Backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to SEO.
Earning high-quality backlinks over time helps you climb up the ladder of the search engine results pages (SERP) and establish topical authority in your niche.
If a lot of relevant and quality sites link to you, to Google, this means you’re a valuable source of information.
Meanwhile, low-quality links will only make your SERP rankings spiral down the SEO abyss.
This is where backlink management comes in.
If you’re not managing and tracking your backlinks properly, you might as well be building links blindly.
If anything, the wrong kind of links can hurt your search engine performance.
So to get the most out of your backlinks, here’s what we’ll cover below when it comes to backlink management:
- How backlink management works.
- 5 Benefits you gain if you do backlink management right.
- When you should and should not disavow backlinks during the management process.
- How to disavow low-quality backlinks.
- How to manage SEO backlinks: 5 steps to consider.
How Does Backlink Management Work, Exactly?
Backlink management is essentially the practice of making sure you’re only getting relevant external links from outside content.
If spammy sites are linking to your website at scale, naturally, Google might see that as search engine manipulation, something you wouldn’t want. In that case, you could even get penalized.
Backlink management typically involves:
- Building high-quality backlinks from relevant websites.
- Defining what quality backlinks look like.
- Monitoring links earned.
- Fixing or disavowing low-quality links pointing to your site (see more on this below).
When managing backlinks, you’ll need to:
- Remove bad links pointing to your site.
- Avoid getting hit by manual Google penalties.
- Avoid being de-indexed due to a broken link.
So, ultimately, you’ll want to build high-quality backlinks, track what you build, and manage them accordingly.
Now, here are the benefits you gain with backlink management.
Why Manage Backlinks: 5 Benefits To Consider
Links remain a fundamental SEO ranking factor, even confirmed by Google.
But this doesn’t mean you can just start building links without a strategy.
Because, after all, not all backlinks are relevant, let alone helpful.
So, let’s take a look at why backlink management is important and how it can help your SEO.
- Overall healthier backlink and SEO profile: Link building doesn’t have to focus solely on earning high-quality backlinks. There are already dozens of links (good and bad) pointing to your website, without you doing anything. It’s important to assess your overall SEO profile and manage links to establish a healthy standing.
- Improved search rankings: By building high-quality backlinks and addressing low-quality ones, you’re essentially improving your overall SEO profile, leading to an improvement in search rankings.
- Risk mitigation: A backlink management system can help you identify and address potential harmful links, such as those from spammy or penalized websites. Regular monitoring means you’ll always be up to date on any negative SEO attacks, preventing potential damage to your site’s reputation and rankings.
- Better link-building strategy: By managing and tracking who is linking to you, you also gain a better overview of what pages you’re publishing are important. So, if you see that a lot of your traffic is coming from in-depth industry guides linking to you, for example, you could double down on creating more guides, whitepapers, or research articles to attract similar high-quality backlinks.
- Competitive analysis: A strong backlink management system in place allows you to also keep an eye out on your competitors’ backlink profiles. By understanding how they manage their backlinks, you can identify new opportunities and discover gaps within your own strategy.
As you might have noticed, a large part of backlink management has to do with what actions you take – both for good backlinks and bad ones.
Here’s what you need to know.
Should You Disavow Bad Backlinks? When To Do So And When To Avoid
Disavowing backlinks means telling search engines that you want them to ignore specific links when assessing your website’s overall rankings.
There are instances when you should disavow backlinks and when doing so is no longer necessary.
Let’s take a look at a few scenarios.
When to disavow backlinks
When should you disavow backlinks?
Here are a few cases when you should consider doing so:
- Unnatural or spammy links: If your backlink analysis shows a significant number of unnatural or spammy links, pointing to your site, you should consider disavowing them. Google’s algorithm penalizes websites with many low-quality links and this can help mitigate potential damage. Managing links from domains that have been penalized by search engines is crucial.
- Penalized domains: Backlinks from domains that have been penalized by search engines can do more harm than good. They can negatively impact your site’s credibility as well as rankings. So, you should consider disavowing backlinks from these kind of domains.
