How Harmful are Irrelevant Backlinks in SEO?
When working on off-site search engine optimization, many people focus on getting tons of backlinks and disregard the fact that these backlinks may be from unrelated sites. According to Matt, the search quality engineer at Google, having a variety of irrelevant backlinks could harm both your page rank and search engine rankings. There have been several instances where people have been found to sabotage the SEO of their competitor’s site. This is completely unethical and should be avoided by all means. Search engine analysts use a set of tools to track such activities and it could come back to hit you in the back.
However, let’s consider a common situation that happens to many site owners. If you run a backlink check for your domain and come up with many unrelated sites that you did not authorize to link to you, what do you do?
In all honesty, it would be nice to have sites link to you without you having to link back to them. These are known as one-way links and are one of the best kinds of links. In terms of the situation we mentioned, there is nothing that you can do. Everyone has the right to link to your site with the anchor text of their choice. Even if they are from a related site but with a completely unrelated anchor text, there is nothing you can do to fix it. Your best bet would be to get in touch with the site owner and aim to resolve the issue.
Search engine such as Google, Yahoo and Bing understand that you have no control over the sites that link to you. Due to this reason, search engines don’t place a large emphasis on such links. Now, that does not mean it doesn’t look at it! As a rule, you should have related links pointing to your website. If a bulk of the links pointing to your site are from irrelevant sites, it may raise a flag at Google.
Over time, it is common to see sites linking to you from irrelevant sites. If you do notice that you are getting links from link farms and content farms, it may be due to someone submitting your links to these sites. Again, in such cases, you should get in touch with the site owner. In the case of large corporations, they may take legal action with the help of a lawyer. You necessarily don’t have to go to that extent, but you can surely send out a later indicated the issue.
If you are building backlinks from high page rank sites that aren’t even in your niche, you may get away with it for one or two updates, but Google will surely track it. Once search engines do track onto such unethical SEO practices, they could devalue or even de-index your site. Getting back into the search results will take months if not years, and that fully depends on the search quality team.