Not All Bad Links Hurt You, Google Ignores Links Also

Google doesn’t always penalize you for bad links, they sometimes and very often, will ignore links completely that they find to be against their guidelines.

Back in 2007, Google started penalizing sites for selling paid links and over the years they have penalized many sites for buying links. Recently, Google has stepped up their notifications of unnatural link warnings and with the Penguin update many webmasters have been obsessed with cleaning up their external link profiles.

Ignoring Links

But you need to know, not all links that may look bad or even be really bad actually harm your site. Google does in fact completely ignore links. A video of Google’s Matt Cutts from 2007 explains how link sellers can lose their ability to pass any PageRank. This is a tactic Google has used for a long time. Ignoring the link can often be very effective method for Google to ensure their search results stay relevant.

Google has told webmasters years ago not to worry about bad links but with the recent changes mentioned above, Webmasters are worrying about it.

Google Goes On Record

Today, Google went on record that they ignore links on For many webmasters, one of the most popular links that show up in their Google Webmaster Tools external link report is from So when a webmaster received an unnatural link warning or was hit by Penguin, they might assume it has to do with Google’s John Mueller said, not in this case. He said, “we do ignore the links from”

I’ve never seen Google publicly say they ignore a link from a specific site.

Many webmasters feel Google had to in this case because of the growing concern over link penalties and showing in so many link profiles.

Note, there is a way to prevent from linking to your site. It is written up in the FAQs on their web site.

Disavow Links

The search engines are and have created tools to disavow links. Bing launched a disavow link tool last night and Google is actively working on the tool.

This tool will help the nerves and anxiety of webmasters concerned over bad links hurting the ranking of their web sites.

Overall, Google does ignore many links that can potentially be seen to hurt a web site in the search results. And so does Bing, as Vanessa explained previously. This was the first time Google publicly said they are ignoring a link on a specific site. Finally, we have tools from search engines to help webmasters disavow links.

Related Stories

(Stock image via Used under license.)

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Disavow Links Tool | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Google: Webmaster Central | Link Building: General | Link Building: Paid Links


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • RyanMJones

    thank you for posting this. Many of us in the community have been saying for a long time: “wait, stop, think, don’t go obsessing over links until you’re 100% sure that they’re the problem.” 

  • Darthjr

    Scare a bunch of SEO’s into thinking links hurt then give them a tool to fess up to their bad links. Kinda sounds like Google/Bing is making SEO’s do the dirty work to me.

  • Brad Dalton

    Google are ranking my domain for porn keywords after i notified them about negative SEO and scraped content. 

    Google has also refused to remove some of these url’s even though it is crystal clear they are scraped content. tool does Google offer to stop this effecting my domain? Nothing.

  • seenontvstuff

    Great post, I too didn’t worry about my links because I don’t actively try and create them. I have been #1 or #2 on a competitive keyword for about 2 years. I didn’t lose rank on any of the Panda  or Penguin updates and never received any notices from google.

    However, on May 11, I noticed strange links showing up in my profile.  They were comment spam links starting on May 2 which as a few days after all the Negative SEO articles started to appear.

    Since that time, I have accumulated over 14,000 of these spam comments all with my main keyword as anchor text.  Yesterday I received the “unnatural link” letter from Google and my site was removed from google.

    I was clearly the target of Negative SEO and it seems to have worked like a charm.  I never would have believed it, but I can’t explain it any other way.

  • Andy

    Also… not always… sometimes… very often…
    What I need to know?
    Here is what you and all your readers really need to know:
    Google is almost always ignoring links except bad neighbourhood links that do not follow any specific pattern.
    And regarding pattern analysis: You should not underestimate the brigade of harvard-educated professors that work on that google algo on a full-time basis. They are a lot smarter than many of us ;)

  • Nandkishor

    After penguin update it has become first priority for search engine to develop a functionality like webmaster have control to remove a suspicious inbbound link, as I personally interested in such tool, using this tool, it may that link remains same but there isn’t any effect of such link to ranking.

  • IrishWonder

    Google sending a dubious message again. Now, people need to figure out:
    - what links will be ignored and what links won’t
    - if a linking site is deindexed does it mean links from it are ignored or does it ean these are the links that will hurt you
    - if you disavow a link that is ignored, what happens then
    - what actually works as supposed at Google and what’s broken

    Very misleading, as usual.

  • Seo Jaipur

    After a Long Time, I have Received  Good News About Back links or In Bounds Links. Thanks Googlers

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