One of the hottest SEO tips for 2017 is to manage toxic backlinks
A brief history on website backlinks
Backlinks are links to your website from other websites. Backlinks are also known as inbound links. Backlinks have always served a key role in search engine optimization. Years ago the best practice was to acquire as many links as possible. Often this meant that unethical site managers would buy links from link building services. When Google launched their Penguin algorithm in 2012 they specifically targeted low quality, spammy backlinks. Sites with a large number of spammy links experienced ranking losses.
In 2016, backlinks remain an important part of off-page site optimization. Presently the difference between then-and-now is that the quantity of inbound links matters far less than the quality of inbound links. For your website to retain or achieve high rankings you need to carefully manage your backlink profile.
Google Penguin 4.0 Update – Unnatural Backlink Penalties
On September 3, 2016 Google launched an update to Penguin, which is now part of Google’s algorithm. This update, dubbed Penguin 4.0, runs real time. This is a great thing if you need a fast method to recover from toxic backlinks.
While Penguin originally did a good job of finding bad links it was not as sophisticated as its newest version. With Penguin 4.0 Google can assess penalties to individual pages with toxic inbound links. For websites that have multiple pages holding prominent search engine rankings this means there is more to actively manage. You will need to monitor the rankings for individual pages to catch any problems as quickly as possible.
Every website is subject to penalties from spammy, low quality backlinks
Google will not send notices and recovery instructions wrapped with a bow. It is entirely up to you to get on top of the situation, and make things right. Whether or not you think your site has been penalized, it’s a good idea to be proactive about cleaning up your link profile. This is especially true if your website (domain name) has been in use for over five years. If your website is over five years old there is a near certainty that it has acquired at least a few bad links.
Spammy backlinks hurt your rankings no matter how the links came to exist
The presence of any spammy backlinks will harm your site’s rankings. Your site will be penalized – whether you paid for links, hired a SEO company who bought backlinks, or a competitor paid someone to build spammy links to your site. It’s not Google’s responsibility to decide if your site is the victim of the acts of others. It’s simply a matter of whether or not your site is utilizing best practices.
How to Manage Your Backlinks in 4 Steps
1. Assess the situation – identify your backlinks
This is a very important task, and one that determines the effectiveness of your efforts. Our recommendation, especially for your initial endeavor, is to utilize multiple backlink checker tools. Identifying backlinks is a tricky process. We’ve never found any single tool that finds every backlink to a website. By acquiring and combining multiple data sets you have the best chances to build a reliable list of inbound links. if you’re unsure about this process you can hire us to do backlink management services.
2. Analyze your backlinks list to sort out the suspicious links
Combine your lists of backlinks into an Excel spreadsheet. Sort the list alphabetically, and delete duplicate entries. This will prepare your list for review.
Types of backlinks to ignore
Links from industry websites and organizations
Links from review websites (i.e., Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.)
Links from social media websites
Links from legitimate blog articles
Links from legitimate press releases
Types of links that are questionable
Links from private blog networks (PBN links)
Links from porn, gambling, pharmaceutical sites.
Links from websites with bogus online profiles
Spammy blog or forum comment links
Links from website unrelated to your business
Links from foreign websites
3. Create and submit a Disavow File to Google
Creating and submitting a Link Disavow File to Google is arguably the most important step in cleaning up your backlink profile. This is where you turn all of your work into a valuable tool. In order to submit a disavow file to Google you need a Google account, and be using Google Webmaster Tools (Google Search Console). This is a free product to install in your Google account.
Google Directions on How to Use the Disavow Feature in Search Console
Matt Cutts Explains How to Use the Google Disavow Tool
4. Use your backlink checker tools to periodically check your backlinks
Your backlink management work is never truly finished. You need to make periodic (quarterly perhaps) checks of your backlinks. Even without any effort on your part new links will occur, or you will find previously unknown older backlinks. In some cases your competitors may undertake negative SEO efforts, and build spammy links to your website. It’s a best practice to continually monitor your site for compliance with Google standards.
Do you need help with backlink management? Call 770-429-5300 to request a free backlink audit and phone consultation.