Gary Hainsworth

Should I Remove my Backlinks?

16th Mar 2012 SEO Blog, Link Building 3 minutes to read

LinksInbound links are essential to any SEO strategy. They help refer traffic and build authority around your domain. However, is there such a thing as too many links? Or even the wrong type of links?

Businesses that live and die by search engines are completely obsessed with building backlinks. However, time and time again I have seen companies focus on quantity rather than quality. This leads to irrelevant links which in turn holds back the performance of their campaign.

The best way to ensure a valuable link profile is to build good quality links back to your domain. How do you know if a link is good quality? Review, and then review again. If you do spot inappropriate or potentially damaging links it is worth removing the link and monitoring the progress of your site within the rankings.

There are a range of tools to help review your backlinks. You can review key factors including PageRank, age of domain and even drill down to the IP address where the link is hosted. Below are a few areas I would suggest reviewing to ensure your link profile stays squeaky clean:

Irrelevant Links

Ideally you always want backlinks to be as relevant as possible. If you run an online bike shop you want to have links related to the bike industry. For example, an online bike shop won’t want links from a blog within the finance industry. If you do spot a pattern of unrelated sources I would encourage you to remove the link as soon as possible.

Links on the Same IP

Numerous links on the same IP address can look extremely suspicious to search engines. Whether the link is coming from a blog, directory, article or forum you need the links to be coming from separate IP addresses. Too many links to a domain with the same IP address is referred to as backlink bombing. The quickest way to review your IP referrers is to download your whole link profile and sort by IP address. If you have hundreds of domains linking to your website from the same IP address this will cause concern among search engines.

Bought Links

Buying links is a hotly debated topic and while it can gain quick results the outcome is rarely sustainable. If you have bought links in the past I would encourage you to test the value by removing them from your link profile. At first you may see a slight decline in rankings but the results will soon return once you take a more holistic approach to your linkbuilding.

Sitewide Links

Sitewide backlinks can often give signals that the link has been purchased. If you have attained a link from an appropriate domain it doesn’t need to be placed on every single page. Choose the most appropriate URL and implement appropriate anchor text. If you‘re doing some paid banner advertising with a specific domain then by all means have the link sitewide. However, if the sitewide link is a text link or a directory link you could get penalised.

Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links are absolutely fine in moderation. If you have a business partner by all means give them a link from your website and ask for one in return. The problem occurs if you have extreme reciprocal linking patterns. For example, if a clothes shop has a reciprocal link directory which links to all their suppliers each of whom then link back.

I would also avoid reciprocal link farms. There are a number of third party providers which will manage the reciprocal linking process for you. This is a process where a third party will include you in a network of sites which will interlink to each other.

Anchor Text

You may have a superb variety of backlinks pointing to your domain but if the anchor text is spammy it will hold back your campaign. The best way to optimise links is to focus on what is called the ‘anchor text sweet spot’. This is where the anchor text will include 30% exact match, 40% brand name and 30% keyword variations. For example, if you were targeting the key phrase ‘surfboards for sale’ the anchor text for that specific page would be:

  • 30% ‘Surfboards For Sale’
  • 40% Brand Name
  • 30% variations i.e. ‘Surfboards for Beginners’

If you haven’t followed this approach it may be worth tweaking your anchor text to display a more natural variation.


In my experience when it comes to links, less can definitely be more. Time and time again I have seen search engines reward domains for cleaning up their backlink profiles. If it looks unnatural it will hold you back. Tidy up your backlinks today and reap the benefits of a sustainable link profile.

Image Source

Chrome chain with a red link via BigStock

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Gary Hainsworth

Senior Organic Data Specialist

Gary is our technical SEO specialist and boasts more than 10 years’ experience in the industry. With in-depth knowledge on site migrations and all aspects of technical SEO, he’s a valuable asset to our team. Gary’s worked with the likes of the V&A, Warburtons, the NHS and the Lake District National Park. He has a passion for guitars too, be that playing them, modifying them or even building them. Gary has appeared in Startups Magazine, Portsmouth News and


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