You need other websites to link to your site to improve your ranking in Google, however, getting backlinks from some types of websites can do more harm to your site than good. Therefore, it’s important to know what types of sites you don’t want to link to your site.
There are two points in the SEO process when you need to consider this issue – when reviewing the sites that are already linking to yours (a list can be downloaded via Google Search Console) and when compiling a list of sites that you want to target for new links.
You should review all websites that are already linking to yours because if there are too many low quality ones you can be penalised for it, and you should review any sites targeted for new links because there’s no point investing time and money in getting links from sites that won’t help your rankings.
Whilst links from sites that fall into one of the below categories might help your rankings in the short-term, it’s only a matter of time before they start working against you. It’s better, and less hassle, to not be associated with them in the first place, than to try and dissociate yourself from them later on.
There’s no single tool that can give a definite answer as to whether or not a site is one that you want to be linking to yours, and manually visiting a site before making a final decision is recommended.
You should be able to make the assessment yourself in less than 20 seconds. What you shouldn’t do though is judge on visual appearance alone, as some spam sites look like real sites, and some real sites look like spam sites.
A site only needs to be in one of these categories for you to want to avoid it. So, if it states contact details and has great content, but isn’t indexed in Google, then still avoid it.
If it’s a site that’s already linking to yours, first try to contact the owner of that site and ask them to remove the link. If they ignore your request, or refuse to remove the link, then use Google’s Disavow Tool to dissociate your site from the link.
If a site isn’t indexed in Google then there’s a 99% chance that it’s been penalised by Google for engaging in manipulative SEO tactics – buying/selling links, sneaky re-directs, hidden text, etc.
If a site has an Open Site Explorer Domain Authority score of less than 10, or an Ahrefs Domain Rank of less than 40, it can be said to have little trust and authority.
Those that say somewhere on their site that say they’ll link to your site if you pay them to do so. It’s ok if they’re selling links or adverts that incorporate the rel=”nofollow” attribute though.
Sites that are part of a network typically have some combination of: no clear topical focus; generic, low value content; no verifiable author associated with it; 1-3 out-going links on most pages; private WHOIS information.
These are normally in the style of a directory and most pages will have 10+ links listed on them. There are some exceptions though, like DMOZ and BOTW.
Most sites don’t link to other sites using short, optimised anchor link text, like ‘plumber in London’ or ‘buy men’s shoes’ unless they’ve been paid to do so. Natural, unoptimised link text is normally a url, name or partial sentence.
Most pages on these sites will have 50+, 1-3 line generic comments, that have been left by people who use keywords (cheap iPads, best travel insurance, etc.) in place of their name.
The content will either not make sense at all or will read like it’s been written by a child. In most cases it will have been automatically created by a computer or will have been cheaply outsourced to someone who has a poor grasp of English.
Take a few sentences from randomly chosen pages and search for them in Google in quotation marks. For example, “sentence from site”. If there are multiple results returned, and the site you’re checking isn’t ranked 1st, it probably scrapes its content from elsewhere.
Eastern European, Russian and Chinese sites are ones to be particularly aware of. There may sometimes be a legitimate reason for such links, but only in less than 5% of cases.
A site should ideally have an address and/or phone number listed somewhere on it (about page, contact page and/or footer), though if it’s a non-commercial site, just a name and an email address is acceptable.