Google looks for patterns of linking to bad neighborhoods

by Donna Fontenot September 29th, 2006 

Google's Adam Lasnik clarifies what Google looks for in regards to penalties involving outbound linking.

First, he discounts a relationship between outbound links and the supplemental index, by saying,

It's unlikely that your outbound linking is causing your pages to be listed in the supplemental, rather than main index.

He then discusses the fact that Google looks for patterns of linking to bad neighborhoods, rather than penalizing for the occasional bad link when he says,

Also, be assured that we're not looking to penalize folks for a "bad" link here and there. Rather, our algorithms are tuned to look for patterns of "egregious" linking behavior... both on individual sites and in the aggregate.

He sums it up by encouraging webmasters to consider their users' interests, rather than Google's, when auditing outgoing links.

With that said, it's certainly in your users' interest that you regularly audit outgoing links on your site (especially prominent ones) to ensure that you're not losing folks' trust by sending them to inappropriate places or 404 pages. Sure, it's great to keep Google happy, but it's usually more important (long term) to have your users be return visitors.

Now, I have found that having a handful of links to 404's can cause ranking problems, but cleaning up those links have quickly resolved the problems. So, even if you don't have a pattern of bad outbounds, I would still recommend that you audit your links occasionally. But it is nice to know that Google is more concerned with the big picture, rather than the occasional "oopsie".

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6 Responses to “Google looks for patterns of linking to bad neighborhoods”

  1. […] Good find by Donna at SEO Scoop about Google and outbound linking. She covers a Webmaster World thread where Google's Adam Lasnik clarifies that one bad outbound link (to a "bad neighborhood") isn't the end of the world; it's patterns that the algorithm looks for. […]

  2. rmccarley says:

    Just wanted to point out Michael's site kicks ass when it comes to inspecting outbound links.

  3. seorock says:

    Bad neighbourhoods are bad deals, one should keep away from them.

    We should also note that if incomming links from bad neighbourhood start hurting websites, then your competitors will get you link from them and soon the whole internet will break down.

    Thats why they are talking this slowly.

  4. […] In the SEO world, think back to Donna's post talking about Google explaining this exact thing, when Adam Lasnik said: "…we're not looking to penalize folks for a 'bad' link here and there. Rather, our algorithms are tuned to look for patterns of 'egregious' linking behavior…." […]

  5. still a bit confused on this…what they consider as a pattern?
    linking to 10 bad sites is ok?
    linking to 20 bad sites is not ok?
    10 reciprocal links are fine?
    20 are not?

  6. […] operates in much the same way – giving more respect to websites with good online friends/links. A mixture of sites is good, but avoiding spammy sites is […]