What Types of Inbound Links Trigger a Google Penalty?

The most important part of any SEO strategy is to build high-quality backlinks. Backlinks are important for your search engine rankings, visibility, and site traffic. However, the quality of those links is also important. They can be a considerable threat if not managed. This is because Google enforces strict sanctions and penalties. This is why you should take care of your backlinks strategy. You should also make informed decisions about them or hire professional help to manage them for you. So knowing what types of inbound links trigger a Google penalty is important.

The consequences

It is not uncommon to see your traffic fall to zero just overnight. Many websites have had that experience.  This happens when Google algorithms find unwanted practice on your site. Black hat SEO if detected by google bots can get you penalized immediately. Some practices however go by with just a warning from Google. However, if you get penalized your traffic flatlines. This means that Google has completely removed you from the search or enforced a partial removal. Either way, you are losing your rank within google search and not showing up as a result meaning that you are not visible by search engines.

Google sigh because its watching What Types of Inbound Links Trigger a Google Pena
Google is following your activities searching for misconduct and violations of its policies and common practices

The cause

While building your SEO strategy you also build up your backlink profile. This is a set of both inbound and outbound links leading from or to your website. The key is to create a natural backlink profile. This means that you provide website content that is interesting and important to people so that they are inclined to link it or share it. At the same time, you are also linking to quality and relevant content on other sites. In this way, linking occurs naturally increasing the value of your website and increasing its popularity and rank.  However, your backing profile can get corrupted and can get labeled unnatural.

This happens when Google algorithms conclude that linking is against its set of rules. These links are then labeled artificial, misleading, deceptive, and manipulative. Such labeling and, as a consequence, google penalty, happen when the website follows spammy practices, offers poor quality content, performs keyword stuffing or scrape content, and so on. So, you may be penalized by Google for the inbound backlinks that you have no control over. Since acquiring these links may occur without you knowing it is important to audit your profile. You should do it once a month to try and find out inbound links that can get you penalized. You should then react and get those links revoked to stay protected.

Backlink profile

To preserve your backlink profile you have to invest considerable time. You are not in control of your inbound links but you can get them listed and analyzed. Once you know what types of inbound links trigger a Google penalty, you can react and get them disavowed to preserve your rank. So you should audit your profile at least once a month. But, to ensure proper management of your profile you must know what types of unbound links trigger a Google penalty. Although they provide some guidance, Google is not clear about its criteria and how its bots work but, certain analyses provide some data. So the data shows that the predominant reasons for penalties are:

  • Sponsored and paid links
  • Guest posts and press releases
  • PBN and link networks
  • User-generated spam

Besides these, there are many other practices and factors but these are the largest.

A pie char and graph of a website
Make sure you audit your backlink’s profile from time to time to make sure that it is healthy and up to regulation

Sponsored and paid backlinks

These types of backlinks cause more than half (53%) of all the penalties. Incoming links that contain certain wording may imply the sponsored character of the link. Phrases like “article is sponsored by…” or “information provided by…” may trigger Google penalties. To avoid it make sure to format the text as nofollow or “sponsored”.

Guest posts and press releases

This reason accounts for 45% of all penalties. Google recognizes when the posts or press releases use keywords in anchor text purely for link building. These links do not contribute to the user and are in violation go google guidelines. So, to avoid being penalized you should avoid using keyword-rich anchor text, avoid straightforward promotions and discard this risky practice.

PBN and link networks

As much as 27 % of penalties are caused by this practice. This is a clear black hat SEO that is expected to lead to penalties. The only way to prevent penalties is to have every link deleted or disavowed. The main characteristics of PBN networks are: they use free blogging networks and use the same keywords without variations, they are recent or changed ownership recently, they have weak traffic and low authority. This is why PBNs are easy to spot and are subject to penalties. But there are ways to build your PBN links the right way so you can get away without being penalized.

User-generated spam

This form of spam causes 16% of the penalties. Google claims not to use this sort of spam as the reason for sanctions but the practice and data do not support this claim. This spam is caused by links provided by users in their posts and signatures. As they are the result of user activities even trustworthy and reputable sites are victims of this practice. Sites can protect themselves by disavowing these links and this practice.

Other inbound link triggers

Besides these, there are other triggers that may cause a Google penalty. They have a relatively low percentage. To be thorough we can mention Web directories and link listings, spam, direct ads, and affiliate links, business links, links in widgets, hidden and sitewide links.

SEO made from scrabble peaces
Your SEO strategy is dependent on knowing what types of inbound links trigger a Google penalty and which tools to use to control the health of your backlinks

How to control inbound links

Knowing just how and what types of inbound links trigger a Google penalty is the first step in controlling the. The key advice is to audit your site and backlinks profile. This will allow you to have them deleted or disavowed if deletion is not possible. Make sure you use new tools that allow you to do analyze your situation quickly. Also, use service providers that can utilize a warning system to notify you in advance. To take proper action and protect yourself from penalties it is good to utilize all of the resources at your disposal. Simply knowing what types of inbound links can get you in trouble is the first and most important step. Once you identify the threat you can take action and implement tools that can protect you and keep you safe.

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