Negative SEO, Toxic Backlinks, Spam, they're all frowned on by Google so much so that if it's not addressed, penalties can follow. These penalties can be as severe and affect your organic search ranking long term. Although the process to remove them is mostly straightforward, some context is also needed to go with the steps which will be covered below.
Where do toxic backlinks come from?
Links that are identified as toxic or spammy are usually defined as coming from :
- Link Farms or schemes
- Known spam domains
- Adult, Gambling, Drug, or other illegal domains
- Many un-naturally related domains
These types of backlinks are the most common and ones you should be looking out for. Now that you know what to look for...
How to find them?
Using tools such as SEMRush, Moz, or Ahrefs, will provide the ability to locate and isolate any toxic backlinks on your website. With the example below from SEMRush, a toxicity score is given which indicates the number of potentially harmful backlinks. They are grouped into an overall rating system as shown below to make it easier to manage.
Before any action is taken by Google, an attempt must be made to remove the link in question from your website manually. Depending on the number of links, it can be a very time-consuming process. However, using SEMRush for instance, a removal template email can be made and then copied, pasted, and sent to each site's webmaster as shown below:
After reaching out to the various webmaster (which usually results in no reply), export the URLs to Google's Disavow tool for removal is the final step.
Selecting the URL where the toxic backlinks are pointed to (if there is more than one property) followed by uploading a .txt file and then submitting the file to Google is all that is required for this step. Once this is complete, an improvement in the backlink score should be seen over the next few weeks, as the process is not instant. If after a few weeks, the offending link is still showing, a re-submission of the .txt file again should clear it up.
The process of building and maintaining a healthy link structure is one of the hallmarks of smart SEO and can provide your website with good search authority and visibility. If you have any questions on your overall linking strategy or know you might need some help, please contact us.