Do I Need To Find and Remove Bad Links To My Website?

Got unnatural link warnings from Google?I have been gripping about negative SEO, Google’s unnatural links emails and the disavow tool for ages on other blogs and forums so I though I better have my say on my own blog.  Thanks to Karl Dieterich for inspiring me to write this post.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Google’s “unnatural Links” Warnings and the Disavow tool I will give you a brief overview.  For those of you that know about the tool please bear with me.

Back in early 2012 Google started de-ranking websites with “bad” backlinks and sent out over 750,000 “unnatural links” warning emails to Webmasters. The emails told them to remove the ‘bad’ links to their websites and then submit a reconsideration request.  The email also said that if they could not remove a bad link for some reason, mention this in the reconsideration request and Google would make a decision whether to ignore the link.

Moving onto to October 2012, Google introduced the Disavow Tool.  All this should be used for is if you get an unnatural links email from Google and you can not remove some of the bad links you can enter them into the Disavow tool and Google will consider whether to ignore them or not.  You still need to send a reconsideration request and mention you have used the Disavow tool.

Should You Use The Disavow Tool?

Google states that you should only use this tool if you have received an unnatural links email.  Some people believe that the Disavow tool is merely a tool to help Google identify poor quality sites.  They are not interested in reconsidering your requests, just getting rid of low quality site from their index.
Other reports say that using the Disavow tool has worked for them.  I would only recommend using the tool as a last resort.

My gripe is; why do we need to waste our time jumping through hoops for Google to try and find these ‘bad’ links?  If Google knows which links are bad, why don’t they simply ignore these links?  This would stop people building bad links because they would have no use and it would also prevent unscrupulous webmasters performing negative SEO one their competitors to try and get them de-ranked.  Or, if they must do this, just tell us which links they think are bad and we can remove them.  Why make us hunt round and try and work out which links they don’t like, is this a punishment for trying to trick Google into high rankings in the first place? .. gripe over.

How Do You Find Out Which Links Are “Bad”?

I received an email from Sandy Halliday this week saying

“I have seen some companies offering a service to determine backlinks that may be harming your SEO efforts.

Do you think it’s worth doing this?”

I replied

“It is possible that you have bad links pointing to your site but unless you have had an email via Google’s webmaster tools or you have noticed a significant drop in rankings I would not be too concerned.  There are tools available to check for bad links, I use  Or you could simply look at you backlink profile using open site explorer or MajesticSEO and see if there is anything that looks bad.  If you have been taking part in any black hat linking schemes you may know about some of the links. “

I have not seen any companies offering a “bad” link detection service,  I would suspect this may be a bit of a scam.  They provide you with a free report which shows you have bad links then they say they can remove them for a price.  Link Removal can be an arduous task so I’m sure the fee for doing this would be large.  How they actually remove the links would be a worry to me, do they contact each individual webmaster as ask for the link to be removed or simply send the list to Google using the Disavow Tool.   Doing something like this could quite easily damage your rankings.

I would advise you to remove any links you know to be bad and also start to build good links so the percentage of bad links in your link profile will decrease.

If you have received an “unnatural links” email from Google I recommend you use the Link Detox tool by  You can sign up for $1 or tweet for a free link detox.

The Detox Tool will identify which links are considered “bad” and others that may be suspect.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has received an “unnatural links warning” from Google and has recovered from it.



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Roger Weavers

Roger has been working in the telecomms and IT industry since 1973 working for international companies such as BT and Honeywell. Roger founded Sytec Computers Ltd in 1996 and provided consultancy services to a variety of UK companies. In 2001 Sytec diversified into web design, marketing and hosting and now Roger specialises in SEO.

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  • Thanks for that great explanation Roger. That’s the best information I have come across about “bad links” and the bad link services that I have had sent to me and seen advertised. I did lose quite a lot of traffic from my detox blog but I did not receive any email via Google’s webmaster tools. I have never taken part in any black hat schemes although I did buy some SEO gigs on fiverr in the early days. I am now trying to find the solution to building my traffic up again.

    Sandy Halliday recently posted..Email Listbuilding Building With The Quick Start ChallengeMy Profile

  • Hi Sandy,

    I’m pleased you found the information useful. I think now you need to analyse your link profile, make sure you have a diverse range of anchor text, no-follow/do-follow balance and a range of varied links from different class C IP addresses. Take a look at your competitors back link profiles and then continue to build back links at a reasonable rate. Make sure your link profile is diverse and back link your back links to build authority.

    Drop me an email with your URL and keywords and I can take a look and make some suggestions.


  • Hi Roger,
    What a great summary on this topic! Roger, you know your stuff.
    You make a ton of great points & have given me some food for thought.
    I better make sure I maintain my house, so to speak.
    As always, thank you my friend! The best to you in 2013!
    George Nieves recently posted..A Time For ReflectionMy Profile

  • Hi George,

    All good to hear that people find my posts useful.
    Have a great year.

  • Hi Roger
    You have given a great explanation of this topic, I have not received any emails about this from Google so that must be a good thing 🙂
    I will try out the Link detox Tool you recommended so thanks for sharing.
    Hope you have a great week
    Pauline recently posted..How To Get More Comments On Your BlogMy Profile

  • Hi Pauline,

    Its worth a check with the Detox tool but I wouldn’t recommend using the Disavow tool unless you get an email or notice any significant drop in rankings. Its also worth using Majestic SEO to analyse your link profile to see that you don’t have a high percentage of any anchor text.


  • Hi Roger, thanks for sharing about badlinks. I didn’t even know that there
    were even such a thing as bad links in the first
    But nevertheless my knowledge & basic understand in SEO increases
    everytime I visit your blog. Keep rocking!
    Anyway a belated happy new year 2013 to you. 🙂

  • Hi Muhsin, Thanks for your comments and all the best to you for 2013 Cheers, Roger

  • Hi Roger,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Googles Disavow tool. I would have thought it would be a very popular tool if did what it implied, but I guess that’s not the case. I think you make a great point that if google already knows what links to a site are bad, why don’t they just ignore them. Anyway, these days it seems the advice is to build backlinks in as natural a manner as possible and from related sites. I’ll have to read up more about the “Detox” tool.

    Thanks for your insightful post.

  • Hi Karl,
    Thanks for your comments. yes build links to look natural and make sure they are as diverse as possible. From different types of websites and with many different anchor text.