A good backlink profile is a crucial ranking factor. However, webmasters also have to do something for this – preferably proactively. Otherwise, you may face a Google penalty.
Some backlinks are more harmful than helpful to a website. On the other hand, some types of backlinks can also have a very powerful and positive effect on a website. It is, therefore, important to work out which links are helpful and which are not.
Each domain has its own backlink profile. This is the sum of all the links that lead to another page. A good profile should have both dofollow and nofollow links to make it look natural.
It is also important that these links are of the highest possible quality, i.e., that they come from good sources. Since the backlink profile is one of the crucial ranking factors, it must be well maintained. If this is not the case and unnatural links belong to the backlink profile, you should immediately take care of removing these links because bad links of low quality can, in the worst case, lead to a Google penalty.
Why links are still important
When it comes to SEO, there are many things to focus on. In the course of the strong change in algorithms, many experts have given up the idea of link building and are of the opinion that link building is dead. But that is nonsense.
Search engines see the links that link to a page as a vote of confidence in the content. The more links come from good quality sources, the higher the chances that you will rank for relevant keywords.
It is clear that links are still important from the Google algorithm’s point of view and are decisive for good rankings if they are classified as high quality.
What are bad backlinks?
Google describes “any measure that manipulates links to your website or outbound links from your website” as a violation of the guidelines for webmasters.
The main difference between good and bad backlinks is based on the quality of their pages. It’s often very easy to spot a bad backlink – but sometimes you have to look at the whole page to find out why a backlink is having a bad effect on a page’s metrics.
Here are some examples of bad backlinks:
- Links from link farms: A link farm or so-called SEO page is set up exclusively to sell links to other pages or to set up your own projects.
- Links with optimized anchor texts: Mostly, the brand names are used as anchor text. If a page gets a lot of links from different pages that use the same anchor text, it looks suspicious.
- Links from non-industry-relevant pages: Google considers it very unnatural if pages link to one another, although there is no thematic connection between them.
- Links from penalized pages: If a page has been penalized and its keywords are ranked in poorer positions or not, the linked pages can also be affected.
- Links from pages with suspicious TLDs: Domains mostly get links from pages from the same country and with the same language. On the other hand, it is unnatural and suspicious if a com domain, for example, receives many links from a .ru page, although this is not internationally oriented and there is no thematic connection.
When is link removal necessary?
Google started the fight against link spam with its first Penguin update in 2012. Many sites were found and punished that practiced “bad” or dubious link building tactics. This means that their rankings have been downgraded or entire pages have been de-indexed. Since then, the criteria for rating links have become increasingly strict. Result: There is now a faster penalty or ranking crashes.
Often, however, you only think of link breaking after Google has penalized a page. The page was then downgraded either manually or algorithmically. In the case of a manual penalty, Google will ask the webmaster to remove the spammy links.
In order to avoid this unsightly communication, you should pay attention to the cleanliness of your link profile from the start. Therefore, it is important for webmasters to regularly question their link profiles and proactively dismantle those links that have or could have a negative influence on their pages.
What’s the procedure?
First of all, you have to thoroughly check your backlink profile and analyze the links. Once you know what bad links there are, it’s time to clean up. Two approaches have proven themselves here in recent years.
Contact the website owner; this is the easiest method when it comes to removing backlinks. You just have to look for the operator’s contact details in the imprint and ask him to remove the backlinks. However, you should be prepared for the fact that some webmasters may charge you for removing links or not react at all.
In such cases, the second method comes into play.
Use the disavow tool.
Google provides the Disavow tool in the Search Console. This tool is only used to devalue links that webmasters do not want for their site. Use the tool if you haven’t managed to remove all links.
To do this, you first have to create a disavow list. This is a simple file with no formatting. In this list, you put all the addresses of the links that you want to remove. It can either be the subpages (URLs) on which the links are located or enter the entire domain. In the second case, Google ignores all links that refer to your site from the specified domain.
Everything again at a glance
Prevention is better than reacting and improving afterward – for example, if Google has already punished you, and your ranking is in the basement. Therefore, constantly check your backlink profile to know which links you are receiving. The central questions: Are these links harmful? Should they be dismantled?
Through targeted link removal, you can usually “clean up” your backlink profile in good time and do not need to be afraid of a penalty from Google. Then a natural and clean backlink profile also leads to better rankings.