Over the years, Google has been updating its algorithm to consistently improve and ensure quality experiences for its users.

Those looking for shortcuts are often penalized by Google and we shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s not fun.

Many of us are aware that cloaking redirects, stuffing keywords and hiding text can harm your rankings.

But what about the unknown practices that can lead to a Google penalty?

Those are the scariest of all.

The benefits of building quality links to your website are widely recognized. Few, however, know the dangers of having toxic backlinks. In fact, they don’t even have to be toxic, they can just appear “unnatural”.

There was a time where “the more the merrier” applied to backlinks.

Eventually, Google placed an emphasis on quality over quantity for all SEO purposes.

With the release of the Cassandra update in 2003, Google started targeting manipulative linking. As a result, Google condemned the purchase of backlinks as well as any “unnatural inbound links”. This was heavily enforced with the Panda update in 2011.

Google then took it a step further by making it so only “relevant” backlinks were to boost rankings. These would be determined by trust flow and domain authority.

These made perfect sense for Google’s quality control and for white hat SEOs.

Now, sites with low domain authority backlinks can be penalized, even if they were not involved in the acquisition process. Low DA backlinks are now seen as a liability and conflicts with Google’s idea of “quality”. These should be individually reviewed for quality.

As Search Engine Journal explains, some links that used to be helpful can now harm your rankings, such as:

  • Press Release Links
  • Discussion Forum Links
  • Links From Foreign Guestbooks
  • Many Random NoFollow Links
  • Private Blog Networks (PBNs)
  • Social Bookmark Links
  • Directory Submissions
  • Blog Comments
  • Links From Cheap Link Services
  • Links Build by Automatic Link Building Programs

So what can you do?

Regularly check platforms like SEMRush, Ahrefs or Backlinko for links that might be dangerous and individually inspect them with care. Once you’ve established which links are potentially harmful, disavow them with caution

This will keep your backlinks clean and your rankings safe from penalties… for now.

Still think your rankings are at risk? Contact the experts at Active Web Group. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping businesses of all sizes and industries. Can’t wait? Give us a call at (800)978-3417