Can Bad Links Hurt Your Rankings? (Negative Ranking Factor)

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This is something I've wondered about. I've read on here and elsewhere where people talk about their rankings getting a boost after disavowing a lot of low quality links.

Does this mean that some links apply a negative ranking factor? Or is that something with cleaning up the anchor text profile? What's really happening in these situations?

I'm not talking about short term situations where you get a link or links and get a bounce downward. We all understand that pattern now. I'm talking about either getting poor links and seeing a permanent drop in rankings or getting rid of some bad links and seeing a boost.

Anyone had these experiences and has a better idea of what's happening?
 

Ryuzaki

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I'm one of those people that have seen the removal of 'bad links' help boost rankings, but it's not clear in any of these cases what actually happened.

If we take Google's word that they now can ignore the worst low quality links, then this entire discussion makes no sense, with one caveat. They say they can devalue and ignore bad links.

But the caveat is that we've seen cases where links flat out demote your site in the SERPs. So what gives? That's the caveat. Let's not forget that Google does have algorithmic penalties, which are invisible in the sense that they don't give you a notification in Search Console like they do with a manual penalty.

If we're to believe everything that's been said about ignoring links, Penguin now being integrated into the main algorithm and constantly processing, and algorithmic penalties, then the only way to reconcile this reality is that removing bad links ultimately lifts an algorithmic penalty.

But that's not necessarily been my experience. You'd think it'd be an on-or-off kind of threshold, where you remove enough links and BAM suddenly you pop up in the rankings. My experience is that there's no firm line you pass. There's a huge, wide line that has a gradient within it, where you lift 10% of the penalty, then 25% of the penalty, etc.

I'm calling that an algorithmic penalty, but if you forget the label and just consider the description, then it's exactly what you're describing. Bad links can hurt you and demote your site in varying degrees.

My opinion is yes, it's real. My understanding of it is as stated above. The only way I can make full sense of it is that demotion occurs until you reach a certain level of trust and authority and then devaluing occurs. Otherwise sites like Amazon and Walmart and Wikipedia would be absolutely screwed with all the spam and co-citations slung at them.
 
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This begs the question of "what are toxic links?"

I know of:
  • mass generated spam on spammed out pages
  • links you turn toxic by spamming them with tiers
  • PBN links that get exposed and stay live
  • crap nobody uses like guestbooks
  • image scrapers, alexa scrapers, keyword finders
  • mass social signals from spam accounts
and I'm sure there's more.

But has anyone identified any types of toxic links that hide out there in the open and appear good?

There's probably a point where your site is trusted enough (like Wikipedia or Amazon) to not suffer from an onslaught of bad links. Has anyone determined if that's attainable by a regular joe site like mine or yours?
 
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One of my site has got negative spam attack 3-4 times. First time,it was thousands of blog comment and forum spam. Site dropped rankings significantly 2 weeks after the attack. After disavow,it bounced back stronger (it ranked so well that I was surprised myself). Later on,attacks did not have much effect though I disavowed within a month.
 
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I had this email last week:

Hello guys, I would like to make offer for you. Please buy my services from https://www.fiverr.com/seosupremacy or I will create negative porn backlinks to your website and get it removed from Google index. Please choose. I recommend that you buy my gigs to avoid losing business. If you order my gig, I will take your site to top and if no, I will spam it with porn links and get you removed from Google. I hope you understand the serious matter.

Reported the user to fiverr but they probably won't do anything.
 

blackwar85

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I had this email last week:

Hello guys, I would like to make offer for you. Please buy my services from https://www.fiverr.com/seosupremacy or I will create negative porn backlinks to your website and get it removed from Google index. Please choose. I recommend that you buy my gigs to avoid losing business. If you order my gig, I will take your site to top and if no, I will spam it with porn links and get you removed from Google. I hope you understand the serious matter.

Reported the user to Fiverr but they probably won't do anything.
I have seen similar e-mails being discussed in various FB SEO forums I'm a member in. It's more likely that a one Fiverr seller is sending these messages with a link to a competitor gig to get him banned from Fiverr than someone trying to squeeze money out of you.
 

eliquid

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I'm not the best at crafting a message to win over discussions, but here is how I look at it.

If I can point X amount of links with 1 type of anchor ( tight anchor, say all of them are just "blue widgets" ) to my site and get it to rank for that keyword, but then later point X+ links with a generic anchor ( lets call it brand kw ) to my site and lose my prior "blue widgets" ranking due to either:

1. ratio of blue widget vs brand ( dilution )
2. too many links, too fast
3. wrong kind of links ( bad links )
4. ??? anything that fits into the black box Google uses

Then yes, there are links that can have a negative factor, even if that factor is just me losing my 1 exact ranking due to dilution of generic brand ( or other kw term ) anchors I made later on AND NOT JUST me getting a sitewide penalty.

It also works without the generic dilution too. If I use too many exact/focused/targeted keywords for too long, I watch myself rank for a term I wanted and then later lose it prob due to too many of the same kind of anchor, or too many of the wrong kind of links ( from a seller that got me to rank, but later got outed by Google ).

So yes, I have firmly believed for years and years that links can have negative impacts on you.

You just got to be smart when getting your own links, or throwing the links at competitors.

.