Every SEO wants the “perfect” link profile, amongst other things.  Many digital marketers hope to one day achieve a solid link profile consisting entirely of high-quality, high-authority pages from well ranked, reputable domains.  However, a majority of websites, at one point or another, have received a less-than-desirable link or two.  Despite the occasional (and virtually inevitable) flaw in an otherwise pristine link profile, there is one important fact that all SEOs must remember: A few bad links don’t necessarily equate to bad rankings.

After Google algorithm updates such as Penguin debuted and affected the rankings of many sites and even caused de-indexation of others, the SEO community became extremely wary of low-quality links.  Rightfully so, as such links were amongst the primary targets of the now-notorious update.  In the months following the Penguin update, however, some SEOs noticed a surprising trend when analyzing their site’s link profile… a few bad links didn’t always hurt a site’s position in the SERPs.

Although “white hat” search engine optimization practitioners stand firmly behind the principles of natural, high-quality links, some sites have actually managed to avoid penalties even with several bad links pointing toward their domain.  In reality, a “good” link profile is all about diversity.

Natural links from blogs or online news and media sites are important.  As are links originating from relevant pages and domains.  Remember, a few bad links won’t ruin an otherwise strong profile.

While tools such as the new Google Disavow are helping many webmasters eliminate the risk of particularly harmful links pointing toward their site, it can be even more problematic for a site’s rankings if used incorrectly.  Even with innovations such as the Disavow tool, it is still critical for SEOs to monitor their site’s link profile closely and frequently to determine where the real concerns are.

Read more about Matt Cutts and the disavow tool related to the Penguin update.

That being said, a few bad links are not a concern for a site with an otherwise solid profile.  On the other hand, a few hundred low-quality links will almost certainly negate the value of even the most authoritative sites.  Overall, the best link profiles are the ones which look the most “genuine” to the search engines and as the saying goes:  Nobody’s perfect.

To analyze your own site’s link profile, try our new Website Analyzer tool and feel free to share your insights on link building and monitoring techniques with me on Twitter, by email or in the comments below!

  • Michael Stricker

    Good point, Bruce. Several studies demonstrated that the PROPOrTiON of ‘bad’ links to good was being calculated by Google, and only when that ratio exceeded a certain level was Google likely to invoke Penguin update. Turned out to be fairly forgiving, unless your site relies on high-volume bulk link-building. A ‘natural’-looking link profile and one that encompasses related and associated topics turns out to be more beneficial than a ‘squeaky-clean’ link profile.

  • Bruce Rymshaw

    If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. This rule applies within SEO, too. Marketers who practice diversity in their design and build a diverse array of links will see the greatest returns. Thanks, Mike!

  • http://seanvandenberg.com Sean Vandenberg

    That’s really interesting, the “realistic” way Google operates. The phrase “just be yourself” comes to mind here. Thanks, Bruce.