When doing SEO for your website, don’t take the bad with the good.
Get rid of the bad ASAP.
Especially those bad backlinks!
It’s vital to know which backlinks are violating Google’s webmaster guidelines.
These backlinks can cause vulnerability, and eventually a penalty.
In this article, I’ll talk about the unnatural backlinks that you should avoid, along with Matt Cutts’ take on these types of backlinks (since he’s the go-to Google expert, after all).
To follow along and put all this information to use right away, start by logging into your Monitor Backlinks account.
If you don’t already have a Monitor Backlinks SEO tool account, I recommend you take a quick time-out and sign up now. (Don’t worry, there’s a free 30-day trial so I’m not telling you to spend anything).
Once you’re logged in and have synced up your website’s information here, this tool will show you your entire backlink profile:
That’s what you’ll want to be looking at while you read this post.
But you can also opt to use the sweet and simple Free Backlink Checker offered by Monitor Backlinks for a quick check-in on your 300 most important backlinks and a few key SEO metrics. It’s good for a simple search:
But if you want to get serious about keeping a quality backlink profile, you’ll want to run with the full SEO tool I noted above. The full tool will give you automatic updates when anything changes in your backlink profile.
With the full tool, you’ll be sure to get plenty of advance notice in case of a bad backlink, spam links or even an impending penalty that could obliterate all your hard SEO work.
Either way, once you’ve logged into the Monitor Backlinks tool, you can use the backlinks data you see there to follow along with the rest of this blog post. I’ll help you identify all of the potentially bad backlinks pointing at your site!
18 Types of Backlinks Violating Google’s Guidelines
1. Link exchanges
Back in 2007, the link exchange was a very common way to build backlinks.
Webmasters started doing hundreds of link exchanges and, eventually, Google had to take action against this method.
If you’re pointing a few backlinks to some of your friends, there’s no reason to worry. But, doing this on hundreds of websites will raise a red flag to Google that you’re doing something suspicious.
The safest strategy today is one-way link building.
2. Participating in blog networks
Since 2012, Google has started to penalize numerous blog networks and websites that have such backlinks. Almost every month, Matt Cutts announces that they’ve penalized a new network.
If your website has backlinks from blog networks, you are in danger of being penalized.
3. Widget backlinks
Google recommends including rel= “nofollow” to widgets. Very important websites, such as GoDaddy, have been penalized for utilizing widgets as a link building method.
If you have a plugin or a badge, and you want people to be able to embed it on their website, give them the possibility to choose to link or not to.
If you’re doing sponsored articles or if you accept such posts on your website, which include a dofollow backlink, Google will consider that you are violating their guidelines. Matt recommends to nofollow all advertorial backlinks.
Google has penalized important websites for using this method as a link building technique, including Interflora and a few well-known newspaper websites.
5. Paid links that pass PageRank
Whether we’re talking about text links or image links, Google doesn’t want you to pass PageRank with the links you paid for. They consider this link as unnatural, and recommend you to add a rel nofollow to all of your sponsored backlinks.
6. Article directories
Websites such as EzineArticles and ArticleBase don’t provide real value to users, and, therefore, Google devalued them. Their only purpose is to generate endless articles on the same topic, with a dofollow link at the bottom of the content.
The worst thing you can do is to hack other websites to leave your backlink. Search engine robots have evolved, and they’re now able to understand what backlinks they’re crawling.
Hiding your backlinks on other websites, or even yours, is a sneaky way to build backlinks and you should avoid it.
8. Site-wide and footer backlinks
Backlinks from blog sidebars and footers will be placed on every page of your website. Therefore, it can be the case that some of the links will not be relevant, and may look like a spammy way to build backlinks.
9. Low distribution of anchor text
No matter from what platform the backlinks are coming from, if you’re building backlinks and repeating the same keyword over and over again, most likely your website will be penalized. Google has become very good at detecting patterns.
10. Backlinks from foreign language websites
If you have a website written in English and you have hundreds of backlinks coming from Russian or Indian websites, this will raise a flag to Google that something suspicious is going on with your website.
Relevancy is highly important, and it’s best to avoid building backlinks from websites written in a foreign language.
11. Low-quality guest posting
There’s been a long debate about guest blogging, and Matt Cutts has done numerous videos about this. Like any link building method, eventually it gets abused, and Google has to take action against it.
Quality guest blogging will never die, as I demonstrated a few weeks ago here, but spammy guest posting will get you penalized in the coming future.
12. Backlinks that are automatically generated
Even if it may sound like a fantastic deal to buy 10,000 backlinks for $5 on Fiverr, don’t! All those backlinks are automatically generated, and they’ll get your website penalized in days.
Stay away from all the backlinks that can be generated by bots, such as comments, forum posts and web 2.0 websites (Squidoo, HubPages).
13. Low quality web directories
Directories are another old technique that used to work a while ago, but not today. Paid or free, it doesn’t matter.
14. Bookmark websites
Just as the other automated techniques, websites where users can place their personal bookmarks should be avoided.
15. Irrelevant backlinks
Relevancy is crucial. If you have a website that sells car parts, and you have hundreds of backlinks from websites that sell baby toys, it makes no sense. Google’s algorithm can determine if a backlink is relevant or irrelevant.
16. Backlinks from websites with duplicate and spinned content
Google encourage publishers to write unique and useful content, that provides real value to users. On the other side, they devalue websites with low quality and duplicate content.
Therefore, backlinks coming from websites with spun or copied articles will bury your rankings.
17. Low quality backlinks
If it’s easy to build a backlink to your website, it means it doesn’t carry much value. Backlinks such as forum profiles and signatures, free directories, wiki pages and other similar platforms, will violate Google’s webmaster policy.
The harder it is for you to earn it, the more valuable it is.
18. Any link intended to manipulate PageRank
What a surprise, right? Google is against any type of backlink that intends to manipulate search engine rankings.
What does this mean to SEOs?
Well, it means that link building must be done with caution, and you should never leave footprints. Avoid participating in link schemes that are violating Google’s guidelines.