Bad Neighborhoods

When you were growing up, your mom probably told you not to associate with the wrong type of people or hang out in bad neighborhoods. Your reputation was at stake.

Mom was right.

People judge you by the company you keep and it’s hard to correct a bad public image.

It’s never more true than in the search engine’s critical eyes. Mom’s coming back to haunt you. After all, you’ve worked hard on keeping a squeaky clean business and online reputation.

Link Bad Neighborhoods make bad associates

The new search engine algorithms are like Mom. They’re watching not only who you’re linking up with, but who’s is trying to link with you. And they’re sending your site to the penalty box if you’re meeting and hanging with the wrong crowd.

Google is exact with their definition of bad link neighborhoods. Basically, these neighborhoods are manipulative link schemes involving outbound and inbound linking.

So here are a few examples of bad neighborhood outbound and inbound linking –

  1. Links to/from nefarious sites such as gambling and porn (known spammers)
  2. Links to/from sites that don’t have a thing to do with your niche
  3. Links left on your site through comments
  4. Buying backlinks from link farms
  5. Inconsistent content such as gardening and electronic equipment on the same site
  6. Reciprocal links from sites that aren’t relevant to your niche
  7. Linking to/from sites that have too many links
  8. Linking to/from sites with too many adds
  9. Poor content on either your site or the site creating inbound links
  10. Links from unindexed sites – maybe they’re new but most likely banned because they got caught trying to fool the search engines in some way

How to find out if you’re getting good neighborhood links

SEO companies constantly monitor their clients’ inbound links to make sure that web scum and saboteurs are not riding off their clients’ sites trust and credibility. You can check inbound links by typing “site:your URL” into your browser.

If more links from good ‘hoods significantly outweigh those from bad hangouts, you usually won’t have a problem avoiding becoming a social outcast.

What to do if bad neighbors blackening your reputation

New sites are like the new kid in school.  Many times they are either picked on because they are shy or have their coattails ridden if they show up with enough clout.

Who doesn’t want to be friends with the daughter of the richest man in the world or the best student athlete in the city?

If your site is brand, spanking new, or relatively new, it’s a good idea to get rid of all the bad neighborhood links you can.

First off, analyze your own site to see if inbound links from good neighborhoods outrank those from dubious side of the track.

If your site is relatively new, you might be borderline. If you’ve a problem with bad inbound links, you have several options. These options can be time-consuming, but worth the effort to take care of.

If folks from the bad neighborhoods are linking to you, you should first notify the webmaster of the site to delete their link to your site.

Your next step would be to notify Google about the incoming link using the disavow feature to remove unnatural inbound links.

Worst to worst case scenario, you will have to block offenders through your web server settings.

Your company’s online credibility is dependent on others’ opinion. If you’re hanging out with the wrong folks in dubious neighborhoods, you become the proverbial black sheep. Mom was right. It pays to keep your reputation squeaky clean.