Identifying Unnatural or Bad Links toward your Websites or Blogs

Description: What is Unnatural or Bad links? A simple guide to know that what types of backlinks are bad or unnatural to your site.

Do you want to remove unnatural or bad backlinks pointing to your site? The first step is to find and identify the backlinks. This post will guide you to analyze your backlinks and which types of links can harm to your website rankings. If you want your business to be online for a long time, you should make a schedule to track your backlinks in monthly or half yearly basis. If you can't do it by yourself, you may hire a SEO company but it would be costly. If you are not aware about your backlinks, your website or blog would always be in question for Penguin. Once you identify an unnatural link towards your site, include it into disavow file (If you don't know about disavow, here is a quick guide to create your Disavow file). Once you have updated/created the file, you can re-submit/submit disavow file in Google Webmaster Tools.

identify the bad backlinks

Before start, you should know that what is Bad or Unnatural link.

What is Bad or Unnatural Links?

The sites which have no valuable content, participating in links exchange, little content or no original content, so many ads and having hidden links are bad sites. If your site is getting linkback from the bad sites, would be a bad link or unnatural link. Make sure I have not written the full list to identify the bad links. I have listed, and will listening to the list that is commonly and mostly used on the internet for spam. You can view the full list for the unnatural links here.

In simple words, the sites that don't follow Google webmaster guidelines are bad sites. The backlinks from a bad site towards your site called a "Bad" or "Unnatural" link.

Here are some examples with screenshots for bad sites. If you found any link from such sites, categories it in the bad links for the disavow file.

Example of Bad Sites:

These are the examples that have taken when I have analyzed our backlinks structure. Therefore, if you found any backlinks from such sites, immediately remove it without no question. If you can't remove your link, disavow it. Later we will guide you to examine bad links from various sites.
  1. The following site has so many outbound links which is also dofollow without any content. It is a clear violation of webmaster guidelines. Any link from their website would be an unnatural link.

    so many outbound links lead bad site
  2. The following site offers free backlink, clearly a violation of webmaster guidelines. Therefore, any backlink from them would be bad links, and also if you added their link to your site, you are promoting a bad site. It will also hurt your website.

    offering backlinks from bad sites.
  3. The sites have no recent updates from months. You should consider them inactive sites. You may remove your link from such websites.
  4. If you found any blog directories, you should remove your link from them since blog directory contains only links with no content that is a clear violation of webmaster guidelines. There are still some directories that have the value, i.e., DMOZ and Yahoo Directory. Do you know why? Since, they only accept the quality website, and the approval process is manually. Therefore, you would not find spam in those directories.
  5. You may find such sites that show off globally websites sorted by Alexa rank with dofollow outbound links. Undoubtedly, such backlinks are harmful. Immediately remove it.
  6. Have you ever involved in social bookmarking sites? These sites give dofollow links to each of your posts that you have submitted here. In that case, social bookmarking pages have many dofollow outbound links that is not good. I recommend you to remove your links from there.
  7. The sites having hidden links. While searching our backlinks, we have found some sites that have a link back to my blog. When I visited their site, there were no connection toward to my site since it was hidden by the inline CSS. I have viewed it via 'view page source'. I can't exactly say you how many links they have hidden in their blog on each page. My URLs was place in a list with 'display: none' property as you can see in the following preview.

    bad links containing hidden links

Identify a "Bad" or "Unnatural" Link to Your Blog

Once you find a backlink on a bad site as mention above, remove it via disavow tool. When you find your backlink on the sites not listed here in the list of bad sites, follow the simple rule to detect bad links to your site by the following way.
  • We want to know some data from the sites in question. Therefore, I recommend you to install a plugin "SEOQuake" to your browser that will give us the data what we want actually. Install SeoQuake in your Firefox or Chrome browser. Once you have installed the add-on restart the browser. If you have already open multiple tabs into your browser, you may restore the previous session.
  • Make sure SeoQuake activated and placed below to bookmark menu. You can enable or disable it anytime.
  • Now, open the link that you want to detect. 
  • First, look at their alexa rank and pagerank of the page. If you found alexa rank (below 300K -good, below 200K -best, below 100K-better) and pagerank (You may ignore it) in good standing position it means the traffic on the site are currently flowing via search engines. You may consider such sites are good not bad site, but still you should consider other points too as in the following steps. However, having a bad alexa rank or 0 pagerank doesn't mean that the site has no quality. Therefore, we will be adding more signals to clearly identify the bad sites. Follow the points.
  • Look at the SeoQuake bar for the Facebook, Twitter and Google+ shares. If the page has significant shares, then it should be good. You should consider the page into hold list, and apply the following signals. If you don't see significant share, you should also find more signs as mention below.
  • Now, look at the external links in SeoQuake bar i.e., Ext,:21(5) [21 dofollow external links and 5 nofollow external links]. If you have found so many dofollow external links on a page like more than 100, you should thumb down the page and ready to add it into your disavow file. You don't need to apply other signals to those pages because they don't deserve it. Make sure, backlink from the site having more than 50 dofollow external links might be harm to your site, if the site has no valuable content. You should deeply check that point. I can't write about how many links should be there with different types of content to qualify for a good site. An example, backlink from a site having only 25 dofollow external links might be harmful to your site if it has only links than the content.
  • Make sure the site containing your link is relevant to your site because Google pays attention to "link neighborhood" that should be here. A page describe to buy a better shoes containing my blog's link doesn't make sense, no matter the site is bad or good site. A linkback from the same niche site doesn't mean the natural link. You should follow the above signals for identifying them.
  • Be-aware from the site-wide links which are basically placed in the footer, sidebar or navigational menu. In that case, you get a lot of links from the different pages from the same site with an anchor text that will create a question for the next algorithm updates such as, is it paid link?  
  • The last point but not least, getting backlinks from the dofollow blogs that have commentluv enabled are now become a very popular technique to tweak in SERPs. I am not clearly saying that getting backlink from the dofollow blogs is bad but think if you can add your link to their blog for getting a dofollow backlink then everyone can do it. So, it may be happen at the time you have commented on such blog there were only 10 dofollow outbound links, but after two to three months, can it not be possible the blog has more than 50 or 60 even 100 dofollow links? You can only pray that the moderator of this blog closed their comment on this post after 30 comments, you have no control over it.  Think it! That is why Google devoted the backlinks which are generated by yourself.    
These are the signals that I have applied into my blog, and it worked. This blog has recovered from the penguin after a year. I know the feelings, when a blog strongly hit by the algorithms, but that is not the end. You should make yourself a responsible person for everything happen to your blog whether it is done by you or your competitors. You should not blame to Google that the backlinks to my site have manually created by our competitors to dump my blog into search engine. Google is also not responsible for it. However, Google want to help you that is why you have webmaster tools account and disavow file functions in your account. Therefore, stop blaming and be responsible.

You may also suggest more signals that you have experienced with, and that worked for you. I will add them into that list.
Conclusion: Backlinks are similar as the pillars of a building. If your building has strong pillars, you wouldn't care about anything. Similar, if you have backlinks from the good sites you wouldn't be in trouble. If your building has weak pillars, you would always think before construction of a new floor. Similar, if you have baklinks from the bad sites you would be in trouble, and always will be. It is your responsibility to check your backlinks structure. It is the time you have to add one more event into your calender.

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