All Webmasters like backlinks. At the beginning of Google algorithm, all kinds of backlinks are good links. But now, google punish the bad backlinks. Important Things to Remember About Backlinks:
- Not all backlinks are good
- Too many backlinks can be problematic
- Anchor text is important
- Site quality and content is paramount
- Spammy backlink tactics cause harm
What kinds of backlinks are bad links ?
Bad backlinks can cause vulnerability and eventually a penalty. In this article, I will talk about the unnatural backlinks that you should avoid, along with Matt Cutt’s take on these links.
1. Link exchanges
If you are pointing a few backlinks to some of your friends, there is no reason to worry. But, doing this on hundreds of websites will raise a flag to Google that you are doing something suspicious.
2. Link Networks
Starting 2012, Google has started to penalize numerous blog networks and websites that have such backlinks. Almost every month, Matt Cutts announces that they have penalized a new network. If your website has backlinks from blog networks, you are in danger of being penalized.
Over the past several years, there has been a huge increase in the number of link networks across the Internet and a huge increase in slaps by Google. A link network is a collection of web properties that have been set up and are used solely for building backlinks. There are both private and public link networks.
Recently, the search engines have gone after some of the biggest link networks on the Internet. These link networks can consist of hundreds, or even thousands, of free-hosted blogs or networks made with expired domains. These link networks can pass on very strong ranking power.
This is why the search engines are aggressively attacking these networks. However, although link networks can provide very potent ranking power, they also are very risky as well. The search engines have taken a very strict stance against both private and pubic link networks. Therefore, any websites that get caught using these networks are definitely in danger of being penalized.
3. Widget backlinks
Google recommends including rel= “nofollow” to widgets. Very important websites, such as Godaddy, have been penalized for utilizing widgets as a link building method. If you have a plugin, or a badge, and you want people to be able to embed it on their website, give them the possibility to choose to link or not to. These links are almost always sitewide links. This can destroy your site if you are using a keyword-rich anchor text. It will wreck your anchor text profile. I know web designers, marketing companies, and web hosting companies love footer backlinks.
If you are doing sponsored articles or if you accept such posts on your website, which include a dofollow backlink, Google will consider that you are violating their guidelines. Matt recommends to nofollow all the advertorial backlinks.
Google has penalized important websites for using this method as a link building technique, and some include: InterFlora and a few well known newspaper websites.
5. Paid links that do follow
There is actually nothing wrong with purchasing links for your website. In fact, companies by the thousands purchase links on websites because it is an excellent way to advertise their business and reach more potential customers. Many companies earn a good ROI through buying links on different websites. Vendors that sell these backlinks are also selling them to other websites. Most of these website will be irrelevant to yours. That’s because these vendors rarely turn down money. Whether we are talking about text links or image links, Google doesn’t want you to pass PageRank with the links you paid for. They consider this link as unnatural, and recommend you to add a rel nofollow to all of your sponsored backlinks. You don’t want your link to live with irrelevant or “bad neighborhood” links.
6. Bad Neighborhood links
not that bad, but some can easily be abused too and dont use duplicate contents on bulk article submissions. Websites such as EzineArticles and ArticleBase don’t provide real value to users, and, therefore, Google devalued them. Their only purpose is to generate endless articles on the same topic, with a dofollow link at the bottom of the content.
The worst thing you can do is to hack other websites to leave your backlink. Search engine robots have evolved, and they are now able to understand what backlinks they are crawling. Hiding your backlinks on other websites, or even yours, it’s a sneaky way to build backlinks, and you should avoid it.
8. Site-wide SideBars and footer backlinks
sidebar and footer backlinks can work, but they are also risky. Backlinks from blog sidebars and footers will be placed on every page of your website. Therefore, it can be the case that some of the links will not be relevant, and may look like a spammy way to build backlinks.
9. Low distribution of Keyword-Rich Backlinks
Anchor text refers to the words used in the link pointing back to a website. Anchor text has been manipulated by many webmasters for years because it is used by all the major search engines to understand what websites are all about.
Webmasters used to be able to use the same anchor text in their backlinks over and over again. The webpage that these backlinks were pointing back to would get very high search engine rankings for the terms used in the anchor text. However, this has definitely changed. One of the things the Google Penguin update addressed was devaluing anchor-rich backlinks.
The Penguin update has resulted in websites with lots of anchor-rich backlinks being penalized, and this has negatively impacted their search engine rankings. These days, it is important for webmasters to avoid acquiring too many backlinks that are keyword rich, as this can definitely have a negative impact on the site’s search engine rankings.
No matter from what platform the backlinks are coming from, if you are building backlinks and repeating the same keyword over and over again, most likely your website will be penalized. Google has become very good at detecting patterns.
