Why your backlinks could be harming your site & how to prevent getting a Penguin Penalty

One location of Search Engine Optimization that we as SEO companies regularly deal with is backlinks. Backlinks or “anchor text links”, are a clickable word or phrase on an internet site that connects back to your site. We obtain numerous inquiries on backlinks and also the value and effectiveness of backlinks in Google search today.

So what exactly is the difference between a good and bad backlink?

good vs bad backlinks angel and devil fighting

For almost two decades Google has actually made use of back links as a ranking signal for keyword searches. It is true that even people with little Search Engine Optimization understanding currently understand that backlinks are the vital to placing in Google (or at least some do).  Despite this being talked about on a large scale on the internet, it is true that most individuals do not know that back links in the eyes of Google transformed considerably in late 2013. Many people were hit with penalties (sites ranks being slashed) for misuse of links and the algorithm that caught them out at that time was Penguin which was at that time released to do its work then deactivated. However, now it runs live in the everyday algorithm in Google search.


Our staff and many other organisations found exactly what Google had done to detect this kind of misuse after weeks of cross examining the sites that still ranked high against those that were penalised. Though we could not disclose all the details we amassed with our examinations, the whole globe of Search Engine Optimization as well as backlinks was turned bottom-side-up when Google made this adjustment. We wish to eliminate some misconceptions regarding backlinks as well as we additionally offer you a concept of exactly what an excellent backlinks is today as well as just how poor backlinks could damage your domain name completely.


Essential Points to bear in mind Regarding Backlinks:

– Backlinks are not always good

– A spike in backlinks can raise a red flag with Google

– Anchor text is less important yet still as effective

– High quality & useful content is important on the site that links to you

– Mass or automated backlinks will cause demotions

It is true that not every backlink is of benefit

Shock! Not all backlinks will help you rank! Many SEO companies pertain to the fact that all backlinks are great yet they are simply not, some still even use automated software to mass build links in ways of the early days when the internet was a free for all where anything goes. That’s due to the fact that for a long period of time Google did absolutely nothing regarding spammy back links as well as, actually, commonly awarded the site with the most backlinks the highest spot which meant irrelevant poor content sites were in the top spots greatly reducing the surfers experience and ability to find the real knowledgeable people on the net who did not operate in this manner.


Google has now tightened up many parts of its algorithm and introduced many more since to tackle the various ways SEO companies manipulate the search rankings and map packs. These algorithms send red flags to Google for sites that are deemed untrustworthy or using shady tactics sometimes referred to as “black hat” to rank themselves higher. If Google could use another method of measuring a sites worthiness it would and it has indeed tried with things like:


– Levels of actual traffic that visit a site

– Tracking if people click through from one page to another

– Tracking social signals like mentions, and shares on social media

– Co-Citation – which is being mentioned alongside other authority sites

– Comparing quality of content more efficiently

– How active sites are on other platforms around the web


But… none are as accurate as backlinks so they will be around for a long time yet

As a result of this Search Engine Optimization businesses around the globe have actually never ever re-examined the status of backlinks fully. Today we know of many profit turning companies in Search Engine Optimization that have actually not altered their back linking strategies in years. If you are collaborating with a business that has not adapted fully the new methods applied by Google you are taking a big risk with the future of your company

So here are a few tips to help track what they do for you

A lot of Back links Could Be Troublesome

Way too many back links could be a bad news. Ranking high in Google is not about having the most but having the best, one good link inside an article from a national newspaper will drive more actual ranking power and indeed traffic than 100 low quality links. A link from another site like your own or a well-established authority in your niche is a very good signal of trust and will also bring you relevant traffic.

