Backlinks are an important piece of any SEO effort and, when done correctly, can improve SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rankings. However, with the advent of new Google algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin, not all backlinks are created equal. In fact, some backlinks can actually hurt a site’s standings. Google now looks at the quality of the site that links to your site and the number of links coming from each site. There are a number of factors to consider when looking at a site’s backlinks, including:
- Site quality. Sites with a poor rank (Alexa provides a good source of site ranking), or sites that look “spammy” with links and ads cluttering the page, indicate that Google will not view the site as being quality. Google takes the quality of the linking site into consideration, so these poor-quality sites are not ideal sources of backlinks.
- Number of links from one site. Large numbers of links from one site also indicate questionable behavior to Google. Therefore, sites that host thousands of links to your domain will be under close scrutiny by Google’s crawlers and should also be under close scrutiny by you.
- Is it related? If your domain has large number of links from completely unrelated sites, this could also indicate link buying, something that Google frowns upon.
So what is a site owner to do? A backlink audit has always been good practice, but now taking a close look at the sites linking to your domain is more important than ever. The first step is pull a comprehensive backlink report, and then look at the sites that link to your domain. Of those, pull together a list of questionable sites that might be doing you more harm than good, then contact the site administrator and request they remove the links to your domain from their site.