How to Spot Quality vs. Toxic Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top three Google’s top-ranking factors. Therefore, you simply can’t ignore the need for a strategy to get these. Without high-quality backlinks, your chances of ranking highly for competitive keywords are very slim. Now, it’s important for you to understand that not all links are the same and treated equally. While properly done links are helpful for your website, bad ones can harm your domain and badly affect your rankings. And that’s why it’s so crucial to know how to spot a difference between quality vs. toxic backlinks.

Not only you should be analyzing your backlinks, but you should do the same with the links that your competition puts out. This is the only way to find fresh opportunities to build links that will boost your organic visibility. Which is the most important one, as you probably know.

Additionally, if you do this regularly you’ll be able to discover all the issues that are holding you back in real-time. So, the whole team of the Link Department sat down and we decided to make the best guide you can find. Here’s what we came up with.

What Is a Backlink Analysis and Why Should You Do It?

As we already mentioned, backing analysis is something that you should do regularly. The key to success in the online world is information. So, the more insights you have on both your and your competition link profiles, the more chance you have of succeeding.

This analysis should help you understand the gap between you and your main competitors. When you know what the gap is all about, you can make a few different strategies on how to outrank them. It goes without saying that the more time you dedicate to this, the more info you’ll collect. Therefore, get one of the free domain comparing apps and get to work.

Now, having a bad type of link on your website can harm its organic performance. So, having the right link building tool to use can be very helpful in determining where the issues are and how to fix them also. They’re especially important if you’re already seeing negative impacts as a result of a bad backlink.

Think of doing this as a touring health check of your domain. If you do it on regular bases, you’ll resolve potential problems long before they cause any harm.

Papers with analysis and a keyboard on a table.
Backlink analysis is there to help you utilize the knowledge about the differences in quality vs. toxic backlinks.

What Is a Quality Backlink

The most simple explanation of a quality backlink is that it comes from a trusted source, and it’s not intended to manipulate search engine rankings in any way. Google itself tells us that the best way to create high-quality and relevant links is to create relevant and unique content. Naturally, the more this type of content you have, the more chances you’ll have that someone finds it valuable and links to it.

However, we think that there’s a little bit more to the story here. You see, all of the high-quality backlinks you see have been editorially placed there, as a result of someone choosing to do so. No one has to link to anything, so editors and webmasters will do it just if they think that your content is valuable and helps their readers. And exactly that is what you need to pay attention to.

This is also the reason why digital PR and content marketing are becoming so strong and popular link building tactics. You’re contacting journalists, editors, or publishers directly and if you can offer quality to them they will return it. And the best thing of all is that there’s no danger of confusing quality vs. toxic backlinks here.

How Do These Links Look Like?

Besides being editorially placed, a high-quality backlink has to fulfill a few more things.

  • It has to have the potential to send referral traffic. The potential of targeted referral traffic is not a thing to underestimate. The main purpose of a link is to be a navigational item, so if it can build traffic to your landing page, it probably is a good one.
  • It has to align with your site content topically. Connecting two pieces of totally unrelated content won’t get you far. A good link should come from a web page that covers a similar topic as yours.
  • It has to come from a trusted source. The highest quality links come from the most trusted sources, it’s as simple as that. If you had to choose you’d trust your friend rather than a stranger, right? Well, the same goes for backlinks.
Woman searching for how to spot quality vs. toxic backlinks on her phone.
Quality backlinks come from a trusted source and have tendencies to drive quality traffic to your website.

What Is a Toxic Backlink?

Now that we know how to recognize good backlinks, let’s deal with the bad ones. According to Google, these are links intended to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search in pretty much any way. No matter if we’re talking about links leading to your site, or about outgoing ones. But, how to spot these manipulative examples?

It’s very hard to narrow it down to just a few little points to point your attention to since there are many different types of link building. But, in essence, these are not editorially placed and they often show signs of low quality or other attempts to manipulate rankings. Some of the examples are:

  • Coming from the website whose purpose is linking out.
  • Blog comments forced ones.
  • Coming from content, or sites that are topically irrelevant.
  • Hidden links in website footers.
  • Coming from sites that aren’t indexed by Google.
  • Existing on too many pages of a website.
Two gas masks side by side.
Toxic is an ideal word to describe the amount of damage these bad links can have on your website’s health.

The Consequences of Toxic Links

There once was a time when you could use the manipulative links and they had a profound impact on rankings. Nowadays, you can get only one of the suspensions provided for it. If you’re caught red-handed your site can receive a manual action for unnatural links, it can suffer from an algorithmic filter, or your links could be ignored and have no impact on rankings.

Of course, these are all things you want to avoid, and now that you know how to spot quality vs. toxic backlinks we’re sure that you won’t jump into a trap.

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