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This might be a bit of a strange question, but here goes. Over the past month, I have written 2 posts for my website, which have gone viral on social media, which have resulted in about, 30k visitors a day over a continues span of 3-days per post (humblebrag!) It is a lot of traffic for my, still growing site!

However when I investigated past the social media referrals in the acquisition report on google analytics, I have noticed a small percentage of visitors came from links via other websites...great right?

Not necessarily, when I further investigated I noticed that many of the links (and there are quite a large number of them) were placed either in comment sections and on forums by users of my website, not exactly where you want links for your site popping up.

With that being said 95% of those links are nofollow however, many of them are showing up on my search console inbound links report...

My concern:

  1. I am worried these links can turn into penalties
  2. What does a guy need to do to get a descent bloody link these days? I've written as good a post(s) as any, which only resulted in 1 good clean link and 1 "okayish" link the rest are all from users on forums and blog comments.

Thanks for input

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    "I am worried these links can turn into penalties", but since "95% of those links are nofollow" then you can't get penalised for those at least. (GSC reports "inbound links", whether they are follow/nofollow is another matter.) But ordinary users do share links in comment sections - that's natural behavior, and I'm sure Google knows it. It's just unfortunate that spammers do as well - and it's upto Google's wisdom to try to differentiate the two. Well done on going viral! :) – DocRoot Jun 13 '16 at 10:06
  • @DocRoot thanks for reading mate, your comment pretty much sums up what Ive been thinking, I wonder if it is at a point now where google completely ignores comment, and forum links...but then again why does it show up in search console report??? Im hoping to get some definitive answers with proof and / or personal experience – Timothy Coetzee Jun 13 '16 at 10:22
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    A link is a link, whether nofollow or not. Why wouldn't you expect them to show up in your Google Search Console account? – zigojacko Jun 13 '16 at 11:46
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This sounds like a common misconception and understanding of linkage on the web and a typical view of many that are thinking about this all wrong...

The average natural website's link profile will be made up of a higher percentage of nofollow links than followable links. This is common and to be expected. It isn't always the case though and some websites link profiles will largely be made up of followable links. This factor alone won't determine the organic performance success of a website though, there are many other factors involved.

  1. Just because you have many nofollow links, this shouldn't cause alarm or concern. This won't lead to a penalty nor will be frowned upon by Google. Nor will this categorically not help your website perform/rank. Whilst there is a lot of opinions about nofollow links, more than can be discussed in a single answer to your question, there are benefits that come of them and these count towards a natural and balanced link profile.

  2. The fact that your content is viewed a lot, shared/liked a lot in social media and is generating healthy 'engagement' related metrics will have an indirect influence on your webpage's performance. That coupled with only a few 'quality' links is not confirmation that the page(s) won't perform or rank well. In terms of generating more real and worthwhile links though, that depends upon the nature of what content you are producing. Most content that goes viral tends to be the type of shareable media across social channels and not the type that many other website's would link to - those pages still perform ridiculously well.

Perhaps, for your next piece of viral-intended content, consider what your target audience will find useful which is not well-documented already on the web. Again though, what things to consider to earn natural links is a much bigger topic again that could cause much debate.

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    Good to see you again! You offer great answers. Cheers!! – closetnoc Jun 14 '16 at 3:58
  • You made my day @closetnoc- cheers mate :D – zigojacko Jun 14 '16 at 7:23

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