"I could just post a link to my competitor there and get them banned"

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The title of this thread is a sentiment that seems to have hit the mainstream sometime in the last 12 months (maybe before) that I think is quite worrying.

The idea is that you can't get in trouble for any backlink to your website because if Google could "punish" you for obtaining a certain link then you could post a link to your competitors site and get them in trouble, blah blah blah.

The extension of thought is that no link is a bad link. Every link is alright because hey... it can't hurt! It can't get me punished... why not?

Here's the thing:

Maybe there is no kind of link that can get you "punished" or make your site decrease in PR, ranking, authority or trust rank in the search engines...

But it doesn't mean there's no such thing as a bad link!

Maybe they can't punish you, but they can DISCREDIT a link... make it worth nothing... make it add nothing to your authority, PR, ranking, or trust. And if you spend time or money to obtain a link and it ends up being worth nothing... that in my opinion IS a punishment.

Bad neighborhood links are real. Links that you create to your site, that for whatever reason (say a profile link type site that gets deleted by the site owner) disappear after time ARE a detriment to your SEO and a waste of your time.

It's not just me saying this - it's clear in Google's documentation that they care about the quality of the sites that link to you:

"Your site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites."

From: http://www.google.com/support/webmas...n&answer=66356

I'm not saying to stop using profile links or any kind of link for that matter. My point is to not to think you're invincible with your link building. Don't think any link with the right anchor text is a good link. Stop thinking that the quality of your links doesn't matter...

And I'm pretty sure you'll have better rankings and make more money.

Andrew

P.S. Just as an addendum, here's another link from Google about "low quality sites linking to you"

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogsp...backlinks.html

Of particular interest:

"Finally, keep in mind that low-quality links rarely stand the test of time, and may disappear from our link graph relatively quickly. They may even already be being discounted by our algorithms."
  • Profile picture of the author kposs
    That sentiment is most often a response to those who are literally afraid to build certain types of links, build links at a certain rate, etc. because of misinformation that they've read. A lot of SEO newbies read about Google slaps and are paralyzed when it comes to link building.

    I agree that many times links can be discredited and no help to your site, but building links shouldn't induce a panic attack either. Yes you're going to get a Google dance with rankings here and there, but over time it generally works out if you are consistent in your link building activities.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jacob Martus
    Originally Posted by AndrewHansen View Post

    The title of this thread is a sentiment that seems to have hit the mainstream sometime in the last 12 months (maybe before) that I think is quite worrying.



    Here's the thing:

    Maybe there is no kind of link that can get you "punished" or make your site decrease in PR, ranking, authority or trust rank in the search engines...

    But it doesn't mean there's no such thing as a bad link!

    Maybe they can't punish you, but they can DISCREDIT a link... make it worth nothing... make it add nothing to your authority, PR, ranking, or trust. And if you spend time or money to obtain a link and it ends up being worth nothing... that in my opinion IS a punishment.

    I'm not saying to stop using profile links or any kind of link for that matter. My point is to not to think you're invincible with your link building. Don't think any link with the right anchor text is a good link. Stop thinking that the quality of your links doesn't matter...

    And I'm pretty sure you'll have better rankings and make more money.

    Andrew

    P.S. Just as an addendum, here's another link from Google about "low quality sites linking to you"

    Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Dealing with low-quality backlinks

    Of particular interest:

    "Finally, keep in mind that low-quality links rarely stand the test of time, and may disappear from our link graph relatively quickly. They may even already be being discounted by our algorithms."
    Great post and I agree with it entirely.

    The whole point of using profile links however is their low cost, ease to create, and effectiveness at this point in time.

    It is simply what kind of links can I get the most bang for my buck and time with and profile links are one of those at the moment.

    I feel quite certain that at one point in time profile links will not work, but for the time being, they do work and work very well.

    It comes down to this for me? How do I want to spend my time?

    As an example: Writing 1 good quality article that has potential for syndication but is not guaranteed to get spread around? Or spend the same amount of time to build 100 or more profile links (much more if you're using automated tools).

    I spread out my link sources much more so than many people because I want my sites to be prepared for the day that profile links don't work. However, using profiles to get ranked gives your site the traffic and SERP position to potentially get some natural links because of that ranking.

    The fact is that the best kind of links don't come often enough or in enough frequency for anyone to rely on. For one of my websites, I have gotten 3 guest posts on high PR, high traffic, industry blogs and there's no doubt that these are probably 3 of my most powerful links...but if I was to rely on those 3 links alone, I wouldn't have a chance. And I wouldn't have gotten those guest posts without the profile links that got me the ranking to get noticed by the industry blogs in the first place.

    It is my opinion that at this point in time, so called 'low-quality' links are a necessary evil if you want to compete in a halfway competitive niche.

    However, I completely agree with the overall sentiment of your post and that it is important for people to diversify their link sources and be prepared for the day that these 'low-quality' links don't work.

    My main sources of backlinks are:
    Profiles
    Private Blog Network
    Articles
    Web 2.0
    Satellite Sites
    Blog Comments
    Link Exchanges (This is the least utilized simply because it isn't time effective for me)
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  • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
    Originally Posted by AndrewHansen View Post

    However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites.
    This actually comes from a practice that real estate brokers and others were engaged in a few years ago. They would create link exchanges and swap links via 'links' pages. Google caught on to it pretty quickly, made some examples out of some high profile people and scared everyone else in to a state of Googlenoia.

