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

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toxic backlinks how they hurt seo and how to get rid of them

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. 

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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.

Toxic Backlinks

What are toxic backlinks? Google states it like this:

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HARefs has a simplified explanation of link quality:

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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:

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

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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. 

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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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Florida lawmakers push to ban social media for children under 16

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Vietnam plans to ask all social media users on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube to verify their identities

Social media. — © AFP/File Olivier DOULIERY

Florida moved Thursday towards enacting what would be one of the strictest bans on children’s use of social media in the United States after the state Senate passed a bill to keep those under 16 off such platforms.

The controversial bill seeks to protect children’s mental health against the “addictive features” of such platforms, amid fears over online dangers including from sexual predators, cyber bullying and teen suicide.

The legislation, which was approved 23-14, will now go back to the state House. It has already passed there, with the House speaker championing the legislation, but changes made in the Senate need to be approved in the lower chamber.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has expressed concerns over whether banning social media for children under the age of 16 violates parents’ rights – Copyright AFP Philip FONG

It would then have to be signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who has expressed skepticism about the legislation. Similar efforts by other states have previously been blocked by courts.

“We’re talking about businesses that are using addictive features to engage in mass manipulation of our children to cause them harm,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Erin Grall, told the Florida Senate on Thursday.

But DeSantis, who has previously said he is sympathetic to fears over the impact of social media on children, voiced concerns about parental rights.

“A parent has the right to opt in,” he told a press conference Thursday.

The governor has argued many times that parents should have more control over decisions affecting their children, particularly in education.

Under DeSantis Florida has passed laws to curtail teaching about sex education and gender identity in schools and to eradicate diversity programs in state-funded universities.

Scores of books have been removed from the state’s school library shelves in recent months, deemed inappropriate for children by conservative parents and school boards.

Some critics say such a law targeting social media use would violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech.

Last year a federal judge blocked an Arkansas initiative that sought to require parental consent to open a social media account.

Most social media networks already have a minimum age of 13 to open an account, though they do little to ensure compliance with the provision.

If the regulation is approved, the platforms will have to block children under the age of 16 from creating accounts and close those already opened.

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Solar Flares Or Sabotage? Internet Theories On Today’s Massive Cell Phone Outage

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Solar Flares Or Sabotage? Internet Theories On Today's Massive Cell Phone Outage

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Massive cell phone outages across America are being reported today by customers of AT&T, Cricket Wireless, Verizon, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular, Boost Mobile, US Cellular, and Straight Talk Wireless, according to data from Downdetector, an online platform that monitors connectivity. That story and more news you need to read today, inside.

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Meta Expands Access to Instagram’s Creator Marketplace

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Meta Expands Access to Instagram’s Creator Marketplace

Meta has announced that it’s finally expanding access to its Creator Marketplace tool, which will give more businesses the capacity to search for creators to work with on their Instagram campaigns.

Meta first launched its Creator Marketplace back in 2022, enabling U.S.-based brands to search and connect with relevant platform influencers based on a range of qualifiers, including focus topics, follower counts, location, etc.

And now, businesses in the following regions will also be able to access the tool:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • India
  • Brazil

In addition to this, Meta also says that Chinese export brands will also be invited to connect with onboarded creators in countries outside of China.

Which is interesting, considering Meta’s tenuous history with the CCP’s “Great Firewall”, but the deal here relates to Chinese businesses operating in regions outside of their homeland, which is somewhat separate to Meta’s internal dealings.

In addition to expanding access, Meta’s also rolling new machine learning-based recommendations within Creator Marketplace, which will use Instagram data to help brands more easily discover creators who are the best fit for their campaigns.

Instagram Creator Marketplace

As you can see in this example, the new recommendations will highlight accounts that have strong engagement rates in your niche, have mentioned your brand in the past, or have produced good results for similar businesses.

That could make it easier to find the right fit, or at the least, to give you more options to consider in your process.

Branded Content collaborations can be highly effective on IG, by using the established expertise and experience of creators who have already built a following in the app, and know what works, to boost your promotions.

By working with the right creators, with connection to your target audience, you can secure valuable endorsement within key communities, which can help to germinate your branding in the right communities.

Brands can check out Instagram’s creator marketplace in Meta Business Suite, with access coming to these new regions shortly.



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