Toxic Backlinks – Are they dragging your website down?

Before we go into what ‘Toxic Backlinks’ actually are and why they are damaging to your website, brand, credibility and reputation, lets briefly cover what a legitimate ‘white hat’ backlink is…(‘white hat’ is the term used for Google approved SEO best practice and comes with a fairly high level of confidence that you will never be penalised by a Google Algorithm update).

What is a Backlink?

External Backlinks are the arteries of ‘The Internet’ sending lifeblood (‘Link Juice’) between its interconnected websites, a backlink from one site to another can be described as a vote in favour of the linked-to website.

If your website is about ‘Dog Training’ and you have a link to your site from this tells Google (and other search engines) that your site is ‘vouched for’ by a site with a high authority score in your industry.

If you have corresponding backlinks from other Dog Training institutes this all compounds your websites ‘Topical Authority’ which means you will rank higher for topical related keywords (You also need high quality content to rank for your target keywords but quality backlinks generally follow quality content).

But, and this is a huge BUT that you must always, always consider when building backlinks.

All backlinks are not equal.

If your ‘Dog Training’ website is getting a lot of links from Motoring websites, Travel websites or Builders Merchant websites (for example) this is going to send Google a very confused message.

The backlinks you have built are not relevant and are not contributing to your ‘Topical Authority’. So they aren’t ‘good’ backlinks but they probably aren’t causing you any negative equity with regards your on-site SEO and may well contribute to a natural looking backlink profile.

What you are looking for is relevance and authority. Authority is measured in a number of ways, usually by metrics such as Domain Authority (MOZ) or Domain Ranking (ahrefs).  There is also the Alexa rank which is less important.

So what is a ‘Toxic Backlink?’

Toxic backlinks are, at best, unnatural links that directly harm the search rankings of a website, it really isn’t over emphasising the point to say that toxic backlinks will directly result in your website featuring lower in the Google rankings than it deserves to be.

At worst, toxic backlinks can be backlinks from adult sites, adult forums and unindexed sites from across Eastern Europe and Russia, they can be being used to inject Malware onto your site or even redirect users from your website to their own, less than reputable websites – these can be devastating to your website rankings as well as damaging to your business, brand and reputation.

It should be noted that not all backlinks from what are generally considered as high risk countries are hosting disreputable content.

However you should ask yourself a serious question – if you are a Surrey based photographer would you expect to be linked to from external websites from Russia, Latvia, China and beyond?

Probably not.

As you can imagine there are certain businesses and organisations that are at higher risk to Toxic Backlinks than others…

(Photographers Beware! – I’m sorry to say but your websites can be particularly vulnerable.)

Surrey Digital offer a Toxic Backlink assessment and confidential report COMPLETELY FREE.

Upon receipt of our report should you wish to hire us to remove any Toxic Backlinks that we have identified we will donate 10% of all fees received as part of our Toxic Backlinks Programme to the UK Safer Internet Centre and its subsidiary charity Childnet.

If your website is clear we will send you a FREE ‘Site Certified Safe’ GOLD badge for you to confidently display on your website!

Enter your name and website address below and we will your get your confidential report to your inbox today!

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Read more about our Toxic Backlink Cleansing Service here


Why is it important to identify Toxic Backlinks?

The presence of Toxic Backlinks may be dragging your website down the search engine rankings and missing out on the Google ranking position that your website organically deserves.

As of September 2016 Google now runs its toxic backlink tool (Penguin 4.0) in real time as part of its core algorithm, this means they are constantly scanning for exactly the sort of backlinks covered by this article and if it finds any a ranking penalty will fairly quickly follow.

The good news about the real time core algorithm is that if toxic backlinks cause you to be penalised in real time, remediation of any identified issues will result in your original rankings being reinstated pretty quickly too rather than having to wait months or even years for the next algorithm update release.

Another high risk implication of being on the receiving end of backlinks from unknown, external sites (particularly non-UK websites) is that once a link exists between the two websites these can be used to inject malicious code or malware onto your website.

In other cases they can be used to redirect your website visitors to a completely unrelated website.

As you can see these different types of unwanted backlinks can have a substantially negative impact to your site speed, site trust, Google ranking and site security as well as having potentially devastating consequences to your business brand and reputation.

How can I find out if I have Toxic Backlinks?

To get an accurate, real time, view of your backlinks you need to use a professional, enterprise SEO tool.

Google Search Console has an option to generate a ‘Links to Your Site’ report.

However, it is extremely important to note that this will not show you all backlinks to your website.

Not all links to your site may be listed … As a result, you may see a change in the number of links displayed for your site.”

Let us put your mind at rest completely free of charge!

Enter your name and website address below and we will your get your confidential report to your inbox that very same day!

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There is a good chance that your website is completely clear of any unwanted activity but why take such an unnecessary risk?


I have Toxic Backlinks – What do I do next?

First of all, don’t panic!

They can be cleaned up, offending sites blocked and any Google penalty reversed.

Our FREE Scan, Assessment and Confidential Report is yours to keep and action accordingly but I cannot stress enough how important it is to get any unwanted links professionally removed, take additional steps to guarantee that the problem will not re-occur and ensure that any Google ranking penalty reversed.

Should you wish to hire Surrey Digital to resolve any issues found we will:

  1. Remove all trace of any offending or suspicious links identified in your report
  2. Permanently break the digital connection to your website
  3. Take proactive steps to ensure that all sites identified are blocked from ever being able to view or access your website EVER AGAIN.
  4. Engage directly with Google to ensure that any penalty suffered as a result of these unwanted, and unasked for, backlinks is completely, and permanently, reversed leaving you clear to take your rightful, and natural, position in the Search Engine Rankings!
  5. Actively scan your website for new backlinks for a period of 3 months, any backlinks that re-occurring during that time will be removed free of charge.
  6. 10% of all fees received through our Toxic Backlink Cleanse Programme are donated to the UK Safer Internet Centre and its subsidiary charity Childnet.
  7. Surrey Digital will also provide a ‘Site Certified Safe’ badge for you to display confirming that your website is clean of:

Toxic Backlinks

Any ‘On-Site’ Malware

Unwanted site redirects


Platinum Scheme

If you would like to hear more about our annual Platinum scheme please let me know: or click here: 

We will review all new backlinks being requested from your website in real time and block anything suspicious (and the referring websites) before they make the connection, before it impacts your Google rankings and before Google allocates a penalty.

Prevention is always better than the cure!

If you’d like to discuss your options, please do get in touch – It would be great to hear from you.

If you found this post helpful, we’d love it if you could share it – Thank You…

I’m Nigel, Head of SEO at Surrey Digital, a Surrey based digital media agency.

With over 20 years consultancy experience working with blue chip companies I’m a natural problem solver – a perfect character trait for the ever changing landscape of SEO.

Feel free to ask me anything, always happy to help out –

And if you’re on Facebook why not swing by our group and say Hi…

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