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Backlinks are one of the top indicators of website authority in the eyes of Google. Without them, you can’t increase your visibility in searches.

But in your efforts to acquire good backlinks, you may have also picked up some bad ones. These might not only lower your ranking. They could make your site disappear from searches entirely.

Fortunately, you can remove bad backlinks. It’s not hard to do. But you need to know what you’re doing to avoid further damaging your site.

Let’s find out what you need to know.

Why Backlinks Matter

Backlinks are a vote of confidence for your website. Search engines like Google and Bing use the number and quality of backlinks to determine how high you appear in search results.

If you have a sizable number of backlinks that the search engine considers questionable, they suspect that you’re engaged in sneaky SEO practices called Black Hat SEO.

They take a closer look at your website. They may penalize pages or your entire website. A penalized page is invisible in search results.

What Is a Bad Backlink?

There are many types of links that Google considers suspicious. If you have these kinds of links, you need to take a closer look.

You can remove bad backlinks that are hurting your site.

Irrelevant Pages

Links from pages that seem to have nothing to do with yours are suspect. Every backlink you have should have a reason for existence.

It should appear to Google as if the link happened naturally.

Low Domain Authority

Links from low authority sites (<10) are suspect because some people create dummy sites just to link to their site. The higher the authority of the page linking to yours the more powerful that link will be as a general rule.

Too Many Links from One Site

Hundreds of links from one site seem strange. It typically happens when someone sticks a link in a header or footer. Google wonders why someone would do that unless they’re trying to cheat the system.

When link building, it’s important to get links from many sites rather than bunches from one site.

Link Farm Backlinks

Link farms are networks of websites that are often owned by a single company. Companies buy up expired domain names and create sites with them.

This in and of itself isn’t bad.

But some create these sites for the sole purpose of linking to other websites. They disregard user experience. They have low standards for what they’ll put on their site.

Too High DoFollow Ratio

Many believe that you should always have more no follow links than do follow links.

You don’t get link juice from nofollow links. But if you have more do follow links, Google gets suspicious and may audit your site.

There are many more kinds of links to consider removing. We won’t attempt to list them all. Here are 5 more to get rid of when you remove bad backlinks.

  • Low Quality Directories
  • Sites Selling Links – Not the same as a company you pay for link building
  • Sites from countries where link building scams are common
  • Spammy Sites – Bad UX, more ads than content
  • Sites that have been penalized for shady practices

How Do Bad Backlinks Happen?

Natural Backlinks

Bad backlinks can happen naturally. If you believe the link happened naturally, you might choose to leave it if it’s not hurting your site.

Negative SEO from Competitors

Your competitors can launch a negative SEO campaign against you. They know that Google hates these kinds of backlinks. They can use this knowledge to hurt your website.

Inexperienced SEO Professionals

If you hired an amateur SEO or tried to DIY, you may have inadvertently created bad backlinks. Fortunately, you can remove bad backlinks now that you know better.

Untrustworthy SEO Professionals

An untrustworthy SEO might intentionally build bad backlinks. They might then say: look at all these backlinks. I did such a great job for you.

They know that it takes a few months for Google to catch on. By then, they may already be paid.

Only hire reputable SEOs to avoid this.

When & How to Evaluate Your Backlink Profile

It’s a good idea to regularly check your link profile. But you need to pay extra close attention when:

  • Your # of backlinks suddenly increases significantly
  • Your traffic suddenly drops
  • You hired an inexperienced SEO
  • You hired an untrustworthy SEO
  • Your site is floundering despite your own link building efforts

Evaluate your profile manually, use paid tools that will flag questionable backlinks. Or hire an SEO expert who has these tools.

Take a closer look to see if you need to remove that backlink.

How to Get Rid of Bad Backlinks?

Search engines like Google don’t want to unfairly label your website as suspicious. They recognize that bad backlinks could be the result of negative SEO.

Or they may be legitimate links created by people you don’t know.

Because of this, major search engines like Google and Bing have created a disavow tool under their webmaster tools.

Search engines recommend that you first attempt to have a website remove the backlink entirely. You can reach out to the webmaster and kindly ask them to get rid of that link.

There is a benefit to doing this. When you actually remove bad backlinks they no longer clutter your report.

You can more easily evaluate your link profile without having to constantly sort out disavowed links.

If you are unsuccessful, then it’s time to use disavow tools on major search engines.

Google recommends that you disavow links at the domain level. That means the sites main URL (example.com). Don’t include HTTP or WWW, etc.

This will block that website from trying to link to you on another page.

Remove Bad Backlinks & Get on With Your Life

Bad backlinks can seriously damage your rankings. If those links came from questionable sites or were created by questionable SEOs, they may be suspect.

Fortunately, you can get rid of these junk backlinks and get on with making your website amazing.

To learn more about how we can help you get rid of bad backlinks and build the good ones, contact us today.