How to block bad incoming links

Stop bad incoming links

Is your website ranking badly?

Or have you just purchased a previously used domain and fear it could struggle to rank?

A few years ago, Google updated its algorithm that determines the rank of your website, one of those changes was to penalise sites that had bad incoming links.

A large proportion of the websites that were affected were illegitimate, or spammy websites.

Therefore the change was a success.

But we’re now a few years on and those who have done a little bit of research on optimising their website, know that quality links from other websites will help immensely with your page ranking.

Unfortunately, some malicious web users will try and manipulate this to their own benefit.

The problem

Where these companies used to try and put a link back to their website on every possible location on the internet; they now use it to target competition by spamming them with bad links.

This means that Google will see all these bad links, and penalise the website – which isn’t very nice.

The other possibility of course, is you’ve just bought a new domain where the previous owners ran a website and tried to boost that site by link building.

In other words, your domain could still have hundreds or thousands of bad links coming straight to the domain causing any ranking efforts to be futile.

The solution

Thankfully, Google noticed this problem pretty early on and has provided us with a solution.

If you’re creating quality content that’s fresh and original, yet your website isn’t anywhere to be seen on Google, it’s likely you have bad links.

The solution is to disavow the links.

Google have provided us with a tool where we can disavow links; but before we jump into that, let’s check in Webmaster Tools that bad links are the cause.

If you don’t already have a Web Master tools account, go ahead and create an account now. The instructions are pretty easy to follow, if you have Google Analytics already running then the process is even easier.

You may need to wait a couple of days for Google to populate your Webmaster Tools account if you have only just created an account.

Otherwise, head into your account, then Search Traffic > Links to Your Site.

Under the ‘Who links most’ section, click the More link.

The first clue to lots of spammy links is a large number on the total pages of links – keep in mind how popular your website is at the moment, the larger the website, the larger number you’d expect; but if the number is greatly above your expectations then it could be a red flag.

Unfortunately the next step is laborious as it’s a matter of reading each of the domains that’s linking to you.

Keep in mind you might not know them all, and a few random sounding ones is OK.

The problem is when you have thousands of very dodgy looking domains.

If you do, then head on over to the Disavow tool.

With this tool, you can manually enter each of the domains you do not want Google to take into account when deciding a rank for your website.

Unfortunately this can turn out to be quite a big job depending on how badly affected your website is, however disavowing the bad links will help the rankings of your website.

Side note

Disavowing links to your website is great, however it’s always better if you can get the link removed completely.

This is again more work, but sometimes an email or request to the website that’s containing the link can get the link removed – however I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one.

The good news is that once you’ve done it, you shouldn’t need to do it again for some time so consider spreading the job out over a bit of time, e.g. remove 20 links a day for the next few weeks and see if it’s had a positive impact – this should save you from going out of your mind of copy and pasting links.

  • This is a very good tip especially to those new to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

    • I think Google should do away entirely with bad link profiles , penalising a webmaster for bad incoming links when they NO control over the bad links they receive … come on!

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  • By the time bad links appear in Google WMT a website may’ve already been penalised , is there no way to simply block/accept incoming links? Maybe they’ll do that when all of their infrastructure is quantum based.

  • AC

    Thank you for this post. its simple and straight to the point esp for non tech people. Regarding the disavow option, I have heard that it can take up weeks before any results and it may not eradicate them completely. What if we use another url and redirect the old website to the new website.. would the bad liks redirect too. how can you stop this. thee is something like 401 or 30 something redirects. what arethey and do they help?
    Many thanks