How To Eliminate Toxic Backlinks And Get Your SEO Back On Track

The significance of backlinks for SEO cannot be ignored at all. Simply speaking, you need to have a healthy and diverse link profile to get effective and sustainable results with your SEO strategy. Ideally, you should prioritize quality backlinks so that your profile becomes stronger over a period of time. Though you will probably focus on building good ones on high authority and niche-relevant sites, some bad ones may still creep in intentionally or unintentionally. The worst part is that they may do a great deal of harm by inviting Google penalties for your website. Therefore, it is crucial to identify and get rid of all the toxic backlinks periodically if you want to get your SEO strategy back on track. Here are some facts that you need to know about such backlinks and their elimination.

Before it comes to identifying and removing the toxic links from your profile, you must know what they actually are. Essentially, these are spammy links that give you a sudden rank boost right now but could be harmful to your website’s health in the long run. Though there is not a clear definition of toxic links, they are often the ones that come from:

  • Sites that are irrelevant to your sites because Google considers linking with them as an unnatural and manipulative approach
  • Websites that violate Google’s guidelines and have been or may be penalized for doing so
  • Sites with weak, limited and duplicate content because these are regarded as untrustworthy sources
  • Low-quality link farms
  • Websites which are excessively monetized
  • Websites which have security flaws and malware

While you may have linked with these sites with all good intentions, you should not expect any benefits from such backlinks. In fact, having such toxic backlinks pointing to your site may severely impact the hard work you may have invested in earning good ones as well. A Google penalty is expected in the worst-case scenario and its implications are seen as a drop in rankings. Additionally, there is the risk of never being able to recover your ranking again. Considering these perils, it becomes clear that the elimination of toxic links is not a choice for any website.

Backlinks are essential for practising good SEO because they act as a ‘vote of confidence’ between websites. You will probably think that a site that has a greater number of links will win the ranking game. But if you go through, you will realize that backlink building is not a number game. Quality matters more than numbers and it makes perfect sense to identify the low-quality ones and get rid of them, even if it means that you will have fewer backlinks. It is, therefore, recommended to have a good look at your backlinks and consider the following factors to spot toxicity:

  • Domain Authority: A low domain authority indicates a greater likelihood of a toxic link.
  • Spam Score: A spam score of 8 or higher is an indication that a link is from the spammy site and is toxic in nature.
  • Trust Flow: A trust flow is 10 or less is another red flag that points to a toxic link. However, sites that are just a few years old are seen as an exception to this rule because a low trust flow value is natural for the ones still in their infancy.
  • Brand Alignment: Even though brand alignment does not appear to be a tangible metric, it can still be related to link quality. Linking to a site that is not aligned with or related to your brand is a bad practice.
  • Backlink Patterns: If you build a backlink to a site that uses over-optimized anchor text, there are high chances of the link being considered as toxic.

A complete backlink audit for the existing ones is the first step that you should take. The idea is to weigh each of the backlinks on the basis of the aforementioned parameters and assess their quality. Once you identify the toxic links, you should draw up an elimination strategy on priority. Here is how you can do it.

Request for removal

To start with, you need to look for the contact details of the owner of the site where the toxic link is made. Request them politely to remove the link so that it is no longer a part of your profile and does not affect your SEO results. A low DA should be your prime concern but you need to check the site’s relevance too. For example, a new website will probably have a low DA but it could be very relevant to your site and showcase quality content as well. You may wait for a month to see if there is a rise in its DA rather than declare the link to be toxic and seek immediate removal.

Time to disavow

When you request a webmaster to remove a toxic backlink, they may or may not respond. The latter situation could have you stressed out because you will not be able to get rid of the link. Disavowing is a helpful idea in such a case. Basically, when you disavow a link, you let Google know that you would prefer not to consider it while looking at your site. Though Google may take up to six months, the wait is worthwhile because you will be able to get rid of bad elements for good.

Consistency is the key

When it comes to identifying and eliminating toxic links, you need to be consistent with these efforts. Aim to keep regular checks on the sites which link back to you because you may be getting toxic ones even without your knowledge. At the same time, pay attention to the quality of every single link you build because a preventive strategy is better than having to eliminate the bad ones proactively. Additionally, avoiding toxic links in the first place reduces the risk of penalties and safeguards your site’s ranking in the long run.

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