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How To Identify Аnd Avoid Toxic Backlinks?

Backlinks are one of the essential factors considered for Google rankings, and no marketer can afford to ignore them. You need to have a strong strategy to build high-quality links to rank high, for competitive keywords and search terms. But remember, not all links are the same. The identification of right and wrong is important to escape the harm; wrong links can do to your website and affect rankings, organic traffic, and revenue negatively.

The simple hack is to regularize analysing your backlinks and your competitors to find opportunities to build high-quality links that will help increase organic visibility. This is also crucial to identify any issues that may be altering your website performance and can be helpful to find an appropriate way to take action to resolve it.

Backlinks Analysis

You need to inculcate a habit of regularly analysing your backlink profile vitally. A better insight into your and your competitors’ link profiles, will stand better chances for you to gain and use the information to improve strategies.

Identify Competitive Link Gaps

A backlink analysis will help you to understand the link gap between you and your competitors. This information is beneficial to identify your ability to outrank your competitors and enjoy higher rankings. All you need to do is develop a strategy to close the link gaps, which will help you gain a competitive advantage.

Without these insights, it would be like targeting an arrow into the dark or without an aim. Knowledge on link gaps lets you know whom you are competing, and you can work more directionally. Tools like SEMrush Backlink Gap tool can help you identify your competitors, and you can efficiently strategize your moves to excel them.

The more information you have, easier it would be to stack up against the competition and formulate a strategy. This also facilitates building links that positively impact your rankings.

Recognize Bad Links & opt for Preventive measures to Protect Rankings

The toxic or bad links are often the wrong type of links, often referred to as unnatural or spammy links, can harm your site’s organic performance. To get rid of it, ensure you run a regular backlink audit proactively to identify these issues and take action to protect your rankings. If you have unfortunately noticed a negative impact from bad links on your website, you need to jump out into action for analysis to fix issues and conquer your lost rankings.

Backlink analysis is like a routine health check with the healthcare specialists to keep your potential problems at bay and fix them before they cause harm.

Quality Backlink and how to build one?

A quality link comes from trusted and reliable sources and does not have a sole-motive to manipulate search engine rankings.

If you listen to Google and adhere to what it says; it directly outlines:

“The best and easiest way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create relevant, unique content that can naturally gain popularity over the Internet community. Creating good content can pay off highly. Links are often editorial votes given by choice, and useful content you have on your website poses greater chances that a third party finds it valuable and reliable enough to link it to their readers.”

When a link is editorially chosen (by a writer or webmaster), it merely means that you have created a worthy piece of content that can be amplified and put to use for the readers. This is where we need to pay attention and understand.

There are simple tactics that you can follow to build high-quality links and avoid the risks associated with toxic links.

What do quality-links look like?

Send potential referral traffic: There is an excellent opportunity or potential to receive targeted referral traffic via high-quality links. This is because of the navigational nature of links, and if a link drives quality traffic to your website, it’s a useful link.

Aligns with your own website’s content: If two pieces of content are irrelevant and look misaligned, it may turn off the reader’s mood and make it look unnatural. Quality links must cover topics similar to your website.

Source reliability: Links are a bond of reliability between two websites, and the highest quality links must come from most trusted sources. No one would like to have a recommendation from a stranger and apply it to backlinks the same day. For example, a link from the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal has higher reliability than an amateur blog with low-quality content.

How To Build High-Quality Links?

Power of public relations

Backlinks are based on building relationships. It’s the best way to generate high-quality backlinks to your website. While your website is new and lesser-known, people will be sceptical about linking to your website. So, public relations will accelerate your rankings, not immediately but slowly. Leveraging public relations can be the most vital step in your backlinking journey. You can initiate the first step by being active on social media.

Align social signals

If you wish to build an expert backlinking strategy and rise through rankings, aligning social signals is a must! Social signals disseminate your activity and updates to search engines. It’s directly proportional! More the activity, better the rankings. You have to focus on engaging content that is even useful to others. If you don’t have time to leverage every single platform, choose a mix for yourself. Give dedicated time to just one or two and reach out to your audience.

Grab the Edge with Competitive Content

Strong backlinks demand unique content creation. Any reader would check you for credibility and worthiness before linking to your website. So, keep it simple, appealing and compelling enough for the writers to get lured-in and link you! If your website contains dull, familiar, and wordy content, no one cares about its existence. Also, always remember the competition, you need to write content that’s better, unique and based purely on research.

Create an infographic

Infographics are attractive and are liked by readers. The representative and minimalistic nature make them easy to scan, love and browse. They are easily shareable; this means if an infographic exists on your website, and someone shares it, they have to link to your website. You can strategize the creation of an infographic, i.e., is it offered for free or you charge for it! Just a few extra pennies!

Comment on other relevant blog posts

Look for other pieces of relevant content and start by commenting to build the rapport needed for backlinks. The comments must have the primary purpose of building a mutual relationship with the author, and you can occasionally jump to an opportunity to introduce a backlink in your comment tactfully. Smart way; try it!

