If you want to keep Google penalty at bay then make sure your website is free from bad backlinks. You can prevent and remove bad backlinks from your website only if you are able to identify one. And this can be done by conducting a complete backlink audit.
Though there are various ways to remove bad backlinks, most of them are either expensive or ineffective. Hence, it is best to find quality bad backlinks yourself and remove the same. Once you will be able to eliminate bad backlinks, you can achieve a straightforward penalty recovery process.
In this post, we will discuss a step-by-step guide on how to find and remove bad backlinks.
What are Bad Backlinks?
A bad backlink is a low-quality link coming from untrusted and unreliable sources. Usually, the sources of bad backlinks are websites that have been penalized from Google or those that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines.
The noticeable thing is that having bad backlinks can generate a negative impact on your website. In order to avoid bad backlinks, it is essential to conduct a complete website audit.
Quality backlinks vs. bad backlinks
A quality backlink is one that originates from authoritative and reliable domains in your industry. If the site linking to your website holds a high domain authority and possess similar content, then your backlink is considered as quality one and perfect for SEO.
As compared to this, a bad backlink comes from untrusted and unrelated sources. Having bad backlinks in your website can result in a violation of guidelines from Google Webmaster and a penalty from Google.
Aspects of a Good Backlink:
- Most importantly, a backlink must be relevant to your industry or niche. If it’s relevant then it can be categorized as a good quality backlink.
- Backlinks obtained from authoritative sites.
- Quality backlinks come from sites that receive a real and sound volume of traffic.
- These sites are created from high-standard websites and that don’t belong to the scam industries.
Links, which are built with white-hat SEO techniques.
Aspects of a Bad Backlink:
- Bad backlinks are usually the links obtained from websites developed solely for the purpose of SEO links.
- These backlinks are developed with over-optimized anchor text.
- These are spammy backlinks that possess duplicate content.
- Such backlinks are generated from the website comments that are not relevant to your industry or niche.
Warning Signs to Check for Bad Backlinks:
In order to keep your website free from bad backlinks, you must identify and remove them. There are some warning signals that you must monitor in order to identify low-quality signals in your website.
1. High Score of Spam:
The spam score for websites is calculated to show the likelihood of a website being penalized. If your website’s spam score is high then it can result in distinct spam flags.
2. Unindexed Site:
This signals that your site is not presently indexed by Google and this indicates low quality.
3. Low Authority of the Domain:
This is another score that is calculated by Moz to predict the ranking worthiness of a site on the basis of its backlink profile. The authority of the domain is dependent on various factors like MozRank and MozTrust.
4. High Volume of External Links:
A high volume of external links can be because of a low-quality web directory, spam comments or sitewide footer links.
5. Low Trust Flow:
The trust flow is another factor that influences the quality of traffic and quality of backlinks on a site. This metric has been introduced and used by Majestic SEO.
6. Unnatural Anchor Texts:
Lastly, unnatural anchor texts can disrupt the overall balance of anchor text diversity of your backlink profile. A good anchor text includes your URL, brand name, and matches with partial keywords.
If your website witnesses any one or more of these warning signal then this can be because of having bad backlinks. In this case, it becomes essential to remove them immediately. For this, you first have to identify bad backlinks. This can be done in three simple steps:
- Collecting Data for Bad Backlinks
- Identifying Bad Backlinks
- Removing Bad Backlinks
Let’s glance at these three steps one by one.
Collecting Data for Bad Backlinks:
You must collect the complete data for your website’s backlinks just to ensure that you don’t miss out any one of them.
1. One way to collect the data is to use Google Webmaster Tools and export your entire site’s backlinks. After this, you have to click on ‘search traffic’ and next click on ‘links to your website.’
This will open up a new page where you have to select ‘more’ from the category that links the most. Next, click on the ‘download more sample links.’ This way, your website’s entire backlinks will be downloaded in a CSV format.
2. The second way to collect data about your website’s backlinks is to use Moz Open Site Explorer tool. Using this tool is easy and you have to enter your website URL and then click on the search option. Next, you can request a CSV report.
This way, you will have two backlink reports. Both these reports have numerous backlinks. If the reports reveal only a few numbers of backlinks then this can be handled manually. However, if the number is more then you have to practice other techniques and solutions.
How to Identify Bad Backlinks:
In order to remove bad backlinks, you have to disavow them. The good thing is that the disavow process is applicable to all kinds of bad backlinks. But you have to identify them individually in order to carry bulk actions.
So, here are ways to identify various types of bad backlinks.
1. Footer Links:
Lots of websites abuse this technique and result in bad backlinks. Such links can disturb your analysis and do not add any value. If your website has high numbers of footer links, then this can raise a red flag from Google.
