How Bad Backlinks can Hurt your Website.
If you have a website with a large quantity of low-quality backlinks pointing to your website it will set a red flag with the search engines.
- Too many bad backlinks may suggest that you are part of a linking farm which is against the search engine guidelines.
- Too many low-quality backlinks will suggest that your website is not all that important to crawl, index, and rank for.
- Too many links that point to your website in a short time period may suggest that an automation tool was used which is also against the search engine guidelines.
How can I tell if it is a bad link?
You can tell if it is bad backlink by examining its domain authority and page authority, also by manually visiting the backlink to take a look at the website to see if it looks spammy or not. Here are some tips on what to look for.
- The backlink has a low DA.
- The backlink has a low PA.
- The backlink website has a lot of ads on it.
- The backlink website looks ‘cheesy’.
- There are multiple copies of the backlink website that look exactly the same. This is because they are using a generic template. Even if the template looks good.
- The backlink website looks exactly like another backlink website because they are just using multiple domains for what could be done with one page.
- The URL of the backlink website will look funny like adding random letters and numbers to the URL that do not make much sense.
One thing to note that you should be careful of is that if you are using a SEO tool that grades the spamminess of a backlink it is a good idea to follow the link manually and look at the website yourself. These tools are usually pretty good at guessing the spamminess of a website but they are not always 100% accurate.
Source Page’s EAT (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness)
If you examine the backlink to see if it is spammy or not you can examine the EAT of the website.
- Is it just a directory page with 100 other links?
- Does it have other resources that can help website visitors like having reviews, images, and other helpful information?
- Do they have cites that are linked to relevant pages?
- Is there contact information where you can contact the webmaster or do they not display it?
- What does your SEO Software say about this website?
How many other links are on the same page?
A good rule of thumb is the more other links on the same page the lower the importance of this backlink. One page that lists over 100 other linked websites with multiple categories is a sure sign of this.
A better one is pages that are broken down by categories then each category has their own page which would lower the number of other links on the page.
This can be broken down even further by location with even fewer links. For example, here are some examples of pages with broken down categories.
- Category Page (vets)
- Category > State Page (vets in Michigan)
- Category > State > City Page (vets in Spalding, MI)
Google’s Disavow Tool
Okay, so now after checking your backlinks you discover a bunch of spammy links and some of them you didn’t even ask to link to your website!
How does this happen?
Maybe a less reputable SEO company you paid $50 for 500 links submitted your website using automated software which resulted in a ton of spammy links.
Or spammy sites probably linked to you hoping to make their websites appear even better in the search engines (this rarely works though).
The number of spammy links can make it harder for you to rank when competing with other websites that don’t have so many spammy links.
So what can you do?
Google recognize that sometimes with circumstances beyond your control you can get a bunch of spammy links pointing to your website so they created the Disavow Tool
The first and best thing that is recommended to do is to contact the backlink website owner (if they even leave any contact information) and ask them to remove the link to your website. From experience this only works when the spammy link was on a genuine website without the website owner even realizing it. There is software that hacks websites and put links on your website and/or creates pages on your website to put up false links and create phishing pages. When I recognize one of these I notify the owner about it.
By the way a phishing page is a page on a website that pretends to be someone else so that they can trick you into providing them with your personal information, login information, or credit card information. An example of this is a phishing page that looks exactly like PayPals website and they try to trick you into giving them your PayPal login information.
Now, that you have the list of bad backlinks you can upload a file to the Google Disavow Tool that has the TLD (top level domains) of the bad backlinks. Once Google receives your list and it encounters one of the domains on your list it will simply ignore it so that it won’t count against you when it decides how to rank your website.