Bad NeighbourhoodHave you checked your Google Webmaster Tools recently?  Google is warning web site owners when  they are engaging in poor quality or artificial link building (“bad neighborhoods”) as part of the Google drive to maintain quality search results.

Unnatural link building, usually done as part of cheap link building search engine optimisation service, is against Google’s quality guidelines.

Bad links don’t happen by accident.  And quite simply, bad quality links will be hurting your rankings in the search engines.

Here is an example of what the warning looks like:


google warning unnatural links

What is a Bad Neighborhood?

A bad neighbourhood is a collection of interlinked websites, networked blogs or link directories whose main purpose is to provide links for increasing search engine rankings.

You should avoid both being linked from, and linking to one of these bad neighborhood websites unless you want to risk the negative repercussions whereby the search engines think your website is also one of these bad websites out to cause trouble for it’s own search results.

A bad website will typically not exercise discretion, relevancy or appropriateness when linking out to other website and can thus become categorised as being part of a bad neighbourhood.

If your website receives too many links from these bad websites, you may then fall victim to negative rankings or find that your site is penalised or even removed from search indexes. On the flip side, it can also hurt your rankings if you link out to too many non-relevant or inappropriate websites that do not share a similar theme to your own website. Doing so means you risk devaluing your own ranking potential by being seen or perceived as a link spammer or member of a bad neighbourhood.


How do unknowingly you fall victim to bad neighborhoods?

If you’re paying for someone to provide you with link building services, do you know precisely where your links are coming from? Or are you simply paying, hoping for the best and choosing not to ask questions.

Quality links that point back to your website are hard to get. Good links take time to acquire through both relationship building with the people who have the potential to give or provide links and the authoring of better than average content that is valuable to a website. Remember, a few quality links will yield far greater results than a high quantity of irrelevant links.

Fortunately there are tools such as the Bad Neighbourhood Link Checker available that will make the process of identifying whether or not you’re linking out to any bad neighborhood websites from your own website so that you can spot and correct this.


How can you tell if another website is part of a Bad Neighborhood?

  • How can you tell if a website is part of a bad neighbourhood?
    The Google toolbar provides the facility to see a site’s toolbar Page Rank, which is an indication as to how well Google trusts a website. If the toolbar Page Rank of the website you’re viewing is 0, then this is a good indication that Google doesn’t trust the site or the site is very new. If the site does not look or feel new, then it may well have been penalised for being a bad neighbor.
  • When looking around a website, who are they linking to? Do they link to the sorts of people, companies, organisations or websites you might expect them to be linking to? Or do you see the site linking out to off topic websites? Is the website related to adult themed or illegal industries? i.e. Gambling, drugs, pharmaceuticals or sex…
  • Is the content of the website you’re viewing been written with care and attention?
    Website owners that en devour to take short-cuts in their own content often accept content with links to other off topic websites and is a strong indication of a poor quality. A quality website, would only accept content that is on topic and of value to their own readers or audience.
  • For the reason that poor quality sites have a greater potential to be part of a bad link neighborhood you will want to avoid being associated with any of these sites in order to protect the reputation of your site from being hurt, which in turn can hurt your rankings.


Further Reading

What does Google know about you?
Finding Blogging Opportunities
Why Won’t Anyone Link to my Website?

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