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Can Backlinks Have Negative Effect?


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#1 mgnm

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 06:21 PM

Knowing that you can't really control who links to your page. Can backlinks have negative effects with search engines?

#2 Jill

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 08:53 PM

If all your backlinks are from very low quality sites, then probably yes.

#3 mgnm

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Posted 24 September 2010 - 10:35 PM

Good point, if all links are low quality, it is a sure sign of spamming, or w.e you want yo call it. In general though, if you have low quality links here and there and most of the other links are from related resources and even if they are link exchanges. That should not hurt the site, correct?


#4 Michael Martinez

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 12:33 AM

QUOTE(mgnm @ Sep 24 2010, 08:35 PM) View Post
Good point, if all links are low quality, it is a sure sign of spamming, or w.e you want yo call it. In general though, if you have low quality links here and there and most of the other links are from related resources and even if they are link exchanges. That should not hurt the site, correct?


"Low quality links" implies they don't have much value to confer. If you're not receiving much value your own site won't accrue value. That in itself is sufficient to keep the site from achieving much search referral success.

But what if the links are actually coming from bad sites? That is a different issue altogether. Can those types of links hurt a site more? Maybe.

Perhaps instead of thinking in terms of "what may hurt my site" it would be more helpful to ask "what will just help my site"?

In that respect, you want to obtain links from trusted sites that show the search engines (and visitors) that your site provides valuable content that is trustworthy. Being less manipulative with linking should achieve that.

If you're just getting links wherever you can find them because "that is the SEO thing to do", then your linking strategy won't be very helpful. Easily obtained links rarely pass much trust or value.

#5 Jill

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 07:34 AM

QUOTE
In general though, if you have low quality links here and there and most of the other links are from related resources and even if they are link exchanges. That should not hurt the site, correct?


Correct.

#6 PatrickGer

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 11:30 AM

I was wondering this the other day:

If I wrote an article on SEO, and got a link from seobook, searchengineland, highrankings (and maybe 2 or 3 more in that league) - from authority+relevant sites...

...and search engines don't use links for the sake of using links but use them TRULY as "votes" - in order to determine if a document is better than the other stuff out there...

would that not be more powerful than 100,000 links from sites that are a)not authorities, b)not relevant to the topic?

If I had to make that decision offline, Id rather trust the recommendations from a handful of renowned SEO industry experts (who are actually knowledgeable about the topic), rather than what everyone else (who has not much of a clue about SEO) says.

actually theres a really good chance what the majority of people recommend in terms of SEO advice will be outdated by the time they recommend it (so the topic of SEO might be a bit of a different story).

Here's another example:

- If I have skin problems...would I rather trust the advice I get from the top 5 experts on skin disorders?
- or what everyone and their mother says?

yet another one:

- If I want to have an SEO question answered, I come here (or go to less than a handful of other places).........I do not call all my friends and everyone I know from high school and ask them for their opinions and then go with what the majority of them says about it.

Does it actually work out like this online, too? or not really? ...as in...a couple of links from the most renowned pages on the topic should kill sites with 100,000s of links from "whatever"-pages in the rankings? I mean if the SEs truly use links as "votes", and not for the sake of using links, I c an't see why it should not work out this way.

I keep on hearing that it might be more about the overall link profile, and that your link profile has to look natural (but that might happen anyway if the top sites recommend your stuff).

What's wrong with my theory?:-)

PS: I realize the relevant to the topic thing might be a bit of a problem for SEs to determine so far.



#7 qwerty

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 01:37 PM

Generally speaking, I agree with you, but there's no way anyone can give you mathematical proof of any of it. Are those 5 great links really worth more than 100, or even 100,000 "low quality" links? I don't know. What I do know is that those 5 great links are great. They get you in front of a large, relevant audience, and that's valuable in and of itself. It only makes sense that search engines would take that into account. And having those 5 links is almost guaranteed to get you more links from similarly-themed sites that maybe don't have the same reputation.

But then there's the question of relevance, which is always in the eye of the beholder. How thematically close are two pages from different sites? If an SEO article receives a great benefit from 5 links from recognized authoritative sites about SEO, is that worth more than 10 links from recognized, authoritative sites about marketing or web development, for example? How about 20?

Quality, authority, and relevance are all concepts that can't really be nailed down. The search engines do what they can to find ways of determining how to identify and measure such qualities algorithmically -- not an easy trick. You may find Bill Slawski's blog, SEO by the Sea, pretty interesting. He examines patent applications from the search engines and proposes theories about how they might make use of the technology those patents describe. It's educated, thoughtful conjecture, but it's still conjecture.

#8 Jill

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Posted 25 September 2010 - 04:24 PM

QUOTE
If I wrote an article on SEO, and got a link from seobook, searchengineland, highrankings (and maybe 2 or 3 more in that league) - from authority+relevant sites...

would that not be more powerful than 100,000 links from sites that are a)not authorities, b)not relevant to the topic?


I have links from all the places you mention, yet still get beat out by the low quality, but high quantity links.

I don't know if they have 100,000 but as per my letter to google this week, it's not always quality that counts even though it's what should count.

#9 PatrickGer

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 12:21 AM

thanks @ qwerty+ Jill

@qwerty: Maybe the google engineers actually do think along the same lines (that having the top 5 experts of a certain industry recommend something might mean its actually more valuable than having 100,000 not-so-knowledgeable people say it's great advice), but just are still (very?) far from being able to determine that kind of thing algorithmically.

the example I gave was basically the most extreme, that's possible and the vast majority of backlink patterns probably fall somewhere in between...so its most likely not that easy to determine it

@Jill:

interesting what you say about your site having links from those places, yet getting beat out by the low quality stuff.