    But, there was a problem with Google doing this as well because such manual 'punishments' made their search results less relevant at times. They had essentially thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater in some cases. Also, it was clear that less than ethical people could get competitors penalized in this fashion. So, they do seem to have backed away from this kind of penalization, quietly, and instead rely more on the authority of links, the context of links and the number of external links on a page and probably a few other factors to make a link quality determination.

    I do agree that profile links are somewhat overrated and of low value. I don't think that you'll see much long term value from them. However, they can be useful to promote a site if done right.
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  • Profile picture of the author simontts
    One good way to use forum profile links (especially if you are using an automated tool) is to link to off-site content such as ezine articles, Squidoo lenses and so on. This gives your better quality links more juice.

    For example, Expression Engine forums allow a www. link on sign-up with no anchor text (I usually put the homepage of the site I am promoting here). You can then post a bio section with 2 or 3 html links with anchor text. So I put links to my articles etc. that ultimately link to the same homepage as in my profile and I use anchor text the same as the article title. Then, I mash all those links into an RSS feed and ping them to RSS aggregator sites.
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    • Profile picture of the author AndrewHansen
      Again, I hope I didn't come across as attacking profile links in particular - that wasn't the point.

      It's really just a reminder that link quality does mean something and we should remain conscious of it as we build.

      Andrew
      Signature

      More Affiliate Marketing & SEO Strategy For Free Than Most Courses Will Give You If You Pay... http://andrewhansen.name

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  • Profile picture of the author Tom Goodwin
    One thing to keep in mind for everyone: Google will say whatever it needs to say to in order to try and curb link spamming. It is just how they operate. Do you think Google will come out with a post that says "Blog commenting really does work for SERP rankings?", even if we know its true? Of course they wouldn't. That would be against their own self interest.

    With the automation tools these days, IMHO, the only bad or wasted link is a link not built. You can worry about your "bad" links, i'll happily just worry about getting more links

    Tom....off to build a few more thousand links before heading off to bed :-)


    Originally Posted by AndrewHansen View Post

    The title of this thread is a sentiment that seems to have hit the mainstream sometime in the last 12 months (maybe before) that I think is quite worrying.

    The idea is that you can't get in trouble for any backlink to your website because if Google could "punish" you for obtaining a certain link then you could post a link to your competitors site and get them in trouble, blah blah blah.

    The extension of thought is that no link is a bad link. Every link is alright because hey... it can't hurt! It can't get me punished... why not?

    Here's the thing:

    Maybe there is no kind of link that can get you "punished" or make your site decrease in PR, ranking, authority or trust rank in the search engines...

    But it doesn't mean there's no such thing as a bad link!

    Maybe they can't punish you, but they can DISCREDIT a link... make it worth nothing... make it add nothing to your authority, PR, ranking, or trust. And if you spend time or money to obtain a link and it ends up being worth nothing... that in my opinion IS a punishment.

    Bad neighborhood links are real. Links that you create to your site, that for whatever reason (say a profile link type site that gets deleted by the site owner) disappear after time ARE a detriment to your SEO and a waste of your time.

    It's not just me saying this - it's clear in Google's documentation that they care about the quality of the sites that link to you:

    "Your site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites."

    From: Link schemes - Webmaster Tools Help

    I'm not saying to stop using profile links or any kind of link for that matter. My point is to not to think you're invincible with your link building. Don't think any link with the right anchor text is a good link. Stop thinking that the quality of your links doesn't matter...

    And I'm pretty sure you'll have better rankings and make more money.

    Andrew

    P.S. Just as an addendum, here's another link from Google about "low quality sites linking to you"

    Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Dealing with low-quality backlinks

    Of particular interest:

    "Finally, keep in mind that low-quality links rarely stand the test of time, and may disappear from our link graph relatively quickly. They may even already be being discounted by our algorithms."
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    • Profile picture of the author paulgl
      Originally Posted by AndrewHansen

      Maybe there is no kind of link that can get you "punished" or make your site decrease in PR, ranking, authority or trust rank in the search engines...
      Well, that pretty well sums it up. No need to go further.

      Paul
      Signature

      If you were disappointed in your results today, lower your standards tomorrow.

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  • Profile picture of the author cagliostro
    All i know is that half of my competitors in a very tight niche, are much higher than me and all of them have tones of backlinks from unbelievable trash sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author mejohn
    Here's a quote from Google:

    Originally Posted by JohnMu (Google Employee) 8/4/10
    Hi ShopSafe and thanks for being so active here

    I agree very strongly with what Chris wrote. Looking back, I don't believe I've seen a site that was clearly in a bad position only because of third-party activity (such as getting links from bad websites). Theoretically, it's probably possible (which is the reason for the "almost"), but in practice, we have a lot of safeguards that help our algorithms to evaluate sites in useful ways. Our algorithms are pretty complex, it takes more than a handful of bad links to sway their opinion of a website. Even if Webmaster Tools shows a million links, then that's not going to change things if those links are all ignored for ranking purposes.

    Personally, I would not focus so much on how third parties might be maliciously linking to your content -- go forward and focus on your own site instead! Improving your own site, making it useful & valuable for countless users, is always the best "defense" against individuals trying to work against your site :-).

    Cheers
    John
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  • Profile picture of the author rahulbatra
    Always try to get backlinks from the relevant sites and you will never face a problem like this.
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