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Is Your Community or Marketing Site Dragging? Perhaps it is Toxic Links.

Did you know that there is a way for dastardly spammers and competitors to actually harm the reputation and traffic of your website?  Yep, I am afraid we exist in such a world and it is all Google’s fault :)   Over the last year or so, Google has focused on reducing the amount of spammy sites in its index…but the frenetic pace of changes they have implemented has resulted in an unfortunate side-effect.  If you get linked by a site they consider dangerous or suspicious – it can knock you down in their rankings.  Fortunately, Google has been kind enough to provide a webmaster tool that you can use to tell them you disavow the bad relationships – but you should be prepared for the effort.

Over the last year, we have been trying to determine what causes a site to be in a dangerous neighborhood with which to be associated.  By trial and error, along with some help from friends and other experts, we have accumulated the following rules.  It is a lot of work to identify the bad actors linking to you, but at the end of this post, we will tell you a little bit about how to get help (or you can just call me for an affordable service to do it for you – 646-334-1885  – we have to pay the bills :)

Toxic Link Rules

So first, there are a couple of definite indicators that a site is totally a bad site and the links from such a site must be immediately disavowed:

  1. If the site domain name is not indexed at all by google – I mean nada, no search results.  This means the domain is probably penalized by Google.  To find out, just search for site:domain.com in google.  If nothing shows up – bad news.  One caveat – the site could be brand new or having trouble with its search engine directives (robots.txt) – so if you trust the site it might be ok.
  2. The site is malware or malicious in some way.  If you click on a site link in the search engine and up comes a warning that this site may harm you in some way – bad neighborhood!  You can use this google tool real quick to find out if a site is harmful http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=

Suspicious Link Rules

Aside from the toxic rules, there is a bunch of rules that make a site suspicious and you might want to disavow (depending how suspicious you feel they look):

  1. You are linked to from a domain that has very few references (links) and the page  with your link has zero links to it.  While this could be a site with lots of user generated content (like a forum), if it is not a relatively new site – you should be wary since it is probably an automated spam site or link directory.
  2. A site with lots of links from weak sites and no strong sites.  This is probably a Link Network
  3. Most often,  the page title (except for generic terms like Home) for a page from a good site will rank in the top 100 for the title.  So do a quick search for the title of the page… if it is not in the top 100, there is a good chance the site is penalized.
  4. If the site is gambling, pornographic, or dedicated to hacking – it is not only suspicious for bad links – probably not a good idea in general.
  5. If several domains that interlink have the same domain name registrant (whois),  same IP address, or same DNS address they are probably a link network.
  6. If you have hundreds or thousands of links from the same site, this is probably a sitewide footer link which is often interpreted by search engines as a paid or friend link.
  7. If the domain has the same Google Analytics Id or Google Adsense Publisher ID as other sites, this is a strong signal of a link network.
  8. If the page that links to you, or any pages on the domain have hundreds of links – it is probably a directory, which have been dramatically discounted.
  9. If the domain has lots of short articles with many links, or if the articles appear low on the page with advertising dominating the top of the page – this is probably a content farm.

With all suspicious link rules, you will have to use judgement and investigation to decide if they apply.

Tool to Help

The good news is that we found a tool out there that can help.  It will run through most of these rules for your backlink profile and categorize them by level (toxic or suspicious or good).  However a good bit of work is required still.  You have to upload the list of links to your website, which you can download (in part) from google webmaster and other seo link tools.  Then you will have to evaluate the results and decide which links to disavow and then upload a file to your google webmaster account.  The tool is Link Detox from Link Research Tools.

Services to Help

As ome of you will not have the time or desire to do this, CorporatePA has designed a services package to find your backlinks, run the tool, evaluate the results, and upload the disavowed links to Google.  It only costs $399 and helps us pay some of the bills.  Contact Joseph at 646-334-1885 to find out more.

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