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Posted on August 13, 2014 by
The Google algorithm called “Hummingbird”, released in Summer 2013, is penalizing sites with “toxic links” pointing back to them by pushing them down the list of results. Is your site one of them?
Why Are They a Problem?
Google considers a link to your site a vote for you and your business. If your information is good enough for others to reference, it must be good enough for Google to serve up to its users. In the past, most links counted as a vote, but as Google moves towards rewarding quality links instead of simply a high quantity of links, toxic links are viewed as an attempt to stuff the ballot box.
What Exactly Are Toxic Links?
A toxic link is a link to your website from an external source that the Google algorithm has determined as being unnatural, suspicious or spammy. However, not all of the links deemed as toxic are truly bad links. Sometimes these links are from sources that were once legitimate but are now downgraded in value by Google. Sometimes the tools that find what are believed to be the poor quality links just get it wrong too.
Even organically generated links can sometimes be toxic, especially if the site that is linking to you is poorly constructed and offers no perceived valuable content. In general, you should steer clear of links from directories with no particular focus, random blog comments that don’t relate back to the original blog post, links from completely irrelevant websites and links from low-quality or spun article sites.
What to Do About Them
Your best bet for getting rid of toxic links is to contact the business that generated the link to your site and ask them to remove the link. Manually removing links eliminates the problem at the source.
If all else fails and you are unable, after repeated requests to remove a particular link, Google provides a Disavow Tool that allows you to request that Google ignore a specific link.
Stay Ahead of the Game
Your website ranking on a page of Google search results is a key factor in driving organic search traffic and potential leads to your website. External links are only one of the factors that Google uses to help determine where your website ranks in the search results page. Therefore, monthly toxic link reports are important to staying on top of any unwanted links.
Once you have cleaned up your link profile and are on top of getting rid of toxic links as they appear, you should start noticing improvements in your website ranking.
Have you encountered toxic links to your website? How did you deal with them? Did your keyword ranking improve once they were removed? Please tell us your story below!