Toxic Backlinks – How They Hurt SEO?

Creating good backlink-building strategies is one of the most important parts of good SEO. As these backlinks are still one of the three most important ranking factors with google this is no wonder. The backlink-building effort is crucial for ranking, visibility, traffic, and ultimately sales. However, any such strategy must take great care of the quality of these backlinks. They are not all the same and there are some that are simply put toxic backlinks. These are the wrong kind that can be harmful to your rankings, and hurt organic traffic, and your revenue. This makes it important to recognize them and filter them out as part of your SEO effort and strategy. So, the Link Department helps you learn more about toxic backlinks and how they can hurt your SEO.

Backlink building and analysis

So, backlinks are important as they are considered to be a vote of confidence in your website. The more sites link to yours the better. This generally means that you have relevant content that is worthy of linking to. It also means that you are worthy and google ranks your site a bit higher in relation to others. To achieve this many websites conduct link-building activities to make sure these connections are achieved. However, you should analyze this strategy on a regular basis. This is because not all backlinks are of the same value. There are good, bad, and plain toxic ones (the ugly). The latter can be disastrous to your ranking and even earn you search engine penalties. As such you must strive to identify them and root them out.

graphic of how pages links although some might be toxic backlinks
You should scrutinize your backlinks building strategy and state it regularly.

Why are some backlinks toxic and what are they?

There are many definitions but the simplest one states that you build them automatically without editorial control. They are usually spammy links or low-quality links. These are usually bought or acquired in a way that is against the rules and guidelines. In addition, their toxicity can increase due to the:

  • Low domain trust score – Low rank of the backlinking site can be a sign of artificial domain score inflation. If their rank is under 40 Google sees them as toxic. Spammy or toxic sites usually exist only to influence (hurt) others’ rankings. These web pages are untrustworthy so you shouldn’t accept links from webpages like this.
  • Page mirroring – similar pages linking to one website through the same anchor text. These websites are usually clones of other web pages with the same content. These have different URLs so you must be careful. if you receive links from similar-looking pages be aware. This is an indicator of dishonest link building which may get you penalized. As a result, your ranking might suffer.
  • Page layout – the low ratio of the visible text shows that it is of poor quality. This means that if you get a link from a webpage that does not have a proper header, footer, or column design it might be toxic. This will severely impact your link-building process and results.

Here are some examples of toxic backlinks to avoid:

  • Originating from sites made to build backlinks
  • From irrelevant pages or content
  • From unrelated industries or sectors
  • Links coming from not indexed pages by search engines
  • Inserted into comment sections by force

The impact of bad/toxic backlinks!

Well search engines and Google, in particular, are vigilant in searching for an activity that breaks the set rules and standards. Discovering bad backlinks to your website can be the reason for issuing penalties. These penalties can cause a reduction of your page rank which in turn makes your content hard to find. Or you and your domain can be completely removed from search results. In either of these cases, the impact on your webpage rankings can be severe. Every SEO effort can be foiled by such a penalty. It will demand additional time and effort to recover from them and regain your position. Here is how these penalties work.

Manual action

A serious penalty comes from Google’s manual penalties. These are a result of the whole teams working to look for spammy or black hat link building. If these teams conclude that you are dealing with too many toxic links and activities they may issue a manual penalty. These are quite severe and they even get you removed from search results. In these cases, the action impacts the whole site/ domain. This directly impacts visibility and website rankings. Your website gets lost from the search engine results regardless of all of your SEO activity. This means that traffic, conversion, and revenue sharply drop, and your business losses out.

A group of people working on laptop
Make sure you are on top of your backlinks to keep your profile clean

The good thing is that Google notifies you about the infringement that caused the penalty. So, you can start by identifying all of your toxic backlinks and make sure to clean up your website to get out of the penalty you got. It takes time, effort, and patience so it’s worthy to note that it is advisable to avoid getting toxic backlinks and penalties as a result.  It will take you time to get out of the penalties which will influence your rankings for a longer period of time. In addition, you probably won’t get back to your former rank and search engine results. Most websites can only hope to return around 60% of their ranking results. So try to avoid any black hat SEO and shady activities on your web pages. Note that you are more likely to get a manual penalty if:

  • You are dealing in some niches that google defines as spammy
  • If you get regular algorithmic actions and
  • If your competitors continue to report you for spammy content and links.

Algorithmic penalty

Some penalties are automatic. They are the result of a Google algorithm. In these cases, penalties are issued based on the algorithm determining that you have too many unnatural backlinks. Such was the case with the Penguin update when Google algorithms determine that you have bad or toxic backlinks.  This means that Google ranks your webpage based on more than 200 factors. One of them is link building so when it determines that your links are toxic or unnatural it may issue a penalty. In these cases, the search is by using a web crawler to asses pages and issue penalties.

