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The Ultimate Guide To Find Bad And Good Backlinks

If you care about SEO, it’s important to run a full backlinks analysis and find the strengths and weaknesses of your website.

The good backlinks will help you achieve higher rankings in Google and other search engines. On the opposite, bad backlinks can harm your rankings and cause Google penalties. It’s vital to keep a good ratio between good and bad backlinks to avoid unwanted situations.

Are you trying to identify your website’s bad backlinks, but you also want to know which of your links are good? Great, you arrived at the right place. In this article, I will show you how to analyze your backlinks using the Monitor Backlinks SEO Tool, and understand their quality.

If you would rather watch a video than read the whole article, we also have a video tutorial showing how to find your bad links.

What is a good backlink for SEO?

A good link is a backlink coming from a trusted and reputable website in your niche. The harder it is to get a backlink, the more value it will have. If it’s easy to get a link, your competitor’s grandma can probably replicate the same backlink. Agree? Share the image below 🙂

The Truth About Link Building

Good links are those that are very hard to get.

Editorial links look more natural and they are more valuable. These are some of the most important characteristics of a good backlink:

  • It’s very important that the backlink is coming from a relevant website in your industry.
  • Links inside the content are better.
  • Links from long and quality articles are worth more.
  • For SEO, the backlink has to be dofollow. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that nofollow backlinks are bad. They can drive referral traffic, but they will not give you an SEO boost. You shouldn’t categorize nofollow links as bad.
  • The backlink is good when an editor added it.
  • The website that’s linking to you has a good domain authority and a solid social media presence.

We’ll talk more about determining the quality of your links a few paragraphs below. Meanwhile, let’s talk a little about bad backlinks.

What is a bad backlink for SEO?

A bad backlink is the kind of link that’s violating Google’s guidelines and therefore, it can cause Google penalties. These are some of the signals that a backlink is bad:

  • The link is coming from an unrelated website to your niche and industry. Relevancy is very important.
  • The backlink is on a page with very thin and low-quality content.
  • A backlink is bad if it’s from a website that was penalized by Google.
  • Dofollow site wide and footer backlinks can trigger Google penalties.
  • Link exchanges are bad.
  • The website linking to you has a very low Domain Authority.
  • The backlink is from a blog network.
  • Widget backlinks are bad and should be nofollow.
  • A backlink is bad if you paid money for it. Advertorials should use the nofollow attribute.
  • A backlink is bad if it’s coming from article directories.
  • A link is bad if it’s from hacked websites or it’s hidden in CSS.
  • Backlinks with over-optimized anchor texts can trigger the Google Penguin penalty.
  • Automatically generated backlinks are bad.

What the SEO metrics can tell about your backlinks

To get started with the backlinks analysis, you have to familiarize yourself with the metrics you can use to determine the quality of your links. If you haven’t yet created an account on Monitor Backlinks, go ahead and register one now (We have a 30 days free trial, and you definitely want to try it out).

After connecting your domain with Google Analytics, go to the Backlinks page where you can see your website’s links along with their SEO metrics. It should look like this:

backlinks-page-from-MonitorBacklinks

IMPORTANT: Never disavow the bad backlinks that are automatically detected. You will end up disavowing a lot of good links and you will hurt your rankings even more or never recover from a penalty. To find your website’s worst links, you can use SEO metrics to determine their quality, but you’ll have to review each link one by one.

With Monitor Backlinks, you can sort your backlinks by their metrics to find the good backlinks and bad links. But before we jump to this part, let me tell you about the metrics that matter most.

Backlinks status

Your backlinks can have different statuses.

backlinks-status

The most important status is “OK”, meaning the link is dofollow, and it’s influencing your website’s SEO. Whether in a positive or negative way, we’ll find out later in this article.

Your links can also have an NF ( nofollow ) status. In this case, Google will ignore them, and you can too. These backlinks will not do any good or harm to your SEO. No matter if they are from a good or bad website.

dofollow-and-nofollow-backlinks

When your links have a BNF ( Backlink Not Found ) status, it means that the link was previously found on that website, but it was removed. In this case, you can either ignore it, or you can contact the webmaster and ask them why they have removed the link and if it’s possible to put it back. For example, if you’ve made a guest post on a website, and the backlink was removed, you might want to get it back.

Monitor Backlinks automatically checks the status of your backlinks every day and will email you if their status changes.

Other statuses include 404 not found, robots.txt blocked, server down, 302 moved temporarily, etc.

To analyze the good and bad backlinks, you should mostly look at the backlinks with an “Ok” status, the dofollow ones.

Google Index Status

The Google Index status is very important and can quickly tell you if a website was penalized and removed from the search results. Below the backlink status, you’ll see a small Google icon, as in the screenshot:

check-google-index

This icon is red when the domain linking to your website is not indexed in Google and yellow when the page that’s linking to you is not indexed.

