What to do when link building goes wrong

Most websites use a whole array of tactics to boost their SEO. Regardless of what business you're in, you need to make your site visible to search engines and users alike. A standard search engine marketing tactic is building a strong, interconnected network of links between multiple pages and websites. Google makes those kinds of pages more visible in search results. However, keep in mind that Google is also notorious for punishing bad behavior. A common infraction that will land you some negative search engine karma is linking to bad or spammy pages. We will take a closer look at what to do when link building goes wrong, as well as what you can do to get back in Google's good graces.

Google likes link building, but when it is done rightly

What is negative SEO?


First, let's be clear on what we mean by negative karma. As we have already mentioned, SEO heavily relies on link building. Search engines reward websites that follow specific criteria by giving them a higher rank when results are delivered to users. Contrary to that, some tactics are outlined in search engines' terms of service that will cause you to lose rank.  These are called black hat practices, and your website will get penalized or blacklisted if you choose to employ them.

One of the most common infractions that you might not even be aware of is hosting bad links. Google will give some pages a bad score, and if your website links to them – you will suffer negative SEO.

Is someone out to get you?


Thankfully, building bad links on purpose isn't a widespread practice anymore. However, it still exists, and you need to be aware of it. Your competitors can launch a hostile SEO attack on your website. They usually do it by building spam links to your page. Google usually picks up and ignores those toxic links, and you can be none the wiser. Unfortunately, some bad links may still cause harm to your website.

Even if there isn't an attack directed towards your domain, you can still fall victim to harmful links. Perhaps a website you work with got hacked and is now spamming toxic links. Or they may have chosen to go down the dark path and employ black hat practices that got them penalized. Your website could suffer simply by association with a flagged page. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what caused the issue. Thus, here is what to do when link building goes wrong:

1. Identify bad links


Nowadays, buying links has become a common practice. People sometimes make mistakes and trust the wrong link-building companies in the race to get more links and boost their SEO. Purchasing links isn't the only option if you want to build a network of links. There are multiple ways to get more links for your website, from adding widgets to guest blog posting, all the way to tapping into social media.

When it comes to identifying bad links, you can rely on some of the most popular link-building resources to get the job done. Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, Monitor Backlinks, and many others allow you to identify them. They will flag spammy and bad links, and you will quickly know what you are dealing with and how to fix the issues.

2. Remove the bad links


When link building goes wrong, the most important thing to do is to remove all the bad links targeting your website. However, this process can sometimes be more complicated than you'd think. Try to reach out to the webmaster of the site that is housing the problematic links. However, finding out who runs the website in question can be almost impossible. People who perform black hat SEO tactics and host spam websites don't always put their names front and center. 

The chances of getting a toxic link removed just by contacting the website from which it comes are low. However, Google still recommends that as the first step in getting rid of the bad SEO karma. You can find out who is hosting the website and ask them to take down the toxic links. There are numerous free tools and websites out there to help you find who the hosting company is.

3. Let Google know


After you have exhausted the previous options, you can turn to Google's tool aptly named Disavow Links. It's a part of Google's Search Console that lets you nullify the effects of a bad inbound link. By letting Google know which links to ignore, you can avoid any penalties to your website. 

Be careful to separate good links from the bad ones, and only remove the toxic ones harming your site. Keeping valuable links is an excellent way to build a link network that will foster user engagement and help improve your search ranking.

4. Only work with trusted link builders


We've seen what to do when link building goes wrong, but does that mean that you shouldn't have any links at all? If you ask Google, the answer is a resounding No! Google believes that the links on your pages are a testament to the quality of your website and its content. Since link building is hugely important to search engines, you should improve your online rankings with quality backlinks. The link-building experts from linkdepartment.com say that they cannot overstate the importance of ordering backlinks from trusted websites. They go on to explain that good backlinks to authoritative sites will improve your website's Doman Authority and Page Authority. Both of these are important to search engines and directly influence your overall ranking.

In summary

An integral part of your website's health is checking the link network you are a part of. Inspect the links to see if any toxic ones weigh you down and negatively impact your SEO. Now that you know what to do when link building goes wrong, taking care of the bad links will be a breeze. Once you get rid of the bad links, your SEO will improve, along with traffic to your site.

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Link building article by June Guilmore

Article by June Guilmore, a freelance writer with a passion for digital marketing. She often writes articles on the topics of SEO, PPC, link building, and other practices. In her free time, she enjoys reading mystery novels and doing crossword puzzles.


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