Can My Website Be Penalized by Google if My Link Profile is Penalized?

Written by Brick Marketing

A lot of sites owners are wondering, in the wake of all the Penguin updates and subsequent penalties being levied, could their site somehow “catch” a penalty they way you or I catch a cold? If a site that links to you is penalized for webspam or paid links will your site be guilty by association and also be penalized?

If you want an answer straight from the horse’s mouth, here’s what Matt Cutts, the head of webspam at Google, has to say;

…The most likely scenario is if there is a link-selling site, and they get caught for selling links, and they just happen to be linking to you, the value of that link that the site was providing, it just goes away…So typically, it’s not the sort of thing where you get affected by that penalty in the sense that you get demoted or anything harsh like that…It’s just you no longer get the benefit of the link from that site because we don’t trust it anymore.>

Basically Matt Cutts is saying your website won’t technically be penalized if a site in your link profile has been, but the value of any links you were getting from that domain will drop substantially (or be completely nullified). Although you may not suffer an official penalty, if enough sites in your link profile do get penalized your SEO can be negatively impacted.

Think of it like this—imagine your website had 100 inbound links. If twenty of the domains in your link profile are penalized for webspam that means 20% of your link profile has lost value. Suddenly your link portfolio is 80% as useful for your SEO as it used to be. Those 20 links still exist, but they are no longer contributing much to your long term SEO success. You cannot always control who links to you, and I highly doubt there are many sites out there with a “perfect” link profile in which each and every link is highly related, highly regarded and highly valuable to their SEO. Even the most successful websites are bound to have a handful of low-quality links show up somewhere in their link profile because anyone can link to any site they choose.

But since you cannot control who links to you it’s imperative that you actively seek out only the best quality link building activities. For instance, let’s say of the 100 inbound links in your link profile you only actively built/earned 25 of them. That means you can really only trust 25% of your link profile; what about the other 75 links? What sites are they coming from? What anchor text is being used? If you’ve only built 25 great links is that enough to keep your SEO afloat when the other 75 links become valueless after those domains are penalized?

Links are still very much the bread and butter of SEO and the links you do (or do not) build today can impact your SEO for months or even years to come. Even if your site isn’t guilty by association when a linking site is penalized you still want to minimize the ripple effect of damage to your SEO that could cause.

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