If the domain is not indexed, almost sure you are dealing with a website that was penalized. In this case, you should disavow the backlink. If the status shows that the page is not indexed, it can either be because the page was recently created and Google has not yet had time to index it, or it’s not properly linked and it will take more time for Google to crawl it.

Spam Score

The Spam Score is a metric that was recently introduced by Moz to help you quickly identify what is the probability that the website linking to you is bad. Just like any other metric, you shouldn’t take it for granted, as it might be misleading in some cases.

backlinks-spam-score

Good backlinks will have a low spam score while the bad links will have a higher one.

The Spam Score starts from 0 to 17. Generally speaking, links that have a spam score higher than five might be bad. However, you have to analyze the other metrics as well.

Trust Flow and Citation Flow

The Trust Flow and Citation Flow are metrics provided by Majestic, and they are very accurate and updated often.

trust-flow-and-citation-flow

The higher the trust flow a backlink has, the more valuable it can be.

MozRank, Domain Authority and Page Authority

Moz provides the MozRank, Domain Authority, and Page Authority and along with Trust Flow and Citation Flow, they are the most important metrics to analyze at a backlink.

mozrank,-domain-authority-and-page-authority
These SEO metrics are updated on a monthly basis, and they are very accurate.

Out of these three metrics, the most important one is Domain Authority. MozRank wants to be a replacement of the old Google PageRank toolbar that was closed two years ago.

You’ll notice that some of your links will have a low Page Authority but a high Domain Authority. However, this doesn’t mean that your backlinks are bad. It can be the case the page that’s linking to you was recently created and therefore, it doesn’t yet have a high Page Authority. That’s why Domain Authority is the metric you should care about.

TLD / IP

The domain extension of the website that’s linking to your site can be important, especially if you are doing local SEO. For example, if your website targets a german audience, you should mostly have backlinks from .DE domains. Links from .IN or .RU sites would make no sense.

hosting-ip-and-TLD

On this column, you can also see in what country is the hosting located, and in case you have more backlinks from the same hosting IP, you’ll see a number highlighted in red.

Number of external links

The number of external links shows how many other links are on the same page that’s linking to you. If the number is higher than 100, it can be a signal that the website might be bad. However, it’s best to check the quality manually before taking a decision.

Referring Traffic

A backlink is even better when it sends traffic to your website. That’s a clear indicator that the link is legit and it will not only give you an SEO boost but also send relevant traffic your way.

referring-traffic-by-backlink

The less traffic a backlink is sending, the lower the quality it might have.

How to sort your backlinks to find good and bad links

Now that you know more about the metrics you can use to decide the quality of your backlinks, here’s how you can sort them to ease things up for you.

On the right side, click on the “Filters” button”.

filter-your-backlinks
You can either apply multiple filters at once or just one. These are the filters I recommend using, individually or combined:

1. Choose to view only dofollow backlinks.

Because we are interested to find the links that are influencing SEO, we’ll only need to look at the backlinks that are dofollow.

Choose to see only the links with an “ok” status.

check-dofollow-links

2. Check Backlinks from websites with a low Domain Authority

Domain Authority is one of the most important metrics to use to find bad links. You can sort your links to see only backlinks from a Domain Authority lower than 20. If you want to be picky, you can analyze those with a Domain Authority lower than 30.

low-domain-authority

3. Links with a low Trust Flow

Also sort the links with a Trust Flow below 20 or 30.

sort-links-by-trust-flow

4. Sort backlinks by Spam Score

If you want to be very picky, although you might risk missing some of your bad links, you can also sort the backlinks by their Spam Score. I recommend checking the backlinks with a higher Spam Score than 3.

5. Sort links by the number of external links

It’s best to check the backlinks from pages with too many external links. You have to use this filter alone.

6. Sort backlinks by index status

To find if you have backlinks from websites that were removed from Google’s search results, you can sort your links by their index status. Choose to view the links from domains that are not indexed in Google

backlinks-from-penalized-domains
Apply the other filters individually to find bad backlinks. Once sorted your website’s backlinks, you’ll have a list of the backlinks that are potentially bad. As I told you above, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all these links are bad. However, if all their metrics indicate so, there’s a high probability that they are low-quality backlinks.

7. Analyze anchor text distribution

On the reports page, you can see how most used anchor texts for your links. A common mistake SEOs do is not to pay attention to the anchor texts of their links. If your backlinks have over-optimized anchor texts, and the links don’t look natural, you can get a Google Penguin Penalty.

over optimized anchor texts

Make sure your backlinks profile looks natural and your most used anchor texts are your brand name and website URL.

Conclusion

You should analyze the links that can be bad one by one and determine if they are good or not. When you find a bad backlink, you have to remove the link and then create a disavow report.

Be aware that removing and disavowing your good backlinks can have a negative impact on your SEO. If you think this is over your control, and you don’t want to risk doing some bad disavowing, we have a team of experts can help you identify your worst backlinks.

Once you are done with your backlinks analysis, it’s time to start building some quality backlinks.

Do you have any questions? Just drop your comments below and we’ll help 🙂

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