• http://www.organicSEOconsultant.com/ Miguel Salcido

    OMG, what a TIMELY post! I just found out today that a site I used to work on for one of my clients did not in fact die in the rankings because of links. The current SEO and I had a conversation since I’m still managing the SEO on another site of theirs and he let me know that it was a technical issue with a bunch of subdomain spam that their programmer created.

    The client berated me for days and pulled me from the account and blamed me and the links I was building. I assumed that it was a factor of too many anchor text links and not enough branded. But turns out I’m not at fault at all.

    So your post resonated well with me!!!

    Also, checking robots.txt is crucial and is so simple that it often gets overlooked. This is especially critical when IT is rolling out new pages or new page designs. They often forget to swap out the dev URL robots file and replace it with the live site’s. And I’ve seen it happen and the site it happened to still has not recovered the top rankings they lost, and this was over a year ago.

  • http://www.augmented-minds.com Augmented Minds

    Great post, thank you!
    I’ve got a question regarding 1. Check The Redirects.
    I’m using a CMS with a plugin to redirect. Now I’ve tested our website with the Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer and see a 303 there. Is this worse then 301? Should I try to get 301 there?

  • http://www.linkfishmedia.com Julie Joyce

    Hi…thanks for the comments!! And yes, it’s amazing how many times the robots.txt is the culprit isn’t it? I’ve seen it happen at least a few times a year for the past five years.

    @Augmented Minds: I’m not familiar with the details on a 303 (see this and maybe it will help: http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html) unfortunately. I wouldn’t personally opt for it but I’m not sure about the reason the plugin does that.

  • http://www.austadpro.com Austadpro

    This is a perfect reason why you should keep track of your link building. But if you have a diverse and large link set, having some bad links shouldn’t hurt. Site owners should also go through their comments and clean out spam. I’ve also seen comments where the user’s link goes to a dead page/site. Either get them to update their profile, or get rid of that 404. I’ve been diving deeper into GWT and definitely agree that it’s an important resource.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    Great post, Julie. I’ve heard Matt Cutts say that bad links don’t hurt, they just don’t help, which would argue for not spending time cleaning up backlinks. That made sense to me as it would be really easy to get a competitor’s site blacklisted if bad links did real harm. At the same time, folks caught in link spam rings do suffer penalties from time to time. Is this just a question of volume, or ratios of good to bad? Can Google ferret out “complicity”?

  • http://www.linkfishmedia.com Julie Joyce

    Thanks George! I don’t really think links hurt you…I think they might not help but in my experience, it’s rare to find out that bad links are the reason your site tanks. Other people think differently of course (in fact my fellow SEO Chicks blogger, Judith Lewis, disagrees.) In terms of complicity, I think they’d have to have a better grasp on semantic analysis to ever accurately determine that.

  • http://www.cleverlittledesign.co.uk Gareth

    The black hatters might disagree with you now – have seen a number of forums with people complaining about unnatural link notices from Google and losing their rankings overnight.
    Probably depends how bad your link is – if it gets de-indexed, seems you may get a penalty for having been there… which could lead to all kinds of nasties.

  • http://www.linkfishmedia.com Julie Joyce

    I’ve heard of that happening more often too Gareth…never witnessed it though. I wonder what the percentage of truly bad links is when that happens?

  • http://www.cleverlittledesign.co.uk Gareth

    You’d hope it was close to 100% otherwise black hat SEO might turn towards attacking competitors with splog network links – as I say, all kinds of nasties.

  • http://richardp richardp

    Hi, great post. I’m new to all this, so apologies if I’m asking daft questions!

    I have a 302 on the non-www pointing to the www site, should I get that changed to a 301? The website has been going 10 years.

    Also, sorry I am unclear on the comment about now ‘slapping on a 301’ – will that do harm, should I do something else to?

    Many thanks, I have just found your website and its very interesting, Thank you in advance.

  • http://www.linkfishmedia.com Julie Joyce

    Hi Richard,

    A 302 is for a temporary redirect whereas a 301 is permanent. I’ve never seen the change from a 302 to a 301 harm a site in any way, but if anyone has, speak up please! If you have links going to the non-www version, putting in a 301 may give you some nice link benefits too as a 302 doesn’t pass link juice but a 301 does.