Imagine I have a software-related blog. I produce regular content on this blog. I get backlinks to my blog from news site or food blog. People are curious about my software blog and they visit my correct website from the site I got the backlink from. The websites I get these backlinks from have nothing to do with my own site, but thanks to these sites, my website has received a lot of traffic. Is this harmful or beneficial for SEO?

  • "my website has received a lot of traffic" - and are users staying on your site? An issue with irrelevant backlinks is that they can dramatically increase bounce rate - so it's not necessarily good traffic. (?) How are you getting these "irrelevant backlinks"? How is a "food blog" linking to your "software blog"? - I'm struggling to see this being a "natural" backlink.
    – MrWhite
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 12:04
  • Links from news sites are rarely irrelevant. Google expects news sites to link to a wide variety of sites. A food blog might post a relevant link if they are talking about software that cooks find useful or about software that powers their site. Relevant has little to do with the broad category of the site and lots to do with the specific context around the link. Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 14:33

3 Answers 3


I have a colleague that is better at, and more experienced with, SEO than anyone else I have met in real life, and he once told me how he approaches link building:

He doesn't care about Page Rank, Domain Authority or whether a link is nofollow or not—the only thing he considers is if it sends him traffic (which implicitly means traffic that converts).

An editorial link with low relevance is better than no link at all.

Every website ends up with low relevance links, for a multitude of reasons.

If you don't publish telephone directories, how is a link from the Yellow Pages relevant? If you don't sell data, how is a link from a data broker relevant?

If your on-site content is solid and you have relevant backlinks, the irrelevant backlinks are more likely to help you than hurt you.

How is your software blog relevant to your local newspaper, chamber of commerce, or Reader's Digest?

It's probably not unless your software is digital publishing software...editorial links from sites with credibility can only help.

Google tends to penalize sites with an "unnatural link profile" and as they rely more and more on AI/machine learning, even Google doesn't know what factors they use for ranking/penalizing sites.

Google isn't going to penalize you for sponsoring your kid's little league baseball team.


Depends on the quality of the backlinks, A quality backlink is a link that comes from a high domain authority website that is well-trusted by search engines and searchers alike.

The quality goes from 0 to 100 let's say that Links with a backlink quality ok 40+ are good, while 40- the backlink should be removed from the external website (let's say for reputation)


(to the extent SEO = Google traffic) My understanding is it is likely harmful (although if the originating links few, and high quality my reasoning might not apply)

I am given to believe that Google looks for commonality between the source and destination pages. I have been advised that if the pages are entirely different in nature, Google deduces this and believes its likely to be being gamed. I have no absolute proof of this, but it bears out to reason when I consider the following -

It is possible to but loads of backlinks cheaply. The problem is that they tend to hurt your google ranking, as clients that did not listen to my SEO expert discovered.

Google has mechanisms to disavow backlinks. Using this can fix seo ranking issues. (I bought a web hosting provider which had links from its (reputable, SME) clients in the form of "site designed by..." in the footer. It absolutely trashed the SEO reputation on the web host.

Most decent CMS/web software allow links to be "nofollow". I posit that this mechanism is in implemented to provide links to unrelated content without SEO penalty (although there are other reasons to implement it.)

  • 1
    "trashed the SEO reputation on the web host" I'd be interested to know how long ago this was and how you are sure it trashed the SEO. Not that I doubt you, it's just a debated topic and I never really see any evidence either way. I have hundreds of these spammy backlinks that I often ask myself if I should disavow.
    – Trebor
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 0:56
  • 2
    @Trebor This happened recently (ie within the last 2 months). I comment that this was unsolicited feedback I got from the customer that he should have listened to my SEO persons advice not to do it - so its second hand knowledge. He used to be on page 1, and has now dropped to page 2.
    – davidgo
    Commented Sep 4, 2021 at 1:06

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