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Bad Neighborhood

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Has it ever happened to you to have a perfectly optimized site with lots of links and content and the right keyword density and still do not rank high in search engines? Probably every SEO has experienced this. The reasons for such kind of failure can be really diverse – starting from the sandbox effect (your site just needs time to get mature), to overoptimization and inappropriate online relations (i.e. the so called “bad neighborhood” effect).

While there is not much you can do about the sandbox effect but wait, in most other cases it is up to you to counteract the negative effects you are suffering from. You just need to figure out what is stopping you from achieving the deserved rankings. Careful analysis of your site and the sites that link to you can give you ideas where to look for for the source of trouble and deal with it. If it is overoptimization – remove excessive stuffing; if it is bad neighbors – say “goodbye” to them. We have already deals with overoptimization as a SEO overkill and in this article we will have a look at another frequent rankings killer.

Link Wisely, Avoid Bad Neighbors

It is a known fact that one of the most important items for high rankings, especially with Google, are links. The Web is woven out of links and inbound and outbound links are most natural. Generally, the more inbound links (i.e. other sites link to you) you have, the better. On the contrary, if you have many outbound links, this is not very good. And what is worse – it can be disastrous, if you link to improper places – i.e. bad neighbors. The concept is hardly difficult to comprehend – it is so similar to real life: if you choose outlaws or bad guys for friends, you are considered to be one of them.

It might look unfair to be penalized for things that you have not done but linking to sites with bad reputation is equal to a crime for search engines and by linking to such a site, you can expect to be penalized as well. And yes, it is fair because search engines do penalize sites that use different tricks to manipulate search results. In a way, in order to guarantee the integrity of search results, search engines cannot afford to tolerate unethical practices.

However, search engines tend to be fair and do not punish you for things that are out of your control. If you have many inbound links from suspicious sites, this will not be regarded as a malpractice on your side because generally it is their Web master, not you, who has put all these links. So, inbound links, no matter where they come from, cannot harm you. But if in addition to inbound links, you have a considerable amount of outbound links to such sites, in a sense you vote for them. Search engines consider this as malpractice and you will get punished.

Why Do Some Sites Get Labelled as Bad Neighbors?

We have already mentioned in this article some of the practices that are a reason for search engines to ban particular sites. But the “sins” are not only limited to being a spam domain. Generally, companies get blacklisted because they try to boost their ranking by using illegal techniques such as keyword stuffing, duplicate content (or lack of any original content), hidden text and links, doorway pages, deceptive titles, machine-generated pages, copyright violators, etc. Search engines also tend to dislike meaningless link directories that conceive the impression that they are topically arranged, so if you have a fat links section on your site, double-check what you link to.

Figuring Out Who’s Good, Who’s Not

Probably the question that is popping is: “But since the Web is so vast and so constantly changing, how can I know who is good and who is bad?” Well, you don’t have to know each of the sites on the black list, even if it were possible. The black list itself is changing all the time but it looks like there will always be companies and individuals who are eager to earn some cash by spamming, disseminating viruses and porn or simply performing fraudulent activities.

The first check you need to perform when you have doubts that some of the sites you are linking to are bed neighbors is to see if they are included in the indices of Google and the other search engines. Type “site:siteX.com”, where “siteX.com” is the site you are performing a check about and see if Google returns any results from it. If it does not return any results, chances are that this site is banned from Google and you should immediately remove any outbound links to siteX.com.

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