In the past, it was common practice for companies to load their website content with a bunch of backlinks, regardless of their quality. This was done in an effort to boost the site’s rankings on Google and other search engines. More recently, however, measures have been taken to stop this blackhat tactic from happening. It’s now imperative to only include backlinks that are high quality (as opposed to spammy or sponsored) if you want to avoid the risk of dropping down to the bottom of the search results page. To better understand why this is so important, let’s take a look at what makes a bad backlink before discussing how to remove them from your site.
What Are Bad Backlinks?
A backlink refers to any link within your site’s content that connects back to another website, webpage or web directory. It also refers to links posted on other sites that point back to your site. Good backlinks help your website to establish credibility and authority. They are a very important aspect of your SEO strategy. A bad backlink occurs when the backlink comes from a low-authority or suspicious website. It can also potentially be harmful if the page linking to you is completely irrelevant to your site’s content.
Why is it So Important to Remove Them From Your Site?
Removing these backlinks from your website is imperative for multiple reasons. For one thing, having bad backlinks will make you look bad! Bad backlinks are a high indicator that you, or whoever is in charge of implementing your SEO strategy, are using some questionable practices to attempt to boost your site in Google rankings. Back in 2012, Google introduced Google Penguin. It searches for sites who resort to using bad backlinks.
Since 2016, this technology is known as a standard component in the search algorithm. This means that it now monitors sites around the clock for spammy links. If you’re caught, don’t be surprised if you experience a serious penalty from Google. If this happens, your search rankings will drop considerably, which will be extremely difficult to bounce back from. Or, they may even choose to ban you from search results altogether. As you can imagine, this significantly impacts the volume of traffic heading to your site. Particularly, as Google remains the top search engine out there. And according to an article by WebARX, Google blacklists around 10,000 website every day!
Different Types of Bad Backlinks
There are five main types of bad backlinks you are likely to encounter. Although slightly different, each is equally detrimental to the health of your site.
While typically web directory submissions are a valuable way to earn some very high-quality backlinks in an organic manner, this is only true if they are coming from reputable directories who are also relevant to your niche. Getting backlinks from poor directories can have the opposite effect. Here are some good directories you should consider getting backlinks from:
Links from Blog Comments
Monitoring the comments that are on your blog page is also important. If you’ve ever run a blog, you’ve likely encountered many spammy comments with links that lead back to other websites trying to sell you products and the such. These are left by spambots trolling the internet. Spambots can be tricky to spot, as spambots get more intelligent every day. Allowing these comments to be published on your website allows your inbound link profile to suffer. It’s recommended you disable the option for blog comments to automatically be approved. If you can moderate those comments, before publishing them, that will keep your website safer.
Due to the overwhelming number of spam comments we get to our own blog, we have disabled the comment feature entirely. There are benefits to allowing comments on your blog, but there are also challenges. The way you approach this should be carefully considered, but definitely don’t allow all comments to automatically be published. That is too risky, in our opinion.
Links from Link Networks
A group of connected websites is also called a link network. These are typically shady, disguised as blogs or forums, but actually built specifically to provide a large number of backlinks. Search engine spiders are constantly looking for these networks and are likely to devalue the links (and therefore, the sites) associated with them.
Sitewide links will likely appear in the header, footer, and sidebar sections of a website on each page of the website.
Links with Over-Optimized Anchor Texts
Anchor text is the clickable text that appears in a link. If the anchor text in your backlinks directly matches your site keywords too often, this is another red flag for Google and can put you quickly on their radar.
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How to Find Bad Backlinks
The easiest way to identify bad backlinks on your site is to go through each one directly and determine whether or not they are relevant to the other content on your website. If they aren’t, chances are good that keeping them on your site is doing more harm than good.
The SpyFu tool can be a helpful companion as you go through this process. It will help you to determine whether or not the sites linking back to you have a stronger or weaker domain strength than yours. If the sites are higher, it’s probably a good idea to keep them active. If not, you’ll definitely want to work to remove them as quickly as possible before they have any lasting effects.
Another easy way to find bad backlinks is to run a Google search on the website. If no results show up, it’s a good indication that they have a penalty and you don’t want to associate with them.
Additionally, look for websites that are linking to you from out of the country. If, for example, you are a small, US-based painting company, there’s a low likelihood that a Russian or Japanese website has any viable reason to link back to you.
How to Remove Bad Backlinks
Once you’ve determined which backlinks you need to eradicate, you’ll need to go through the process of removing them. There are several different ways to do this. Perhaps the easiest of those is to contact the website owner directly and ask them to remove the link to your site. You may run into the issue of finding a webmaster who either doesn’t respond or who wants to charge you for the removal. In those cases, you’ll need to try a different tactic.
Your next step will be to disavow these links with search engines. This tells the search engines that you don’t want the identified links to count when they assess your ranking. You might also choose to simply delete the page or pages on your website that are showing up as low-quality. Although this is not an ideal option, it helps your website be of high-quality according to search engines again.
Should You Scrap Your Domain?
Finally, you always have the option of scrapping your domain altogether and starting over. It really just depends on whether or not your site is worth the time and energy that it takes to clean it up. In most cases, you wouldn’t choose this option unless your site has a penalty from Google.
A Final Word
As you can see, it’s super important to understand how backlinks will affect your website, both positively and negatively. Taking the time to clean up your site and remove any backlinks that might be hindering your ability to climb up the Google ranks is well worth doing. Be aware, however, that removing backlinks will result in less traffic heading to your site initially. That being said, you will have a whole new opportunity to grow your traffic in a more ethical and sustainable way.
Need help acquiring quality backlinks to your website? If so, let us know! You can contact us via the form below.