The Wrong Crowd: What to Do When Inbound Links to Your Website Are a Bad Influence

November 18th, 2014

When I was in grade school my mom would sometimes say, “Your friend Cheryl is wild and has a potty mouth” or “That Cheryl is trouble. You should stay clear.” (Perhaps you’ve heard a similar comment from one of your parents.) I was drawn to Cheryl’s fun personality and adventurous tomboy attitude, and I saw no problem with running around and not telling my parents of my whereabouts. These days I know that Mom and Dad were just looking out for my best interest when they asked me to find another friend.

I’ll never know the problems that Cheryl might have caused me because I severed that friendship — just as you should do if you find bad linking relationships to your website.

Every business should want good-quality links to its online content. These legitimize a website and have the potential to boost its search engine rankings. In other words, search engines perceive links as testimonials. You may be surprised to learn, however, that not all links are created equal. Connections from a bad website can affect your business as negatively as a vocal and displeased customer. That’s why I recently had a flashback to my Cheryl days when I discovered the suspicious inbound links pointing to the website of one of my customers.

Of the 267 total Web links to the site — not that many, by the way — 187 were from one source, and a risky one at that. These links were from “the wrong crowd” and their bad influence could have damaged my client’s business and domain. The client knew nothing about these links nor how they were established.

What do risky inbound links look like?
You should stay clear of inbound links that have the combined attributes of unrelated content, low page rank, and low domain authority. These are the common characteristics of website links that have been purchased. In brief:

  • Unrelated content can be determined by asking yourself, “Does the linking website’s content relate to my industry?” If the answer is “no,” then get rid of the link. It adds no value and serves no purpose.
  • Page rank is a measurement of 0 to 10. It’s one of the methods that Google uses to determine a website’s importance. Consider a ranking of 0 or 1 to be low. PageRank Checker, a free tool, can be used to determine a site’s page rank.
  • Domain authority (DA) is SEOMoz’s calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in Google’s search results. It is based on domain age, popularity, and size, among other things. DA scores range from 0 to 100, and because they are determined by numerous factors, it is difficult to influence them directly. Popular websites like Google and Facebook score 100. A newer domain with a DA of 15 or more is fairly safe. Give Small Seo Tools’ domain authority checker a spin to see if you really want to keep an inbound link.

What should you do about bad links to your website?
The best way to boost your website’s page rank and domain authority and get good search rankings is to systematically publish rich, relevant content on- and off-site. Establish Internet relationships with trusted individuals just as you would in person with a neighboring business. Obtain links from reputable websites. Get rid of links from bad websites by contacting site administrators. And don’t buy links to your website, no matter how inexpensive and tempting!

It takes time to create the Web presence needed to compete online. It doesn’t happen overnight. Give it time. To get advice from one of our professionals, contact us today for a free website and link analysis.

Written by: Carol Palichleb

President and Chief Information Officer,
Palicor Communications

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