Backlinks are an integral part of any SEO and digital marketing strategy. They are an excellent way to drive traffic to a web page, generate a consumer base, and build credibility for your online business. However, backlinks are only as good as the person implementing them. Not all backlinks are created equal, and if not done correctly backlinks can actually become harmful to your business. In fact, some backlinks can be ‘toxic’.
Toxic backlinks can spread like a virus, and actively dismantle all of the hard work you have put in to making your online presence a success. In this case, it is crucial to know the health of your backlinks at all times, in order to prevent a backlink from becoming toxic and hurting your SEO and SearchRankings. That is why our team has developed our Toxic Backlink Checker tool.
Before we get into how to use our Toxic Backlink Checker tool, let’s take the time to break down what a toxic backlink is, and how it can hurt your business as a whole.
If you are reading this blog post, you are likely familiar with the concept of backlinks. However, it’s not going to hurt if we go over the general idea before we talk about how they become toxic.
A backlink is a specific type of link that bridges a user from one web page to another.
This final destination for the clicker is generally a page for a business, product, or another article that can provide context or credence to the original post. For example, if a NY Times post is discussing crop shortages in Iowa, they might link to agricultural studies showing their evidence.
Another example could be an article that is reviewing dog leashes, with a backlink to a store that sells high quality leashes. This is the general idea. When you are reading any sort of web content, you will often run across certain pieces of text that are links to another site or destination--these are backlinks.
- Why Are Backlinks Important?
Backlinks provide useful data for search engines such as Google, and help them assess the value of a web page. Every time a backlink is clicked, it transfers something known as ‘link juice’ on to the linked page. This helps Google to determine if the web page is useful for users as each click counts as a ‘vote’ of confidence in that page. However, not every vote is equal.
Votes from less than reliable web pages are weighed with less credence than links from more reputable websites. In this sense, some backlinks are more valuable than others.
If you manage to have your web page linked from a well respected source, you are going to notice higher rankings on search engines. This is where the possibility of toxic backlinks becomes a danger.
A toxic backlink is much like a human virus in many ways. It will actively ‘infect’ your SEO quality and Google rankings by not only adding little value to the weight of your backlinks and web pages, but by dragging them down entirely. This is typically the result of the linking web page being deemed as poor, or even of bad repute. For example, web pages that are seen as poor sources or filled with malware will be ‘black listed’ by the Google algorithm, and as a result any backlinks linked from them will have a bad reputation by association. However, there are a few different ways that backlinks can be deemed toxic in general. For example:
Some digital marketers will fall into the mistake of trying to ‘game’ the system by having their backlinks listed on the same domain multiple times. Perhaps this can stem from a business owner developing a relationship with another business, and trying to have them promote their website often. Other times it can stem from ‘black hat’ operations trying to boost traffic to websites by hosting backlinks on the multiple web pages frequently, with the same anchor text.
Google will see if a backlink has been used in the same anchor text or on the same domain too many times, and will consider these ‘mirror pages’. This will result in the Google algorithm blocking the link juice sent to your web page, and can even stop counting clicks on these links as votes altogether.
The Google algorithm takes into consideration the actual layout of the text on a web page when calculating the score and weight of a backlink. This means that the actual location of the backlink anchor text within the web page text plays a huge role in how the backlink is perceived. In some cases, web designers and content creators will try to jam as many backlinks into their text as they can in order to generate revenue for themselves by hosting them. This is a bad practice, and can harm the overall value of all of the backlinks used, not just one.
When having your links listed, it is important to know how many other backlinks will be in the text alongside yours, and try to always ensure that number is low. In this case, less is more; and dealing with web pages that try to jam too much into too little text can hurt your business overall when it comes to Google page rankings, and SEO value.
Google and other search engines assign various scoring values to domains based on their relationships with each other and the value they provide. These are called ‘domain power’ and ‘trust score’. Domain power is the value that Google assigns to each individual website that links to others. These websites are rated on their authority in their respected areas, and if they are secure and free of any malicious malware, etc,. For example, the NY Times will have a very high domain power score, as it is a well respected and established news organization. By contrast, a small individual news site known for ‘fake news’ or propaganda will have a very low domain power score.
Trust score is the value assigned to a link that is being shared by web pages with high domain power scores. The more pages with high domain power sharing a specific link, the higher the trust score that link will then have. If the ratio of trust score to domain power is very low, then a link will be considered of little value and won’t receive any love from Google.
Backlinks add a lot of value to the trust and authority of a web page, no matter how popular or ‘small’ the business might be. Even small businesses benefit from having valuable backlinks for boosting traffic to their websites and generating revenue. In this case, it is crucial to make sure that all of your backlinks are as healthy as possible.
Google as a search engine controls as much as 10% of all internet traffic as of 2020. This is a staggering amount when you consider how vast the internet actually is world wide. Because of this, Google takes great care to ensure that whenever users search for a certain thing, they get the best results possible. This has led to one of the most advanced algorithms in the world. Almost every factor that can be weighed about a web page, is weighed by the Google algorithm.
Imagine how frustrating it would be for users if they searched for a specific topic, and received completely unrelated results. To prevent this, Google cracks down hard on web pages or systems that try to take advantage of the algorithm and boost their search ranking inorganically.
Unnatural or toxic backlinks can be harmful in more ways than just lowering the traffic to your web page, or reducing your search ranking positions. Toxic backlinks can actually incur penalties if not dealt with immediately. In many cases web pages that have too many toxic backlinks can have their web page excluded from the Google database altogether; this prevents it from showing up on Google searches.
