Did you know that approximately 66.5 per cent of links to sites in the last nine years are dead? (Ahrefs, 2022) These dead links are considered bad links that are harmful to your SEO and you the overall user experience on your website. This is why removing bad links from Google is important.
Bad links are harmful to SEO because they dilute the quality and quantity of a site’s link profile, which then creates a negative effect on search engine rankings.
These dead links eat into the PageRank of a site’s inbound link profile. PageRank refers to the measure of how important a web page is in the eyes of Google. Since Google has been known to de-index a site or even ban them from its index if the quantity of bad links is too high, search engines punish websites for the number of bad links that point to them.
By removing bad links from Google, you prevent being penalised by Google and also help you gain inbound links that will boost your overall rankings.
What are Bad Links?
Simply put, a bad link doesn’t provide value to your website at all. For example, if your website is focused on car parts, then suddenly, there is a link that points to an unrelated health website, then search engines, like Google, can identify this quickly.
Bad web links may seem harmless to Google search results rankings, but the truth is that they are considered spammy or acquired from spammy websites. In addition, self-made links to manipulate search engines are considered bad links as well. As a result, this can lead to penalties that could hurt your rankings.
Google is proactive in catching bad web links; two of its Google algorithm updates—the Panda and Penguin—were rolled out to focus on a website’s external and internal link quality.
The Different Types of Bad Links
To give you a better idea of these bad links, below are the different types of them:
Social Bookmarking Site Links
Did you know that linking to social bookmarking sites like Reddit is considered manipulative? The reason behind this is simple; the links may be low-quality. In addition, these links are likely to have high bounce rates because, most of the time, links pointing to social bookmarking sites have gone viral, which means that their traffic isn’t long-lasting.
Link Network Links
Link networks contain a collection of connected websites designed to generate many links. This alone means that it’s not a reliable site to link to. However, many people fall prey to this because many link networks look like forums or blogs. The truth is, if you dig a bit deeper, you will see that they don’t hold any significance—only pointless threads and posts that will not deliver any value to your site. To make it worse, a link to a link network may already jeopardise the hard work you put in for your website.
Most of the time, websites that link to link networks get de-indexed. That’s why you need to be mindful of the sites you link to—read the fine print first!
Site-wide links are the links on various pages of the website. Normally, they are the ones that appear in the header and footer. Despite the website being credible, linking to site-wide links is deemed to be unnatural.
Therefore, instead of linking to this type of link, find a credible backlink—this alone can already bring value.
Blog Comment Links
Not known to many, using blog comment links is an outdated link acquisition strategy to be avoided. To prevent spammers from getting the benefits of SEO abusing the comments section, Google introduced nofollow links.
You may have already noticed that many blogs are overrun with spammy comments, all because spammy SEOs are trying to build links with keyword-rich anchor text. As a result, many spammers took this as an opportunity to develop tools to automate the process. Eventually, the inauthentic blog comments caused major issues for website owners.
However, there is a way to approach blog comments, which is to leave relevant comments on relevant websites. Still, it’s best to avoid linking to blog comments as much as possible.
Directory Submission Links
How often have you been enticed to link to a directory submissions service? This is no surprise considering these sites tend to “promote” that linking to them will get you excellent traction when you do.
The thing is, linking to low-quality directories will do you more harm than good. That said, linking to them is okay as long as they are relevant and will flow naturally into your link-building strategy. In fact, there are still link directories that still hold value.
How to Identify Bad Links
So, how do you identify bad backlinks?
Simply put, a bad link violates Google’s guidelines. For one, be mindful of global links to your website, which means you shouldn’t link a page that links to many spammy pages. To determine this, a page on a website with nofollow links to a specific page is deemed suspicious and can be penalised by Google.
Another way to identify a bad link is when it is unrelated to your site or brand. In addition, site-wide links may be considered good or bad. According to Matt Cutts, Google will count hundreds of site-wide links because they come from the same domain name. Therefore, they happen, and it’s preferred that most sites have static pages for certain pages, such as privacy policies. (Google Search Console, 2022.)
However, when Google finds site-wide and footer links that are irrelevant to your website, this may be considered manipulative, which will eventually get flagged as a bad link.
