A while ago I posted a natural SEO piece talking about reciprocal linking and interlinking that was criticized for giving insufficient information on linking out in general. I did really say too little on the notorious ‘bad neighborhood’ that should be taking into account when linking out.
I did point out that most often it is impossible to tell if the website you are going to link to is considered ‘bad neighborhood’ or not. What’s more, the term itself is too vague to define anything or help in any way.
Alternatively, I can’t deny the fact that Google does really pay attention to what you are linking to and form their judgments of your website accordingly. So if you do have any doubts if the site you need to link to is ‘good neighborhood’ (to be perfectly honest I dislike both the terms but can’t help using them as everyone does), the least you can do is to run a quick search with site: and link: operators to make sure there is nothing alerting at this stage.
In case you still doubt if the site is worth linking to, here are a few nice tools that can help you catch (evident) SPAM (NOTE: the following tools can be also used on numerous occasions besides the one I am talking about, e.g. to find black and gray(ish) tactics your competitors are using):
Search engine SPAM detector detects a few types of black-hat tricks:
- hidden text;
- unnatural text (i.e. common ways webmasters tend to use to automate content creation);
- keyword stuffing;
- doorway pages.
The most curious feature of the tool is its ‘hidden’ text option making it clear what type of hidden text can be caught for sure and how it might be treated (by showing both invisible text methods and purpose).
Bad Neighborhood Tool scans external links on a page and detects ‘bad links’ by:
- finding blog spam;
- showing pages with too many links of its own;
- pages redirected to another location;
- finding ‘questionable’ terms in a link anchor text (e.g. ‘adult’, ‘drug’, etc).
Shared IPs tool shows websites sharing same IP with the one under question. The wisest way to use it is to try and find other sites owned by the person you are exploring. Search engines hate networks and it’s highly recommended to avoid linking to them.
Please mind, the tools should be used to get additional help. They do not provide any unquestionable information you can freely rely on. The second one, for example, identified wiki link as a ‘bad link’ as it contained ‘poker’ in the anchor text (the site I was checking is all about poker by the way).