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Can you have too many inbound links to your blog?

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of July 2005 Search Engine Optimization 0 Comments

A well known Search Engine Optimization strategy that most serious bloggers keep in mind is that the more links that you have pointing to your blog from other sites the higher your page will be ranked in search engines like google. This is a generally accepted strategy for building the profile of your blog and is in fact one of the strengths of blogging (as at the heart of our medium is the linking that bloggers do to one another).

But can you have too many inbound links pointing at your blog?

The growing opinion of SEO experts is that you can. In fact a recent patent by Google indicates that sites that have big increases in inbound links to them in short periods (especially young sites) can actually be treated as spam sites by Google’s algorithm.

You see a common strategy of spammers is to add masses of links pointing from many sites to their money making sites in order to fool Google into thinking they are popular and therefore worthy of a high page ranking.

It is increasingly becoming accepted that when launching a new site that the best way for it to grow in it’s search engine ranking is to accumulate inbound links in a slow by steady way – gathering links in what is considered to be ‘natural’ patterns.

So next time you launch a blog don’t link to it from every page on all your other blogs at once or buy masses of text links or even enter into lots of link exchange programs – rather let your blog grow in it’s own time. You might want to nudge it along slowly from time to time – but the best way to do this is simply to write great content that lots of other sites will naturally link up to.

There are many articles on this topic around the web (including others on ProBlogger – but you might want to read Do too many links hurt your web site? as one of the latest articles to do the rounds on the topic.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Vix

    What about if the inbound links are legitimate? If you were linked by a high-profile blogger and in turn other people linked you? Could search engines consider your blog as a spam one?

    I would sincerely hope this kind of classification is not automatic!

  • I guess the spam filtering is quite complex, and would be based on a number of factors including the quality of the sites doing the linking. a hundred 0 ranked pages pointing to one site overnight would raise a flag, 100 sites with pagerank of 3,4,5,….. suddenly linking to a site would be treated with less suspicion.

    The problem that I see is in how do you go about attracting visitors on the first place – you’ve got to somehow let people know you exist. Its not like field of dreams ‘ build it and they shall come’ (you won’t believe the number of people I’ve built sites for in the past who seem to think that just having a website is going to suddenly attract thousands of visitors to their door!)

    I suppose having interesting content that gets people hooked is the key, and the hope that your visitors run a website that can link back to it if they appreciate your work. Most of my visitors aren’t bloggers, so natural traffic from backlinks is none-existant.

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  • One of the best ways indirect to increase links organically is to ping widely on posting. will allow you to ping just about all the search sites with a single click once you’ve set up the page and bookmarked it. I believe this service is default for WordPress users, but for others it’s just as well to do it manually. Since adopting the service, which is free, I’ve noticed a huge increase in bots spidering the site in my logs and search traffic for even old obscure posts. These often result in links back.

  • Vix thats a worry and something I’ve had experience of with ProBlogger. I’ve had many inbound links in the past few months and yet for a while was sandboxed by Google. Its only now that I’m starting to get Google traffic despite many many legitimate inbound links.

  • Same thing happened here with our sites, we received loads of back links from design portals and friends in the first few days of launching and now we find ourselves sandboxed, been in there for 4 months already.

    The only thing we are hoping for now is that when we do get out of the sandbox and all those back links kick in properly then we will have a very strong sit on our hands….. Fingers crossed.

  • So after reading this post I go and check my backlinks and my awstats and I notice a high percentage of links from casino and other obscure, totally non-related sites (I’ve never even been near a casino site) – how does this happen?

    Is there anything that can be done about this?

    It seems that for any business whose main marketing channel is online can this be controlled before google blocks you? There must be a reporting mechanism whereby you can control who links to you – especailly the spammy ones.

  • Yeah, with the launch of Blog Top Sites a couple of weeks ago, we’ve already had links from about 1,000 different blogs added. It’ll be interesting over time to see how Google handles this and if we are treated as spam.

  • The other search engines don’t seem to be as bad about this, from what I’ve seen on a site that got “sandboxed” and is doing very well on other search engines. This may be part of why Google is losing share to Yahoo and MSN – their efforts to stop spammers are making for less relevant search results for the newest information from the freshest sources. In any case, I’m not sure what’s best in the trade-off of Google sandbox potential versus results on other SEs AND the traffic that you get from the links themselves aside from SEs. Would I rather have a site that sits on Page 2 or 3 of all the majors or a site that sits high on Page 1 of Yahoo and MSN and doesn’t make it onto Google at all? As much as I love Google, I have to go for the second.

  • Bingo!

    The Google Sandbox is going to end up killing it. It’s an obscene percentage of sites that end up in the Sandbox….which is strange, since they are essentially penalizing you for the same thing they give credit to an “established” site for.

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  • Vix

    Martin, I have the same problem as you. Spam referrerals were practically taking over all inbound links at my site.

    I’ve been using Referrer Karma which on any PHP page.

  • On a previous site of mine, i set up a php run rpg game. included in the game was a system designed to notify other people running the game on their server and have a link. For a while there it was nice, and gave me a nice boost to my page rank. over time though, when searching for my site, other pages more popular then mine would get a higher ranking then me! Needless to say, i discontinued offering the game.

  • Martin I can’t see any dodgy backlinks to your site via Google so the dodgy links you would be seeing must be in awstats and they are most probably just reffer stats spam. Unethical marketers hit reffer logs on web sites to make it look like vistors have come to your site from their site so that when you the webmaster checks your stats you vist the unethical offenders site. The scripts/services that allow these guys to do this are cheaply available unfortunately. The only good thing is that it will not have any effect on your SEO.

  • Well, this is good news. When Weblogs Inc’s PS3 blog gets a pagerank of 7 while offering no new PS3 content since May 19th, something has to change. I have an inkling it has something to do with the 21000 inbound links.

  • Commenting also gives you inlinks.