Yes, quality tops quantity, and not every link is a good link. But what makes a link an underperformer?

Low-Quality Links come from low-quality websites, low-quality blogs, low-quality guest posts, or spam comments. They are the remnants of a bygone era in SEO marketing strategy. 

They can have blog post topics overlap, 300-word post filling their resource section,  once-rushed landing page with barely 100 words. In other words, they are full of low-performing content.

Other times, their content is well-written, but it covers a topic or industry that’s no longer relevant. Sometimes they can come from sites that have decided to drown themselves in pop-up advertisements, flashing banners, or comment sections riddled with spammy links.

 

Why do they drag your SERP’s Ranking down?

Any SEO professional worth its salt knows that having high-ranking quality backlinks is essential to any site looking to climb its ranks on a search engine. But this way of thinking can lead many to only focus on growing the garden, unaware of the danger of not trimming the weeds.

Low-Quality Links coming from low-quality online directories, spammy domains, private blog networks, advertorials, widgets, sitewide footers, and others, can:

  • Destroy your hard-earned SEO metrics.
  • Kill your SERP rankings 
  • And even bring the wrath of the Google Panda algorithm upon you.

Panda is in charge of evaluating quality for your entire site by looking at all of its pages and adjusting its PageRank accordingly. And since it is a site-level score, it can impact your content based on a query and your overall site-level quality. This means that ALL pages and content indexed within that domain are taken into account by Google’s quality algorithms when flagging or penalizing.

Long story short, Low-Quality Links, whether created by chance, or as an attack on your SEO strategy, can be really bad news for your site, and you need to get rid of them ASAP.

 

Identifying Low-Quality Links in your Backlink Profile.

It’s simple; you marry smart connections that merge topically relevant links, with relevant content and high-ranking domains.

Ok, let’s say you’re pretty certain you have lots of unnatural links pointing to your site. However, you still haven’t gotten any site messages under Search Console from Google asking you to fix them. Although not as bad as it can be, it doesn’t mean you are out of trouble.

You should regularly check your Backlink Profile for potentially problematic links and disavow them before Panda flags your site as spammy. This way, you can avoid a decrease in rankings, organic traffic, or even getting your site deindexed. 

Whether you review and filter every link using the Google Search Console, or use a Backlink checker like Ahrefs, these are the low-quality signals that should be looking out for in a referring domain:

 

High Spam Score 

Spam Score is a metric created by Moz to flag sites that show similar features found to be penalized or banned by Google. The higher the spam score, the higher the probability this site will get penalized, and all other sites linking to it will come under scrutiny.  

Moz calculates this score by taking into account flags like a low number of linking domains, or a high ratio of do-follow links.

 

Low Domain Rating 

Created by Ahrefs, we think Domain Rating is one of the most relevant metrics in the SEO world right now. 

Domain rating boasts an incredibly solid set of principles used to examine a site’s reputation and credibility since it looks at:

  • The number of unique domains linking to a target site.
  • The “authority” of those linking domains.
  • The number of unique domains each of those sites links to.

And calculate these raw scores on a 100-point scale.

 

Unindexed Website 

A website that isn’t currently indexed by Google, which is something that could indicate a penalty due to low-quality.

 

Low Organic Traffic 

In addition to the backlink profile, Organic Traffic estimates how much organic search traffic a target domain, subfolder or specific URL gets per month. Its calculated by finding all the keywords for which a site ranks in the organic search results and estimate how much traffic it gets from each of those keywords, based on ranking position.

A low Organic Traffic can help spot a dead site due to low-quality content, or a site full of unnatural links and unfocused keyword strategy. AKA, a spammy site.

 

High number of External Links 

Having too many external links can be related to a low-quality web directory, sitewide footer links or just a site with spam-filled comment sections—all of these actively penalized by Google.

 

Unbalanced Anchor Text 

Lastly, having links with unnatural anchor texts disrupts the balance of your backlink profile’s anchor text diversity. They can get you flagged as spam or anchor text overload

Having the right anchor text strategy and curating your links to ensure a balance and diversity is a must if you’re aiming to climb the SERPs.

 

Getting rid of Low-Quality Links.

Now that we have the identifying part out of the way, we can focus on removing those Low-Quality Links from your backlinking profile.

You can always send an email to each site admin or webmaster with a low-quality link to ask them to be removed, or at least mark them as no-follow. 

However, this process takes some time, and you could end up waiting weeks for a response. Still, it’s advisable that you follow this process and take screenshots of all communications asking for a link removal sent to every site admin. If you still end up with leftover low-quality links in your profile, you can disavow them. 

Suppose you did get a dreaded site message in Google’s Search Console asking you to fix problematic links. In that case, you could ask Google to review your website by filing a reconsideration request, after the removal process is done.

 

The best way to avoid Low-Quality Links:

Is vital to understand that Link Building is a practice that’s never done. It requires constant monitoring and willing adaptiveness to the ever-changing SEO landscape. This wisdom can become your most valuable resource for developing an effective growth strategy for your site.

And it can lead you to realize that sometimes is better to leave your Link Building efforts to an expert team of outreach link building professionals with optimized backlink and content creation systems that can help you develop quality links with adequate Domain Ratings that make your website earn meaningful organic traffic and improve its rankings in Google SERP. 

No matter your choice of Agency, always be sure to place importance on:

  • Highly targeted links with the right metrics
  • High-value editorial edits placed on websites relevant to your niche

And you’ll surely come out on top! 

John Nasra
John Nasra

Database Management & New Link Acquisition at Searcharoo.