SEO Question: Can external DoFollow links hurt a websites SEO?

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Here is a great question that was recently submitted:

“Many blogs allow DoFollow links with comments. Can these links ever hurt the Blog’s SEO? And if so, under what circumstances?”

Personally, I think the short answer to this is yes. If you have a trusted blog that is linking out to off-topic and low trusted websites with DoFollow, Google may start to query the external linking strategy and trustworthiness of the blog – thus affecting rankings as trust is one of the major factors, see this previous post.

I have long been a fan of a certain design blog which started getting spammed and it was clear that the blog comments/links were on auto approval – over time these spammy links got worse and I saw a drop in there rankings for blog posts which had been ranking well for a minimum of 12 months.

Moving forward, a lot of blogs now require a real name for comments so the whole blog commenting technique, in my opinion, may be loosing a little value in terms of getting good anchor text to assist rankings.

From a blog owner’s perspective, I always check the email address, web address and comments carefully. If I’m not sure about a comment, I will just remove the link or unapprove the comment.

This post was written by , Dave is a digital marketer specialising in SEO and PPC, and can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

One Response to “SEO Question: Can external DoFollow links hurt a websites SEO?”

  1. Dave thanx for the post!

    I started wondering about this for 2 reasons:

    1) I saw a flurry of warnings (think it was McAfee) after I clicked on links to what are otherwise very reputable sites. The warnings cited links to risky sites. The only explanation I could come up with was that the ‘bad’ links were probably in the comments. (Altho I now think that’s not the whole story…)

    2) I had a website from which Gmail suddenly refused to accept mail. After going through this with the server administrator, we concluded that the problem probably originated with 2 or 3 blogs (on other websites on the same server) who were exercising insufficient control over their blog comments. He talked to the blog owners, got this cleaned up, and gmail stopped blocking emails from the server.

    So, given the increasing vigilance of Panda X.X, it’s only logical that rankings on Google may also take a hit if we don’t watch our comments carefully for links to questionable websites. :)

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