Since the first version of the Penguin update went live in 2012, Google has been especially focused on weeding out Black Hat SEO and rewarding sites that offer valuable content. Google’s penalty algorithms will tag sites using unscrupulous methods of gaining visitors to their sites. One of the elements they have focused on is inbound linking (also known as backlinking or external linking), which is a way to combat link farms. A link farm is a set of largely hidden webpages created solely to link back to a site’s content, and were widely used as a way to boost SEO. Because they offer no real value to Internet users, however, and also tried to trick the Google algorithm, they and their associated sites have been targeted and cracked down on.
Usually, when other sites link to your content it’s a sign that what you are offering is what people want and need to know. However, if dodgy sites that are not practicing ethical SEO tactics are linking to you, these inbound links could actually hurt your site’s search performance.
Marcela DeVivo of Gryffin Media says, “With penalty algorithms, negative SEO can now impact businesses that are not carefully watching their backlinks and other metrics. There have even been studies of sites hit by negative SEOs that sent bogus traffic and negatively impacted bounce rate and CTR from Google SERPs. Watch your link profile, analytics, and be on the lookout for misuse.”
What Types of Links are in My Website?
Site owners who pay attention to content creation will include both internal and inbound links to provide visitors the opportunity to learn more about a subject without having to Google it themselves. Helpful links also give your content more depth and breadth.
Internal links: These are links within your content that point people to other pages on your site. Internal links help Google’s crawlers map out your website and better understand what you are offering. They also help keep people on your site longer, as visitors won’t need to leave your pages to find out more. This leads to a better overall user experience.
External links: These are links on your website pointing to external content. If you refer to someone else’s content, make sure to credit them for it, and link to the original source if possible.
Inbound links: These are links from other sites pointing to your content. These are extremely valuable for SEO. According to a netregistry.com article titled, “Internal links vs inbound links: what’s the difference?,” 18.3% of overall ranking results are based on inbound links. Receiving legitimate links from external sources drives more traffic to your website, while also legitimizing your online presence.
Checking for Bad Inbound Links
Negative SEO practices can haunt you in a very real way. Google doesn’t care if your bad inbound links were built yesterday or years ago.
There are a number of software options to check for bad inbound links. We suggest Google’s own Webmaster Tools, which have the ability to see who is linking to your site and what pages they are linking to.
Signs your inbound links are coming from a questionable source include:
- Links coming from sites that lack any sort of consistency and rationality in their content and seem to include an unusually high number of inbound links on each page (more than five).
- Links coming from comments that could have been generated by bots. Always make sure to check the comments on your site to make sure they are not linking back to a link farm.
- Links coming to you using unnatural language that is basically a keyword. This is an attempt to fool Google twice!
- Links coming from sites that appear to have scraped or copied content from a number of different sources. Sometimes these sorts of sites can appear like listing sites (a legitimate one is yellowpages.com). But what makes them legitimate is that they have created original content for their listings, rather than basically stealing it from the source. Fake listing sites are basically fancy link farms and should be avoided.
- Links coming from parts of the world that is not your target audience. Anything from Russia is suspect, unfortunately.
How to Get Rid of Bad Inbound links
There are a few ways to get rid of bad inbound links:
- Disavow the link. We recommend trying this first. Contact Google and ask them to ignore dodgy inbound links when crawling your site.
- Find out who the site owner is and ask them (politely) to remove the link to your site. This is a time-consuming, but effective, way to move forward. A combination of disavowing inbound links and trying to get rid of them altogether is your best bet for keeping your search traffic robust while also cleaning up your site.
- Get rid of pages that are being backlinked to. This is frustrating for those who have put in time and effort into creating quality content, but remember you can rebuild your page with a different URL.
Emphasize Web Design Services in Calgary
At Emphasize Design, we use ethical SEO and the latest, greatest Calgary website design tactics to keep your site high in the search rankings, and keep your customers coming back for more. Get more leads for a better cost, and start growing your business with digital marketing today.