10. Backlinks from foreign language websites
If you have a website written in English and you have hundreds of backlinks coming from Russian or Indian websites, this will raise a flag to Google that something suspicious is going on with your website. Relevancy it’s highly important, and it’s best to avoid building backlinks from websites written in a foreign language.
11. Low quality guest posting
There has been a long debate about guest blogging, and Matt Cutts has done numerous videos about this. Like any link building method, eventually it gets abused, and Google has to take action against it. Quality guest blogging will never die, as I demonstrated a few weeks ago here, but spammy guest posting will get you penalized in the coming future.
12. Backlinks that are automatically generated
You can go on almost any SEO forum and buy backlinks on public networks. These networks will often advertise their service as “private blog networks”. But that’s a lie. Even if it may sound like a fantastic deal to buy 10.000 backlinks for $5 on Fiverr, don’t! All those backlinks are automatically generated, and they will get your website penalized in days. Stay away from all the backlinks that can be generated by bots, such as comments, forum posts, web 2.0 websites (Squidoo, Hubpages), and others. : some networks will attempt to block Ahrefs and Majestic crawlers, but its actually a footprint. On the other hand, networks that don’t block crawlers will likely get reported to Google because of an angry competitor. It’s a lose-lose situation.
13. Low quality web directories
Directories are another old technique that used to work a while ago, but not today. Paid or free, it doesn’t matter. Instead of building hundreds of links from directories, concentrate your efforts on submitting your website on the most popular directories such as Dmoz, Yahoo directory and Best of the web.
15. Non-Relevant backlinks
Relevancy is crucial. If you have a website that sells car parts, and you have hundreds of backlinks from websites that sell baby toys, it makes no sense. Google’s algorithm can determine if a backlink is relevant or irrelevant. What it basically did is decrease the power that irrelevant links have and greatly increased how important relevant links are. Link relevance is now more crucial ever since the Penguin update came out. It makes perfect sense that a hotel website would have links from other hotel websites and other related sites. Google’s Penguin update actually changed how important different rankings are.
14. Dead And Broken Links
It is very natural for a number of a site’s links to get broken over time. Having a few broken links is not going to cause a lot of damage to your rankings. However, when a site loses a high percentage of backlinks, this can have a negative effect on the site’s search engine rankings. Both internal and external broken links can have a negative effect on rankings, so you should track both of these types of links.
16. Backlinks from websites with duplicate and spinned content
Google encourage publishers to write unique and useful content, that provides real value to users. On the other side, they devalues websites with low quality and duplicate content. Therefore, backlinks coming from websites with spinned or copied articles, will burry your rankings.
17. Low quality backlinks
If it’s easy to build a backlink to your website, it means it doesn’t carry much value. The harder it is for you to earn it, the more valuable it is. Backlinks such as forum profiles and signatures, free directories, wiki pages and other similar platforms, will violate Google’s webmaster policy. These are some of the cheapest backlinks you can buy. They are also the perfect recipe for landing a penalty. Large amounts of outbound links + irrelevant links + outbound links going to “bad neighborhoods” (gambling, pharma, porn, etc.) = a toxic backlink
18. Any link intended to manipulate PageRank
What a surprise, right? Google is against any type of backlink that intends to manipulate search engine rankings. What does this mean to SEOs? Well, it means that link building must be done with cautious, and you should never leave footprints. Avoid participating in the link schemes that are violating their guidelines.
19. Forum and Blog Commenting with Keywords
Commenting on blogs for getting backlinks is a common practice today. Commenting is good, as long as you really care about the articles you want to comment on and you wish to express your option about various facts. The difference appears when you use mass commenting software to create million profiles on forums and blogs and then leave comments full of spammy links back to your web properties. It’s already known that using the same anchor text over and over again will most probably lead to a search engine penalty, so such practices are bad for your website and you should stay away from them. However, if you do use your real name and not keyword-rich anchors when you comment and if your comments add value to the blog or forum where you post them, they will serve your blog or website by adding a plus of authority to it.
This list of toxic backlinks could go on and on for longer, as there are multiple types of links that can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Please find below a more detailed list of toxic links that could harm your website, and how to keep a lookout for them.
How to Identify Spammy Backlinks
How can you identify spammy backlinks? There is a simple tip that will help you identify if the links being built for your site are valuable or spammy. Ask yourself a simple question, “If I were to visit this page, would I click on this link?”. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to spot spammy links easily. In fact, that’s how Google is able to spot spammy links.
Google can track if users click on a link and evaluate what percentage of people that visit a page actually click on the backlink. The more people that click and stay the better quality the link is. That makes sense right? Conversely, the more people that visit the page and do not click on the link gives a hint to Google that the link is relatively useless. This is proof that Google can identify spammy links and quality links. Think before you link!