In a previous article (The Value of Links) I talked about the value of obtaining a link with the premise that “any link is a good link”. Well I now wish to add a caveat to that statement:
“Any link is a good link provided it is not in a bad neighbourhood“.
The saying goes that “Birds of a feather flock together”. This is the same for websites in the eyes of a search engine. If a website of questionable reputation is linking to your website, then it is possible that your website could be penalised by association.
I say it is “possible” because I struggle to see the practical side to this search engine methodology. You have no control over the people who link to your site and furthermore, a site might link to yours without your knowledge. Or what about the case where one of your competitors pays for your site to be listed on one of these undesirable sites? If this was the case, then it would be a relatively simple task to get your competitor banned.
Logically, having a single link will not get your website penalised. However, having a number of links (what this number is, I do not know) should and will get you banned.
The moral of the story as I see it: if you do not wish to be associated with the bad neighbourhoods, then do not actively go seeking out links. Especially if you are paying for links on sites which sell these links for outrageous sums of money and offer no value at all. If your search engine marketing strategy involves buying links, then judge the site, not on the length of some green bar in your toolbar, but on the quality of the traffic that it will refer to you. See my article When a Link turns into a Noose!
The best links are those which are found naturally by having a top quality site with valuable content that people naturally want to link to. Another very safe way to obtain quality links is to use web directories. There are many web directories out there that accept submissions (both free and paid).
The next article in this linking series will outline my thoughts on how to go about obtaining quality inbound links.