Google’s gold standard of whether or not a website should be ranked well continues to change over time, but for quite a while the best method has gone unchanged… relevant backlinks from legitimate, authoritative sites. On-page SEO and lots of great content may get your site indexed for specific keywords, but quality backlinks will drive up its rank.
Since backlinks have become a known commodity, many linking scams and services continue to pop up all over the web. Don’t be persuaded to spend money on these services. Not only will you not improve your ranking, but you may also be putting your websites at significant risk of being dropped from search engine indexes or poorly ranked.
Yes, There Are Bad Backlinks
Here is a quick list of some of the types of links you DON’T want pointing at your website. This list should not be confused with links that do not pass value, such as links with the rel=”nofollow” attribute.
- Don’t get links from sites that blatantly sell text links.
- Don’t buy into link farms. You may have encountered a deal like getting 1000 links for $29.95 monthly. Stay away from these programs.
- Stay away from popular link brokers. These brokers will sell you text links with the direct intent of influencing Google’s search results. This is a violation of Google’s Terms of Service.
- You will find users on popular webmaster forums offering to sell high authority links. Many of these sites are created by buying expired domains with high PageRank values and quickly throwing up template websites with little to no value/unique content. These sites will not maintain these PageRank values until Google realizes they have changed ownership and content. There are also many ways Google can identify that these simple sites sell links.
- Ensure your links come from a site whose targeted language and geography match your site.
- Do not utilize links created by spam software such as comment spam bots. Aside from annoying publications, this software leaves an obvious footprint for Google to identify.
- Avoid links from junk websites. These are sites like affiliate sites that have little or no unique content.
- Don’t post links to spam sites relating to objectionable content. Period.
- Avoid the temptation of posting links to a forum that the owner no longer effectively manages and that is full of spam.
- Avoid the temptation to add and publish your URL in link memes. A meme is a growing list of links that pass from one site to another to share links across the list of participants.
These are just ten of the types of links you don’t want, but this list is not all-inclusive.
You Still May Have Bad Backlinks
Even if you’ve never pursued bad backlinks, you may have some that are damaging your domain’s reputation. We manage a home services company who was obviously under attack by a competitor who was purchasing bad backlinks. Each month, we audited and disavowed those links with Google Search Console.
I’d recommend utilizing a backlink audit tool like Semrush to periodically check… especially if you’re having difficulting in improving your ranking on relevant keywords despite having amazing content that’s published, promoted, and shared regularly.