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Toxic Backlinks – How They Hurt SEO, and How to Get Rid of Them

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Backlinks are important to SEO. When another site links to your site, a backlink is created. If, for example, a brand finds one of your blog posts that’s helpful for their customers, they might link to it. That backlink, as Moz puts it, is “vote of confidence” in your content. 

Backlinks are important to SEO because search engines see all of those votes of confidence as evidence that your content is valuable. If lots of sites link back to yours, search engines are more likely to surface your content in search results, improving your ranking for the topics linked to. 

Earning backlinks is an essential part of off-site SEO, and obtaining more backlinks is called link building. But like so many aspects of SEO optimization, link building is not straightforward. Most backlinks are good, some are great, and others are toxic. Too many toxic backlinks can harm your ranking. 

In this post, we’ll look at what toxic backlinks are, how they hurt your SEO efforts, and how you can get rid of them to protect your rankings.

Backlinks – The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

While each backlink may theoretically be a vote of confidence in your site, links from trustworthy sites with high-authority are the best. They tell search engines that a trusted authority vouches for your content. Even a no-follow link from a strong site can give your rank a boost.

On the other end of the spectrum, links from side with low authority, or ‘spammy’ sites, may not help your rank.

Toxic backlinks may not only harm your rank, but could also lead to penalties from search engines.

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Toxic Backlinks

What are toxic backlinks? Google states it like this:

HARefs has a simplified explanation of link quality:

What Makes a Backlink Toxic?

There are several things which can increase the toxicity of a backlink from a search engines perspective including:

Impact of Bad Links

If you get penalized, it reduces your page rank, decreasing the chances that your content will be found – or, if the penalties are bad enough, you can be removed from the search index altogether.

Penalties are assigned in two ways. Google introduced its Penguin algorithm in 2012 which targeted low quality links. Sites using link-building schemes saw rankings plummet. Since then Google has refined the algorithm making it better at catching and penalizing bad links.

If Penguin sees a link toxic link, it will apply a penalty based on your link profile. No human reviews this.

In addition to Penguin, Google has added more human resources to their spam team who can manually penalize sites which have toxic backlinks.

According to Search Engine Watch, Google initiates over 400,000 manual actions a month. 

Manual link reviews and penalties might be trigger by:

  • A spam report from a competitor
  • Algorithmic activity from Penguin triggers a manual review
  • You’re in a niche that Google’s spam team activity monitors

You can request reconsideration for manual penalties, but we’ll talk more about that later.

How to Determine if You Have Toxic Backlinks

There’s not much you can do about algorithmic link penalties, you just have to improve your site’s overall link profile.

Manually applied penalties will show up in Google Search Console under “Security and Manual Actions > Manual Actions”. 

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If it’s a manual action, it will appear here with a generic description of the issue, a link to learn more, and a button that enables you to request a review.

It’s often easier to use an SEO site audit tool to find toxic backlinks. This is especially true if you haven’t checked for toxic links in a while (or ever). Tools like SEMRush and ahrefs can provide this information.

How to Fix Toxic Backlinks

There are many ways to address toxic backlinks. For example, you could contact the administrator of the linking site and ask that the link be removed. 

If the link is valid, and the penalty has been manually activated, you can request a review. According to Search Engine Watch, Google processes about 20,000 reconsideration requests a month, of the 400,000 manual penalties applied. It can take around 30 days to get a response.

If the backlink isn’t important to you, and you don’t want to perform the manual outreach to have links removed, you can use the Disavow Links tool. 

Follow the steps from Google Search Console Help:

Make a list of links you wish to disavow following the formatting listed in the help article. 

Tip: Your Google Search Console links report, and link reports from tools like SEMRush and ahrefs can often be exported and used to make creating this file easier.

You then launch the Disavow tool.

And Upload your file. 

Conclusion

Making sure backlinks to your site are high-quality, and follow Google’s rules, is an essential aspect of website administration for SEO. 

Have you audited your backlinks recently? If you haven’t, you should, and soon. Have you gotten a link related notice of manual action on your site in Google Search Console? If you have, follow the tips in this article to resolve the issue or disavow the link. 

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]

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5 Trends that will Dominate Influencer Marketing in 2022 [Infographic]


Is influencer marketing part of your digital marketing strategy for 2022?

With the rise of more creative, more native-aligned platforms and spaces, brands are increasingly relying on influencers to connect with new audiences, while the growing use of AR and other new technologies also necessitates a familiarity with platforms that takes time and knowledge to maximize.

Influencers can be a great avenue in streamlining such process, but you have to know your audience, and what kinds of influencers they’re tuning into, in order to get the most out of your influencer marketing efforts.

To provide some more context on this, the team from SocialPubli has put together this overview of five key influencer marketing trends of note for 2022. And while these notes won’t address all of the info you need, they could help you formulate a better outreach strategy, based on the latest trends and shifts within the creator space.

Check out the full infographic listing below.



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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement

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Twitter Publishes New Industry Trend Reports Based on Rising Areas of Tweet Engagement


Twitter has published a new range of industry reports, based on rising trends, in order to provide more context as to the key elements of focus among its userbase in each sector.

The new trend reports, which Twitter’s collectively calling its ‘Birdseye Report’, were compiled by Twitter data partners, including Hootsuite, Meltwater, Sprinklr and more. Each partner took on a specific element of expanded Twitter conversation, giving each discussion and industry dedicated focus, providing in-depth insight into the latest key shifts in the app.

