With the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for brands and platforms day by day, backlinks, one of the effective SEO metrics, have started to come to the fore. Backlinks, which became a big market between 2012-2018, are among the SEO metrics that search engine algorithms evaluate by considering many criteria and significantly affect website visibility.
What is Backlink?
Backlink, by definition, is the name given to the backlinks/links that a website receives from a different website. For example, if an article shared on a blog site links to articles/contents on different sites it refers to, it is a backlink to the site it refers to. Search engines see backlinks as a reference for website value. Between 2012 and 2018, the more backlinks a website received, the more valuable and visible that website was. However, after 2018, when backlinks turned into a market, users made backlink sales by establishing many artificial websites, and backlink evaluation was abused, search engines decided to change the evaluation strategy on the backlink side. At this point, we came across toxic/useful backlinks concepts.
As the name suggests, useful backlinks are backlinks that positively affect a website's visibility and authority. The most important criteria that determine the usefulness of a backlink are the authority and relevance of the linking site. At the beginning of our article, we mentioned that search engines have changed their strategy in backlink evaluation. Now, search engines have begun to consider backlinks obtained naturally (artificial/non-purchased), from sites with high authority, as a positive evaluation criterion, not according to the number of backlinks. To understand that a backlink is useful, it is necessary to pay attention to the following criteria:
- The authority of the website is high,
- Original content,
- Not giving too many backlinks to be considered spam,
- High DR & PR authority values,
- Close relevance to the linked page and site,
- Does not contain illegal content (betting, violence, etc.),
- No penalty (sandbox, ban, etc.) on the part of search engines,
- The domain is not newly opened.
Toxic backlinks, which we can think of as the opposite of useful backlinks, are often links that harm the website's visibility and authority. If a website has more than one of the following features to which it is linked, this backlink brings more harm than good to the relevant website.
- The authority of the website is low,
- It contains duplicate content,
- Exiting links to many websites to the extent that it can be considered spam,
- Low DR & PR authority values,
- Lack of relevance to the linked page and site,
- It contains illegal content (betting, violence, etc.),
- Having a past/current penalty (sandbox, ban, etc.) by search engines,
- The domain has just been opened,
- The link came from forums, blog comments with artificial user reviews
How to Do Toxic Backlink Analysis?
Search engines want website owners to consciously follow backlinks to their sites and reject them via Search Console Disavow, which we mentioned at the end of our article.
When performing toxic backlink analysis, the above items must be taken into account. Otherwise, the unconscious disavow operation will also affect the authority of useful links and may greatly damage the visibility of the website. For example, let's analyze the malicious backlink of analyticahouse.com together.
Step 1 - Choosing the Platform to List Backlinks
First of all, we need to see what the backlinks coming to our website are and their authority. Usually, Search Console > Backlinks tab or paid SEO analysis tools are used for this.
The links in the Search Console > Backlinks section are usually updated very late, and all platforms with active backlinks are not displayed in this section. That's why many SEO experts prefer paid SEO tools when analyzing toxic backlinks. For this, the most well-known Ahrefs and Semrush tools can be preferred. Today, we will analyze the toxic backlinks of our website on Ahrefs.
Step 2 - Crawling the Domain
We perform our crawling and analysis by typing our relevant domain into the domain/URL input in the Ahrefs panel.
As you can see in the preview, the website analyticahouse.com has a total of 1810 backlinks from 172 websites.
Step 3 - Identifying Linking Domains
In this section, we must first click on the "Linking Domains" section on the left and look at which domains the backlinks come from.
On the page that opens, we see the list of domains giving backlinks and their DR values. Here, it is primarily for us to detect websites with a DR value below 10 and note these domains aside.
When we note these websites aside, we see that there are mostly links from domain list sites with .pw extensions. If there are links from natural and useful websites in these links, we remove them from the list and continue to host the remaining domains in our list.
While some of the domains here are domain list sites, some are mostly sites focused on digital marketing, SEO, and performance advertising. Although it is not very correct to evaluate it in the toxic backlink category, since search engines can recognize and make sense of domain list sites, it is a healthy practice to reject domain list sites with low authority.
Step 4 - Link Exit Number of Backlinking Sites
Another important factor in malicious link analysis is how many other sites the linked domain is linked to. The "Dofollow linking domains" tab in the 5th column of Ahrefs scan shows how many different sites that site has dofollow links.
The important criterion here is; especially low and medium DR value websites, dofollow links to quite a lot of websites. Since websites with too many dofollow links will be considered as spam backlinks by search engines, it would be logical to add these websites to our disavow list.
Step 5 - Anchor Texts of Backlinks
Another factor that determines the quality level of the backlinks taken to the website is the keywords that these links are given. Because users will view the current website by clicking on these keywords and in fact, our website will take reference from these keywords. To do this, click on the "Link Texts" button in the left-hand menu.
In the window that opens, we can see from which anchor text the links received and how many domains link in the same anchor text.
The important criterion here will be to identify domains that are unrelated to the website and give empty/incorrect anchor texts and add them to the disavow list.
After adding all these domains to our disavow list, we can now prepare our disavow file that we will upload to Search Console.
Step 6 - Preparing the Disavow.txt File
Disavow file is a tool through which we reject toxic backlinks through Search Console and reject all damage to our website from these domains. The domain list to be uploaded to this tool must be uploaded in a specific format and .txt extension. For this, we first create a file named "analyticahouse-disavow.txt".
After creating our file, we add the domains we want to reject, each one on a line.
The point to be noted here is; domains must be entered as domain names only. For example, if we want to reject the domain at https://sitename.com/page, it only needs to be entered as domain:sitename.com.
If you want to reject a link from only 1 page in that domain, not a domain, then just paste that URL into the line in the txt file. For example, if we only want to reject links from the /page instead of rejecting all links from the sitename.com domain, it is sufficient to add "https://sitename.com/page" to the relevant .txt file.
Step 7 - Uploading Disavow File to Search Console
After preparing our related disavow.txt file, we log in to the address below.
Then we choose our website from the "Select Property" section.
After choosing our website, we select the .txt file we have prepared by saying "Upload disavow list".
That is all! We have successfully uploaded our disavow file and have rejected backlinks that we think will be toxic to our website. We should apply this process once every month, detect the updated malicious links and add them to the disavow file, and then update our file by saying "Replace".
Our Similar Articles in The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Category
A Dive into Prompt Engineering Techniques Pt.1
Exploring LLMs through the academic paper 'A Prompt Pattern Catalog' by White et. al, this blog showcases practical prompt engineering with real examples.Read more
Topic Clustering, a Core Content Strategy
Dive into the modern content evolution with topic clustering. Learn how a topic-centric approach boosts user experience and search rankings.Read more
Unleashing the Potential of ChatGPT Plugins
Discover the impact of ChatGPT plugins in content marketing. Dive into AI's content personalization, learn about key plugins like 'Browse with Bing'.Read more