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Linking To Bad Neighbourhoods Always Bad?


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#1 jonbey

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 05:50 AM

Is linking to bad neighbourhoods only bad if the links do not have rel="nofollow" applied?

Or can comments with links on your own website harm its rankings now, even if all "nofollowed"? 

 

User experience mentioned more recently, suggesting not just about flowing pagerank to bad neighbourhoods.....



#2 iamlost

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:16 AM

Define 'bad neighbourhood'. :D

 

If one is linking out the criteria should always be:

* does this resource add value to what I've been saying on the page?

* will it extend or deepen the visitor's knowledge and understanding of the issue(s) addressed on my page?

 

The exception would be if the link is to a revenue source in which case the criteria should always be:

* does this transaction fulfill what I've said on the page?

* will it benefit the visitor in an expected fashion?

 

Now, you tell me: what is the likelihood of those criteria being in a 'bad neighbourhood'?

Granted, in these days of hacked and cracked sites, dropped or sold and repurposed sites, etc. one does need to keep an eye on external links. I run through all once a year (there are millions of the critters!) but there are never absolute guarantees.



#3 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 09:40 AM

Of course, Jon isn't linking out himself, he's referring to comments, so he isn't consciously making the decision each and every time. It's gotten so bad with never knowing what the heck Google is going to consider bad, that I'm starting to think that all commenting systems should just remove the ability to include a link at all. You can, of course, Jon, do that yourself and avoid the problem altogether. (Or at least until google randomly decides that no links in comments is a bad thing, lol).



#4 EGOL

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:23 AM

If somebody uses google for search and google sends them to a website that they enter, click a link and get a nasty download... then they are likely to be cussing about google to all of their friends. 

 

"Google sent me to a Spam site and it killed my computer".

 

Does not matter if that link was followed, nofollowed, etc.



I run through all once a year (there are millions of the critters!)

 

Is this what you do in your spare time?    Or do you have a robot doing this work?   Is he a good judge of bad neighborhoods?


Edited by EGOL, 09 July 2013 - 10:23 AM.


#5 iamlost

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:26 AM

My points also apply to comments, if moderated; if unmoderated, well...

 

UGC has responsibilities - on both sides. Given the trolls and bots and spammers who aren't that puts it all on the shoulders of the webdev/site. Either take responsibility or suffer the consequences.



#6 jonbey

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Posted 09 July 2013 - 10:35 AM

Yep, comments.

 

Example: somebody commented on a page about Blue Cheese (I don't like widgets. I don't like blue cheese either come to think of it) linked to a rather boring looking website. This website then linked to a very ad heavy website on that same topic. 

 

I got the impression I was feeding people to a website designed to merely provide SEO links for other sites in same niche. Crap for users to follow those links as they lead to spammy sites. Google spokepersons have been talking about "build for the user not the engine" for a while and I am wondering if this is one more step to improving the user experience, i nthe way that Donna suggested above.

 

Anyway, today I removed a lot of links from my comments, just left the ones that were real little businesses. And even many of those I changed the anchor text to the business name (I assume they, or an SEO for them, placed the comment more for SEO purposes than to talk, although in these cases the comments were worth reading).



as for define a bad neighbourhood - any website that Google thinks is spam.



#7 SEOchick

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 04:55 AM

I wouldn't risk... honestly.Google algo updates are pretty severe these days. There's a chance for recovery if it's a manual penalty, but if it's not... then your site is practically dead forever.

I started to be very carefull of my backlink profile.


Edited by iamlost, 25 July 2013 - 08:50 AM.
removed linkdrop. Left as value from BK's post following.


#8 Black_Knight

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 08:36 AM

SEOchick there has just provided an excellent example of the downside of user-generated content. Registered today, dug around for old threads, and made six separate replies to old topics, each with a self-serving link to webmeup - apparently the answer to everything. In other words, spam.

To bring this to our topic, does this automatically make webmeup a bad neighbourhood? Yes, it pretty much does. Forum-spamming is something so old, out-dated, and frankly rude, that any company doing it so obviously simply cannot be interested in the quality of its links. Nor interested in how they are attained.



#9 glyn

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 10:03 AM

Agreed but who says that webmeup is guilty and it's not an seo agency acting on their behalf?