You can download all the Birdseye Reports here, but in this post, we’ll look at some of the key highlights.

First off, the reports are based on a range of key tweet trends over the past year.

Those trends include:

  • Digital First – Digital Ethics, Cyber Individuality and Metaverse dominated the technology conversation on Twitter
  • The Crypto Craze – “Crypto” mentions on Twitter increased 549% in 2021
  • Future of Sports – Tweets around the metaverse + sports rose 6,024%
  • Bring the Sweets Back – Conversations around nostalgia for sweets, chocolate and candy grew 55% between January and October 2021
  • Mental Health Matters – Monthly “mental health” mentions from 2019 to 2021 on Twitter grew 44.7%

As you can see here, you can select the specific sector report you want to read, all of which are available via email sign-up – though you can select not to have Twitter or the providing company contact you as a result of your interest.

Each report covers the top trends in each sector, based on tweet discussion, which points to rising areas of opportunity and focus for your tweet marketing.

Twitter Birdseye Report

As you can see here, the reports include both broad trend results, like these, highlighting bigger shifts in each sector, as well as more specific tweet engagement shifts, relative to key focus elements.

Twitter Birdseye Report

Those insights could help to shape your marketing approach, while each report also includes a range of more in-depth pointers and data points to help guide your understanding of what the Twitter audiences is most interested in. 

Twitter Birdseye Report

There are also demographic insights: 

Twitter Birdseye Report

As well as summary points for each, helping to ensure marketers can make the most of each report:

Twitter Birdseye Report

There’s a heap of great insight here, and if you’re working in any of the highlighted sectors, and are looking to improve your Twitter approach, it’s definitely worth downloading the data and checking out the findings.

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Even if you’re not looking to improve your Twitter strategy, it’s likely worth getting access to the insights and seeing what people are most interested in for each segment.

You can download all the Twitter Birdseye reports here.





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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok

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92-year-old Malawian music legend finds fame on TikTok


Fame at 92: Malawian music legend Giddes Chalamanda has notched up millions of views on TikTok – Copyright AFP Bertha WANG

Jack McBrams

At 92, Giddes Chalamanda has no idea what TikTok is. He doesn’t even own a smartphone.

And yet the Malawian music legend has become a social media star, with his song “Linny Hoo” garnering over 80 million views on the video-sharing platform and spawning mashups and remixes from South Africa to the Philippines.

“They come and show me the videos on their phones, but I have no idea how it works,” Chalamanda told AFP at his home on the edge of a macadamia plantation, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Malawi’s main city Blantyre.

“But I love the fact that people are enjoying themselves and that my talent is getting the right attention,” he said, speaking in Chewa.

Despite his grey hair and slight stoop, the nonagenarian singer and guitarist, who has been a constant presence on the Malawian music scene for seven decades, displays a youthful exuberance as he sits chatting with a group of young fans.

He first recorded “Linny”, an ode to one of his daughters, in 2000.

But global acclaim only came two decades later when Patience Namadingo, a young gospel artist, teamed up with Chalamanda to record a reggae remix of “Linny” titled “Linny Hoo”.

The black-and-white video of the recording shows a smiling, gap-toothed Chalamanda, nattily dressed in a white shirt and V-neck sweater, jamming with Namadingo under a tree outside his home, with a group of neighbours looking on.

The video went viral after it was posted on YouTube, where it racked up more than 6.9 million views. Then late last year, it landed on TikTok and toured the globe.

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Chalamanda only learned of the song’s sensational social media popularity from his children and their friends.

Since then he and Namadingo have recorded remixes of several others of his best-known tracks.

His daughter Linny’s 16-year-old son Stepson Austin told AFP that he was proud of his grandfather’s longevity.

“It is good that he has lived long enough to see this day,” said the youngster, who himself aspires to become a hip-hop artist.

Born in Chiradzulu, a small town in southern Malawi, Chalamanda won fame in his homeland with lilting songs such as “Buffalo Soldier” in which he dreams of visiting America and “Napolo”.

Over the past decade, he has collaborated with several younger musicians and still performs across the country.

– ‘Dance around the world’ –

On TikTok, DJs and ordinary fans have created their own remixes as part of a #LinnyHooChallenge.

“When his music starts playing in a club or at a festival, everyone gets the urge to dance. That is how appealing it is,” musician and long-time collaborator Davis Njobvu told AFP.

“The fact that he has been there long enough to work with the young ones is special.”

South Africa-based music producer Joe Machingura attributed the global appeal of a song recorded in Chewa, one of Malawi’s most widely-spoken languages, to the sentiments underlying it.

“The old man sang with so much passion, it connects with whoever listens to it,” he said, adding: “It speaks to your soul.”

Chalamanda, a twice-married father of 14 children, only seven of whom, including Linny, are still alive, said he has no idea how to secure royalties for the TikTok plays.

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Chalamanda and his wife hope to benefit financially from his new-found stardom.

“I am just surprised that despite the popularity of the song, there is nothing for me,” he said. “While I am excited that I have made people dance all around the world, there should be some gain for me. I need the money.”

His manager Pemphero Mphande told AFP that he was looking into the issue and the Copyright Society of Malawi said it was ready to assist.

Arts curator Tammy Mbendera of the Festival Institute in Malawi credited platforms like TikTok with creating new opportunities for African talent.

“With songs from our past especially, they were written with such profoundness that they still can resonate today,” she said.

“All one has to do really, is get the chance to experience it, to acknowledge its significance. I think that’s what happened here.”



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