Yes, backlinks can hurt your site if your site has an unnatural backlink profile. But it could take years for a site to get penalized for link schemes, and some sites never get penalized. The trick to avoiding this is to understand how to mimic a natural backlink profile and replicate it on your site. 

Ever since website owners realized how vital backlinks are for their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, everybody has been looking for the best way to build links. Some are even using paid links for SEO.

Before you solicit your audience and fellow website owners in your industry to link back to your site, though, you need to understand that backlinks can hurt your site. So, start by understanding the different types of backlinks available for your SEO and find out the ones that can hurt your website and why.

What Are Backlinks?

Also referred to as inbound links, incoming links, or one-way links, backlinks are links from other sites that link back to your website. When someone likes the information or products on your website, they’re likely to link their site back to your site as a way for their audience to look at your website. The more websites and blogs link back to your website, the higher you’re likely to rank in Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs), because Google sees every backlink as a vote of confidence.

If your website has high-quality, relevant content that people will naturally share with their audience, then you don’t have to buy backlinks. In fact, Google encourages website owners to build organic backlinks. That said, the search engine can penalize you if you exploit links, especially the ones that are used solely for tricking its algorithm into believing that your website is an authority in the specific industry.

Google considers paid backlinks such as private blog networks (PBNs) as being a black hat SEO trick, and in the past, this led to many people losing their PBNs when they were identified. But there’s nothing illegal about PBNs, they’re simply against Google’s arbitrary guidelines about how to optimize for search results rankings.

The way to take advantage of PBNs safely is to first understand how to build them and all the ways that Google has of detecting a PBN.

For example, you should choose the right PBN hosting company for your PBNs. With a company like Easy Blog Networks, you’ll get footprint-free hosting for all your PBNs and multiple dispersed data centers and hosting companies. We also offer fully-installed blogs and sites with random themes and usernames. Easy Blog Networks uses different plugins to make your PBNs undetectable.

Toxic Backlinks That Will Hurt Your Site

While backlinks are essential for promoting your site’s ranking and bringing more traffic, some can damage its credibility, ranking, and visibility. This is why you should choose backlinks carefully to avoid toxic ones–these are links from low-quality and unscrupulous websites with spammy and malicious content. While Google claims that it can automatically identify and ignore these links, they have been known to lead to penalties in the past.

This is why you should check your backlinks regularly to make sure they’re healthy and harmless. If you identify a disproportionate number of links that are obviously from spam sites, you may even be the target of negative SEO attacks. 

If that’s the case, you can always try disavowing the links you suspect to be on the safe side. However, be very sparing with disavowing links, it will often harm your site’s performance–at least in the short term.

How to Get Rid of Toxic Backlinks

By checking your backlinks habitually, you’ll detect any toxic links soon enough before they cause any serious damage to your site. The first step is to identify the bad links and then start the process of removing them from your site. Thankfully, there are online tools that you can use to analyze backlinks for free.

Once you discover a bad backlink, contact the owner and ask them to remove it. If they’re reluctant to remove the link, you should disavow the link immediately; Google offers a tool to disavow links on its Search Console.