It’s best to do it manually to ensure that you’re removing all the links that are not helping your website. The downside is that it will take a lot of time and effort on your end.
Suppose you want to do it manually; there are a few tools that can help you remove these toxic links. On the other hand, you can always hire a trusted SEO specialist to help you identify bad links.
How Google Punishes a Website for Bad Links
Google punishes a website for bad or toxic links in the form of penalties. It’s well-known that Google is about organic, and anything that seems otherwise may raise a red flag.
Remember that even if it’s only a penalty, it’s still bad for your website. In fact, a penalty will push down your site rankings, which may result in a significant drop, which may be hard to recover from.
The Penguin Google algorithm update plays a vital role in bad backlinks. Since its launch, the search engine started penalising websites for bad backlinks. The algorithm works in real-time, meaning it works round-the-clock monitoring websites and backlink profiles. In short, it can detect these bad URLs that may compromise your search results.
You need to know how to identify these link penalties; however, they can happen even without warning. This is why it is crucial to have a professional SEO specialist who can take care of it for you, as it isn’t always easy to identify a bad link from a quality link.
Site audits and staying up-to-date with link penalties are two things you can do—and we mean it. These are two crucial things you don’t want to skip.
In addition, there are manual and algorithmic link penalties to watch out for. Manual penalties are applied by a member of the web spam team of Google. Therefore, a real person will manually review your link profile and give the penalty.
On the other hand, algorithmic updates are automatically applied by the Google Penguin algorithm without the need for human intervention or review. Between these two link penalties, the algorithmic penalty is more commonly used.
Steps to Remove Bad Links from Google
One thing to remember when removing bad links from Google is that you need to be prepared that it will take some time. Hence, patience is a virtue here, and the results will be worth it. Here is a simple step-by-step guide you can follow:
- Identify Where Web Links are Coming From
You can use several tools to find where the bad links are coming from, and you must identify them. Tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, and more, can help you, and each one uses different metrics.
Whatever tool you use to identify where the bad links come from will have an export option. You can download the file via CSV, which will be useful when you need to find out which websites you should contact first to ask them to remove the links that point to your site.
2. Request Removal from the Website
Sure, you can always submit a request to a webmaster to remove a bad link from your website, but chances are low that they will do it. However, it would be best if you don’t skip this because it’s the first step Google will require you to take before you ask them to ignore the link. Hence, it’s something you need to do. (Google Search Console, 2022)
Likely, you won’t find the contact information of the person who has access to the website where you want the link removed. In that case, you can check WHOIS Domain lookup to track down who owns the website.
You can also reach out to the hosting company and ask them to remove the bad links you have identified. In most cases, they will be able to help you.
3. Submit a Disavow File to Google
Chances are, you will have to turn to Google’s Disavow Links tool to sort out your bad links problem. The good news is that it’s a straightforward tool that lets you import a text file that contains all links you want Google to ignore. In addition, you can record specific URLs or go broad and ask the search engine to ignore all links from a specific domain.
Be careful when using the Disavow Links tool, and ensure you thoroughly analyse your backlinks profile; otherwise, you might disavow high-quality backlinks that will impact your organic rankings. Once you submit them, it will take time to process, and you can only wait.
What Makes a Good Link?
So, what makes a good link? First, a good link should be relevant. Ultimately, the relevance of a link is more important than metrics.
Next, the link should come from a trusted website and make editorial sense. What do we mean by this?
A link that has good editorial sense means that the link should make sense in your content. When a user reads a piece of content, any link you place within the body should be something they would naturally click on. Therefore, the link should take them to a website or page that will provide them with more information about the topic.
Finally, it’s essential to remember that a good link doesn’t mean perfect—and that’s okay. Ensuring every link is perfect can be exhausting, but if you have a dedicated team of link builders, you can guarantee that you’ll have perfect links on your website.
To Sum Up
Bad links can compromise your search results rankings and the health of your overall websites. That’s why you must ensure you only have clean links on your website. Removing bad backlinks can be challenging, and that’s why in this post, you can find the best steps and other ways to send links that are good to your website without it being too time-consuming.
On the other hand, you can always hire our link-building experts here at Evolving Digital. Here, we will ensure that all your links are good, whether a new link or not–we are the SEO partner you need to build high-quality links.