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Inbound Links Causing Google Penalty?


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5 replies to this topic

#1 matt77

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 06:03 AM

Hi All,

First off I would like to say what a great resource this forum is and how much I have learnt over the past few weeks. Thanks to all involved :-)

I have recently taken over SEO duties on my company site and was after some advice re inbound links. The site is about 2 years old and previously wasn't optimised with keyword specific tile tags and meta descriptions etc. I have now done this along with a re-design of the site. About a month after this process the new pages were indexed and showed poor results in the SERPs for targeted keywords (to be expected to begin with) and things have seem to gotten worse since then with the pages slipping to even worse results over the next month.

In firing up the trusty old google webmaster tools a found something strange in the inbound links section. I have about 200 incoming links from the one site, a government business directory all of which are broken. The majority of them look like this:

history.example.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=44&listMode=listLinks&path=4543,4548,4560
history.example.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=47&listMode=listLinks&path=4543,4548,4563
history.example.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=58&listMode=listLinks&path=4543,4548,4562
pocket.example.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=54&listMode=listLinks&path=4543,4548,4562
pocket.example.sa.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=55&listMode=listLinks&path=4543,4548,4562

As I said they are all broken and were found by google over the past few months. If I search the site our business shows only 1 result? I'm guessing in Google's eyes this would look bad and could possibly lead to a penalty??? Your thoughts would be much appreciated :-)

#2 1dmf

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 08:05 AM

AFAIK you cannot be harmed by incoming links, else you could use it to damage your competition.

It's only a problem if you are the one linking to yourself.

As you cannot control who links to you or how they link, don't lose any sleep over it.

If you would like the directory to fix the broken links, you could send them a polite email requesting the broken links are updated or removed.

This doesn't mean they will get updated as your email may never be read or any request ignored, it depends entirely on how they manage their site, its content and whether they have anyone who deals with these specific requests.

If the links are auto generated, they may just iron themselves out over time.



#3 Jill

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 11:01 AM

QUOTE
s I said they are all broken and were found by google over the past few months. If I search the site our business shows only 1 result? I'm guessing in Google's eyes this would look bad and could possibly lead to a penalty??? Your thoughts would be much appreciated :-)


Nope. Just another example of how Google Webmaster Tools needlessly causes people to worry about stuff that doesn't matter.

Don't worry about it. No biggie.

#4 LizardSEO

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 11:23 AM

I definitely agree - the broken incoming links should not make any difference. Google understands you can not control inbound links.

#5 matt77

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 07:51 PM

QUOTE(1dmf @ Aug 3 2009, 10:35 PM) View Post
AFAIK you cannot be harmed by incoming links, else you could use it to damage your competition.


Of course - makes sense when you think about it really! embarrassed.gif

Thanks for the help everyone, I will now concentrate my efforts of loosing sleep over other problems! :-)

#6 Michael Martinez

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 01:48 PM

The only "harm" I have been able to document from inbound links is that caused by loss of value when they either drop out of the index or have been filtered for violating search engine guidelines.

You do mention you optimized the site for search and about a month later saw a drop in rankings. It is entirely possible you overdid it. That's easy enough to check. Just undo some of the optimization.

I have not discovered a comprehensive list of things that might trigger these types of penalties but nearly all of them seem to be handled by automated processes. Matt Cutts has suggested that easing up on some of the on-page optimization might remove the penalties without your having to ask for reinclusion. I've seen several people claim that actually works.

What might kick in this kind of automated penalty?
  • Maybe using keywords too much on the page.
  • Maybe using too much bold and italics on the page.
  • Maybe shading text so it becomes hard to see.
  • Maybe repeating keywords (ala "keyword keyword keyword") too much.
  • Maybe stuffing keywords into alt image text.
These are an odd group of penalties that have received a lot of discussion over the past couple of years. People call them "the -950 penalty" (the most severe one I have seen), "the -30 penalty", "the -60 penalty", "the -6 penalty", etc.

No one outside of Google knows how these automated penalties get triggered. But people have reported that by reducing the amount of "on-page optimization" they have recovered lost rankings. The semi-confirmation from Google that these kinds of easily fixed penalties occur implies that they have automated part of their Web site review process.

It's one possibility to consider.




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