#10 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 10:39 AM

Well, webmeup may not be guilty - but they are still the one who will end up becoming the bad neighborhood. Perhaps it was a bad business decision on their part; but maybe it was somebody link dropping on their behalf in ignorance; who knows? It doesn't really matter who's responsible for dropping the links, the end result is still likely to be "webmeup - oh, they're in a bad neighborhood. Better watch out."

 

Ammon didn't actually attribute any blame to webmeup -- he just said "any company doing it [forum link drops]" -- the attribution of blame was to whoever (company or individual, probably company) was actually performing the link drop.

 

This is one of the big risks of hiring on an SEO, whether in-house or not -- their level of ignorance may have long-term consequences on your business. And their business may end up suffering as well, if they get a reputation for incompetence, but that won't change how *your* business gets hit.

 

Now, looking at context, the fact that webmeup is pitching themselves as a resource with "online SEO tools for Internet Marketers", I'd say that they are in fact very much responsible -- whether they're doing it themselves or hiring somebody to do it, they clearly should know more about what they're doing...



#11 Black_Knight

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 11:03 AM

"The buck stops here", used to be the amusing sign on the desk or wall of the topmost boss.

 

In recent decades, sadly, it has become common practice for those bosses to use scapegoats.  But it doesn't really change the fact that ultimately, you are responsible for the actions of everyone you hire or manage.  That responsibility is the job.  Anyone paying a spammer to spam, knowingly or not, is responsible for the spam they paid for.  Even an honest mistake is a sign that the management was insufficient, not providing enough guidance or monitoring.

 

Again, wrestling this back to Jon's original post, this applies directly to user-generated content.  You should always view UGC as a method of delegation - a way of enabling many hands to make light work - but ultimately, you have to provide enough guidance and management to make it work.  Any failing of UGC is your responsibility.

 

All those years ago, working with dooyoo.co.uk, we had a massive community (10s of thousands) of members who were all submitting content for small payments.  Managing and policing the UGC was a very high priority, and when it failed, it could cost us hugely.  Like the day we lost a six figure a month content deal to provide consumer reviews to a major UK ISP because the opinion on the front page, just submitted moments before, was full of expletives.  That was our responsibility.  As I mentioned elsewhere, we found a way to better prevent these incidents, but the largest part was in guiding and educating our community.  Making them understand better what we wanted, and why it was in their interests.

 

Here at Cre8asite we obviously have similar issues.  A forum is effectively just a huge comment area with no blog post at the top. :)  Years ago when we faced the first concerns about 'bad neighbourhoods' we decided to implement our own safeguards, with all links going through a redirect that was itself protected and blocked by the robots.txt, and links obfuscated, and generally ensuring that no link counted for anything in search.  Any link here, be it dropped in a post, or in a sig, or elsewhere, that did not go to the cre8asite domain could ever be indexed or crawled.  If you post a link here, it is for the benefit of the reader(s) only.

 

Still, Moderators remove the spam.  Why do so when it can't have any SEO effect at all anyway?  Because of the user effect.  A forum full of spammy link drops is a poor user experience that attracts nobody except other spammers.

 

And that, Jon, is the final answer.  Yes, bad neighbourhoods are not just about SEO.  Comments full of spam or link drops just plain detract from the user experience and can completely kill your site.



#12 cre8pc

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 11:57 AM

I got this at 3am this morning.  As you can see, we get some doozies here.

 

Hi, I just signed up but I am not able to join any of the forums.  Can you please advise what needs to be done?  I would like to post up some blogs.  Thanks a million.

 

I let this one in as a teaching tool, like a mother cat teaching her kittens about how to pounce on a mouse.  And because the moderators are bored.   :dazed:



#13 TheAlex

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 01:22 PM

Has anyone ever e-mailed any companies who spam (at least in name) your websites? I tried e-mailing a few once (friendly e-mail to make them aware in case they didn't know) but never got any replies.


Edited by TheAlex, 25 July 2013 - 01:34 PM.


#14 jonbey

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

Only when one spammed my paid directory and I requested payment. They replied "I don't think so", so I asked why they submitted their details. No reply - I assumed and SEO.



#15 jonbey

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 03:51 PM

One of my concerns is old stuff.

 

e.g. somebody leaves a comment (nofollow link) and the website looks OK, not spammy etc. so I pass it. Then 5 years later, after they have spammed 10,000 other sites, they are labelled Evil Spammer and blacklisted by Google. I am still linking to them, oblivious to their fall from grace because I am not analysing every single link ever left on the website .....

