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Should We Worry About Bad Links Anymore?

     
3:39 am on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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My site offers a ton of free widgets that people appreciate. People love the stuff that I offer for free. I offer premium quality widgets for those that appreciate it a bit more.

About a year ago someone (assume a competitor) stated posting links to my site from really bad sources. It tanked my rankings despite disavowing everything. I countered by doing major link building via white hat methods (social interaction). I stabilized my rankings. But haven't been able to get back to where I was for years.

With the new G stance on we devalue bad links, not penalize you, should I continue to build quality links or focus my energy on removing the bad links? The bad links are still pouring in, by the hundreds monthly.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
9:44 am on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I removed my disavow file more than 6 months ago and saw no drop in SERP ranking. Small file, less than 100 domains, mostly blogs, forums & low level directories. No toxic links.

I think links from bad neighborhoods may always play a factor, but that punishing algo seems to have been softened.
11:38 am on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Keep building if you're not back to where you used to be. Are you focusing links to your home page?
12:08 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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"Are you focusing links to your home page?"

Yes, I have been link building solely home page links. That's kinda what I have always done (15 years+).

Any advice on how to diversify that? I have about 30 different main areas users like to go to as a starting point. Should I focus link building to these areas; maybe one target page a month?
12:22 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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That's kinda what I have always done (15 years+).
As you suspect, that's a bit out of date.
Any advice on how to diversify that?
I depends on your social interactions. Do you show people the site, or juts name drop. If you are just getting them to link to homepage, that looks a bit unnatural. I mean, if I'm writing editorial, I link to the page. If I'm referencing the company, or giving a generic "shout-out", I would probably use the homepage- but to truly endorse content, I link to the content.
Should I focus link building to these areas
yes, but...
...maybe one target page a month?
Definitely no. Nothing looks more unnatural than getting links in a "scheduled" way.
2:02 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I have been link building solely home page links.


I suspected you were building links exclusively to the home page. Your results are symptomatic of home page link building.
That is why I asked if you were building links to the home page. :)

I won't get sucked into writing an article about how today's algorithms rank links but I will say that it's important to build links straight to inner pages.

Should I focus link building to these areas; maybe one target page a month?


Yes. Speaking from experience, there is no harm in this as long as you are acquiring a modest amount of links.

Natural inbound links naturally tend to cluster around certain pages or sections for many reasons, not just seasonal. So it's entirely natural to have links accumulate to certain sections then stop. Additionally, natural links tend to trickle in, sometimes months after they've been suggested. That's probably why search engines do not view a modest cluster of links happening to a section as unnatural, because this is a natural occurence.
2:33 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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oh.. no... you have to do link building based on the CTA and desired conversion of the page itself..
5:09 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the help guys. I haven't worried about inner pages, that's most likely my issue.

I guess the best way to determine which inner pages to work on links for, first, would be those that naturally accumulated links over the years?
5:53 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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would be those that naturally accumulated links over the years
That's what I would do, if only because there is proven interest.

Alternatively, you could look to promote undervalued pages so to bring them up to speed.

I defer to MB's experience, but I would still promote more than one page at a time- say 2-3 pages overlapping, each with a 1 month offset. But perhaps I overcomplicate things.
6:53 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Sometimes you find a page that's a good match for a different page on your site so no reason to not target that. Whatever converts best.
7:24 pm on Dec 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

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>> Whatever converts best

Yes. Cultivate links to a variety of pages on your site, but most of all focus on cultivating links that would make good sense to users who come across them.

If your links achieve that, the algos will probably like them just fine.

If you focus on relevance and quality, other nuances tend to look after themselves.
3:22 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Any idea on an acceptable ratio of Deep Links to Homepage Links?

I've been researching it a bit and a few articles tout 30-60% ratio as a good guideline.

I'm at about 50% homepage - 50% inner page inbound links, but suffering from symptoms of too many homepage links. So I was just curious.
4:27 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Link to what needs to rank. Link to what site visitors find useful.

Ratios have nothing to do with that. Ratios are pointless and irrelevant to ranking. Anyone who prescribes ratios is missing the point entirely.

[edited by: martinibuster at 4:34 pm (utc) on Dec 5, 2016]

4:32 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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As an ecom, I wouldn't mind close to 100% deep. In any case, the natural occurrence of citations would be enough.

I suppose news / article sites would benefit more from top-level links.

I would be highly sceptical of articles that give one-size-fits-all ratios. Of course, you have to be sceptical of answers on forums too.

(ETA - I was writting when MB posted. I wasn't straight plagiarising!)
9:53 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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keyplyr wrote:
I removed my disavow file more than 6 months ago and saw no drop in SERP ranking.

Those backlinks must be worthless if it makes no difference whether you disavow them or not.

Pjman wrote:
Any idea on an acceptable ratio of Deep Links to Homepage Links?

-- A link to the home page is usually regarded as a vote for the whole site collectively.
-- A link to another page is usually just a vote for that particular page.
10:13 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Those backlinks must be worthless if it makes no difference whether you disavow them or not.
@aristotle - The disavow list was a life-saver at the time & put my site back where it was (almost) prior to being hit with that awful update, so I would assume the backlinks I disavowed weren't "worthless." Now the algo has softened on bad backlinks, at least in my case, to a point where removing the disavow list was inconsequential - YMMV.
10:39 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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so I would assume the backlinks I disavowed weren't "worthless.

If they caused a penalty, they must have had a negative value, that is, even worse than worthless.
10:48 pm on Dec 5, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It was a long time ago.. difficult to say what worked or not as I also removed a lot of (spammy?) keywords. The site has well over 200k backlinks (almost 20 years worth.) The ones I decided to disavow made a difference at the time. I moved on :)
3:36 am on Dec 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

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The churn and burn for "getting more" .... and bad links are part of that. I deal with obviously TOXIC bad links and ignore anything else and no, I can't tell you what triggers a TOXIC bad link ... but I know it when I see it and act accordingly. However, there's dang few of those so I don't waste my day, time, or even my imagination on "bad links". Probably because I've never worried over links in the first place, though I'm very happy to have anything that happens naturally.

We webmasters did have a bad patch not long ago when g brought the hammer down on "bad links" and, as usual, g put it on the webmaster to figure out what those were since g didn't give detailed instructions on what the algo was looking at, other than a general hint. A few sites (more than a few?) got hit by this and since then there's been utter panic and FUD and chicken locomotion (that's running around with head cut off). All counterproductive, of course.

Worry about what is important. Do the ordinary housekeeping for your site(s). But do take a deep breath, raise the head up from picking apart GWT and Adsense/Adwords reports and micromanaging paltry results. Focus on what needs be done to grow the biz, maintain an interaction with the users, and get to tomorrow so you can start over again!

Your goal is to become a brand, something bigger than any "links"---good, bad, or indifferent.