Quality Backlinks for SEO and How to Remove Those That Negatively Impact Your Site
Author Shannon Valentine
Tues 13th March 2018
Every business should know the importance of backlinks for SEO
Those that do should also realise that not all backlinks are beneficial. So, this blog covers what to look for and the process to remove those that negatively impact a website.
As we have mentioned previously in our ‘What Are Backlinks and How to Get Them’ blog, one of the ways to get a better ranking and more traffic is building backlinks for SEO to your website. Google states that two essential practices for ranking websites are link building and quality content.GOOGLE SAYS: The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community... Click To Tweet
Why are backlinks relevant, you ask?
Backlinks are an incredibly valuable puzzle piece for practising good SEO. Having them provides support and a ‘vote of confidence’ between websites.
Fundamentally, backlinks to your website let search engines know that other sites verify you and your content. If lots of websites link back to the same site, Google will conclude that the content is worth linking to. Therefore, it will get a higher ranking in search results. So, good backlinks will have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or search visibility.
We’ve mentioned the good… now for the bad & ugly.
The impact of harmful backlinks for SEO
However, not all backlinks are created equally. Having ‘poor’ backlinks pointing to your website can severely impact your hard work and, if left undealt with, can lead to a penalty on your site. A Google penalty is the negative impact on your sites search rankings based on updates to Google’s search algorithms and/or manual review.GOOGLE SAYS: Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Click To Tweet
To read the full breakdown including examples of ‘Link Schemes’ that will negatively impact your ranking, click here.
Bad backlinks come from:
- A website with penalties. Whether it is a standard penalty or an algorithm one, Google considers these links untrustworthy, and they will damage your site.
- Websites that are entirely unrelatable to your site. Relevant backlinks are a critical factor for good SEO. For example, if your site sells beauty products but you have a link from a site that sells cars, it won’t help you at all. Get rid of those links, immediately.
- A website with weak and limited content or, even worse, duplicated!. Google doesn’t favour those.
- Sites written in a foreign language. It’s not a problem to have a few links from overseas if they are relevant to your website. But, too many that are obviously irrelevant will do some damage. If you are based in the UK, but a lot of your backlinks are coming from places far away such as China, you can only expect trouble from Google.
- Low-quality link farms. It’s all well and good linking to directories online, but only if they are relevant to your services. Otherwise, linking to irrelevant sites will do more harm than good.
- Sites with malware or those which have been hacked.
It’s simply a part of the process.
To have effective, long-lasting SEO results, you MUST monitor and manage your backlinks on a regular basis. The first ‘audit’ always takes the longest, but once you get into the swing of things, it will quickly become a part of your regular SEO practice.
TIP: Prevention is better than cure. Introduce the removal of inferior backlinks into your SEO maintenance and save yourself the damaging effects of the recovery if penalised.
How to discover bad backlinks
Google’s search console collates all the backlinks to your website. It is a free tool and it has many uses beyond monitoring backlinks for SEO purposes.
If you don’t have Google search console linked to your website we recommend doing so as a priority so that you can carry out your backlink audit.
Once you are in and have access the backlink data, download all the links to your site (although Google limits you to 100k links). From this step, you need to audit each link.
The crucial difference between good and bad backlinks is:
- The Domain Authority (DA) of the website they are on.
Sometimes bad backlinks are easy to spot just by viewing them. Other times you may have to install a DA checker such as Moz and see if a relevant site that is linking to you is having a negative impact on your ranking.
Once you have highlighted the links you want to distance yourself from then the fun really begins.
Removing backlinks for SEO improvement
Now that you are aware of which links you don’t want on your site, it’s time to get rid of them. There are a few simple steps:
1. The request
First of all, you should find the contact details of the website owner and politely ask them to remove the link. Or, in some circumstances, you could add a ‘no follow’ command to your hyperlink.
But, don’t be too hasty if it is a seemingly small website linking to your content. Something to consider when checking domain authority is whether there are valid reasons as to why that site ranks low.
A brand new website would not have gained any trust with Google so it would have a low DA. Check to see if they are blogging regularly if they are relevant to your site and the page they are linking to. If you are unsure, check back on them in a month to see if their DA has improved.
2. Time to disavow
Disavowing is a helpful tool if you have too many backlinks you want to get rid of, or if sites aren’t responding to your request to remove the link. This is a way of letting Google know that you’d prefer not to consider these links when looking at your site.
If after some attempts you don’t receive a response, then you can disavow the link yourself. This is a step that you can put in place straight away with the more obvious spam links that do not have any contact details. Find out more about how on the disavow process here.
3. The long game.
It can take up to six months for Google to process a disavow request. So, the aim is to keep regular tabs on the websites that link back to you and to update that file as and when needed.
You are not alone
Harmful backlinks can happen to the best of us. There is no stopping them but frequently monitoring them will keep you one step ahead. Analysing all of your site’s backlinks shouldn’t take more than a few hours at first. Keeping an eye on them from there onwards is well worth the time and effort.
Backlinks for SEO are important yet poor ones have a larger impact that high-quality ones. Find out if you have any low quality backlinks to you site through one of our audits.
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