How to find toxic backlinks for my SEO?
Backlinks are a bit the sinews of war, everyone wants backlinks - and especially the good ones - but we forget about black hat techniques such as link farming, spamming on forums, etc.
Google, and especially its dreaded Penguin algorithm, are way too smart not to see that you're messing with them! You absolutely have to work on your net linking to get quality links.
But sometimes you may unintentionally get absolutely terrible links that are bad for your SEO. If this is your case, you should read this short article.
- Definition of a backlink
- What is a toxic backlink?
- Why is it important to identify toxic backlinks?
- The different types of toxic links
- How to identify toxic links?
- How to remove a toxic backlink?
Definition of a backlink
Let's go back to the basics
A backlink is a link from an external domain that points to a page on your site.
The quality and quantity of the links pointing to your site provide valuable information about the quality of your content and the reputation of the targeted page.
In other words - and in theory - the more backlinks you get, the more it tells search engines that your content is trustworthy and of high quality. This will improve your visibility and credibility.
But in practice, as we said in the introduction, it is not uncommon to get poor quality links, i.e. from dubious sites, which can penalize your net linking strategy. They are called toxic backlinks.
What is a toxic backlink?
The black sheep of SEO
The purpose of my article is not to talk about how to create a backlink campaign because my great colleagues, have already done it very well in his article 8 ways to create a successful backlink campaign. Today, I'm going to talk to you about those nasty toxic backlinks that we don't want and that are rotting our SEO.
Why is it important to identify toxic backlinks?
SEO red alert, toxic backlink coming!
Anyone who has developed at least one backlink strategy knows how tedious this work is, but how important it is to improve your SEO?
Getting quality backlinks is not done by simply snapping your fingers. As Nicolas Mercatili, founder of SEMJuice, describes it very well, "it takes at least 6 months to see the results of a backlink strategy". Unfortunately, all your efforts can quickly be reduced to nothing if, by mistake, you bring, or are a victim of, toxic backlinks.
What are the concrete consequences for your SEO?
These toxic backlinks send very bad signals to Google. Whether the approach is voluntary or not, the search engine may decide to penalize your website, especially if it concludes that the creation of these toxic backlinks was done artificially, in order to improve your rankings in the SERPs.
What are the signs of a toxic backlinks attack?
Several signals can alert you to know if your website receives toxic links:
- a sudden drop of your website traffic: if you receive too many toxic backlinks that you do not remove, Google may grant penalties, including a loss of rank in the SERPs, which will result in a decrease of visibility and therefore of traffic.
- a sudden increase in the number of backlinks: as we have already mentioned, getting quality backlinks is a time-consuming task. That's why, if you notice a sudden increase of backlinks on your website, there is a good chance that they are toxic.
- A stagnation of your positions: if you have worked hard to develop a good backlink strategy that follows the rules, but your rankings in the search engines do not change, this can sometimes be explained by the presence of toxic backlinks that are damaging to your SEO.
A notification message from the Google Search Console may tell you that Google can't find out if some links are spam or artificial links that you could have created. In any case, be prompt to analyze these links and remove them to avoid penalties.
The different types of toxic links
Save time = save... energy!
Before you start hunting for toxic backlinks, it might be a good idea to have some tips on how to identify them. It will save you some time. Because, yes, studying backlink profiles is a laborious and time-consuming task, especially for large sites that are likely to receive dozens of links per day.
Backlinks from foreign websites
It is not uncommon to find that some links come from India, Poland, Albania, etc.. When you are a French website (i.e), it should concern you. Because there is a good chance that it corresponds to spammy links. Even if Google, in theory, ignores this type of link, it is better to take the precaution and remove them as soon as possible.
Backlinks from directory sites
Formerly used to boost the organic referencing of a site, links from directories have suffered a sharp decline since Google Penguin has cleaned up the web. These links are no longer of great interest, especially since they come from websites with low-quality content. Avoid them!
Spam links created by robots
E-commerce sites and blogs are generally the sites most concerned by this type of spammy link. Often integrated into generic comments, these links hide in reality robots that publish massively toxic backlinks. They do not contribute to the improvement of your SEO and the use of this type of backlink can be penalized by Google.
Links from non-indexed websites
Checking this type of toxic link is easy. If you check a link without finding its site, it is probably that it has already been penalized by Google. There is a trick to find out if the pages from which the link comes really exist. To do this, use the command site:websiteurl.com. If no page is attached to this website, it is better to remove the link.
Links coming from over-optimized anchor links
Remember, anchors, are those hyperlinks that, when clicked, are intended to redirect you to another web page.
Link anchors hiding toxic links are easily recognizable, as these anchors are always the same, regardless of the content where they are embedded.
Links from websites with a different theme
Did you know that Google takes into account the cohesion between the themes of websites?
If we relate this to the subject of backlinks, you must be vigilant on the themes of the sites where these backlinks come from. Of course, you can receive links from quality sites, but not related to your theme. What should you do then?
In this case, put yourself in the shoes of your visitors and ask yourself if this link can benefit or harm you. On the other hand, all links coming from dubious websites are highly recommended to be excluded.
Links from websites with duplicate content
This is still a common practice in the world of SEO, duplicate content. When this is practiced, the authors of the duplication do not necessarily sort and also duplicate the anchors of links.
Knowing that Google is also hunting duplicate content, do not hesitate to report these sites to the search engine.
How to identify toxic links?
Let the witches' hunt begin!
Alright Gaëlle, your explanation about toxic backlinks is very nice... But where do I find them?
That's where Cocolyze and its backlink checker tool come in! It's super easy with Cocolyze to detect toxic backlinks... Just run your campaign and it will simply tell you in the "toxic links" table which links were detected as toxic.
Cocolyze's backlink Checker tool will also show you the Domain Influence and Spam Rating, the source as well as the target of the link.
If a link detected as « toxic » is not toxic for you and is desired, you just need to click on the « not toxic » button.
How do you fix a toxic backlink?
There are two things to do to get rid of these unwanted links.
The first one is to contact the webmaster of the site and ask him nicely to get rid of this damn link that is ruining our SEO... In many other blog posts about backlink tools you will see this advice too... I'll be honest with you, it's often very difficult to contact these people and in 90% of the cases they won't answer you unless you pester them day and night.
So it's better to tell Google "Please, don't take this link into account, it's not my fault", no, no, you don't have to go to Google's offices and knock on their door, you just have to disavow it with your Search Console. Disavowing is telling Google that you don't want these toxic backlinks to be taken into account from the disavow inbound links page.
But of course, Cocolyze will make your job easier! Indeed, you can directly from the backlinks tool, identify links "to disavow". These links will be displayed in a small table "links to disavow" just below the toxic links table and you can easily export your list by clicking on the "TXT" button. This way, you can directly import this list to Google and disavow them with peace of mind.
I'm sure you are now looking forward to testing Cocolyze and its backlink checker tool to find the links you need to get rid of quickly. For this, we offer you a 30 days full access trial :)
One toxic backlink = a penalty for my site then 10 toxic backlinks = I have no more SEO. Well ok, maybe it doesn't go that far but you have to know that backlinks are very important for SEO and if some backlinks are not qualitative you have to get rid of them otherwise Google can penalize you.