It’s known that backlinks have a huge impact on SEO ratings—they are the backbone of SEO. And this impact can either be positive or negative. Backlinks are a major indicator that search engines use to measure your website’s authority and trust levels. This means that the level of prominence and importance search engines like Google place on your site is dependent on the quality of other sites that reference yours. Positive or good backlinks are links from other trustworthy sites and they improve your SEO rankings, while negative, spammy, suspicious i.e. bad backlinks usually tend to elicit negative actions from search engines.
In plain English, bad backlinks in sufficient quantities hurt your website’s Google rankings, and you need to get rid of them fast. But first, let’s explore what constitutes a bad backlink.
A Bad Backlink vs. a good Backlink
A good backlink is an incoming link from a similar site with high authority. The site or page linking back to your website has to be about a similar topic, basically within the same niche. The site should also be a high authority site i.e. it should not have been penalized by Google for any activity that violates their webmasters guidelines.
A bad backlink, on the other hand, is an incoming link from a site with suspicious activity, or sites that have been penalized by Google. Links from authoritative sites may also serve as negative SEO in cases where the site linking to your site is not related to it content-wise.
There are a couple of ways you could get bad backlinks, and one of them is through your link-building efforts. Anyone who is serious about online visibility optimizes their site in order to climb up the rank ladder, but sometimes in our efforts to do that we may inadvertently hurt our rankings. This is why you must be careful to build links the right way.
Another way is by deliberate negative action from competitors. You have limited control over the sites that link back to your domain, that is, outside sites involved in your link building efforts. And while Google claims to ignore spammy backlinks, a high enough number of them could still elicit negative algorithmic ratings or manual action.
There usually are signs that your website is being affected by negative SEO, and if you find that’s the case then you should take any of these actions.
Getting Rid of Bad Backlinks
First of all, you need to know which links are bad i.e. single them out. If your site is small-to-medium sized then this shouldn’t be too hard. However, if your site is a large site then you’ll need a comprehensive link analysis.
Gather backlink data. This involves compiling all the incoming links to your site and other useful information on them, like what type of link they are (think text and non-text based), the anchor words used, etc. You can get a list of incoming links to your site using Google Webmaster Tools.
Determine the backlink value. The domain’s authority of the incoming link can be measured. It a certain number of high authority domains link to the domain that is linking to yours then it can be said to be a high-authority domain. There are tools that can be used to measure domain and link authority.
Disavow backlink. Once you have determined what backlinks are negative and harmful, you may now disavow them using Google’s disavow tool.
This article is in no way exhaustive. A full SEO audit involves more complex operations (think excel modeling). If your site is large and you have thousands of incoming links every day, then this simple method will prove to be ineffective. In cases like this, you’ll need a full, in-depth SEO audit which may be a little too complex for non-specialists. Unless you absolutely know what you are doing, it would be advisable to seek the services of a company like LinkGraph professional SEO companies like