Amidst all those people raving about the importance of link building in SEO, what if someone stands up and says: Backlinks can be harmful to your site?
You will wait for a while, think about the efforts you have made until now on SEO link building, and right now, you might be considering yourself as boo-boo the fool.
So who is right?
One who claims that link building in SEO is like a lifeline?
Or the one who is showcasing backlinks as the bad boy of the SEO world?
The truth is that both of them are right.
Now you might be thinking, how is it possible?
Well, it all depends on the type of link building service you are sticking to.
There are good links and bad links, and both have their share of positive and negative impacts on your website.
That’s why it is important to keep checking backlinks of a website an essential part of your monthly SEO goals.
But before knowing what bad links can do for your site, let’s find out what the ‘good’ part of link building is?
The simple answer to this question is: Because it helps in SEO.
It is one of the most relevant SEO best practices that SEOs are holding on to.
It is no more a hidden secret that Google link building helps you to rank your site higher.
This has been proved by many industry’s studies.
In fact, that’s not what the industry’s biggies are saying only.
Google itself confirmed in 2016 that it considers links as one of the top three ranking factors.
So if you have been spending on link building strategy, pat yourself.
You were not wrong.
The idea is that Google considers backlinks coming to your site as a vote. More quality votes you get, the higher your authority rockets in Google’s eyes.
But wait! Before giving yourself a pat, you need to think about what kind of links you have been building?
Were they worth considering for Google, or were they just lame efforts to fill your link building box in monthly SEO’s planner?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, here I have made things easier for you:
What are Bad Links?
Now that’s a very interesting question because its interpretation might make you laugh.
Bad backlinks are like the bad boys of the street.
Don’t belong to good localities.
Are jaywalkers roaming around aimlessly, without any targeted purpose.
Have sneaky history and rule violation background.
In other words, bad links have everything that is enough to label them as ‘bad.’
Well, these bad links were not considered as bad boys until Google rolled out Penguin Algorithm in 2012.
Before that, SEOs used to have heydays. They could do anything, everything to get a link.
Link spamming, link buying, and PBNs were common practices, and they all worked.
But not anymore.
So any link that can…
Manipulate search results
Violate quality guidelines
Ditch the system
… is a bad link.
Google has further elaborated it as:
- Buying or selling links
- Link exchange for the sake of link building alone
- Excessive keyword-rich guest posting
- Automatically generated backlinks
- Forcefully demanding a link in exchange for a favor
If you or your link building service provider has been involved in any one of the activities, you have been doing bad SEO linking.
In other words, if you buy links by paying linking sites, it is not a good idea. However, if you buy outreach links from a blogger outreach agency, they are good to go.
So if you have been involved in any one of the above-mentioned fishy practices, you should work on removing the marks of your bad practices.
It is time to start checking backlinks of a website and save it from falling into the shallow ditch of Google penalty and devaluing.
How Do Bad Links Affect Your SEO Efforts?
Just like Google considers good links as a vote of confidence, bad links are like a vote of demotion against your site.
Whenever any link points to your site that doesn’t qualify the quality guidelines, Google’s Penguin reports to the system.
And you can expect the results!
In fact, John Muller, Google’s Webmaster trend analysts, has said in one of its Google+ hangout videos that it is better to lay off link building altogether.
A webmaster asked him: “Is link building in any way good?”
And he replied to: “…avoid it altogether.”
Now, this sounds quite scary.
But he further elaborated that focusing ‘only on link building’ can be problematic.
In other words, getting backlinks just for the sake of getting links is the main issue.
You should naturally earn a link, not deliberately build them in different sneaky ways.
But this was not the case before.
More links, no matter from where they were fetched, were considered as the best practices.
That’s where the idea of directory submission, online commenting, poor article forums, and building private networking sites became a common culture among SEOs.
But now things have changed, and all links fetched through sneaky activities are considered bad links.
In this case, hope you don’t expect the system to be lenient to you because it can result in two things – bad one:
- Either your website will lose its ranking.
- Or the worst, it will vanish from the search results.
And that can be the worst nightmare of any business to see itself getting totally wiped out from the search results.
So, backlink monitoring should be the routine part of your monthly SEO tasks.
Google doesn’t always take manual action against bad links, but it doesn’t consider them as well for ranking your site.
It just ignores them. That’s it.
It is also not a good sign.