In more severe cases, web pages with too many toxic backlinks that have gone unremoved can receive a ‘penguin penalty’. The penguin update was an update implemented
by Google recently that actively seeks to penalize web pages that try to game the algorithm and gain backlinks through black hat sources. A web page that receives a penguin penalty will actively receive negative link juice when their link is clicked. This means that every time one of your toxic links gets a click, the traffic will actually lower your SearchRanking and SEO. This is, of course, a disaster to fix and can ruin a small business online.
It’s difficult to exactly quantify which backlinks are toxic as a complete rule. The truth is, there are a multitude of factors that can go into making a backlink toxic. Some examples of these can include:
A link network is a network of web pages that are owned by the same entity or or are simply affiliated in some way. This includes related organizations, or web pages connected through other means. If backlinks are found to be hosted by link networks, this can tip Google off to the link not being natural or organic. This will prompt the link to begin turning toxic, and can incur a penguin penalty if left to go on for too long.
Websites that are not secure and contain viruses or malware are extremely bad for your backlink health. A website that has been known to pose a security risk to users devices or personal information are generally blacklisted by Google and other search engines. In this case, if these sites are hosting any of your backlinks these links will be toxic almost immediately. This again will incur hefty penalties from the Google algorithm.
Google indexes and logs nearly every web page on the internet that is reputable and safe for general browsing. This is generally every web page known on the internet that average users interact with everyday. However, as some might know, there are web pages that are not indexed and categorized--otherwise known as the ‘dark web’. Web pages that are not indexed are not considered safe or reputable by Google, and as such Google does not view backlinks hosted by them favorably. Your backlink can quickly develop into a toxic backlink by being hosted on a non-indexed web page.
There are certain unsavory practices that go on among black hat link building organizations. This can include the creation of spam websites that are designed purely for the function of hosting links and artificially driving up clicks and search rankings. Web pages that
are designated as spam will actively have their domain power lowered, which will hurt your backlinks rapidly. Spam web pages can be identified by certain traits such as:
These types of websites will be actively penalized by the Google algorithm, and by association all of the links hosted on them. In this case, it can easily turn a link toxic simply by being hosted on a web page that has been deemed as spam.
Our team knows the importance of having healthy and beneficial backlinks when it comes to growing your business online. We ourselves are online business owners, and we know the damage that toxic backlinks can cause when left to run amok. That is why we took the time to develop our simple to use Toxic Backlink Checker tool.
Our Toxic Backlink Checker tool is designed with advanced algorithms and powerful computing to search across all of your live backlinks or any that might be toxic. We run diagnostics on your links to test where they are being hosted; their domain power to trust power ratio; the authority of the hosting web pages; and whether your links are being hosted on spam or dangerous sites. This cross referencing allows you to know for certain if your backlinks are healthy, and operating smoothly.
Once our Toxic Backlink Checker tool runs its scan, we will notify you immediately if any of your backlinks are toxic, or harmful to your SEO and SearchRankings. All you have to do is insert the URL of your link in our Toxic Backlink Checker tool, and let our system do its magic!
As soon as you discover if you have toxic backlinks, you can then go about the process of having them removed entirely to minimize damage. Just like taking antibiotics, you have to remove the ‘infection’ to save your SEO and SearchRankings from further damage.
Once you have run your links through our Toxic Backlink Checker tool, you should then take immediate action on removing all toxic backlinks as fast as possible. Our team of SEO and digital marketing experts have plenty of resources to help you along with this process. However, there are a few things that you can do rather quickly to eliminate and exterminate these toxic links on your own. A few examples include:
In many cases you will be able to remove your links yourself. However, sometimes you will not be able to delete the links to your web page. In this case, you can always contact the hosting website directly and request that they delete your link entirely. This might prove difficult if the web page is considered spam, or if it is run through a black hat link building channel. In these cases, you may need to take more drastic measures to get your backlink removed.
If you have run your links through our Toxic Backlink Checker tool, and found a large amount of toxic backlinks, you might have to contact Google to minimize the damage.
Disavowing your links can be done by contacting Google and asking them to not consider or associate your web page with those links anymore. However, bear in mind that this does not always cut out the damage. In many cases, once it has reached this point, the damage has been done.
Asking Google to allow you to disavow those links will not repair the loss in rankings you have incurred, and will not remove the penguin penalty you might have already received. In these cases you will be required to individually remove and kill each toxic backlink yourself. This is a lengthy process, but it must be done if you wish to have any hope of recovering your Google rankings.
In the aftermath of the whole toxic backlink mess, it can be easy to think all hope is lost.
If there have been penalties levied against your web page, it can feel overwhelming to fix. In many cases, small business owners unfortunately resort to starting their whole website from the ground up again. However, this isn’t always necessary. Google understands that sometimes mistakes are made, and ignorance can cause a whole mess of troubles.
After you have removed and cleaned up all of your toxic backlinks, you can submit a request to Google to reconsider their penalties. This will require you to own up to your mistakes, and submit a plan of action for your SEO strategy moving forward. You will need to provide a solution to Google, and prove to them that you will be strictly adhering to their policies with your SEO marketing moving forward.
This process can and often does take several weeks; but for many business owners the process is worth it in the end. It can be a way to recover what might have been lost, and get off to a better start the second time. Remember that moving forward you should always be careful with who you entrust your backlinks. Trusting your backlinks with reputable and experienced backlink building organizations is always the first step to avoiding all of this mess.
Our team wants your business to flourish, and avoid any damage that toxic backlinks can bring. Because of this, we offer you our Toxic Backlink Checker as a way to consistently
audit your backlinks on a regular basis. With our Toxic Backlink Checker tool you can rest easy knowing the status of your backlinks, and whether they are healthy and non-toxic. Together, we can make sure your business thrives online, without any stress or headache.