Bad Back-Links: Identify and Disallow Them in 3 Steps

In our previous articles we have discussed about bad back-links and how they penalise your website’s rank with Google. Here we would look at how to correctly identify such bad back-links and also the process of removing them in three easy steps.

Step 1 – How to identify the bad back-links?

Unless you have been keeping thorough records of all the back-links to your website, it can seem a long and tedious task. However, with the use of some useful online tools, you can cut down on the work at hand.

  • Open Site Explorer (
  • Majestic SEO (
  • Google Webmaster tool ( Navigate to ‘traffic’ >> ‘links to your website’ >> ‘download more sample links’)

You can use any of these tools to generate lists of links and also their anchor text that point to your website. You might be in for a surprise to see how many links you have created in all these years!

Now you would need to check and decide which of these links are harmful. There is no hard and fast rule to it, so you will have to check it manually and rely on that gut feeling. What you should do though is download a complete list of websites that have been sending any links back to your website and save them on your computer in a spreadsheet, so you can evaluate them one by one based on the following criterion:

  • Suspicious backlinks
  • Link manually exchanged
  • Cross-linking
  • Links to other sites that you may be controlling
  • Links from trusted websites (Use any free online tool – – to check for a high “Trust Rank”)
  • Any relevant links from other sites on the same topic

It may take you a while to do this, but you’ll get used to it.

Step 2 – How can you define a link as suspicious?

Again, there is no hard and fast rule for this, but after our own research we came up with a few guidelines. A domain name can be considered to be suspicious when:

  1. It is seen as sending an abnormally large number of links to only a few pages. By definition, a natural linking could be defined as the exact opposite of industrialised SEO.
  2. The URL states the purpose of the website, for example – “”
  3. The anchor text on the website is not relevant, for example when the website is about ‘videos’ and the anchor text is about ‘French polishing.’
  4. The website is not even in your own language.

If you are not sure about any link, the Webmaster community advices to disallow it as a suspicious link.

Step 3 – How can you disallow a link?

Once you have a list of your suspects, you can then go to ‘Google Webmaster Tool’ to deny all the bad back-links linking to your website. You will then need to upload a.txt file with all the links listed together that you want to disavow.

That should take care of it!

Google will then overtime perform its duties and disavow the links, but it will take a while to see a change in your rankings, often several weeks before Google deletes all the bad back-links and reconsiders your website as a good one.

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