Backlinks are links that point to your website from another website and are still a very important part of ranking for a website according to Google’s algorithm.
Backlinks that point to your website from spammy websites are considered bad backlinks and can hurt your rankings. Whether you got the backlink yourself or a spammy website decided to link to your website either way your website’s rankings will suffer.
Can you get Rid of Bad Backlinks?
How do you get rid of spammy backlinks that point to your website when you don’t have control of the other website?
You can email the webmaster of the website and ask them to remove it. This is the best way but it is also the hardest way. Fortunately, Google created the Google Disavow Tool where you can upload a list of spammy websites that link to your website. Google will take this list and put it on an ignore list so that they won’t hurt your rankings anymore.
Another form of bad backlinks is purchased backlinks which are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Although it is still done if Google discovers that you purchased a backlink the value of that backlink will be reduced, thus doing you no good.
How do you know if it is a Spammy Website?
SEO tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, and SEO Powersuite have a score based on their own algorithm that gives spammy sites a low score. Most of the time the scores are accurate but it is a good idea to visit the website just to be sure. After all, you don’t want to disavow a decent website with a decent backlink, do you?
When visiting the website see if it looks spammy or if there may be several websites using the same design with the exact same content. That is a sign of a spammy website. You can also take a look at the URL of the website to see if it is random letters and numbers instead of English words. That is another sign.
Here is a list of bad backlinks to look out for:
- Spammy-Looking Websites
- Hacked Websites (Yes, some websites get hacked and create links on websites without the owner knowing it.)
- Multiple Websites using the Same Content
- Linking Farms (Websites created solely for the purposes of linking only.)
- Linking Pages (A page of a website that has nothing but links on it. This is a gray area and could fall into the ‘Okay Backlinks’ category. The more links on the page the less value the backlink has pointing to your website.
- Fake User Profile Pages.
- Comment Spam (Links in comments that are not genuine).
- Paid Links
- Hidden Links (Using CSS to hide links to the website viewer but the search engines can still see them).
A backlink that has nothing to do with the subject of your website but links to it is an okay backlink. So is a website that has the same DA (domain authority) or PA (page authority) that your website has that points to your website.
How can you tell if a website that links to you has a lower DA or PA than yours?
There are browser extensions, free SEO tools, and paid SEO tools out there that can give you this information. If you have a website that has a lower DA and/or PA than your website but it is not a spammy website and it has to do with the topic of your website then I would leave it alone.
Here is a small list of okay backlinks.
- Good directories from good sources like the Yellow Pages or specific niche industry directories. Not a random website with a directory of links.
- Websites with the same DA or PA as your website.
- Social Media Profile Pages
- Links in genuine comments.
- Reciprocal Links (These are the “If you link to me I will link to you links.” This is close to being on the bad backlink list but if the links relate to each other then it is okay. People tried to cheat the system by doing 3-way links but the search engines can detect them as well.
A backlink that has a higher DA or PA than your website is a good backlink. A backlink that comes from a website that follows the same subject as your website is a good backlink. Another website that cites information from your website and gives you the credit for it through the use of a backlink is also a good backlink.
Here is a list of good backlinks to look out for:
- Local Directory/Information Links (A prime example of this is Google Business Profile.
- Websites with higher DA and PA than your website.
- Links from websites that compliment or have the same subject matter as your website.
- Citations that point to your website.
- Social Media likes and shares.
- News and Press Release Websites with a respectable DA and PA.
- Guest Posting (Writing a well-thought-out, decent article for another website).
- Video Transcripts from decent sources.
- Donation and Sponsorship Websites (As long as they are not spammy).
Things to Lookout For
If all of a sudden you get 100 or more backlinks to your website in one day this will trigger a red flag with Google where you may get penalized until a human at Google looks at the situation manually. This is because it looks ‘unnatural’ in Google’s eyes and Google may suspect that you purchased those links.
Another thing to look out for is new backlinks that point to your website from spammy websites. You should monitor this at least one time a month and add them to the Google Disavow Tool.
If someone offers to write an article for your website that links to their website then a red flag should pop up on your end because most of the time (not all of the time) these articles are crappy renditions created just to create a link to their website that the article holds no value at all to you.
Position of Good, Okay, and Bad Backlinks
Good: Within the content of a website.
Okay: Resources or Directory Page. Links found on directory websites hold little value in Google’s eyes.
Bad: Links are found on every page of a website like a sidebar, header, or navigation section of a website.
The paid version of this course will go over examples on what to look for and give you an in-depth tutorial on how to get good backlinks.