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How to Remove Backlink Spam Effectively and Easily

Last updated: Jun 20, 2024

How to Remove Backlink Spam Effectively and Easily
Cover image: Illustration of spam backlinks being removed to increase the domain authority of a website. Check out the complete information in this guide.

Disclaimer: Our team is constantly compiling and adding new terms that are known throughout the SEO community and Google terminology. You may be sent through SEO Terms in cmlabs.co from third parties or links. Such external links are not investigated, or checked for accuracy and reliability by us. We do not assume responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of any information offered by third-party websites.

Have you ever implemented all of the best on-page SEO practices and still not managed to improve your rankings? This can happen because of poor quality backlinks on your website. Therefore, you need to know how to remove spam backlinks and detect them quickly.

Backlinks are an off-page SEO element that you need to acquire to increase domain authority. However, backlinks of poor quality can actually prevent websites from getting high rankings. Check out the following guide to find out good and bad backlinks and how to remove spam backlinks. 

What is Backlink Spam?

Backlink spam is any form of link obtained from another website using a method that is not in accordance with the Google Webmaster Guidelines and aims to manipulate the website's ranking in the SERP.

Backlinks that fall into the spam category will not increase the domain authority of your website. Instead, they will lower your page ranking or even make your website unable to be found on search engines since Google considers it a form of violation.

To avoid this, you need to follow the guidelines provided by Google Webmaster if you want to get quality backlinks. You also have to understand how to find out and how to remove spam backlinks. The reason is that you can get spam backlinks without intending or knowing it.

Characteristics of Toxic Backlinks

Google will impose sanctions in the form of a decrease in ranking or even block websites that try to manipulate their ranking in the SERP with backlinks. However, what are the practices that Google considers a form of backlink manipulation?

Before knowing how to remove spam backlinks, it's a good idea to first identify their characteristics below:

  • Backlinks from websites that have not been indexed by Google. 
  • Backlinks from websites that are made specifically to provide outbound links
  • Backlinks from websites with irrelevant topics 
  • Backlinks are obtained from blog comments and clearly promote the website. 
  • Backlinks with anchor text that uses commercial words or target keywords 
  • Backlinks that are on every page of a website. 
  • Backlinks that are in the footer of the website and are hidden. 
  • Backlinks that are marked as sponsored links.

Backlink Spam Impacts on Websites

Figure 1: Illustration of a website's organic performance declining due to spam backlinks. You need to know the effects spam backlinks have on your website and how to remove them.

In the past, backlink spam was a common practice by website managers. This method has proven to be effective for increasing website rankings. However, in 2012, Google launched their own algorithm update called Google Penguin.

The algorithm targets websites that use unnatural links, so many websites have drastically decreased traffic and rankings. Today, there are still websites that practice spam backlinks even though their implementation is getting more difficult.

What will happen if you practice spam backlinks and manipulate website rankings?

Accepting Manual Actions for Unnatural Links

Google has a dedicated team to deal with webspam. The task of this special team is to conduct a review to check for spam backlinks on every website indexed by Google. If a website has spam backlinks, the Google team will provide a manual action for the website.

Manual action can only be given if your website violation is known by the Google team. However, your website can still get manual action if there are competitors or users who provide spam reports, are detected by algorithms, or are in a niche that involves a lot of backlink spam.

You will receive a notification in the Google Search Console (GSC) when you get a manual action. If the spam backlinks no longer exist, you can submit a request to the Google team to remove the manual action.

Affected by Algorithm Updates

Google regularly updates its algorithm with the purpose of filtering websites that have unnatural links and readjusting rankings in the SERPs. Websites with unnatural backlinks often experience a decrease in rank due to the updates.

Unlike the manual action, you will not receive a notification or send a penalty cancellation request if your website is affected by the algorithm update.

Backlinks are Not Approved by Google

Figure 2: Illustration of a Google search page. Your website will not get ranked if it uses backlink spam. Therefore, the use of backlink spam should be avoided.

Backlinks obtained by manipulation will not be approved by Google and cannot increase website rankings. This is because Google's algorithm can distinguish between links that are obtained naturally and those that are not.

Therefore, if you intend to buy backlinks obtained by spamming, then you need to reconsider. Buying backlink spam will only cost you money and result in penalization by Google.

How to Find Backlink Spam

To avoid manual actions and algorithmic penalties, you must understand how to find the spam on your website. There are several ways to find them, one of which is by using GSC. Here's the explanation:

Use GSC 

The easiest way to find the spam is by using GSC. These tools are provided free of charge by Google to help website managers monitor website performance organically, one of which is related to backlinks.

You can find out which websites provide links to your website. To check it, please follow the following guide:

  1. Go to your Google Search Console.
  2. In the menu section, select 'Links' which is located above 'Settings'.
  3. Select the 'Top linking sites' section.
  4. You will see a list of websites that provide links.
  5. Find websites with spam backlink characteristics as described earlier.

How to Remove Backlink Spam

Of course, after finding out that there is spam on your website, you want to immediately delete them. However, do you know how to remove spam backlinks?

The search advocate from Google said that currently website managers don't need to worry about spam backlinks because Google's algorithm can recognize unnatural links and will automatically ignore those links.

However, there are some conditions in which the act of removing spam backlinks is necessary. This condition is partly due to the large number of backlinks directed at the website, and causes the website to receive manual actions.

If both of these things happen, then backlink spam should be removed. For that, you need to know how to remove it.

There are several ways to remove spam backlinks that you can do:

Ask the Website Owner to Remove the Link

Removing spam backlinks takes a little patience. You may have to contact the website owner and wait for their approval to remove the link. Of course, you can only do this if the website lists their contacts.

Use Disavow Links Tool page

If you are having trouble with how to remove spam backlinks, try using the Disavow Links Tool Page. Removing backlink spam is much easier this way. Here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Use Notepad on your computer to create a list of links to disavow. 
  2. You can only disavow specific domains or pages. To disavow a domain, use 'domain:' at the beginning of the link (domain:example.com). For specific pages, you can directly include the complete link with http/https.
  3. Each URL must be on a different line. There cannot be two or more URLs on a line.
  4. If so, save the file in txt format (listdisavowlinks.txt).
  5. Open the Disavow Links Tool Page, then select a property or website on the 'Property list'.
  6. Press the 'Upload disavow list' button and select your txt file.
  7. If you have, you just have to wait for the disavowal process to be carried out by Google. Usually, the process will take several weeks.

That was an explanation of what backlink spam is, its characteristics, the impact it has on websites, and how to find out as well as remove it. If you want to get good backlinks without spamming, you can use backlink services from cmlabs that can increase the domain authority of your website.

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