You've just identified a whole hoard of bad backlinks swarming your site.

An army of the walking dead—dead backlinks, that is—at your door.

They're there to bite, scratch and eat your site alive.

Bad backlinks, whether they were created innocently or with the intent to destroy your SEO, can be really bad news.

At this point, all SEOs know that quality backlinks are important for their sites.

But some aren't aware of the danger of bad backlinks. There are several types of bad backlinks that destroy SEO metrics, kill SERP rankings and even bring the wrath of Google upon you.

These can be link from a spammy domains, private blog networks, low-quality online directories and so on.

You spend countless hours and dollars on your SEO link building campaigns. You don't want to end up with fistfuls of bad backlinks—and radio silence from the big dogs with high Domain Authority where you wanted to place your backlinks.

How to Identify Bad Backlinks

SEOptimer is an SEO platform that consolidates everything there is to know about your backlink profile and key SEO metrics. You can use it to monitor organic traffic, spy on competitor backlinks, check your rankings for specific keywords and more.

The best way to find your bad links is to use the Backlink Research tool in SEOptimer.

Plug your domain in the tool and navigate to the Backlinks tab.

Backlink Research Starbucks

Here you can view a list of links pointing to your domain.

Starbucks Backlinks

Once you've pulled up your list of backlinks you want to review your links and check if they tick these boxes:

  • Low Domain and Page Strength — This score is used to predict the rank worthiness of a website based on its backlink profile. 
  • Unindexed Website  This indicates that the website isn't currently indexed by Google, which could indicate low quality.
  • High External Links — A high number of external links could pertain to a low-quality web directory, sitewide footer links or spam comments.
  • Too Generic— The site that links to you covers a broad range of topics as opposed to a handful of topics they're experts in.
  • TLD and Refrerring Country— Links from foreign countries or non-English speaking countries make no sense if your site is based in an English speaking country so these links are of no value and can be spam.
  • Unnatural Anchor Text — Finally, unnatural anchor texts disrupt the balance of your backlink profile's anchor text diversity. Good anchor texts include your brand name, naked URL and partial keyword matches.

Conducting a Manual Review of Bad Backlinks

Before you go ridding your backlink profile of these links, a manual review of each linking page is in order. After all, it’s entirely plausible for backlinks to trigger warnings despite having SEO value.

The key here is to review the linking page’s content. If it offers little to no value or appears straight-up shady, then you’ve found yourself a bad backlink.

For example, if you look at the the site below it has a  high number of external links on the page:

However, you by reviewing the actual content you can verify that it’s a legitimate post that’s not only valuable but also relevant in your marketing niche:


For comparison, here’s a linking page that deserves to be disavowed as soon as possible:


Notice the difference? The first one actually provides value to readers and cushions the link with relevant content. On the other hand, the second page is a jumbled mess of links across bulleted lists, images and sidebar menus.

The smoking gun is the footer, which is loaded with backlinks that use irrelevant anchor texts:


What to Do with Your Bad Backlinks

If you've identified bad links that are ruining your rankings, then your best bet is to disavow these links.

Another approach is to contact the linking domain’s owner and discuss a more productive resolution. For example, if the backlink is flagged for an unnatural anchor text, you can simply request that they change the text via email.

If you suspect that a domain is intentionally spamming you with bad links, it’s time to contact their hosting provider. You can identify them with a tool like


Final Thoughts on Identifying Bad Backlinks

Everybody knows that SEO is a lot of work. Not only will it cost your time, it also requires your full-time commitment as a content marketer.

It would be a shame if all these investments go to waste just because of bad links.

With the tips above, you should be able to spot and deal with bad links through SEOptimer.

From here, it’s only a matter of time before your website attains its true ranking potential.