Footer links are obtained from websites, which:
- Are involved in the link exchange process
- Sell links
- Associated with your business
- Powered by other links
- Include plugins and widgets installed
- Clients that link back to your site
How to Identify – You can use an online tool to select links that appear in a group of links in the footer of linking pages. Such links usually create an inconsistency at the spot, and hence, can be identified.
2. Link Networks:
It is possible to easily identify Link Networks manually or using a Google algorithm. Some common patterns to Link Networks are:
- Structured from forums and blogs as they are convenient to replicate and automate.
- These links appear natural by being placed inside a post or content.
- The source of the link network hardly makes efforts to create links back to the blog posts.
- Each website within the link network links to at least 2 common sites.
How to Identify – You can find these links by using a couple of filters. Additionally, you must compare your website to your competitor’s site and check for major issues between the backlink profiles of such sites. You can even compare metric distributions, domain influence, domain trust flow, domain citation flow, and other aspects.
3. Site-Wide Links:
These are toxic backlinks that can severely hurt your rankings. If your domain does not support necessary authority and attains site-wide links from low-quality websites then Google will penalize your website.
How to Identify – Luckily, identifying such links is very easy with a sitewide chart. Such a chart distributes sitewide links. A major problem with these links is that they are hidden and written in white. Hence, you have to carry in-depth research.
4. Blocks of Links and Blogrolls:
Blogroll links occur when a domain uses widgets, which are installed on numerous sites where webmasters get to the link. Having too many links in the blogroll pattern is considered unnatural by Google’s algorithm and hence may result in a penalty.
How to identify – Using a couple of filters can help you identify low-quality and unnatural blogroll links, which are hurting your rankings.
5. Forum Signatures and Profile Links:
Forums are abused exactly the same way as blogs are treated. A lot of people discuss around your website in forums and this is the most natural thing to happen. However, if you are practicing link building using fake signatures, profiles, and posting links and content automatically on forums, then this will create a bad backlink profile and can hurt your rankings.
How to Identify – You can search such backlinks by checking profiles and signatures for short paragraph of text, link positions, and a group of links.
6. Blog Comments:
Spams resulting from blog comments are a kind of spamdexing. Spammers use numerous tools to post comments automatically with an aim to target higher rankings in search engine results. For this reason, most of the comments are labeled as nofollow by the blogging platform so that they are not indexed by Google.
How to identify – You can easily monitor dofollow and nofollow links, which are coming from the blog comments.
7. Anchor Text Distribution:
Anchor texts are money keywords, brand keywords, and navigational keywords. If your anchor text is highly optimized, then they are perceived as unnatural by Google.
How to identify – You can categorize and review the anchor texts and if they appear unnatural then this can result in bad backlinks.
Links from Web Directories:
Another bad indicator is receiving too many links from web directories. This can result in a red flag from the Google algorithm. There is no requirement of listing it on hundreds of directories and it is best to list them on only a few reputed web directories.
How to identify – If there are numerous links from web directories then this might indicate a warning sign. You must monitor and analyze the unnaturalness of the backlinks for the entire site.
9. Links from Article Directories:
Having numerous links from article directories appear unnatural.
How to identify them – You can use an online tool to identify unnatural link profile.
How to Remove Bad Backlinks:
It can be quite challenging and tricky to remove bad backlinks. The worst part is that you cannot remove them completely. However, you can always disavow backlinks that you cannot remove.
Some of the important elements to consider for link removing are:
- Send a polite and friendly request for link removal.
- Personalize each email and avoid making it appear like a template.
- Define proper instructions specifying the location of backlink, which you have to remove. There might be hidden bad backlinks and no one wants to dig them. Hence, practice this way to make the job easy for the webmaster.
- It is best to follow up to ensure that your message has been received.
- Avoid threatening the webmaster at all cost. It is because this can result in issues and your website may get attacked with negative SEO.
- It is ok if you are not able to remove certain links. Having a 10-20% conversion is ideal for link removal.
- Avoid paying for link removals. Webmasters might ask money for link removal. But you must avoid paying them and can disavow such links instead.
How You Can Disavow Backlinks that You Are Not Able to Remove
Once you have sent a removal request, give few weeks for the webmasters to revert and then send a follow-up email. If you don’t receive any reply then you must disavow the backlinks, which you were not able to remove.
For this, you have to prepare a disavow report. First, select the backlinks that you have tagged to remove and click on the disavow domains. It will generate a disavow report including backlinks with a ‘remove’ tag.
Upload the report to the Google Disavow tool and submit the same after in-depth checking.
To Sum Up
You now know how to identify and remove bad backlinks to your site. Pay close attention to your website’s backlinks and if you are not able to remove them, then disavow them before it’s too late.