Have you been hit by a Google penalty? Perhaps you hired a bad SEO company or purchased links from an untrustworthy source? This quick guide will introduce you to what backlink profiles are, explain why they are still important for SEO, and discuss why they should be monitored by your digital marketing agency. We will also explain what to check for when analysing your backlink profile and what to do if you are a victim of negative SEO, Google penalties or backlink spam.
What is my website backlink profile?
Your backlink profile is composed of all the external websites that link back to your own site. Whether it be a direct link to your homepage or any internal page of your website, your backlink profile is still considered a ranking signal for Google and should be monitored by your SEO company. This was previously exploited by blackhat SEO professionals and spammers attempting to trick Google into ranking their website higher in the SERPS (Search Engine Rank Positions) by establishing unnatural external links to their own sites.
Things began to get messy so Google started to roll out penalties like the Penguin and Panda updates to those sites that had unnatural backlink profiles. with some sites even getting removed from the Google index completely. There is also a phenomenon known as ‘negative SEO’, which occurs when competitors spam your site with untrustworthy backlinks in an attempt to get your website penalised in the search engines.
What does a dodgy backlink look like?
According to an article about link schemes published on Google Support https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en any links that are intended to manipulate page-rank are considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines. This includes buying or selling links and having excessive link exchanges. More examples of what Google considers to be unnatural links are:
- Low quality directory or bookmark sites
- Links in footer comments
- Links from widely distributed article sites
- Links from comments on forms or low quality blogs
- Over optimised anchor text and keyword spamming
- Any link that was purchased as part of an SEO link building scheme
How do I check who links to my site?
You can check the backlink profile of your website at https://opensiteexplorer.org by entering your URL and looking at the Linking Domains section. This shows a complete list of all the domains linking to your site, including the internal pages and anchor text used. You should check that the people linking to your site are trustworthy and related to your industry. For example, you don’t want 5,000 guest posts from weight loss websites pointing to your site when your site actually sells speaker systems.
Having too many untrustworthy, unnatural and unrelated backlinks pointing to your website can look suspicious to Google. The last thing any website owner wants is to be hit by another penalty update or, even worse, get banned from Google completely.
What to do with an unnatural backlink profile
If you find suspicious links pointing to your website the first step should be to contact the owners of these sites and request that your link be removed. However, if this does not work or they simply don’t respond then fear not as there is an official way of informing Google and instructing that these bad links be ignored when assessing your site. This tool is called Google Disavow and you will need a Google Search Console account with your website ownership verified to login and access it. Using the disavow tool you can select your site and click disavow links to submit a text file of the links you want to tell Google to ignore.
At Digital Mad we are experts in off-site SEO based in Bournemouth and can help you research new link-building opportunities whilst discovering potentially damaging links from negative SEO. With our completely white hat approach to internet marketing, we can assist you with cleaning up your backlink profile and help you to build trust and authority within Google. To speak with an SEO consultant please call 01202 901 607 or email us to find out how we can help you and your business.