In these cases, you don’t get a notification from Google. Instead, you can see the drop in visits, traffic, and conversion so you can conclude on your own that you got a penalty. A penalty usually consists of committing certain web pages from the search results. This leads to decreased visibility and traffic. In turn, it means diminished conversion and profits. Luckily, these penalties are confined to certain web pages and not the whole domain. So, although they impact your rank9ing the impact is not too severe. Also coming out of these penalties is simpler and easier.

A graph on the tablet
Toxic backlinks can considerably impact your SEO effort and cause you damage and penalties

Ignorance by Google

In some cases, Google can overlook the toxic links so you won’t get a penalty. The trick is to stick to an organic way of acquiring backlinks. Do not get involved with link-building schemes and intentional activities. If you stay clean and keep within the Google guidelines you can be safe. In these cases, Google will overlook an occasional spammy backlink. Or if you use exact match anchor text at your lower levels. The important thing to know is that Google looks at the volume and severity of the infringement you make. If you are trying not to break the rules or make only minor infringements you will be safe.

What to do?

Toxic backlinks influence your ranking severely impacting any good results that you achieve through SEO management and activity. However, their impact influences your SEO even further. Today, a considerable part of sour SEO strategy has to take into account the search and remedying of such toxic backlinks on your websites.

You first have to discover such links. It is bad to find out that you have them by receiving a penalty. The idea is to find toxic backlinks and root them out before you get the penalties. There are automatic audit tools to help you out in this respect so try to use them at least once in a while. In this way, you will be able to identify that you have a problem so you can fix it.

After this, you have to take action. So, create a remove list of links that you will have to remove as your backlinks. You can first try to contact the admins of the websites that toxic backlinks originate from and have them removed. You can also disavow the link if the links are not important to you and if the admins won’t cooperate.

programing of codes
Create a system that will help your find and root out toxic backlinks and keep your profile clean

Steps to take

To avoid the negative effects that your SEO may suffer from these backlinks make sure that you make changes to your strategy. It is important to incorporate a regular audit of your backlinks in your regular SEO activity. With the development of automated audit tools, and creative strategies this task is easy and can be quite beneficial to your overall effort. It is always easier to analyze your link profile inside out in advance. It will discover potential problems and help you solve them before they cause negative effects to your rankings. Today there is no need to suffer from penalties and negative actions caused by these backlink problems.

What to do in 2022

With all these in mind, you should strive to keep your SEO effort clean. Good advice here is to try and avoid certain practices in 2022 concerning toxic backlinks.

Avoid using too many anchor texts. Although it helps create backlinks between pages Google’s Penguin update can penalize you for having too many of them. If the text is an exact match it may seem unnatural and trigger the penalty. So, you must optimize your anchor text strategies to avoid penalties.

SEO analisies
Make sure to analyze your activities regularly

You can use paid links to quickly boost your ranking. However, using an organic link-building strategy is always more reasonable and valuable. If you pay for links then Google can define them as unnatural and send you a warning to remove them. In these cases, it is better to invest in other link-building activities than in buying backlinks. They will certainly keep you safe from the penalties.

Private Blog Networks are large networks of websites dedicated to aggressively linking to other web pages. As such, they can influence the rank of many different websites. Using PBNs can be a severe infraction on Google rules. It considers them to be a form of ranking manipulation. Using them in 2022 is very risky as Google will issue a manual penalty as soon as identifies you using them. You will get a  degrade immediately with a long-term negative effect on your rankings.

Avoid using reciprocal link building. This is when two websites link to each other to boost their mutual rank. In these cases, if you use this on a large scale you will develop unnatural backlinks. this will naturally occur by linking to and from irrelevant pages solely to generate backlinks. So, these practice is not a good idea in 2022

Avoid artificial outbound links too

Also, avoid generating unnatural outbound links. These links are also toxic and generating them means breaking the rules for Google. So, Google will take note of these actions and can penalize this activity. So, if you are paid to create links like those it might not be financially sound in the long run.

SEO audit written with scrabble letters
Do an audit of your SEO profile to avoid getting penalized

In conclusion – avoid toxic backlink practices

So, it is clear that toxic backlinks have the capacity to set you back considerably. Any SEO effort on your part may be foiled by this issue. However, once you recognize the danger and impact this may have on you you can take action. Make this a priority in your SEO strategy and ensure your good standings online. This is important especially today in 2022 when Google is particularly vigilant about any violations of its rules and set values.

Latest Posts