showing in WMT.
- It did have some repetition.. ie widget services in alabama, widget services in alaska etc. However, given the nature of the site, that should be natural.
- WMT shows about 365 pages indexed.
- WMT content keywords are what we expect.
- crawl errors = <10
- Search impressions over the last month were less than 100 with about 10 clicks.. ie.. yuckkkk.
- when the site was first launched, it was showing in the search engines and was getting some clicks.

HOWEVER - links to your site is 344. Out of the top ten inbound linkers, 5 of these are from the same family of a local directory. The top one has over 50 links to the home page. This is a paid directory and the listings appear to be nofollowed. (I'm not sure if that can be spoofed or not).

According to conventional wisdom, if they are nofollow incoming links, then they should not be a problem. However, I suspect that they are causing a problem. ANy thought as to the usefulness of a disavow of the links from those directories.

I'd appreciate any thoughts...

7:14 am on Jan 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

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joined:Sept 16, 2009
votes: 80

The official line on nofollow links is this: [youtube.com...]

Note the comment that a massed campaign of automated nofollow links might result in a penalty, but that normally they are completely ignored.

As always, Matt's language is carefully chosen:

"For the most part, nofollow links are dropped out of our link graph and... should not affect you from an algorithmic point of view."
2:09 pm on Jan 24, 2014 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

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joined:Apr 30, 2012
posts: 100
votes: 2

some repetition.. ie widget services in alabama, widget services in alaska etc

If this repetition is in the anchor text of the internal navigation then that is possibly your problem. It's pushing up the use of your key-term, which I assume is <widget services>. There is no need for this as your visitor is already aware that they are on a site dealing with "widget services". Google therefore has the right to assume that if the repetition has no real value to visitors then it could be an attempt at serp manipulation.