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Does Getting Rid Of Dead Links, Or Links To Spammy Sites Improve Rankings


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#1 earlpearl

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 01:24 PM

I'm getting around to cleaning up old sites. Some of them work fine, have high rankings, etc.

In all cases I've eliminated old links that now go to A) dead sites b )sites/urls that are now totally spammy C) sites that have a completely unrelated relevance to users.

I'm sure better more "on top of things" webmasters do this with far greater regularity than I have done.

My question is, having done this do you see improvements in rankings, more specifically in Google and/or the other engines?

Dave

Edited by earlpearl, 21 January 2009 - 01:25 PM.


#2 mrgoodfox

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 01:39 PM

Now that you have taken the dead links out, (and hopefully updates some of the content) you show SEs a more fresh (and most likely relevant) page comparing to your competitors and therefore your ranking should go up.

but I think its more like if you don't get rid of them your rankings will go down probably mostly due to the fact that your competitors might have more fresh articles.

Having said that, whether your raking goes up or not depends on the quality of the articles that your competitors offer. Removing dead links is only a small player in determining your page's ranking.

I suggest going through the entire article and adding fresh related content too. If you give us a link to your site we might be able to give better advice too :)

good luck

#3 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:03 PM

My only real test of this is actually a few years old, so it may no longer apply. But I'll share my findings anyway just in case it still does.

Getting rid of broken links appeared to positively affect my rankings.

Getting rid of links to bad neighborhoods appeared to positively affect my rankings.

Getting rid of links to non-related sites appeared to have no effect.

Again, keep in mind that those tests were run probably 3 years ago. And of course I use the words "appeared to" because there is never any way one can be 100% sure that anything one does has a direct correlation to what one see happen afterwards.

#4 jonbey

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:19 PM

I did a general tidy up of my main site when I moved to a new server at the beginning of December. I looked at the error logs for the first time ever, and fixed every error. Traffic has certainly improved, although no idea if fixing errors or just a better server (faster mostly).

I like to think that fixing errors (mostly internal 404's and some missing php files that were being included) made the site more trustworthy.

Still need to fix the code.....

#5 EGOL

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Posted 21 January 2009 - 03:55 PM

If you have lots of dead links your site is not a good visitor experience. Rankings should be reduced.

I need to clean up some of my pages.

#6 earlpearl

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 10:33 AM

Thanks for the comments. I'm aware of the theory, I was wondering about actual experiences. I think I'll record rankings for a variety of phrases per site now....and see where the sites stand in about 1 month.

Donna: I was hoping for hard experience, exactly like you provided. Oh well, 3 years ago....is 3 years ago. I'll report back in about 1 month. And "appeared" to effect rankings is exactly so. If there are changes I'll report on the "appeared" changes.

The couple of sites represent small sites for several local businesses. I know a couple of folks know at least one if not more than one of these old sites. (long ago I pretty much started keeping most sites confidential as much as possible--following EGOL's lead)--and damn--I still don't know any of his url's.

In each case each of these small sites had a page on the site originally set up (and long ago) to both create newsworthy updates and place links--some of which were reciprocals. It was sort of 1/2 a step or full step up from a links page.

Even with newsworthy events and references from appropriate points in more critical pages.....these particular pages never never got much traffic. They themselves don't rank for anything critical. In each case the total number of now dead links wasn't significant or large. In each case the links to urls that had evolved into something totally spammy wasn't great. The sites, and more relevantly pages within, them rank reasonably well for things that range from mildly competitive to really not very competitive in that they are focused on local things. Again, these pages with links don't carry any particularly worthwhile rankings in their own right for the various sites/businesses.

I'll record a lot of current rankings and check back later.

#7 earlpearl

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 02:31 PM

hm....I thought I'd add a tidbit on this effort.

I'm checking lots of rankings on a data center source for the businesses. I'm starting with one that has been effective for years.

The site/business represents a local brick and mortar business. Regardless the website has done extremely well for industry terms for years in all engines. (by industry terms I mean the non local phrases; dentist versus Boston dentist).

That was a traffic coup for years. Of course, on a percentage basis the long tail location phrases convert at infinitely better rates than the industry phrases.

At some point in the last year or two, the site started to lose lots of rankings in the industry, but retained all of its high rankings for local/regional longer tail phrases.

For the first time in a while I'm monitoring a lot of phrases off a data center rank checker. While the site has retained high rankings in MSN live and Yahoo for many industry phrases it has lost lots of ground on many of industry phrases in google, dropping from top 10 in lots of cases to the teens or 20's.

Assuming no or few changes to the site in the next month, trying to account for changes in competing sites, it will be interesting to see if dropping dead links and links to spammy sites has some of the same impact Donna saw 3 years ago with regard to rankings for phrases where there have been substantial drops.

I'll look at errors next, jonbey.

#8 earlpearl

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 10:22 AM

Hmmmm.....after about 1 month there have been no changes in google rankings.

OTH: hopefully readers experiences have improved.

#9 glyn

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 11:39 AM

Unless you lock down the variables involved in what you're trying to understand you'll get very little in terms of actionabel data. All I can say, is that if people were on the end of those 404s they are unlikely to be coming back. Putting my SE cap on for a minute "of course taking away dead pages will increase your rankings" (subtext - save our crawlers, money spent on doing the act).

I hope helpful.
G

#10 earlpearl

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:41 PM

I agree Glyn. As Donna referenced above, she took these actions 3 years ago and THOUGHT there might have been some positive rankings changes....but was not sure.

All I can say to date is that the actions taken have not seemingly had an impact within a month. But clearly I have no control over many variables.

#11 yannis

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:43 PM

In all cases I've eliminated old links that now go to A) dead sites b )sites/urls that are now totally spammy C) sites that have a completely unrelated relevance to users.


General rule of thumb for me is the following equation:

Action Will Lead To Better User Experience = Better SEO Rankings

If nothing else the fact that people are bookmarking and returning to the site will affect positively the 'traffic' part of a SE's equation.


Yannis



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