What You Need To Know About Toxic Links

Since the Google Penguin algorithm updates, as many of you will know, websites have seen some quite severe penalties for having links to their sites that don’t agree with the Google Webmaster guidelines. The phrase ‘toxic links’ has become quite the buzz word in SEO recently, and if your website has dropped in rankings on Google, don’t panic, because it is fixable!

Firstly though – “What types of links aren’t considered toxic?”

Since the algorithm updates, link building is all about earning links. And by this I mean by creating a piece of content of some sort that people will see and want to link to, or Tweet, or Like, or embed on their website. The great thing about earning links is that along with getting the link that you want, you also build trust with the market, familiarity and it is a great opportunity to get your brand out there! For example, if you create a great infographic and popular websites embed it with you credited as the source, voila! You’ve got people thinking ‘Attwood Digital created that great infographic on….’ and before you know it people are checking your blog regularly to see what you create next.

You won’t get that with building spammy links or paying for links because the majority of the time they won’t be relevant to what you are offering. Google will also see that a website is linking to thousands of other websites – which these types of links commonly are – which will immediately start ringing alarm bells in Google HQ.

Websites that have been hit

Interflora Google Penalty - AttwoodDigital.com

It has been widely covered that big companies such as Interflora and American company J.C. Penney were hit hard by penalties from Google for not following the webmaster guidelines. Interflora were penalised for sending bouquets of flowers to influential industry bloggers to review for links to their site; they were hit so badly that they weren’t even ranking for their brand name.

JC Penney were hit for link spamming; an investigation was started when the New York times noticed that they were ranking incredibly highly in organic search for practically every product they sell. The investigation brought to light that they were had links from thousands of unrelated sites – most of which contained only links. After the New York Times unleashed an article about the link spamming Matt Cutts Tweeted “Google Algorithms had started to work; manual action also taken.”

Both of these websites have now been restored in their rankings; when your website has been hit like this you can go through a process which removes the toxic links from your site.

If you are worried that your website contains links that are considered toxic or need any advice on the type of link building you should be doing, contact us and we will be happy to help.


The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
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