Inbound links play a prominent role in helping sites rank higher in search engine results. However, Google reviews sites’ backlink profiles regularly and if links are seen to be ‘bad’ businesses can find themselves penalised by Google.

SEO agencies put great focus on looking into a sites’ backlink profile to ensure this doesn’t happen. Penalties from Google can last year’s depending on the severity.

Regular audits, management and strategy alignment can make a huge difference to the strength of a backlink profile.

Bad Link Building Practices

Using Automated Programs or Services To Create Links

Some website owners create large backlink profiles by using an automated program. Google will pick up on this quickly and mark the site as suspicious. These links are likely to be of very low quality and often across an IP network. Not only is approaching link building in this way bad practice, it’s also very pointless as Google is consistently updated its list of banned linking networks, completely removing their impact on link profiles.

Non-relevant articles

Articles created just for the sake of adding links are an example of bad link building practices. Articles should always be informative, relevant and interesting.

It’s always better to work alongside a publication before article creation, this allows for themes and features lists to be shared. In turn this creates a platform for well written and informative articles that can be worked on over time. It also will ensure total relevance within the link.

One very high relevant link is much more powerful than five non-relevant links. Don’t build links for the sake of building them, build them with business strategy in mind.

Low quality directories

Low quality directories exist purely for the purpose of building links. These links offer no value from an SEO perspective and can actually damage a business’s ranking in the long term.

Often you’ll see a number of directories within your backlink profile, but don’t panic. Again, Google discredits historic directories it knows to be of use and many of these are used purely for scraping business details (such as standard info@ email addresses).

Directories relevant to industries (such as the Capterra B2B Software directory) are always of use, but choose wisely if considering this approach.

Link any link, whether content or directory, weigh up the decision based on the influence the website has on a target customer. The greater the influence, the greater the reason for a link from the chosen website.

Signs of a Google Penalty

A significant drop in traffic can be a sign that a website has received a penalty from Google and can potentially cost the business a lot of money. Google doesn’t have to notify the business either, meaning it’s very important for business to always keep track of backlinks and analytics.

Businesses should track what links are being acquired, where the links come from and how these links are being acquired.

Any major drops in traffic and rankings should be matched against linking and onsite activity. Pair this with historic Google algorithm changes as well to identify any notable changes which were likely to impact a ranking profile.

Bad Link Profile Check

  • A vast majority of links come from article-marketing sites or low quality directories.
  • Many links come from articles with keyword-rich anchor text links.
  • There are some partner sites just for the sake of the link.
  • The backlink profile is unnatural as most sites come from the same two or three sources


POLARIS is a London based SEO agency. Contact for a free audit.

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