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For site owners struggling to increase their website’s search rankings even after coming up with great content, bad backlinks may be the culprit affecting the site’s SEO and how long it takes before it pays dividends. In which case, thinking of ways on how to remove bad backlinks should be the top priority.

Importance of Removing Bad Backlinks

Search engines determine if a particular website is a trusted source of information if it attracts backlinks from several authoritative sites.  

A backlink works like a stamp of approval and plays an important role when a search engine decides if a website deserves a high ranking on its results pages. Since Google Penguin was introduced in 2012, backlinks became a more crucial part of every SEO strategy.

Through Penguin, Google identifies and penalizes online sites that engage in questionable backlink practices, thus preventing the manipulation of search results. That’s why a website with several bad backlinks is bound to experience a massive drop in rankings if not getting banned entirely. 

Finally, in 2016, Google started to monitor websites in real-time to detect spam when Penguin became part of its core search algorithm—since then, removing bad backlinks has become more important for website owners.

Types of Bad Backlinks

The following are different types of bad backlinks that incite an investigation by search engines and could warrant a penalty or permanent ban: 

Press Release Links

There was a time when this type of link was quite popular and relatively easy to get. All it takes to get hundreds of links is to write a press release and send it to a hundred press release distribution sites. 

 At present, Google considers press release links to be a link scheme because they’re easy to manipulate.  

Discussion Forum Links

While not all forum discussion links are considered bad backlinks, thousands of them come in from low-quality links and foreign discussion forums to the point that Google sees them as spam. 

A website can keep backlinks from a good quality site maintained by an established user that’s neither manipulative nor spammy.

Links from Foreign Guestbooks

This is another type of backlink that can be placed manually or with an automated program. The links should be disavowed before the website suffers a massive drop in rankings.

Random NoFollow Links

Another form of spammy link building wherein thousands of links from many different sites are created by an automated program. At present, Google’s algorithm has become more adept in detecting randomized footprints, especially from nofollowed sites.    

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Years ago, PBNs were a great way to rank in search engines through link-building. But then, they were again used on a massive scale that caused websites to lose organic traffic. 

Google eventually caught up, even with randomized footprints that take longer to spot than others, and punish most PBNs.

Social Bookmark Links

Social bookmarking links are also on Google’s link scheme list because they’re spammy and manually placed, thus considered manipulative. 

Blog Comments

Spamming blog comments is an age-old link acquisition technique. By abusing the blog comments section, spammers get SEO benefits. 

However, this technique doesn’t always work unless topically relevant comments are left on topically relevant sites. 

Links from Automatic Link Building Programs

There are many tools used to build lots of links automatically. These programs have become less effective of late and are not recommended for use in any SEO effort.

Steps to Remove Bad Backlinks

The removal of bad backlinks requires a complete backlink audit to identify the ones that need to be purged. It can be a challenging and time-consuming task, especially when done manually for thousands of links.

Thankfully, using certain tools that filter backlinks based on specific parameters simplifies the process and makes it more manageable.

Here are the steps to remove bad backlinks:

Collect Backlink Data 

The first thing to do is compile a list of all the backlinks to a website from different sources. There are also various tools that website owners can use, which only require the site’s URL. These tools pull up the data of all sites linking to the owner’s website and their specific domain strength.

For the same purpose, the Google Search Console can be used, provided that the website domain being checked is connected to Google Analytics.    

Identify Bad Backlinks 

The most crucial step in removing bad backlinks is the manual auditing of every backlink and determining if the link’s content is relevant to the website. Note that backlinks with irrelevant content don’t add any value to a site’s inbound link profile.

Running a google search should tell if a website isn’t indexed and is currently being penalized. Search for “site:domainname” to see websites that affect search engine rankings negatively. 

Remove Bad Backlinks

Removing bad backlinks requires website owners to connect with the linking sites’ webmasters and request that they remove the bad backlinks. They can also utilize backlink outreach tools to find the contact information of said web admins.   

Track, Monitor, and Follow-up 

In some cases, requesting removal may not suffice to deal with the bad backlinks. The website owners would then need to monitor the backlinks to ensure the relevant webmaster complies with the request. 

A follow-up email is in order if the webmaster doesn’t respond in 5-10 days. 

Disavow Remaining Backlinks

In the likely event that some of the webmasters refuse to remove bad backlinks, Google allows website owners to disavow backlinks they don’t want their website to be associated with. 

They just need to create a list of the links to disavow in an Excel spreadsheet and upload it on the Google Disavow Links tool

Doing this will notify Google not to consider the links on the list when determining the website’s search engine rankings

Key Takeaway 

Backlinks impact a website’s search engine rankings in a significant way. Therefore, site owners need to perform regular backlink audits to help identify links in need of corrective measures. 

The identification and removal of bad backlinks are a must to keep any website from getting penalized.


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