 

The assumption always was that nofollow makes it OK. But, that user experience thing - is it still OK?

 

I guess the answer is, it depends..... 

 

Maybe the only solution is to remove all links from commenters that are over a year (or a month?) old.



#16 iamlost

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 05:38 PM

One of my concerns is old stuff.

 

....oblivious to their fall from grace because I am not analysing every single link ever left on the website .....

 

The assumption always was that nofollow makes it OK. But, that user experience thing - is it still OK?

 

I guess the answer is, it depends..... 

 

Maybe the only solution is to remove all links from commenters that are over a year (or a month?) old.

 

I don't have any user generated content or the accompanying links... :) :) :) ... but I still have zillions of external link outs. And (as part of providing a good visitor experience and as part of maintaining my reputation (I did choose to 'recommend those links) I check each and every link at least once a year. There is a surprising amount of link rot for various reasons over time. And yes, even with a good bit of automation it still requires resources and time. However, I consider it a cost of doing business on the web and account for it as part of marketing.



#17 test-ok

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Posted 25 July 2013 - 06:18 PM

Why not just disallow links in comments?



#18 jonbey

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 03:53 AM

I might just do that. 

 

It really does not make sense on my site. Very rarely do I get a real reader asking a question and linking. When I do it is an unrelated business anyway, so unlikely to be of use / interest to any other reader. 

 

Removing the URL field from the comments section would also mean not having to find a way to delete all the URLs .... there are some plugins but they seem to remove URLs from comment field too, which is not what I want. 



#19 tam

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 07:06 AM

Removing the URL field from the comments section would also mean not having to find a way to delete all the URLs .... there are some plugins but they seem to remove URLs from comment field too, which is not what I want. 

 

You could do it with CSS

 

label[for=url] {
      display:none;
  }

input[name=url] {
display:none;
}


#20 jonbey

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:03 AM

That does not seem to want to play with my theme.

 

I will ask on the theme website, it is a premium theme so they should be able to advise.



#21 Black_Knight

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:05 AM

Hiding stuff with CSS is a very poor solution, as anyone can override your CSS, intentionally or otherwise, and many spiders - (spambots for example) - don't support CSS anyway.


Edited by Black_Knight, 26 July 2013 - 09:07 AM.


#22 tam

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 09:46 AM

Just helps ID the spammers :)

 

But yes, editing the line out of the code so the html doesn't display would be the best solution. If you aren't up for editing wordpress templates though (which I presume you aren't of you would have already?) CSS is a quick fix.

 

If you want to edit the php, you'll find the comments form under comments.php (via Appearance > Editor) the line is:

 

<p><input type="text" name="url" id="url" value="<?php echo esc_attr($comment_author_url); ?>" size="22" tabindex="3" />
<label for="url"><small>Website</small></label></p>

If it's not identical on yours the do view source on a page with the box and see what code you are looking for.



#23 iamlost

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 10:00 AM

While not allowing the link to render in a browser may have benefits it would still exist in the HTML so will be crawled and indexed and any SE value associated problem would remain.



#24 tam

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 10:33 AM

While not allowing the link to render in a browser may have benefits it would still exist in the HTML so will be crawled and indexed and any SE value associated problem would remain.

 

The CSS I posted would have hidden the URL form field, preventing any users browsing in the normal way entering a web address when they submitted a comment. It doesn't hide links.

 

The only downside with it is you are still loading the code which you aren't going to use, which is a waste of resource (albeit unlikely to have a massive impact considering the tiny amount of code) and anyone scrapping ie grabbing the html rather than rendering the page with the CSS would still get the form and be able to submit a link. Again though, presuming you are approving comments anyone who's posting a comment via scrapping and successfully snuck in a URL is probably going to be marked as spam instead of approved anyway so little impact. In fact if they successfully added a URL that would be a good indication they are spamming rather than have read the article and submitted a comment.

 

It's not pretty, but it would mean the majority of users don't see a URL option on the form and Jon doesn't have to manually delete the URL from each comment before posting.



#25 iamlost

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 11:54 AM

Ah. Thank you for the clarification, tam.

 

Although Jon could use the extra work to drain off some of that boundless energy...



#26 jonbey

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Posted 26 July 2013 - 12:49 PM

energy? huh?





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