Don’t let bad neighborhoods ruin your ranking
Gaining links from off-topic and perhaps not-trusted sites may not be your first choice, but, reportedly, it won’t exactly hurt your rankings – they might even help a little. However, beware of getting yourself into a link exchange relationship with these sites and remember that you should not link back to them. Currently, the rule is that incoming links won’t hurt you but outgoing links to sites that behave badly, can.
In other words, if you’re left with only the option to swap links, be sure you do so carefully because linking to a site that has been penalized for policy infractions (i.e. search engine spam) can cause your site to be penalized as well. To help you avoid such a scenario, here are four cautionary steps you should take before linking to another site:
- Search for their domain name on Google and Yahoo. If they’re not listed on one or either of the engines, that’s a bad sign. Linking to them could get your site penalized and possibly banned. Besides, even if they aren’t a so-called “bad” site, linking to a site that the engines don’t know about won’t help you in the rankings anyway. However, if they are listed you can proceed to step two.
- Determine who is already linking to them. The more incoming links they have, the better. And, the more important the sites that are linking to them, the better. Their PageRank score is one indicator of how important Google thinks the site is.
- Beware of linking to sites or pages with a PR=0 (zero). This could mean that they’ve been penalized by Google. Granted, this test may not apply to very new sites, but if a site has been around for a while and lacks any PageRank, then you should be wary of linking to it.
- Avoid linking to sites with controversial topics. Good examples of such sites would include gambling, adult, pharmacy, or loan/debt sites (unless you happen to be in one of these industries and the topic matches the content of your page)
- You probably won’t be hurt by who links to you.
However, you can definitely be hurt by who you link to.
Written by Mark Stoffels