January 6, 2014

15 Indicators That Your Backlink Should be Removed


Recently Barry Schwartz, executive editor of Search Engine Roundtable, published an article titled: “When You Have Bad Links Impacting Your Google Rankings, Which Do You Remove?” While no one but the Gods of Google know the perfect answer to this question, there have been enough hints dropped and enough research performed to make educated decisions.

So here are 15 indicators to get you started:

(1) The domain is obviously spam.

Here is an example. A site titled “The Mathews Family Website” with a section labeled “Favorite Links”, which contains your backlink, as well as links to cheap tires, a hairdresser, used cars, Pokemon cards, SEO assistance, Forex trading, and shovels.

Yes, you might see a lot of these.

 (2) General, free, all inclusive, directories.

This is especially true when the backlink uses exact match anchor text (keywords) pointing to the home page.

Directories titled “Free Directory” with listings that contain anchor texts like “Cheap Loans, Buffalo New York” should be removed immediately.

Note: Niche directories are okay (i.e local, professional).

(3) Anything in the same context as porn.

This is a code red! do everything in your power to remove.


(4) Anything in the same context as Forex trading.

Take this with a grain of salt. If your business is Forex trading than obviously you should not remove it.

(5) Backlinks created by forum spam

Forum spam are comments in a forum with optimized links in the post or signature, for example:

“Very interesting post!”
– Ploney Smith
Ploney’s Hardware Cheapest Prices Jerusalem Tel Aviv

Note: naturally created comments are very good backlinks and should not be removed.

(6) Backlinks created by social profile spam

Social profile spam are fake profiles set up for the sole purpose of creating a backlink in one’s profile and then using the profile to spam individuals.

Note: if the profile name is an anchor text to the website, but comments made by the user are relevant then this is okay.

(7) Questionable pages that have a high Moz Domain Rank  and a low Google Page Rank.

The reason this is true is because this usual indicates a penalty on the site.

(8) Questionable pages that show “N/A” or “?” in Google Page Rank.

A PR of “N/A” or “?” likely indicates a penalty on the site.

(9) Backlinks created from paid advertising.

You should never be paying for backlinks. This is a bad road to go down.

(10) Domains where each page include a widget to your website using keyword rich anchor text.

For example:
Visitor’s to this page: 2,145
Trucks St Louis

(11) Free, all-inclusive, no restriction, Press Release and Article sites.

There are many of these out there and while you may have written a high quality piece for one of these site, you should take it down. Google, doesn’t like them.

Note: sites that have a screening process, have high page rank, and contain high quality material can be a great backlink. Also, PDF and E-book websites are okay.

(12) SEO websites.

This also includes backlinks to websites that contain SEO advertisements or posts made by SEO professionals.

Note: Often you may find, however, that a backlink to your website was automatically generated by an SEO site. If this is the case, it is okay. Same is true for whois” type websites.

(13) Domains that haven’t been updated in years and are no longer useful.

If the last post on the domain was made 5 years ago and the information on the site is no longer relevant, the backlink is not helping you and more likely hurting you.

Note: if the backlink to your site is also old and returns a 404 on your site, that is okay.

(14) Domains that are poor quality.

Note: if they are within your niche they are okay.

(15) Domains that have nothing to do with your website.

Often you will see something like a link to “Hair dressers California” on a site that sells Cars. This backlink is spam and should be removed.

Note: if the domain is high quality, just remove the backlink and not the whole domain.

Final Note

Picture of Spam Sushi

If it looks like spam, tastes like spam, and smells like spam, get rid of it! Even if the spam is hidden in sushi 🙂

Good luck!

Please feel free to leave feedback and comments you have and check back weekly for more great blog posts by J-town Internet Services.

***Special thanks to Mark Ginsberg from DriveHill Media, who taught me everything I know about backlink analysis. The man is an SEO giant.***

One Response to “15 Indicators That Your Backlink Should be Removed”

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