Links are one of the pillars of a good SEO campaign and having an excellent link profile is sure to put you ahead of the competition quickly and sustainably. However, this is easier said than done when you consider all of the negative links floating around out there. All it takes is one link to a spam site or a poor group of links to instantly negate the value of a good link.
How do you tell the difference between a good link and a bad link? And, more importantly, how do you garner good links and avoid those poor ones?
The good, the bad and the ugly
Let’s start with the good links. Good links are links to quality, renowned websites that, themselves, have a good link profile and quality content. Some of the best links come from .edu websites or those that are highly trafficked each day, such as RollingStone.com or USAToday.com. These sites are widely regarded as credible, quality and trusted, making them ideal candidates for links.
While it’s hard and very nearly impossible to garner a backlink from these sites, all hope is not lost—there are different echelons of good links that are more attainable to the common website. Garnering a link from your local news site, an up and coming blogger or tech-based website are all extremely good links as well.
The bottom link in regards to good links is that any backlink you reap from a website with a higher ranking than you can be considered beneficial.
Bad links are another story. Bad links are those that are inbound from sites with a lower ranking than yours and who aren’t always touted for their quality, accuracy or traffic. For example, a link from a page that hasn’t been updated in a few years and is filled with outdated information might not be a very good link.
Links from website that keyword stuff are also bad. If the content on a website is clearly stuffed with keywords in an attempt to move up the SEO ladder, that sight and yours are most likely going to suffer the consequences. Also on this list of bad links are paid links or affiliate links, which are commonly frowned upon by Google.
And now, for the ugly: links from spam sites. Spammers have a way of linking to everyone and anyone that might give them a boost, which can be terrible for your own link profile. If you visit a site that’s a source of malware or one notorious for its black hat practices, expect a major penalty to your own site. Get these removed quickly or you’re going to suffer the consequences.
Removing the blemish
So what happens when you discover that your link profile is being dragged down by bad links or poor quality links are overshadowing the good ones? The next step is to get them removed and there are a few ways to do it:
- Contact the site administrator and ask them to remove links to your site. This is often a good course of action to take at first, as it’s diplomatic and non-invasive.
- If you can’t contact a site administrator, you can turn to Google’s Disavow Tool, which requires some experience to use, but overall does the trick when eliminating poor links.
Remember, your link profile works both ways. If you realize that your site is linking to poorer quality sites, make sure that you remove the link as quickly as possible to distance yourself from the damage.
Avoiding bad links
When it comes to avoiding bad links, there are a few steps that you can take to mitigate your experience with them. When it comes to your own link building, target only quality sites that you have thoroughly researched. Also, never buy links or have bots build them, if possible—these links won’t fool Google and you’re likely to be penalized for them.
To avoid negative backlinks coming into you, the best thing you can do is remain vigilant in recognizing them. If you notice a new, low quality link, make sure to address it right away.
Another great idea to reduce the number of spam links to your site is to require login or approval for comments on a blog or product. Spammers love to slip their links into blog comments and product reviews, so it’s best to cut them off at the source with logins and captcha blocks.
If you’re diligent in maintaining your link profile to its highest degree of effectiveness, you’ll definitely see the benefits that Google has to offer you. Good links mean Google love; bad links mean a slap on the wrist that could send you tumbling down the search results.