Bad Neighborhood

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What is a bad neighborhood?

In SEO, bad neighborhoods are groups of websites with poor reputations, often containing some form of spam or leveraging black hat SEO techniques. When you get a backlink from a website, you are directly connected to it. By being connected to many low-quality sites, your site could end up in a bad neighborhood, which can lead to search engine penalties and your site being seen as spam.

What indicates a bad neighborhood?

Bad Neighborhood
Figure: Bad Neighborhood - Author: Seobility - License: CC BY-SA 4.0

There are a lot of different things that may indicate a website is part of a bad neighborhood. Most often, it is some form of black hat SEO that causes a site to fall into this category. This is often caused by building toxic links or paying for link placements. However, sometimes websites will end up in a bad neighborhood accidentally. This could be due to them unknowingly working with a shady SEO practitioner, or even a site they commented on or submitted a guest post to years ago becoming a low-quality site. Another reason could be a negative SEO attack. During a negative SEO attack, competitors build a large volume of toxic links to your site/page in a bid to damage your search appearance or get you penalized. Below are a few of the most common signs that a site may have a poor reputation.

Low-quality content

Low-quality content on a site can indicate a low-quality site. Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are a type of site that commonly has low-quality content since they’re built to link to other sites. Content farms also commonly have lots of low-quality content, as do scraper sites. Low-quality content can refer to shallow content, content with keyword stuffing, or content with a high external link to content ratio, among other forms of low-quality content.

Bad link profile

A website’s link profile is an important indicator of quality. A website with lots of links from bad neighborhood sites can be seen as part of a bad neighborhood itself. Low-quality directory links, comment spam, and links from irrelevant pages are considered low-quality backlinks.

Lots of external links to low-quality sites

Link farms and websites running link schemes often link to a lot of low-quality sites. Even though these sites may not have many bad backlinks pointing to them, if they themselves have external links pointing to a lot of low-quality sites then they are still considered part of a bad neighborhood.

Spam and aggressive ads

Websites with spam and aggressive advertising can also be considered as low-quality. If a website isn’t made for the user browsing the site, then it’s most likely got a shady reputation.

How to avoid bad neighborhoods

Bad neighborhoods can be avoided by checking the websites you link to as well as the websites you build backlinks from. Ensuring you have high-quality content on your site and your site offers a good user experience are also important parts of preventing your site from building a bad reputation. If a website that links to your site becomes a low-quality site, trying to get the link removed by contacting the webmaster of that site is the best action to take. If that doesn’t work, you could use the disavow tool to ask Google not to count a link towards your site’s ranking. There are various tools available online for finding the backlinks pointing to your site as well as judging the quality of these links, including our own backlink checker

Bad Neighborhood

An image of our backlink checker that allows you to find backlinks pointing to your site as well as gauge the quality of these links.

Why it’s relevant to SEO

Spotting a bad neighborhood and avoiding becoming part of one yourself is an important part of SEO. By ensuring your website maintains a good reputation, the content on the site is high-quality, and that the site offers a good user experience, you can maintain a good reputation. A good reputation can help you can increase your search engine traffic and is an important part of an overall marketing campaign.

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