Navigation ×


Bad Backlinks: What Are They and How to Identify Them?

Mar 12, 2021
Bad Backlinks: What Are They and How to Identify Them?

Backlinks have become a significant factor in a website's search performance. That's according to 58.1% of SEOs. A good backlink profile improves your site's credibility, ranking, organic traffic, and reduces your chances of being penalized by Google.

With link building and quality content being among the important signals for ranking a website, marketers and SEOs need to take firm action against bad backlinks as they might harm a site.

This can be done by running a backlink audit of your site and identifying the good links from the bad links. And once you have done so, remove the bad backlinks from your site.

This post will discuss how to perform an audit of your site's overall link profile and identify bad backlinks taking a toll on your site. But first, let's look at the type of bad backlinks to watch out for.

What are bad backlinks?

Bad backlinks come in various forms. In most cases, they are spammy links or untrusted links that connect with your website and end up making your site look unprofessional.

These links do not follow Google guidelines and may originate from link farms, link wheels, and black hat SEO tactics such as dropping links everywhere on the internet. The bad backlinks to look out for include.

  • Links from low-quality directory sites: directory sites are more common with low-quality content that offer little value. As Google focused on EAT content, content from the directory site will harm your site since it does not meet the quality standard set by Google.
  • Links from thin content pages, duplicated content, or spun content: today, search engines advocate for fresh and expert content. Links from duplicated pages or sites can cause more harm as Google devalues them.
  • Links in private blog networks: using private blog networks to build links is a great way to get penalized by Google as most do not follow Google guidelines.
  • Links in blog comments: the quickest way for your links to be spam is to drop them in blog comments. Search engines only consider links from the actual content.
  • Buying links from cheap link building services: cheap link building services most often practice black hat SEO tactics, producing links that are not natural or do not follow Google guidelines.
  • Links from penalized sites: Google does not index penalized sites, so if you have links from such sites, it will most probably harm your ranking because unindexed sites are considered untrustworthy.

SEOs and marketers should, therefore, strive to collect natural links from trustworthy sources by publishing content that attracts backlinks or connecting with experts to increase their ranking and not engaging in shortcuts such as buying links.

How to identify bad backlinks?

Do not wait for search engines to be the ones ignoring bad backlinks. Neither should you wait for search engines to penalize your website to look out for bad backlinks. Being proactive will help you reward your audience with the right content, keywords, and links.

1. Scan through your backlink data

Your backlink data can tell you what links are contributing to damaging your site reputation and which are helping your search performance. With the right SEO tool, compile all the links from several sources and copy them into an excel sheet. Your job is to collect not only links but also keywords and site authority to link from.

2. Manually review each link

With all your backlink data collected, manually review each item. If you are wondering where to begin with all the data collected, use anchor text to spot bad backlinks. Here, check for anchor text containing keywords.

Such anchor text/links mean they are not got naturally. No reputable site would want to link to you with a keyword that you want to rank for unless you had vouched for them.

Don't stop there; sometimes, and if you have a relatively new site, you can manually review each page and find if it offers any value. If not, you have a bad backlink that needs to be removed.

3. Use filters to look for bad backlinks

Where you may have thousands of pages or backlinks to your profile, it may be tedious to review each page manually. Filter for keywords or phrases and single out unwanted links using backlink monitoring tools.

Find those links with high spam scores, low domain authority sites, unindexed websites, unnatural anchor text, high external links, and links that are not live. You can transfer this data to excel, sort, and merge a list of concerning backlinks.

4. Label or rate your backlinks

After reviewing each backlink, give them a score sheet — from good, bad, or pending review. Labeling will remind you or other users what action to take, whether a link should be kept or disavowed, and how to prepare the disavow file. It will also give you a basis for how your organization will gauge links in the future.

5. Disavow bad backlinks

Once you have selected the bad links, it is time to remove them. There are two ways to remove bad backlinks. You can contact the domain owner linking to your website and discuss a solution.

This can be as simple as asking them to remove or update the unnatural anchor text. Where a domain is spamming you with unnatural links, and you can't reach its owner, contact the web host provider and request them to remove the domain.

The other way is to submit a request to Google to disavow these links. In this case, those that you can't remove. When disavowing, upload a list or file containing domain links to the disavow tool on the Google search console or on the SEO tool you are using.


Having several links pointing back to your site was once a luxury that many dreamt of. But that is not the case with the introduction of the Panda and Penguin update, which focused on quality backlinks and content.

Therefore, marketers and SEOs must constantly assess their backlink profile, as ignoring bad backlinks will affect your website, audience, and ROI.

Use the above methods to identify and nuke bad backlinks and improve your website's ranking potential or stop your site from being penalized by search engines.

Content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour

She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth.

Please login to post your comment..



Featured ReviewsGet Featured