Getting Rid of Bad Backlinks

Okay, so I hired this SEO company then after awhile I got rid of them. I got a new person in who showed me all the backlinks that the old company had put into my website. (She showed me using an Internet backlink checker tool.) There were hundreds of squidoo links from tarot card reads and all sorts of rubbish. So I asked the original SEO company to take the links down. They refused. Am I likely to be penalised in Google because this SEO company did this to my site?

You’re unlikely to suffer as a result of bad backlinks to your site … if you did, just think how easy it would be to penalise your competitors!

Well now, there’s a conversation waiting to be had, it’s been a while. I think you CAN hurt yourself, and therefore competitors, with backlinks.

My 2 cents worth. Bad links can’t hurt is my experience. And also if they did We’d all be bombarding our competitors with crap links.

I’m not aware of evidence saying otherwise. Do you have evidence JJMcClure? I’d love to see it

About a year ago Google said it is theoretically possible for bad links to hurt a site but it is not likely.

Personally I think the likelihood of bad links hurting you increases with the less links you have. The reason why poor links do not hurt large sites is because they have so many links to begin with that someone would need hundreds of thousands if not millions of poor links in order for the poor links to be a large enough portion of the links to raise a flag, but with smaller sites with fewer links it might be more likely that hundreds of links could raise a flag.

Google mentions in the article that they have other checks in place to typically stop poor links form hurting you so it is unlikely that it will happen, but I would say that it could theoretically happen.

  1. GWF saying that it’s ‘almost’ impossible to hurt a competitor. That’s a biggy…

  2. Matt Cutts admitting that ‘Google Bowling’ is real -

  3. [URL=“”]
    Can I flag spammy links to my site that I didn’t create? (video) Why would Google release this if it didn’t matter?

  4. Bad Links May Hurt You: Google Ups The Ante

  5. Google’s email about back links

Dear site owner or webmaster of,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team

(I can buy thousands of crappy backlinks to your site and get this email sent to you? Hmmm… again, why if it can’t hurt you?)

Thanks everyone… so I guess the answer is maybe? I was really upset when I found out. I’m now resigned to the fact that they have done this to me and I am going to move on. Any suggestions for how to deal with it moving forward? How do I dilute their effect or do they become irrelevant as time moves on?

Well, as far as I think, Google won’t penalize for this as Google or other search engines know that any competitor may do bad things for their competitors so it is not within your control where the links are going… and Google understands this thing.

As many have previously stated, I would not stress over it, but would focus on getting quality links from relevant sites which will help dilute any negative backlinks you have.

Judging by everyone’s answers here, I’d go for “maybe”. The time when you’re going to be penalized is when the competitors start looking for the reasons why you’re ahead of them in the search engines, if ever you are. If they find out that you have crappy backlinks, they can report you.

Sorry but I don’t quite understand what you are saying. If you mean a scenario whereby someone has arranged a load of crappy links to a competitors site, so that as a result the competitor is overtaken, if the competitor then looked at someone’s site to see why, they wouldn’t find the crappy links there would they? They would be pointing to their own site?

That’s a real scary email. Any webmaster’s nightmare.

Not really, because I can’t hurt you with the links I sent to your site that got you that email, right? Except… that you didn’t get that email unless you already got de-indexed.

So, can I hurt you with links?

It wont hurt you, better I say to dilute the effect of bad things start getting good links on your website to dilute the effect

Think of a scenario when a company A has a competitor whose website is way below the first page, and the said company A’s site is on top of it. Then suddenly, the competitor’s site appears on top of company A’s. Company A can look for the reason why the competitor suddenly ranks better. If company A finds out that the competitor has crappy links, company A can report to Google that the competitor’s site is ranking up using very spammy links.

I hope this one’s okay. :slight_smile:

Ok, I understand now :slight_smile: I think I was confused because we were talking about a problem of unwanted undesirable links to someone’s own site, whereas you are referring to getting spammy links deliberately and getting reported for it. I think that could be a different topic.

Thanks everyone.

I don’t feel like I have a definitive answer but I do feel more relaxed so I appreciate that!

As a business owner who is learning as I go along, I must say, you don’t know what you don’t know until you find out… often too late, if that makes sense.:slight_smile:

Thanks everyone.

Sorry for pulling up on an old post, but I’ve just stumbled across it. It could be because it’s an old post, but you couldn’t be more wrong! Harmful backlinks DO hurt you and effect your Google PR. It’s how negative SEO came about, this is where competitors have filled your sites with bad links.

If you are correct, then surely I could beat any site by setting up a link exchange and spamming my competitors links.

Google tracks patterns. If you set up a crappy website and just spam links then Google will ignore those links and is more likely to blacklist that site. However, if you also have good links coming through it’s unlikely that the spam is from you. It’s not as easy as saying “bad links will affect your ranking”.

At first, ask your hired SEO to perform thorough backlink audit and detect out the spammy links! (Link Detox is the best tool for this, but it has no trial versions, so Open Site Explorer will be the one to serve the purpose). Get rid off those bad links by using Google Webmaster’s link disavow tool. It is recommended to provide the reason behind disavowing each backlink.Whether, you website will get penalized for these low quality/irrelevant links is still a mystery to be solved. But , you should get rid off these gibberish and try to improve the link profile henceforth.