Linking is extremely important for any SEO strategy. Search engines treat links as votes for popularity votes and using complex algorithms, they have created a way to evaluate sites and pages based partially on this information. However, not all linking is good—some can actually harm your SEO ranking enough to make all of your other SEO efforts ineffective. In this article, we’ll tell you all about bad links and how to avoid them.
What is a “bad link”?
Bad links are backlinks that Google and other search engines deem “unnatural.” These are inbound links from sites with a lower ranking than that of your site and who are not always associated with high traffic, accuracy, or quality. Links that fall into this category include:
- Links to/from sites that host explicit content, or sites that are associated with unethical or spam-my practices.
- Irrelevant links. For example, if you run a site dedicated to cupcakes, and you have links that lead to sites about vacuum cleaners and psychic readings, those would be considered bad links.
- Broken links
- Links to/from link directories or farms that have no useful content. (Note: Some directories can be helpful, such as having your site listed in a directory that is relevant to your site. For example, if you own a restaurant, it may be beneficial to have your site included in a list of local eating establishments.)
- An excessive amount of links. Not every keyword needs to be made into a link. Less is more, go for quality over quantity. Too many links looks bogus and it can actually distract the reader.
- Purchased or solicited links
- Repetitive links—do not link the same keyword constantly.
As you can see, there are a lot of different kinds of bad links, all of which can negatively affect your SEO rank and popularity.
Bad links are backlinks that Google and other search engines deem “unnatural.” Click To Tweet
Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
One tactic that many bloggers and site owners use is to create a private blog network. They buy an expired domain that has a high page rank, add new content that is relative to their main site, then link the newly purchased domain to their new site in order to share link juice between the two. In theory, this makes Google see your main site as more authoritative. However, doing this is not advisable. Why? Simply put, the guys who run Google are not stupid and they absolutely hate having their search results list manipulated, which is why they are constantly coming out with updated algorithms meant to block such practices. Tactics like private blog networks and commenting techniques always work for a while—until Google decided to block them, which can result in your website being penalized and your hard work being demolished in a single keystroke.
Avoiding bad links
Managing your links is an important part of SEO, though it can be time consuming. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to avoid at least some bad links.
- When you are doing your own link building, make sure that you only link back to sites that you have researched thoroughly, that are high-quality, and that are relevant to your content and site focus.
- Avoid link exchanges with sites that host explicit or spam-my content.
- Learn to love Google Webmaster Tools. Set up an account, and do a little research on how to check your site for link activity, learn to identify bad links, and get started on removing them.