In other words, my theory fails on the www, im not surprised :-)

#10 Michael Martinez

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 11:27 PM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ Sep 25 2010, 09:30 AM) View Post
I was wondering this the other day:

If I wrote an article on SEO, and got a link from seobook, searchengineland, highrankings (and maybe 2 or 3 more in that league) - from authority+relevant sites...

...and search engines don't use links for the sake of using links but use them TRULY as "votes" - in order to determine if a document is better than the other stuff out there...

would that not be more powerful than 100,000 links from sites that are a)not authorities, b)not relevant to the topic?


I would say not. Citation analysis has been proven to be scientifically unsound. But even if it could be assumed that citation analysis works 100% of the time (it actually works well in some contexts), links don't provide any structure for sentiment, much less for validating the linking source as an "authority".

Link popularity whether you filter it into a probability distribution or just tally up links (or linking domains) doesn't tell you anything about the quality of the linking sites. Just because a linking site has a lot of link popularity doesn't reveal anything about the quality of the information it provides.

This is the one sole reason why PageRank has always been a joke. It does NOT in any way accurately measure the "quality" of a site. In its original conception as a probability measurement used to determine how likely anyone randomly clicking on links would find a particular document, PageRank in no way offered any insight into the quality or value of the document to which it was assigned.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin had no clue as to what they were measuring. They tested their ideas against Stanford University's highly editorialized content. When they got out onto the real World Wide Web, PageRank didn't actually do much for improving the quality of their search results. It was their traditional IR scoring that shaped the search results people saw.

But the main reason people turned to Google was its almost blank search interface. At a time when every other search tool was piling ads on top of ads all over the SERPs, users found a breath of advertising-free air in Google's SERPs.

By the time people started to talk about Google and its highly-vaunted PageRank algorithm the damage had already been done: link-savvy spammers had crept into Google's index and found a free-for-all smorgasboard to play with. From about 2001 to 2003 people often referred to Google as "the Search Engine that Spam Built". Spammers have always loved it.



#11 Maria83

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 12:58 AM

One thing I've been curious about lately, while thinking about my own link building strategy, let's say I spend a great deal of time seeking out blogs in mind industry - relatively high traffic blogs with good relevance and some authority and do original guests post for them.

Let's say I target 50 over the course of a month or two.

Would this be superior as opposed to say spinning a bunch of articles and submitting them via some article distribution program?

To me the first option seems like a lot more work but yet I keep reading about people using these link building programs to get massive amounts of backlinks. Whether it's through submitting articles to a network of sites or adding blog snippets.

#12 PatrickGer

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 05:14 AM

QUOTE
It was their traditional IR scoring that shaped the search results people saw.

But the main reason people turned to Google was its almost blank search interface. At a time when every other search tool was piling ads on top of ads all over the SERPs, users found a breath of advertising-free air in Google's SERPs.


totally surprised to hear a statement by you, that goes against popular belief in the SEO industry Michael! LOL just kidding - I truly appreciate that kind of information..in a world where people who "think on their own" (rather than just accepting and passing on what everyone else says) are referred to as "critical thinkers" (when that should be the norm I guess).

Of course, I have to admit that I make that mistake myself sometimes ;-)...Actually, I did accept the idea that google became the most popular search engine, because of their much better algorithm..without questioning it unti lnow.

I have no idea if you're right about those claims, but I must admit that I have no idea if google's search results truly were better. I remember I was practicing foreign languages back then, chatting on MSN(i think) with a french girl and she suggested I'd go to www.google.fr (or was it .com) in order to find something (if only I could remember what it was).

"google" did indeed look different from what i was used to if i remember that right (I have no idea what search engine i had used before google)...and I cannot remember that I was "immediately hooked, because Google delivered so much better search results than what I was used to". I cannot remember that, at all, actually...

#13 qwerty

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 06:19 AM

I can. I wasn't there at the very beginning (which I believe was 1998), but in the Fall of 1999 I usually used Alta Vista or Northern Light, until my company's marketing guy suggested I try Google. It wasn't the UI that did it for me. I saw what I considered to be better results right away, generally finding what I was looking for on the first SERP, which had not been the case with other search engines.

#14 PatrickGer

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:15 AM

that's interesting..thanks for sharing - I cannot remember having that feeling myself, but i cant really say that it was not the case, at all.

i didnt really pay a lot of attention to search algorithms, etc. back then wink1.gif...maybe i did get better results, just not *much* better results...and thus dont remember having had such a feeling? can only speculate..just know i dont remember having had such a feeling.

could have really been the UI that did it for me.

analogy: I live in a small town (population of 100,000) and there's a supermarket about 1 mile from where i live. however there's also one 1,5 miles or so from where i live...i usually went to the latter, it just "felt better" there. A new supermarket opened...with plenty of other stuff around (i have yet to go into any of those other shops)...and i catch myself always going there. It just feels better..just feels right to shop there.

Better usability, I guess.... with google it might have been similar for me. Was it the UI that did it for me? could be, but i dont know. Were the results i got somewhat better? could be, but i dont know...maybe it was a combination? looking back i just cant find a strong reason why i switched, but i really cant find that with the new super market in my area, either (yet i go there 100% of the time)

#15 Jill

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Posted 27 September 2010 - 07:43 AM

QUOTE
Actually, I did accept the idea that google became the most popular search engine, because of their much better algorithm..without questioning it unti lnow.


Back then it was waaaaay better for finding what you wanted. No question. It went way beyond the UI.

Today there's not quite as much difference as all the engines are riddled with spam. Google does a slightly better job of filtering it, but it seems to be losing that battle just as the others have.




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