If Google ignores your links, it means all your link building efforts are getting wasted.
So before bad links get on to the nerves of your whole SEO link building strategies, you should keep on checking backlinks of a website.
Generate backlinks but only by following the proper and right link building methods.
In case you have ended up getting bad links, this is not the end of the online world for you.
Here are some ways that can wipe your bad link building past and give you a clean slate where you can work to rebuild authority in Google’s eye without any burden of shady history.
How to Find and Remove Bad Links?
You can simply find bad backlinks through one of these criteria:
- If they are coming from an unauthoritative site
- If they look spammy
- If they have overly-optimized anchor text
- If they are gained through manipulative techniques
- If they are placed within duplicate content
- If they are not from a niche-relevant site
- If they don’t look editorially placed
- If they are not from the targeted region
If your link is doing any one of these, it is time that you start working to remove them.
But the problem is that most of the time, you are not the one who has built links.
Either you have hired a cheap SEO company involved in shady link building practices.
A dirty inner secret of the SEO world is that your competitors can also build bad links for your site so that they can dethrone your site from the number one position.
Whichever situation has hurt your backlink profile, it is time that you should clean your website from toxic links.
This procedure falls into four steps:
STEP 1: Find Out Bad Links
The good thing is that you don’t have to spend days finding your bad links.
Many backlink checkers in the market can tell you…
- From where your link is coming
- Is your link good or bad
- check number of backlinks to a website
- history check of backlinks to a website
Some of the best backlink checkers in the market include:
SEMrush Backlink Checker
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
You just place your URL in the search bar and let the backlink checker do its work.
It gives you a clear picture of whether your website is drowning in the dirty puddle of bad backlinks or has a clean backlink profile.
Once you find the culprits, the next step is to report them.
STEP 2: Contact the Web Owner
I wish that as there are free backlink checkers, there could also be backlink removal tools (hey, is anyone listening to this idea? Work on it, bro!).
But you can judge by my sad tone that there isn’t.
Often, you have to do this tedious job manually.
And that starts with getting in contact with the webmaster who has your link because you can’t do it without the permission of the web owner.
To find out how you can contact the webmaster and convince them to remove your link.
Here is an email template that might help you move the needle:
Hi [webmaster’s name],
I am [your name], and I am the webmaster of [add URL]. I’ve found that you are linking to my site, and I really appreciate it that you found my website worth linking to.
However, I’ve noticed that the backlink to my site on your post [title of the post] with the web address [add URL] is actually hurting my website.
Some of the reasons for this negative impact are:
So I will be very thankful if you remove this link [add text with the link] and let me know whenever it’s done.
Thank you for your understanding.
Well, there isn’t any surety that:
- Your email will get read
- The webmaster will do the courtesy
You can pump in some hope with these tips and tricks:
- Present yourself as a real deal. Send the email from the same domain as your website.
- Make things easier for the webmaster. Tell him the exact location of the link.
- Sound polite; don’t sound as if you are ordering.
- Give them enough convincing reasons to remove your link.
But even after all these efforts, you can’t be sure that the webmaster will remove your link.
So you should always keep a second plan in your pocket.
STEP 3: Disavow Unremoved Links
In case you have tried every possible method, but you are not able to get rid of the backlink, you are left with the final option: Disavow your link.
Though it should be the last option you use to remove your link because it can also become harmful for your website.
That’s what actually Google is saying:
But if you think that you have not any other option other than using this feature because…
You have many spammy backlinks pointing to your site.
You think that these links can end you up with a manual action.
…then go for this option.
First, make a text file of all the links you want to disavow.
Second, upload this compiled list.
Here is how you can do it:
Make sure that you add all links that you want to disavow and no link that you don’t want to disavow.
Careful attention to both these things is essential to get the desired result and avoid any harm.
STEP 4: Focus on Your Future SEO Linking
Your things don’t end after removing bad links. Now it is time to build good links.
Make sure this time you look out for natural link building ways that bring value rather than linking builds just for getting a link.
The most important things to consider for getting a link are that it should be from:
- High authority site
- Niche-relevant site
- A site with good traffic flow.
So checking backlinks of a website is an essential part of your SEO effort.
It helps you differentiate the good from the bad.
Instead of relying on other people, keep checking your backlink profile, and don’t waste money on useless things.
Have any story of good or bad experiences? Share with us and inspire others.