Updated: Aug 20
How To Identify Bad Backlinks And Why You Should Get Rid Of Them
As discussed in a previous post, backlinks can contribute to your Lawyer SEO strategies in many ways. Backlinks can potentially direct users from one reputable site to yours, which improves your traffic and domain authority. In a perfect scenario, getting as many backlinks as you can helps expand your online presence and promotes your rankings.
Unfortunately, as with any SEO tactic, backlinks can be abused. They have been before, and that's why search engines like Google have implemented safety nets to penalize bad actors.
What's worse, competitors can use this against your domain. Since backlinks all come from third-party sites, anyone with malicious intent can orchestrate plans to put backlinks for low-quality, spammy sites to yours.
Remember: Links of all kinds tell search engine algorithm where and what everything is. So if you have too many backlinks from harmful websites, search engines will associate them with yours.
Regularly checking your backlinks can help you maintain your Lawyer SEO. If you've been doing everything else right and your stats and rankings are still doing poorly, it's probably an external factor that's weakening your SEO.
How Do You Know Who Linked To Your Law Firm's Website?
Fortunately, many Lawyer SEO tools can help you look for them. The most popular (and accessible) one is Google Search Console (GSC).
Aside from being an excellent tool for Google SEO data, Search Console allows you to quickly and easily disavow bad links. Even better, Search Console also notifies you of SEO-related penalties, so it makes it even easier to manage your SEO.
After you've set up your account, simply:
Go to the Search Console page.
Click your website.
Click "Links to Your Site" on your dashboard.
Here, you will have lists of websites that have linked to you and the content they've linked to.
The lists are also sorted by the total number of links. This means the top of the list will be:
The website/domain that linked to you the most
The page on your domain that's been linked the most times
You can download this list for easy viewing and sorting.
How Do You Spot Bad Backlinks?
Search engines (in this case, Google) decides if a backlink is toxic based on two things—quality and relevance.
1. Low-Quality Domains
The most obvious way to identify bad backlinks is to check the quality of the domain they came from. If the website is riddled with spammy links and low-quality content, it can be considered a low-quality domain.
Here are some examples of low-quality links:
Links from spammy posts
Suspicious law firm and business directories
Paid linking services
2. Irrelevant Links
As a general rule, all links on-page and off-page should be relevant to your content. This is why keyword stuffing is considered irrelevant or spam, and is often not a good look on your SEO.
Regardless of the domain quality and authority, they can still be considered bad backlinks if they're in any way irrelevant to yours.
If your law firm was linked by a completely unrelated brand or company, without any anchor text to give context to the reason for the links, then you should move to have it removed or disavowed.
How Do You Remove Bad Backlinks?
You can have backlinks removed in two ways—manually or disavowing them through the Google Search Console.
1. Manual Removal
Manual removal requires you to reach out to the websites and have them remove it from their end. This can take a lot of time, depending on how responsive your contact people are.
This is especially important if you've already received a notification for a manual penalty from Google. Penalties can severely affect your rankings.
However, some of the people you contact might refuse or choose to ignore you. When this happens, appeal your case with Google through a reconsideration request. List the links you attempted to have removed and explain the outcomes for each one.
2. Disavow Bad Links
If your request for manual removal has been rejected or ignored, you can disavow the links yourself. You can do this by uploading a disavow file through Google Disavow Tool.
This won't remove the hyperlinks but will convert your chosen links into "no-follow" links. Thankfully, "no-follow" links won't affect your Lawyer SEO.
If you've been given a manual penalty from Google, make sure you still send them a reconsideration request.
Bad SEO of any kind can seriously harm your domain. It can get you penalized, de-indexed, and bomb your rankings. Bad backlinks are especially tricky since they come from third parties and are a lot harder to catch when you're not regularly looking for them.
Why Should You Let LawyerLeadMachine Help You With SEO?
When done right, Lawyer SEO can improve website traffic and increase conversions. Looking out for bad backlinks and external malicious actors can protect your domain rankings and reputability.