How Do You Know When a Backlink is Toxic?

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backlink - Picture of skull & crossbones and hooded guy with gas mask depicting toxic backlinks.

Performing a backlink review is time-consuming, and it’s mainly difficult to identify a good link from a bad link. Most webmasters and SEOs focus on PR (PageRank) and the quality of the site. Instead, you should focus on whether or not a link was purchased in an effort to manipulate search engine rank. Here are a few tips to help you determine if you should get rid of a link.

Does the Site Advertise for Link Drops?

Go to the home page of the website. Does it sell links? Does it advertise that webmasters can gain backlinks and PR by posting to the site? If so, the site could be seen as a place where webmasters manipulate search engine rank by adding a link to the website. These types of site usually don’t rank well for long, and should be added to your disavow list or removed in Google webmaster tools.

Is the Backlink a Part of a Link Exchange?

Link exchanges were popular a decade ago. A link exchange means “you link to me, and I’ll link to you.” The practice of swapping links originally was intended to help build traffic, but morphed into backlink manipulation. Unless you receive some type of traffic from a link exchange, you should disavow or remove it. Some site owners offer to “nofollow” the link, which removes it from the link graph and deletes it from the search engine algorithms.

Are Your Links in the “Sponsored” Section?

Most bloggers and site owners have a sidebar marked as “sponsored.” This section indicates that you’ve paid for the link. While there is nothing wrong with sponsoring a site, it’s best to avoid sites that add several types of sponsored links. For instance, if you own a health site, you don’t want to have your site in a sponsored section with online pharmacies, insurance companies and forex. This mix of backlinks devalues the importance of your sponsored link.

Did You Create Forum Profile Links?

Forum profile links are placed in forum profiles without participating in the community. Of course, if you participate in the community, you can have a profile link without much backlash. However, forum profile links are often a nuisance for webmasters. Too many of these backlinks can ruin the forum and even create issues with search engines for webmasters. Any profile links to forums in which you are not an active member should be removed from your link graph.

Did You or an SEO Participate in Backlink Building?

Even if your SEO promised white hat backlinks, it’s likely they placed your links on low-quality directories and link submission sites. If you participated in any kind of backlink campaign, it’s likely that you have links to disavow and remove. Most webmasters think that directory submissions, article directories and forum profile links are acceptable. However, if you have a manual link penalty or your site is filtered by Google Penguin, you’ll need to remove these links or add them to your disavow file.

Building backlinks is a delicate process that can’t be automated anymore. Old link-building habits can work against you. When you ask for a link from bloggers or site owners, work with them to “nofollow” the link and use it only for traffic. –Seo Cleveland Style


Picture of the Cleveland Seo Guy - Danny ToddThe Cleveland SEO Guy, Danny Todd says 'It’s not what you sell; it’s how you sell it. He understands that sometimes the best brands get left behind because their web design and SEO has become outdated. The Internet is always changing! Google and the other search engines are always adapting! Keep your brand current and reach Google’s #1 spot.

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