Before we go into what ‘Toxic Backlinks’ actually are and why they are damaging to your website, brand, credibility and reputation, lets briefly cover what a legitimate ‘white hat’ backlink is…(‘white hat’ is the term used for Google approved SEO best practice and comes with a fairly high level of confidence that you will never be penalised by a Google Algorithm update).
WHAT IS A BACKLINK?
External Backlinks are the arteries of ‘The Internet’ sending lifeblood (‘Link Juice’) between its interconnected websites, a backlink from one site to another can be described as a vote in favour of the linked-to website.
If your website is about ‘Ice cream parlour’ and you have a link to your site from “natrualsicecream.com” this tells Google (and other search engines) that your site is ‘vouched for’ by a site with a high authority score in your industry.
If you have corresponding backlinks from other Ice cream parlours this all compounds your websites ‘Topical Authority’ which means you will rank higher for topical related keywords (You also need high quality content to rank for your target keywords but quality backlinks generally follow quality content).
But, and this is a huge BUT that you must always, always consider when building backlinks.
ALL BACKLINKS ARE NOT EQUAL.
If your ‘Ice cream’ website is getting a lot of links from Motoring websites, Travel websites or Builders Merchant websites (for example) this is going to send Google a very confused message.
The backlinks you have built are not relevant and are not contributing to your ‘Topical Authority’. So they aren’t ‘good’ backlinks but they probably aren’t causing you any negative equity with regards your on-site SEO and may well contribute to a natural looking backlink profile.
What you are looking for is relevance and authority. Authority is measured in a number of ways, usually by metrics such as Domain Authority (MOZ) or Domain Ranking (ahrefs). There is also the Alexa rank which is less important.
SO WHAT IS A ‘TOXIC BACKLINK?’
Toxic backlinks are, at best, unnatural links that directly harm the search rankings of a website, it really isn’t over emphasising the point to say that toxic backlinks will directly result in your website featuring lower in the Google rankings than it deserves to be.
At worst, toxic backlinks can be backlinks from adult sites, adult forums and unindexed sites from across Eastern Europe and Russia, they can be being used to inject Malware onto your site or even redirect users from your website to their own, less than reputable websites – these can be devastating to your website rankings as well as damaging to your business, brand and reputation.
It should be noted that not all backlinks from what are generally considered as high risk countries are hosting disreputable content.
Spotting the Toxicity
When you’re looking at a link, consider the following:
1) Trust Flow: If the trust flow is 10 or less, you may have a toxic link. The exception to this rule is when dealing with websites that are less than one to two years old because the trust flow may be low simply because the site is still in its infancy.
2) Domain Authority: The lower the domain authority, the increased likelihood of a toxic link. Typically 40+ is safe, but again, newer websites will have lower DA because they’ve not have time to build it yet.
3) Spam Score: A score of 8 or higher indicates the link is coming from a spammy site and is toxic.
4) Your Own Assessment: Numbers won’t tell the whole story. You’ll need to look at the site yourself to determine if it’s quality or not. If a DA of 25 looks promising but you see the content is low quality, it may be a source of toxic backlinks.
5) Backink Patterns: Look at the other links on the site – and see if the backlinks are excessively optimized in terms of their anchor text. Quality sites use a variety of anchor text – and if all you see are exact match keyword phrases, it’s more likely you’ll run into toxic links.
6) Brand Alignment: Are the sites linking to you related to or aligned with your brand? If not, you may wish to consider them toxic. For instance, if you’re advocating for human rights and sites that are protesting those rights are linking to you, it’s not a good thing for customers to see.
Method to remove Backlinks from a website –
When you know that your website has some toxic backlinks, the next step should be the cleanup process. It is vital for your website to remove irrelevant backlinks in order to get top positions and better traffic.
Below are some of the process to fix “Toxic Backlinks” from any website –
1) The simplest way to delete irrelevant backlink is to know from where these links are coming. You can get the links deleted by simply logging into the account.
2) If you don’t have credential to log in and remove your listings, You can humbly request site owner to do so.
3) If any of above steps don’t work for you, you can take the help of Google’s disavow tool to simply remove the backlinks from your website.
When you do the job to remove Toxic backlinks from your website, you should file a reconsideration request with Google. Do remember that Google may take around 2-3 weeks to respond to your submission.
At last, removing toxic backlinks is one of the greatest steps for great SEO.