It’s Spring Cleaning Season! It’s finally that time of year when the new year has set in, and with it comes the urge to evaluate the cleanliness of your website. No one said spring cleaning was limited to attics and basements. Therefore, we are not here to give you tips on how to declutter your home. Instead, we have one question to ask — When was the last time you cleaned up your backlinks?
Why are backlinks important?
When you associate your website with trustworthy sites via a backlink, it becomes more reliable in the eyes of search engines. Backlinks from a credible website can boost the efficiency of your search engine optimization (SEO) because over time, as you build a strong profile consisting of quality backlinks, your rankings will not only improve, but search engines like Google will begin acknowledging your position as an online authority.
With the launch of Google Penguin, you must tread carefully with the type of backlinks to build. If your website has several poor-quality backlinks, you risk getting penalized by the very search engine that launched the algorithm change, therefore, impacting your online rank.
To avoid the consequences tied with low-quality backlinks, it is crucial to perform website audits on pages you build links on. In this article, we will discuss the implications of bad backlinks to your website, and how you can clean them up.
What is a bad backlink?
Since quality backlinks come from relevant and authoritative domains in your niche, low-quality backlinks, on the other hand, are from unrelated and untrusted websites. Before Google launched the Penguin algorithm in 2012, websites were continually violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines with black hat SEO. This strategy was abused by site owners who wanted a quick financial return, therefore, paid for links to gain higher rankings and authority. As a result, Google Penguin was launched. The major algorithm update works by penalizing web pages that associate with bad links.
Other examples of such poor-quality linking schemes include:
- Buying or selling links – this scheme not only includes monetary exchanges, but also discounted or free services and products in exchange for links.
- Linking to unrelated web pages – irrelevant and far-flung content proves invaluable to users. They are merely an attempt to manipulate search engine bots and crawls.
- Creating external domains for links – if domains only serve cross-linking purposes, Google will mark it as spam. Secondary domains by companies should continue to add value to user experience, rather than linking similar or low-quality content.
- Excessive link exchanging – the number of links to and from your website should remain consistent with your domain authority.
How do I find bad backlinks?
There are several resources available to find spammy backlinks. One way to search for poor backlinks is to register your website with Google Search Console. Among many useful metrics, this tool gives you access to a complete list of websites linked to your site. More often than not, these links boost your search engine optimization efforts and are mostly from websites within your niche. However, there could also be untrusted links harming your SEO.
When examining your backlinks, here are three questions you should ask yourself:
- What type of website is this? If you notice that it’s a poor-quality site with hundreds of links, it may be a bad page to associate yours with.
- Does the link help in improving your business? If the link is completely unrelated to your type of business, you should definitely remove it.
- Is the domain country outside of your target market? “Acquire links from places that are going to send the most targeted and relevant traffic to your site,” says Tom Roberts, Founder and Head of Digital Strategy at Yando in London. In this case, your links should be from the same area as your company.
- Does the website have an “About Us” section? Today, nearly all credible websites have a dedicated page about their business. Keep in mind that if a site is hiding something, they are likely to keep mum about the whereabouts and details of their business.
How do I remove backlinks?
Now that you have an idea of what type of links to remove from your website, let’s get rid of them. Here are a number of ways to disable malicious links and prevent them from impacting your search engine rankings:
Step 1: Contact the webmasters.
The first step to consider is to try and contact the webmasters. Ask them, in the most polite way possible, to either remove the links or add the nofollow tag, which ensures that no PageRank is passed.
Step 2: Get rid of web pages that have poor-quality backlinks pointing to them.
One of the most common errors you will come across while surfing the web is a 404 or Page Not Found error, which occurs when you follow a broken link. This error appears when a site is active, but the specific page within it does not. As a marketer with an online reputation to uphold, you must strive to get Google’s attention, and too many 404s is a surefire way to get Google’s attention in the worst way possible.
The easiest way to remove a page is to change the URL or unpublish it.
Step 3: Use the Google Disavow Tool.
If you have too many bad backlinks and webmasters refuse to respond to your emails and calls, you can disavow the links as a last resort. The Google Disavow Tool is an advanced feature that must be used with caution. In a nutshell, the tool allows you to upload and send a list of links directly to Google. This way, you are basically telling search engines that you do not want them to consider these links when crawling your site.
If misused, this feature can inflict more harm to your website than good. You must be patient and wait for Google to process your file. Keep a close eye on your rankings for any changes and monitor your backlinks for new domains that need to be added to the file.
Need help cleaning your backlinks?
Clearing your website of bad backlinks can be a lengthy and tedious process. If you need help spring cleaning malicious links, OptimizeX can provide the services you need to transform your website into an authoritative resource trusted by search engines and users.