Supporting Text is very important

Google wants to see backlinks being placed by genuine unconnected individuals, links placed at free will by a site owner to direct a visitor to a valuable resource of data. The most common penalty is over optimisation as mentioned here by MOZ which is flagged by the penguin algorithm, over optimisation is when a company selling Nike air trainers has a large percentage of “anchor text links” pointing to it saying “Nike air trainers” which is very unnatural. Everyone has a different writing style, language, angle, reason to mention and to direct users to “Nike air trainers” so it’s only natural that unconnected individuals would link to that site with varied terms like:


– Click here

– Read more

– These trainers

– Nike Trainers

– Cool Trainers

– Trainers at Nike.com


So mimic this when building un-natural links

Backlinks from high-quality websites & web content is paramount

Google wishes to see web links originating from excellent quality websites with quality content that are relevant to the outgoing link that has been placed. So as mentioned earlier, if you have a web link from an entirely unconnected website, it will not be as beneficial as a web link from an associated website. As an example, if you are a pest control specialist you would not be getting links from an online casino page, this would certainly appear questionable to Google and rightly so.  Why would an online casino want to direct its visitors to a pest control expert? It does not make sense to send people there as it would not make sense to have a boost from that link. Google will devalue links now that seem irrelevant like that in its war against spam.


Automated and easy to obtain links are often spammy and harmful

One thing is for sure most links still have a purpose in today’s SEO but it must be done carefully and some must never be pointed at your site. The longer you allow these dodgy tactics to happen the harder it will be to undo if you are ever to get a manual review by Google or an algorithmic penalty that to rid yourself of would require an in depth backlink audit and outreach removal process of those backlinks from the webmaster of the toxic domains.


When Google made an adjustment to its Penguin algorithm to punish spammy backlink strategies, it did at the same time launch a page for SEO`s and webmasters to “disavow” spammy web links. Nonetheless, Google’s disavow device is planned as a last option for webmasters that could get in contact or get a response from the webmaster in control of the site your backlinks were sourced from. The procedure to get rid of spammy web links is prolonged as well as very time consuming. As a result, the procedure can be very costly, some people just start again on a new site from scratch. Some people like the team at UK Web GeekZ in Darlington also say the disavow tool has no effect and is only in place to get us to tell Google what is spammy to make its job easier and catch us out more often, but that is an entire article in itself which we are not getting into now.

Ways to Recognise Spammy Backlinks

Exactly how can one tell the difference between a spammy backlink and a good one? It’s actually not that difficult, we have tools like Majestic SEO, Ahrefs & MOZ that allow us to analyse the backlink profile of a website. With this information comes a direct link to the page your link is on and some metrics as to how relevant or powerful that page is. Getting into this in detail may be too complex for some but we will mention a few of these metrics for you to research, just remember these are 3rd party tools they are not Google they do not know how Google works only Google does but these metrics are based on what these 3rd party things Google is taking into consideration by collating masses of data and seeing what characteristics the top ranking and bottom ranking websites have:


– Trust Flow (Majestic SEO)

– Citation Flow (Majestic SEO)

– Topical Trust Flow (Majestic SEO)

– Domain Authority (MOZ)

– Page Authority (MOZ)

– Domain Rating (Ahrefs)

– URL Rating (Ahrefs)

– Traffic (Ahrefs)

Using these metrics above at a quick glance we can see which links from which pages might be deemed poor, we can then use that an visit the links location and examine the page and ask yourself a few questions:


– Does the link to that business/data seem relevant to the content on the page

– Does the page even have any content

– Is the page full of links to all types of websites

– Is the page poorly written with spun (auto generated hard to read text)

– Does it contain adult, gambling or drug related topics


If yes to any of the above it is maybe a bad link

– Is the content on the page related to your sites topic/niche

– Is the content well written and helpful with cited sources of information

– Does it contain images, videos and easy to read

– Does it have a conversation going on about the article (comments)

– Does the site have any traffic

– Does the site have any metrics

– Is the site listed in Google (to check type in site:domainname.com)


If yes to any of the above you may have a good link

Understanding how to spot a bad backlink means that you can keep your backlink profile clean and healthy, and support your site with meaningful links from authoritative sources – which the search engines will reward you for and will safeguard against any nasty Penguin penalties. A bit of work to future proof your site will go a long way – trust us!


We hope you found this article useful,  and do check back again soon for more helpful SEO tips. Or if you’re interested in finding out how our team can help you your SEO, check out our SEO page or contact us today!