How to Identify and Remove Bad Backlinks

In past times, before Google Penguin Update to be precise, higher ranking possibilities grew proportionally to the number of backlinks you had. Then, links couldn’t harm your SEO in any way. Nowadays, however, the situation is a bit different. Bad backlinks can lower your rankings for as much as they can boost them. Domains that have unnatural backlinks will be penalized. And since that’s not something you want for your website, it’s important to know how to identify and remove bad backlinks.

Just sheer numbers aren’t worth much these days. The quality of backlinks and authority of the domains linking to you is what matters. To the algorithm, it doesn’t matter if these bad link generations are intentional or not. Therefore, if you have lots of them, search engines will start to drop you out of the SERP.

What Are Bad Backlinks?

In essence, bad backlinks are unnatural or low-quality backlinks that come from any untrusted source. So, any type of black-hat generated link or overoptimized example will fall into this category. Additionally, if a website that’s violating Google guidelines links to you, that also can damage your stats.

You can check out our article about the differences between high-quality and poor quality backlinks if you want to learn more about that. But, now we should concentrate on how to evaluate if the link is good or a bad one.

Domain search written on old typewriter.
Make sure to identify all the bad domains that are linking to your website.

Use Backlink Analysis To Collect Your Backlinks

You need to collect all your website backlinks in order to be able to determine which ones are that are bad. And you’ll have to use multiple sources to get there and to be sure that you didn’t miss even one. Therefore, a backlink audit is how every backlink removal action starts. Here’s what you should do.

Google Webmaster Tool

Log in to your account on the Google Search Console and on the homepage, select the property for which you want to do the analysis. After that, you need to click on Links located on the left-hand sidebar in the dashboard. Your entire link profile, including both internal and external links, will be there.

Locate the Top Linking Sites bar and click on More under it. Now you have a complete number of unique links from out of your property. You can now export and download the data.

Using Popular SEO Tools

Although Google Webmaster Tool does a great job, sometimes you just need a little bit more. And there’s a number of tools and applications you can use to find out what you’re missing out. The most popular among them are Ahrefs, SEMRush, SEO Power Suite, etc.

These look and work very similar to Google’s option, but often can get you more furnished details about the backlinks. And that’s important when you’re trying to achieve higher authority of your domain.

What we want to say is that you don’t get any way of analyzing the value of links with Google. That, of course, isn’t a problem if you have just a few of them. But, if we’re talking about thousands of links this task becomes merely impossible. With these third-party applications, you get the option of sorting links by different metrics. So, you can identify and remove bad backlinks much more easily.

Two men talking about how to identify and remove bad backlinks.
The best path you can follow to identify and remove bad backlinks is using a few different sources for your analysis.

How To Determine If The Link Is A Bad One

As we’re sure you know, with recent updates links have become one of the crucial factors that impact your search visibility. Obviously, good links will improve it, but bad ones can harm your site quite a bit. So, how to identify such harmful links in the sea of information you have in front of you after conducting a backlink audit?

These are the most frequent scenarios and sure write-offs:

  • Any link that comes from a low-quality website that is solely set up for SEO links
  • Links mentioned by spam sites in bad comments
  • Links that are irrelevant to the content of the page they’re on
  • Side-wide and footer links
  • Over-optimized anchor text backlinks that use the exact keyword
  • Any link that comes from a website that’s has a low domain authority
  • Links coming from penalized domains

Removing A Bad Backlink

Now, there are two ways of removing a bad or unwanted link. The first and the better one is reaching out to webmasters and requesting link removal. Write an email template and send it out to as many addresses as you need to. Always make sure to be extremely polite and provide clear information so it’s a minor task to a webmaster to remove the link.

Be sure to wait for about a week’s time and give webmasters some leisure time to take the action on your request. Only if you haven’t heard back from them you should resort to the second way of doing it – disavowing links.

Man holding his phone and writing emails.
Don’t be impatient after you have sent emails, and give webmasters enough time to do what you asked them to.

Disavowing Backlinks With Google Disavow Tool

Prepare the list consisting of all the domains and URL’s that need to be disavowed in .txt format. From the experience we at Link Department have, you should mention the records describing all the efforts you had taken for the link to be removed. This way, Google will get the reasons for this action and everything will pass much smoother.

Here are a few tips on how to do it.

  • Create a list in .txt format
  • Each line of the document must have a single URL or domain
  • If you want to remove the whole domain write ‘domain:’ at the start of the URL
  • Put a ‘#’ symbol in front of each line of describing the efforts of link removal attempts

It’s extremely important to follow these guides and create the file in a perfect format. If you don’t that all your endeavors to identify and remove bad backlinks could be for nothing as you’ll get rejected by Google for improper formating. The only thing that is left to be done is to head over to the Google Disavow Tool, select your site, and click on disavow links. Submit the .txt file and you’re all set. However, know that it might take up to a couple of weeks for Google to process your proposal.

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