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Dealing with problem links

From: SEO: Link Building in Depth

Video: Dealing with problem links

In the previous video, we looked at the ideal link; what you really want to get when you're outbuilding links for SEO purposes. In this video, I want to quickly cover a few things to watch for, things that you need to avoid. The first issue is something we saw when we looked at the anatomy of a link, the rel="nofollow" attribute. This was originally designed to discourage link spam in blog comments, people promoting websites dropping meaningless and irrelevant comments into blogs in order to create links back to their sites.

Dealing with problem links

In the previous video, we looked at the ideal link; what you really want to get when you're outbuilding links for SEO purposes. In this video, I want to quickly cover a few things to watch for, things that you need to avoid. The first issue is something we saw when we looked at the anatomy of a link, the rel="nofollow" attribute. This was originally designed to discourage link spam in blog comments, people promoting websites dropping meaningless and irrelevant comments into blogs in order to create links back to their sites.

It tells the search engines to ignore the links, not to follow them, not to use them for PageRank or equivalent and to ignore the anchor text. In some cases search engines may actually follow these links, but they won't use them for PageRank and they do ignore the anchor text. Google has publicly stated that they treat them this way, for instance. Many different sites now automatically place the nofollow attribute into links. Links in Facebook posts, for instance, are nofollow links.

The pink links on this page are nofollow links. I'm using a Firefox add-on called DoNoFollow that automatically colors them. I can also look at the underlined code. I'm using Firebug here, and we can see the rel="nofollow" attribute. I sometimes wonder whether the search engines actually do ignore all the outgoing Facebook links, as they could be extremely valuable information. Still, Google certainly claims it does ignore them, so you should assume these links provide no value.

Many different systems now use nofollows. Most blog comments are nofollowed, but the links created by the blog owner are generally follow links. A lot of forum software now automatically converts links in posts to nofollows, though it's not as common as for blogs. And many sites with public posting such as Craigslist and Wikipedia also convert links to nofollow. Another type of link that generally provides no values are Redirect links, such as a link that goes through an advertising or affiliate marketing service.

For instance, take a look at this link. If we click the link, we're taken to this site. But let's go back and look at the link. As we can see in the code, the link is really a redirect. The link goes through some kind of tracking script, which then forwards this to the final page. Now the search engines can still follow links like this, and they often will, but they usually won't give credit for the link to the destination site, no PageRank boost, no anchor text association with the destination page.

Why? Because, and Google has stated this publicly, such links are generally placed on the site for commercial reasons. Someone paid for this link to be there, so the search engines don't want to use the link for ranking purposes. Which brings us to another type of link that may not bring you any value; what are known as paid links. Not the more typical ads as we just saw, but links that look like ordinary text links, but that somebody paid to have placed. If the search engines decide that a link is a paid link, they will not pass any value for that link.

That's not to say that buying links isn't big business. It really is, as you'll learn in a later video.

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SEO: Link Building in Depth

30 video lessons · 11824 viewers

Peter Kent
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