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Bad Incoming Links to your site means that your site could be punished by Google Penguin


30th October 2013

Google Penguin does not like spammy backlinks

Google's Penguin was released on 24th April 2011. It mainly affected genuine sites, that had spammy sites linking to them.

There are three things you need to know:

First Thing You Need to Know: If bad sites are linking to yours, then your site will move DOWN the rankings.

So what are bad sites? We're not talking about your supplier's unsightly site. We're not talking about a blog that you haven't updated in the last few years. We're talking about sites that are deliberately made to trick people. There are two main reasons you might have 'bad sites' linking to yours;

Second Thing You Need To Know: How to find out when bad sites are linking to yours

This is not something that is going to concern you if you just launched your site this week. However, if you have an established, reputable website, then yes, this is something that you're going to have to think about.

For large organisations, this could be an every-day battle. However for smaller sites, this might be something you need to check once a month. Once you start noticing the changes yourself, you'll be able to figure out the frequency that makes most sense for you.

Bad links are not going to be flagged as 'bad' - you'll have to figure that out for yourself, but in general, the links should make sense. As a general rule - if a website has no business or reason to link to yours, then there's a good chance it's spammy. Dodgy pharmaceutical sites, p0rn sites, and sites from certain jurasdictions are notorious for this practice.

You can use Google Webmasters to see what sites are linking to yours;
Search Traffic > Links to Your Site. . . or just click on this link.

You can use the great tool by MOZ, Open Site Explorer, to see what sites are linking to yours.

Third Thing You Need To Know: How to Stop Those Bad Sites From Linking To You

Well, the best thing, and this is definitely the best thing, both in my own opinion, and in Google's opinion (ref), is to ask the owner/administrator of the 'bad site' to stop linking to yours. Which, in happy-perfect land, should be enough. However let's remember that a lot of the sites doing this are dodgy in the first place, they might not even speak the same language as you, and they're probably going to ignore your request. So what do you do? Well, you have to tell the search engines to disavow the link.

What does Disavow Mean

Disavowing a link means that you're telling the search engine to ignore the link coming into your site. You're effectively saying "I've nothing to do with that site, and I don't want anything to do with that site. Please discount the link from theirs to mine, when you are analysing my site."

So, to disavow your link with Google, you need to sign up with Google Webmasters, and then go to
Tools > Reconsideration. . . or just click on this link.

Now, remember that Google isn't the only search engine around - although it is by far the most popular in the Western World - so, you need to do this with each search engine.

For Bing, you also need to sign in with Bing Webmasters, and then you need to click on 'Disavow'

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Dorcas RĂ©amonn

Hi, I'm Dorcas. I make websites. I lecture in Digital Marketing and related stuff in the UCD Smurfit School, and also work with the UCD Innovation Academy. I love education, learning and all things creative, which could cover anything from coding to filmography to dancing! I take photos (personal Insta @dorcasz). I do consultancy. I do talks. I've written popular books on WordPress (available here and and here. Visit my personal site here.

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