“Toxic” Backlinks and their impact on organic performance and rankings?

Now that we know how high-quality backlinks are built and how they can benefit our website traffic as well as our SEO, we must now understand “Toxic Backlinks”.

If high-quality links came from editorial earnings and trusted sources, where do toxic backlinks come from?

According to Google: 

“Any link that intends to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered as a part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

This statutory framework includes any behaviour that can manipulate links to your site or any outgoing link from your website.

If Google finds a link to be an attempt to manipulate your search rankings, it is considered as a violation of their Webmaster Guidelines.

But what type of links can be considered manipulative?

It’s simple, those links which aren’t editorially ranked or approved and which have been actively placed with the primary purpose of increasing search rankings by SEO are toxic links. These bad/toxic links display signs of low quality, such as:

  • Connected from websites created for the sole purpose of linking out.
  • Coming from irrelevant websites and irrelevant content.
  • Links from websites that aren’t listed by Google.
  • Links that are forced into blog comments.
  • Hidden links in the website’s footer.
  • Omnipresent on the website.
  • Backlinks that are marked as sponsored.

There are yet many other signs of bad links that can contribute to your website’s toxicity. Be hand with appropriate tools to identify and analyse bad links before they harm your SEO and other related activities!

Yes! Toxic Backlinks Can Potentially Affect Your Organic Performance & Search Rankings

Use of manipulative links was once considered common, and they had a profound impact on a site ranking. Google’s algorithms have advanced extensively over the years, and their efforts against web spam are widely reported.

In the present times, successful link building is more about focusing on quality than quantity because low-quality links can majorly impact your rankings and organic traffic.

In 2012, Google’s Penguin algorithm update targeted the toxic/unnatural links after which the link building landscape changed forever in a better way.

Here’s how toxic backlinks can harm your site’s SEO efforts:

Your Website can Receive Manual Action for Toxic Links

If Google’s web-spam team reviews your site links and finds it to be spam, a manual action for unnatural links can be applied. So, you must adhere to Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Manual actions are though less common than they once were. Since reviewing website manually is time and resource consuming, Google has put in its algorithms for the task to refine toxic links.

Website Suffers from Algorithmic Filter

Toxic links make your site suffer from an algorithmic filter as a penalty adjustment. This can hamper your rankings, and typically the Penguin filter does the task. The worst part is that you won’t be notified and you can’t file a reconsideration request to remove an algorithmic penalty.

Organic Changes

You will be able to see the negative hit in various ways: a significant decline in organic traffic and visibility may be. Depending on the extent of unnatural links, this decline may be sitewide or restrict to a specific set of pages or site sections only.

To recover from this condition, you need to stop discontinue the set of tactics that caused the problem and renounce links those were problematic. With this, now you need to go out and earn better links to regain the lost insights.

How to Avoid having Toxic backlinks on your website?

It is better to use tools to be aware of the link building tactics that can lead to toxic backlinks, and here are some ways that can help you to stay away from toxic links:

Paid Links

With the money involved in the exchange of backlinking, you may end up violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes paying sponsorship fees for guest posts or gifting products or services in exchange for a link. Remember that a paid link has not been editorially placed. While it is a no-go for SEO, if you may need to use sponsored content for reasons other than building links such as leveraging someone’s audience and earn referral traffic. Make sure to add rel=”nofollow” or rel=” sponsored” attributes for full transparency and take preventive measures, not to get identified as unnatural.

Exact Match Anchor Text Links

Links that use exact match and keyword-rich anchor text may get pulled down for being toxic, hugely regardless of the source and credibility. Excessive use of keyword-rich anchor text can get you potentially flagged for using the money for links or not being editorially placed. Influencing anchor text with exact match keywords to another page may make links look more unnatural.

Links from Spun Content & Articles

Earlier, building links using spun content was a popular strategy. This would involve writing an article and then using software; spin this into hundreds of different variations. Most of the results were likely to land in the trash bin. These articles were then uploaded to article directories like EzineArticles with links included within these.

Links from Spam Comments on Blogs and Forums

The comment spam is yet another link building strategy that would result in toxic links. These comments work automatedly; placing numerous, irrelevant comments on blogs. This is done with a hope that readers will go through without moderation, and land on your site. So, the tactic is to get as many people as possible to land on these links through comments. People using WordPress will know this, as they can notice plenty of notifications with comments to approve. These comments contain entirely unrelated content and links which form comment spam.

Widget Links

If you are developing a widget or plugin (e.g., for WordPress) and distributing this with a link included alongside, be cautious as you are violating Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and building toxic links. Immediately clean up the links if you have messed with this tactic in the past!


It is essential to continue taking preventive and corrective measures to avoid loss of traffic and face penalties from Google. It is best to run regular backlink audits as part of your SEO activity. You would help yourself by successfully spotting issues caused by toxic links before they become a huge problem resulting in losses. After all, who doesn’t know, prevention is always better than a cure!



This article was originally published on Result First.