Without any doubt, you would understand the significance of backlinks if you want to build a successful SEO strategy. Quality links make the foundation of long-term success as they have the potential to boost your organic search rankings and enhance online visibility too. In fact, they happen to be one of the most crucial ranking signals that Google prioritizes. Obviously, your link building plan deserves all the attention you can give.
Rather than just blindly building a load of links for your website, you need to build good ones and steer clear of the bad ones. What you really have to understand in this context is the difference between the good and the bad because the latter can be toxic for your site’s health. Apart from being watchful about every new link you build, there is also a need to pinpoint the toxic ones and get rid of them from time to time. Let us talk about link detox in detail.
Understanding the concept of toxic links
Even before speaking about link detox, it is important to understand what toxic links actually are. A link is deemed as bad by Google if it is of poor quality, considering the following criteria:
- Domain authority: This metric is an indication of the credibility and trustworthiness of a website. The DA score is decided on the basis of diverse factors. These include external links, linking root domains, and more. Linking with low DA sites is considered a taboo and these backlinks are regarded as toxic.
- Paid links: Buying or selling links is a bad practice that Google literally despises. If you buy links, you can expect a Google penalty sooner rather than later. While bought links are toxic, you should also avoid link exchanges and non-editorial links because these are unnatural.
- Context and relevance: Another factor that decides the legitimacy of backlinks is their context and relevance. Even one from a high DA site can be bad if the linking site is not relevant to your business niche. This is because irrelevant or out of context links don’t deliver value to the users, which is something that Google detests.
- Over-optimized anchor text: Excess use of keyword-rich anchor text is another factor that can lower the quality of your backlinks. In fact, you may end up with a penalty if you rely a lot on keyword-driven anchor text to manipulate your links. Conversely, using keywords variations is the way to go.
Detecting your toxic links
Now that the concept of toxic links is pretty clear, the real work begins. You will have to detect the existing ones in the first place and then get rid of them. Although it is easy to think that maximizing the numbers would do you good, this is only a misconception. You can go through https://seojet.net/blog/how-many-backlinks-does-a-website-need/ to understand the factors that really matter even more than numbers. Ultimately, everything boils down to quality, which makes it all the more important to eliminate the toxic ones, even if it takes some work. Fortunately, there are some backlink audit tools that can help you with the task. All you need to do is to enter your domain URL and they will provide the vital stats about your backlink profile. These include data like a total number of backlinks, referring domains, anchor text types, Follow vs Nofollow links, and overall toxic score. Once you have this list, you can go ahead and fish out the toxic links on the basis of the following factors.
- Toxic sites: Obviously, the backlinks associated with toxic websites will do more harm than good; so they should be the first ones to be cleared away. Thankfully, most tools show the toxicity ratings of the referring domains, which make it easy to identify them. The factors used to decide this rating include irrelevant sources, spam in communities, link networks, manipulative links, etc. Any site with a score over 45 is considered toxic and a link with it should be put in your detox list.
- Low domain authority: As already mentioned before, DA plays a vital role in Google’s valuation of a website and the link juice it offers to yours. Any site that scores less than 25 or 30 is not worth the effort. It is recommended that you stick to the ones with 35+ DA while building new links and also get rid of the ones that are below this threshold if you are really serious about boosting your search ranking. Also, assess other factors like the quality of traffic and the number of outgoing links in addition to the site’s DA.
- Keyword-rich anchor text: Another factor that you must absolutely prioritize while identifying the backlinks you must disavow is anchor text. It is easy to find ones with over-optimized anchor text because the link audit tools provide them as well. Anything that is too keyword-rich will be bad for your profile’s health. But wasting a potentially valuable link just because of anchor text is not the right approach. Rather, contacting the source’s webmaster and requesting them to allow a change in the anchor text makes sense.
Flushing away the toxic links
The final step would be to flush away the harmful and unnatural backlinks so identified. Essentially, disavowing a backlink means informing Google that you are no longer associated with these toxic websites. So they will not be able to affect your search rankings anymore. This can be done easily with the help of Google’s Disavow tool. Apart from disavowing, there is also the option of requesting the webmasters to remove them altogether. Both ways, you will be able to undo the damage they have already caused and also prevent more from happening in the future.
After a link detox, you can expect your website to be in much better shape. It is now time to start afresh, with an approach that focuses only on building healthy backlinks for the future. After all, a healthy backlink profile is the cornerstone of successful SEO and this is the best way to have one. So go ahead and choose wisely if you want your initiative to move in the right direction.