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What makes a link toxic in 2023?

The quality of your backlinks holds weight in how Google perceives your site and will ultimately affect your ranking. As we traverse this bear market, cleaning up your backlink profile will help drive traffic to your site and set you up well for when the market sentiment shifts and eyes are back on the Web3 space.

As we all know, most of the building is done in the bear market, and building a solid link profile is no different!

In this blog, we’ll run through some of the major red flags to keep in mind when analysing your backlinks, so you break all ties with those toxic links holding you back.

1. Low Domain or Page Authority

Referring domains or pages with low authority or ratings (depending on which tool you are using) can be a signal to a low quality or toxic link. The metric is used to determine the authority and credibility of a domain or page, so having links to pages with low DA or PA scores can be potentially harmful. With the aim of being a high quality site, the less low quality associations, the better.

This score needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it takes time for sites to build authority and so should be used in conjunction with some of the other metrics to determine the quality of the link.

2. Explicit Content

Not much needs to be said here, any website that has explicit content that is linking to yours with no relevance should be dealt with as fast as possible. Being associated with this certain explicit content can have serious negative implications on your website’s scores.

3. Blacklisted sites or pages

Similar to the above, having a link from a blacklisted site can be detrimental to your website’s link profile and should be avoided.

Sites can be blacklisted for many reasons, such as:

  • Linking to spam or malicious pages
  • Violating copyrights
  • Masking keywords
  • Your website has been hacked
  • Blackhat SEO techniques

Let’s see what Google has to say about dangerous sites

4. NoIndex pages

Links from pages with NoIndex tags are also not advised. When a page has NoIndex tags, it means that the owner doesn’t want google to index or crawl it. Generally, it signifies that it is a low quality page or spam, and therefore bears no benefit for link building

5. Link farms/networks

Link farms or networks are typically low-quality websites (or a collection of them, connected by many cross-links) with little to no original or relevant content. These are pure spam sites and are used to inflate the number of total links to a page and manipulate how google perceives your website

In reality they have an adverse effect, link farms considered a black-hat technique and can incur penalties if Google’s spam team catches on.

For a better visualisation of what to look out for, check out this article from Ahrefs

6. Too many links in one piece of content

If a piece of content linking to your site noticeably has a lot of links with low relevance, it can be perceived as spam and it is probably better to get rid of the link if possible. You don’t want your content or site to be associated with spam, or low quality pages.

7. Sitewide links

A site-wide link is a static outbound link appearing on every page of the website. They’re found either in the header, footer, or navigation menu, and not in the main content. Depending on the size of the website, one site-wide link could create hundreds or thousands of links to another site

As above, if the links aren’t relevant then it can be seen as spam and lower the strength of your backlink profile.

8. Broken links

Having a broken backlink is intuitively not very good, in the case that a link breaks, it would be a good idea to reach out and amend the link either suggesting a link to a new page or creating some content to link to instead. If all else fails, try to get the link removed by either reaching out to the webmaster, or sending in a disavow file to Google

9. Links from blog comments

Some sneaky links can arise from blog comments, it is important to manually check these links as sometimes they may be relevant to you. for example if someone was linking our site in the comments of a blog title “Top Web3 Digital Marketing Agencies”, we wouldn’t be too upset about it.

However, a link in the comments of a blog about “Biggest Crypto Scams of 2022” would be something we’d look to remove.

10. Links from sites with overstuffed keywords in anchor text

Over optimising anchor text (a form of keyword stuffing) can come across as spammy as the text may not be fully relevant to the linked content, for example:

a link to a blog about the

“The Fall of FTX”

using the following anchor text

“Crypto NFT Scam SBF Luna”

would’t be ideal, as the text is just a stack of keywords bearing little relevance to the content being linked. Search engines will be able to determine the relevance between the linked content and the anchor text, tot determine whether it may be spam or not

11. Spam sites

Spam sites are always up there with “things we hate to see” on the internet and having them in your backlink profile isn’t a luxury either. Googles Guidelines on spam sites clearly outlines the criteria in which dictates a site to be labelled as such and includes the following

  • Cloaked sites
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Hidden text
  • Hacked sites
  • Doorways

12. (Ir)Relevance:

Having relevant content, linking page and linking domain are all SEO fundamentals, and going against this will definitely have a negative impact on your backlink profile

You can breakdown relevance into 3 parts:

  1. Irrelevant content vs header
  2. Irrelevant content vs your site
  3. Irrelevant location site (primarily for local SEO)

If any of these 3 relevancy factors are misaligned, search engines will look down on the link.

Relevancy also stretches into other realms, such as anchor text. Be wary of that too!

As you can see, there are many factors that dictate toxicity of a backlink, and it is important to keep a close eye on the health of your backlink profile! keeping a healthy link profile is an ongoing ordeal and requires proper time and effort, but the reward is worth it.

Remember, at the end of the day, its the quality of your links that matters more!

Want to know whether your backlink profile needs a fix up? get in touch with us today!

You can find us on Twitter and LinkedIn, or you can contact us through our website!

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Ramsey Shallal

Co-Founder + Strategy

Ramsey has been in the Web3 space for 3+ years, and is leveraging that experience to create generative marketing solutions, that drive organic growth through improved brand experience and authority

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