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low PR backlinks Good or Bad?

Posted on 2011-09-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have a PR3 site that has been around for about 15 years, and I recently started up a couple of new sites that are similar (housing related) and on both these new sites I added an IDX feed with thousands of pages and in each page footer there are links back to my main PR3 site. Since doing so, my rankings have dropped a little and I was wondering if having a massive amount of backlinks from one domain could hurt??

Thanks!
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Question by:Bang-O-Matic
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by:jhoekman
ID: 36545959
Although usually I would say that low PR backlinks aren't going to hurt you, it looks like your strategy of adding 'thousands of pages' with 'links in each page footer' is definitely hurting you. Google looks at various things when considering the value of a link, whether positive or negative.  Adding a bunch of links to quickly from one domain could easily be the cause of your drop in traffic.  

Another cause could be that the feeds you added to the other sites are actually stealing authority from your main site, and rather than adding new traffic, you are actually cannibalizing the traffic from your main site.  

Has your combined traffic between all sites increased?  
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Matthew Nguyen earned 250 total points
ID: 36545983
Having a massive amounts of backlinks from the same website can set off a red flag in the Google algorithm.  Being that you are linking from new sites, one would assume that your new websites do not have much of a domain authority, therefore adding to the red flag, gaining a ton of new links from a low authority site.  These factors can definitely play a role in your rankings as Google probably is not attributing any value from to your main website from your new ones.

So in essence, if you are getting a ton of links from only a few websites that are of low domain authority, they can hurt your rankings.  Rule of thumb in backlinking, you want to gain links from high quality and authoritative website that have a reputable backlink profile.  You want the links to be in the body of the page and not in the footer (footer links tend to look like Spam, especially in large quantity).  As well, you want your backlinks to come from websites that are related in nature and with your targeted anchor text.

Hope that helps.
Matt
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546027
yes my strategy was that I can get lots of low quality backlinks from some secondary sites and it wouldnt hurt my main site, and over time, google would see that these links were still there and hopefully the secondard sites, over time would gather some PR from links coming from other sites. Then those links would start being meaningful...maybe 2 years down the road.
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546038
i didnt mean "low quality" because I meant low PR
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by:Matthew Nguyen
ID: 36546089
I think that is the Catch 22 that you are in being that now, because your links are coming from low authority sites and a lot of them, that is playing a role in you drop in rankings.

What I would do, just to see if this is correct, is to remove all the footer links and see if your rankings come back.  But as far as right now, it looks like this method is hurting you more than it is helping you.

Matt
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546104
so if having lots of links from a new domain can hurt your site, what would keep people from say adding links to another competeing site? and bringing it down... I figured google had something in the algorithm that would stop that from happening.  I was thinking the drop in traffic could be due to the anchor text I used. Maybe I should just link back to the domain without using any keyword rich anchor text?? any thoughts on that?
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546112
BTW I did remove the links a few days ago and I'm monitoring the situation.
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by:jhoekman
ID: 36546176
>>>what would keep people from say adding links to another competeing site? and bringing it down...

That is a great question, and a supporting case for why I don't think that having too many links can have a drastic impact on your site.  However, you also need to remember that through C-block analysis of your IP, Google can detect where each site is being served from and who owns the content.  It could be that they have determined that you own all of the sites and are trying to manipulate the system and giving you a little slap in return.

BUT, I go back to the cannibalization of referrals, again, as a possible cause for your drop in traffic.  When you look at the traffic for all of your sites combined, are they increasing or decreasing?
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by:Matthew Nguyen
ID: 36546177
Sure, there are things that Google has set in place in order to track those things and if you really wanted to put the effort into taking down your competitor, you could, but the time and effort in doing so would be quite intensive.  In the same sense, the Google algorithm can see where you are getting links and therefore not give your site any value for those things.  Which then defeats the purpose of your strategy because even if those sites start to gain authority in a year or two, those links wouldn't count towards your site.

Again, the method in which you are trying to backlinks is probably triggering something in the algorithm because it is unnatural.  (Massive amount of links from the same website with the exact same anchor text and in the footer).  I'm not sure if changing the anchor text will help because your massive amount of links from the same website and the links are found in the footer.  

That's my 2 cents, again, is that the cause of your rankings to drop, it could be.  Would testing the removal of the links from your new sites be difficult for you to do?
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by:Matthew Nguyen
ID: 36546180
Sorry posted before I saw your second comment, it would be interested to see any results from that.
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546288
"cannibalization of referrals" I dont really understand that? can you put that in lay terms?
thanks!
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by:jhoekman
ID: 36546314
Sure thing!

You have pages on your site that are earning referrals on Site A.

You build another site, Site B, and through RSS feeds, those same pages now appear on another site, in essence creating two pages--one on Site A and one on Site B.

Now, Google comes along, sees both pages and sees they are duplicate.  It picks the best one for one of many different reasons, which happens to be Site B.  

Now, Site B is getting the traffic for that page that Site A used to be getting, in essence, cannibalizing the referrals from site A.

Thus, traffic from Site A drops and traffic from site B increases.   But, because you own both sites, your overall, or net, traffic loss/gain is a wash.  

In this example, if you were only looking at the drop in traffic from A and not taking into account the possible transfer of traffic to site B, you might inaccurately assume that your rank has dropped, when really, the traffic has just been taken or cannibalized by one of your other sites and you are actually fine overall.

Does that helps?
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546316
Oh you mean is my rankings on my secondary sites driving down the rankings for my main site on my main kwywords/phrases?
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by:jhoekman
ID: 36546461
No, I mean that it might have nothing to do with your rankings at all.  It might just be that Site B is now getting the traffic from pages that Site A used to be getting.  This can happen without a drop in rankings at all.

Remember, traffic is not just about ranking.  It's about number of pages on your site, the % of those pages in Google's index, the volume of search queries you rank for, the click-through rate of those pages, etc.  Any one of those things can go awry and you can see a drop in traffic as a result.  That's why it's so important to be measuring all of these metrics so that if/when you lose traffic, you can attribute it to the right metric and fix it.  

Does that help?
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546497
Oh I see, no the pages are all unique, and there is no RSS feed on either of the secondary (new) sites. These sites are also for housing in different geographic regions and split up between 3 different webhosts.
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Author Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546505
both the new sites use a canonical tag on every page so there wont be any duplicates (hopefully)
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Assisted Solution

by:jhoekman
jhoekman earned 250 total points
ID: 36546513
Hmmm, well it looks like you have your basis covered there as well.  Well done, BTW!  

Any way you can send me an image of your traffic patterns that you are seeing (with any real numbers hidden) so I can look at the trends?  Maybe in the last 6 months?

The reason I ask is because maybe your recent dip has something to do with an algorithm update or seasonality.  Seeing the actual trends would help me better ID the cause of the problem.

If not, no worries, the answer to your original question is 'most likely the links are not hurting you, but it's hard to argue with the cause/effect relationship which you noted.'
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Author Closing Comment

by:Bang-O-Matic
ID: 36546526
thanks guys, since I removed the footer links, I'm going to watch this for a few weeks and report back here what happens.
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by:jhoekman
ID: 36546532
Excellent.  Good luck!
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