What are external links that are bad for SEO?

Google has been cracking down on artificial links created by site owners to increase PageRank (PR). The problem is that most site owners don’t know the rules for properPageRankand what qualifies as an artificial link.

An artificial link is any link that you purchased or placed on a site in an effort to increase yourPageRank. If you think you’ve been hit with Penguin, or you’ve received an “Unnatural Links” warning in Google Webmaster Tools, here are some tips on what links you should remove or include in your disavow file.

Most webmasters are guilty of including a link in a link directory. Link directories include websites that just list your site with a brief description and a link to your site. Some link directories let you specify keyword anchor text.

The link directory owner tries to boost his own PR, so yourPageRankis in turn increased. The whole process is a link scheme and against Google’s guidelines. You want to remove these links or place them in a disavow file in Webmaster Tools.

Are external links from Article Directories bad for SEO?

Article directories were the de facto way to create backlinks several years ago. The process involved creating several cheap articles, and then placing them on several article directories. The concept was good at first, but then the articles continued to drop in quality.

The end-result was that article directories became a spammer’s haven, and the quality of the articles was disregarded by article creators. If you place your articles on an article directory, you should have them removed.

Guest bloggers were popular and they are still popular today. The problem is that many blogs paid guest bloggers with a backlink to their own blog. The idea was that the guest blogger would gainPageRankwhile writing for free.

The main blogger got content, and the guest blogger gotPageRank. This seems innocent, but in fact it’s a link scheme. If you’ve guest blogged at several places, you should remove the backlink to your own blog. Most bloggers allowed guest bloggers to create a profile, so log in to your profile and remove your link.

Another option is “nofollowing” the backlink. When you add nofollow to the link, it does not pass PR, so you eliminate the link from harming your Google rank.

Like guest blog posts, forum signatures seem innocent. However, several site owners used forum signatures in a way to manipulatePageRank. If you have several backlinks from forum signatures, you want to remove those signatures.

It’s especially important if you’ve used keyword-rich anchor text in the forum signatures. Like guest blog posts, you can also add nofollow to the forum signatures to eliminate the links from thePageRankgraph and stop them from passingPageRank. Adding nofollow to links is just as effective as deleting the link.

It’s difficult determining which links are bad versus ones that are beneficial, but the above types of links are always problematic.

Remove these links or add them to your disavow file to eliminate any negative effects on your Google rank.