Toxic Backlinks – How They Hurt SEO, and How to Get Rid of Them

There is no question that backlinks are an important aspect to search engine optimization. Each time another site decides that one of your posts would be helpful to their customers, it is an opportunity for them to use a link to connect to it, which is letting their readers know that they can trust your content.

Each time this happens, search engines view the confidence others have in you as proof that the content you are providing is valuable. The more sites that link back to your site, the more likely that your content is to appear in search engine rankings, which in turn will bring more people to your content.

Backlinks are essential in building off-site search engine optimization, and obtaining these backlinks is what is referred to as link-building. However, like most things in SEO, or search engine optimization, link-building is the furthest thing from simple. While some backlinks are great, others are toxic and if you end up with too many of these toxic backlinks your rating will be negatively affected.

If you do not have an SEO Singapore agency to help you out on this, read on to learn how you can identify toxic backlinks, why they hurt your SEO, and how you can get rid of them.

The Truth About Backlinks

Although it might seem like any backlink is a good thing for your site, since it is a vote of confidence from another site, some links are better than others. Links that come from sites that have already built up a good relationship with search engines, give you more of a boost. Even a link that cannot be followed from a strong site will be enough to have a positive effect on your ratings.

However, the reverse is also true. If your site is linked from somewhere that is not as well respected, or considered to be spam by the search engine, then it is not going to boost your rank with the search engine. Additionally, these toxic backlinks can also lead to penalties from the search engines.

What Exactly Are Toxic Backlinks

So, what are toxic backlinks, and what makes the backlink toxic? Simply put, they are links that are automatically built without editorial control, leading to their low quality.

There are a few different things that can lead to the low quality or toxicity of the backlink. From the perspective of the search engine, it comes down to three basic things.

The first is a low trust score on the domain. This means that the domain that is providing the backlink is likely artificially inflated.

Second, are mirrored pages. This means that there are similar pages that are linking back to you using the same anchor text. Often, search engines flag this as being a link-building scheme and flag it as it goes against their quality guidelines.

The third is the page layout of the backlink. A linking page can be assumed to be low quality if the ratio of visible text to HTML is too low.

Bad Links Have an Impact

If a search engine chooses to penalize you for toxic backlinks, it will decrease the chances that your content is going to be found when people are using the search engine. It also means that you could potentially be removed from the search index completely.

There are two different ways that penalties can be assigned for toxic backlinks.

The first way doesn’t include a manual review by a human being. Google has an algorithm that was introduced in 2012 to target links that were low quality. Because of this, sites that used schemes to build their links watched their rankings quickly fall. In the time since its introduction, Google has refined how the algorithm works making it more effective at catching the bad links and penalizing them appropriately.

In addition to the algorithm, Google also has human resources for their spam team. This means that a higher number of links can be manually investigated and sites with toxic backlinks can be penalized appropriately.

It has been reported that Google initiates, on average, 400,000 actions manually each month.

Many things can trigger these manual reviews and penalties. Some of these things include a competitor reporting spam, activity from the algorithms tracked by Penguin triggers a review, and finally, you exist in a niche that Google’s spam team is already actively monitoring.

Should you be flagged for penalties that were implemented manually, you can request that Google reconsider its decision.

How to Know if You Have Toxic Backlinks

When it comes to algorithmic link penalties, there isn’t a lot you can do to avoid them aside from improving the overall profile of your site.

However, manually applied penalties will appear in the Google search console. In the console, you will be able to see a generic description of the issue that you were flagged for, a link to learn more about the issue, and a button that will allow you to request that the issue be reviewed.

If you are new to checking for toxic backlinks, you might find it easier to use an SEO site audit tool that is capable of running the searches for you and providing the information you need.

How You Can Fix Toxic Backlinks

If you find that you have toxic backlinks attached to your site, there are a few different ways you can address the issue. First, you can contact the administrator of the linking site and request that the link is removed. If the link isn’t important to you and you don’t feel like it is necessary to manually reach out and have the links removed, there is a tool called Disavow Links that you can use to have the link removed automatically.

If you find that you have been hit with a penalty and the link you are being penalized over, you can have the penalty be reviewed. Of the 400,000 manual penalties that are applied in a month, about 20,000 of them are requested to be reconsidered. Because of this, it can take about thirty days to get a response.

Ensuring that the backlinks that are bringing people to your site are high quality is essential. Additionally, you must also be sure that you are following Google’s rules. If you haven’t taken the time to audit your backlinks recently, or ever, now is as good a time as any to ensure that your backlinks aren’t toxic and that they are serving you well.

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