Featured Linking Strategies

How to Handle Negative or Spammy Links to Your Website

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Quality backlinks are super important when it comes to generating traction online and growing your business.

Links from credible sources fuel your search engine visibility and make it possible for you to leverage third-party platforms to boost your traffic.

However, if you are not careful, backlinks may also have a negative impact. This generally happens when you try to take shortcuts to grow your backlinks and resort to building links of poor quality.

Even though you have a well-thought-out strategy, it’s possible for you to accumulate negative or spammy links down the road without even knowing they exist.

Here’s how you deal with this situation and ensure that you have a strong backlink profile:

What are Negative Links?

Before getting started, let’s explore what negative links are. Negative links are poor-quality backlinks that either accumulate overtime on their own or are a result of a poorly executed link-building strategy.

These links generally come from irrelevant or low-authority platforms and may cause more harm than good. They severely affect the credibility of your website and may even lead you to acknowledge penalties from search engines.

Therefore, avoiding such links should always be a priority. And if you accumulate them somehow despite being careful, it’s best to deal with them quickly.

Causes that Lead to Negative Links

There are a number of causes that may lead to the accumulation of negative backlinks to your website. The following are a few notable ones worth mentioning:

Buying Links

Getting quality backlinks is not as easy as it sounds. You need to build certain credibility in your respective industry for others to consider leveraging you as their source of information. The only way to make it happen is by consistently producing quality content.

Therefore, many take the easy route and resort to buying backlinks from other platforms to increase their backlink count.

Not only is this tactic unethical, but it can also severely affect your brand image. With a poor link-building strategy like this, you can’t fool Google, a search engine giant with over 93% of the market share in the industry. So, it’s best to avoid such links, as they may have a negative impact.

Exchange Links

Exchange links usually aren’t a problem if they’re natural or unintended. It’s when you link to a website and they link you back because you both produce valuable content, and the exchange happens unintentionally.

However, in some cases, websites agree to link each other solely to boost their search engine presence and to gain a mutual benefit from the exchange.

These links generally go unnoticed. However, they may raise the alarm when the exchange happens frequently.

This violates Google’s guidelines and may lead you to actually lose your rankings rather than getting better SEO results.

Links from PBNs

PBNs, also known as private blog networks, generally refer to a group of websites that are created and owned by a company solely for the purpose of increasing backlinks for its main website.

PBNs may also be third-party platforms that you leverage to score more backlinks in exchange for paying a certain amount.

These links may result in a search engine penalty, not just for you but also for the PBNs linking to your site.

Links Built by Bots

Some websites train bots to build links for them. In this case, the links are built on autopilot, as the bots use your focus keywords and leverage the comment section of different forums, online communities, and free directories to build links for you.

Such links are often labeled as spam and have a negative impact on your SEO. Increasing your backlink count automatically may be enticing, but it results in spammy and toxic links that do nothing good for you.

Links Through Directory Submissions

Getting your website listed in a directory may help you generate traction online and grow your traffic. That is, when the directory is relevant and of high quality.

However, being listed in a top-tier directory isn’t easy, as your submission request goes through detailed scrutiny.

This is why websites often resort to low-quality directories with little to no editorial process for submission requests.

These directories are generally very broad and not much of a use for the people who explore them. Therefore, the links coming from such directories are of no value at all and may actually do more harm than good.

Links from Irrelevant Sites

A common misconception is that the more links you have, the stronger your backlink profile becomes. This would be true if the links came from platforms that aligned with your niche, as they would benefit your SEO and help you climb the SERPs.

However, the greed of having more backlinks often leads marketers to leverage broad or irrelevant websites.

This is simply a poor link-building strategy that may only lead you to score negative backlinks for your website. So, it’s best to avoid them at all times.

How to Deal With Negative Links

Now that we know what causes negative or spammy backlinks, let’s proceed with how you can deal with them.

Find the Source

To deal with negative or spammy backlinks, you must first identify their sources or see where they come from.

The easiest way to do it is by using any keyword planner, as they generally come with features that may facilitate SEO. Using these solutions, you can easily identify negative backlinks along with their sources.

Once you have the information that you need, organize it, download it, and proceed with the next step.

Request Link Removal

Once you have identified the sources of negative backlinks, the next step is reaching out to the platforms and requesting link removal.

In most cases, you can access the contact information by simply visiting the websites linking to your domain. However, in some instances, you may have to look up the domain and track its owner. This generally happens when you’re dealing with poor-quality websites and PBNs.

Once you have the information you need, reach out to the website’s owner or content manager and ask them to remove the links to your website.

Most of the time, they will entertain your request and remove the links. However, it’s also possible that they may just ignore your message, even after multiple follow-ups.

When that happens, you can consider involving the hosting service provider for that particular website, as it may help you remove the toxic backlinks.

Submit a Disavow File

Once the negative or spammy backlinks to your website are taken care of, the next step is submitting a disavow file.

A disavow file comprises unwanted, poor-quality backlinks from third-party websites that link to your domain.

Submitting a disavow file is a way of letting search engines know that they should ignore the links coming from the specified domains to your website.

You have to be very careful when it comes to submitting a disavow file. The last thing you would want is to disavow quality backlinks from high-authority domains and severely hamper your organic growth.

So, create a file after a thorough website audit and ensure that you have only specified domains that cause negative backlinks.

Final Words

In this article, we talked about negative or spammy links and how you can deal with them. We not only discussed the causes that may lead to such links but also provided you with a series of steps to solve the problem.

So, if you have been grappling with poor-quality backlinks, the information in this article may come in handy.

About the author


Syed Balkhi

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.