- Irrelevant or off-topic backlinks: Not all backlinks are beneficial. In fact, backlinks that are completely unrelated to your industry or niche do NOT contribute positively to your SEO efforts. And Google is smart enough to notice that. For example, if you own a tech blog, receiving backlinks from a fitness website would serve no purpose.
- Negative SEO attacks: In some rare cases, malicious actors can engage in negative SEO tactics by purposely pointing harmful links to your site. A strong backlink management system lets you identify such attacks and act accordingly.
Here’s an example of what a website’s organic traffic looks like that’s been manually penalized by Google.
When to avoid disavowing backlinks
When should you NOT disavow backlinks?
Here are a few examples:
- High-quality links with minor issues: Sometimes, high-quality links might have minor issues such as low domain authority. Instead of disavowing these links outright, you can simply ignore them, if they satisfy all other criteria (relevant, low authority, etc.).
- Natural fluctuations: It’s common to see backlink profiles fluctuate over time. Not every minor change requires you to manage them one by one. Instead, monitor your backlink profile regularly and you’ll distinguish between natural fluctuations and potentially harmful patterns.
- Relevancy can change: The relevance of backlinks can change as industries evolve. A link that may seem irrelevant now can potentially become valuable later. For example, an AI website that focuses on machine learning in healthcare can expand into other industries.
All that said, assuming you’re ready to disavow harmful backlinks, here’s how you can do so.
How To Disavow And Manage Low-Quality Backlinks
Keep in mind, just because there are a number of low-quality websites or links pointing to your site, doesn’t mean you should necessarily disavow them straightaway.
Google is smart enough to detect when some backlinks are irrelevant, and chances are, they might not even affect your SEO at all.
Instead, typically, you should only disavow links that you know for sure are bringing you down.
Here’s what the process for disavowing backlinks looks like.
1. Decide if this is necessary
According to Google, you should only disavow backlinks if:
- You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your sites.
- And if the links have caused a manual action or are likely to do so in the future.
2. Create a list of links to disavow
When getting ready to disavow links, you should make note of the ones you want to remove.
You can also disavow specific pages or the entire domain.
Here’s an example:
# Two pages to disavow
# One domain to disavow
3. Upload your list via the disavow links tool page
Finally, you need to upload your list in a text file to the Google disavow tool in Google Search Console.
Keep in mind you can post one disavow list for each property you own. Uploading a new list for a site will replace any existing list.
How To Manage SEO Backlinks? 5 Steps To Consider
Now, all that said, here’s how to manage your backlinks to create a solid backlink profile and improve your SEO.
Managing your backlinks typically involves:
- Defining what healthy backlinks look like.
- Regularly tracking the backlinks you’re building or the sites linking to you.
- Monitoring and claiming lost links.
- Evaluating potential backlink opportunities.
- Doubling down on websites already linking to you.
1. Define what healthy backlinks look like
First, what makes a backlink healthy or quality?
These are typically links coming from authoritative websites using white hat link-building strategies (like guest blogging, journalist outreach, and niche edits).
Conversely, bad backlinks are those you paid for and gained unnaturally through black/gray hat link-building techniques.
When discovered, they can result in manual penalties, like temporary suspension or a complete ban from SERP.
But to determine healthy backlinks, measure and gauge your SEO performance using link metrics such as:
- Niche relevance: Ensure the sites where links point to your website are relevant to your industry.
- Domain authority: Strive to get links from authoritative websites with a 55+ DA score.
- Page authority: Examine your PA score to predict how well your web page will rank on SERP.
- Linking root domain: See the number of domains linking to you to check your website’s popularity.
- Organic traffic: Analyze the organic traffic of the site you’re building a link from. If there’s a huge drop, chances are, they were penalized by the search engine and you don’t need a link from there.
2. Regularly track your backlinks
Link-building success doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s not like you build links from authoritative sites today. And in just a week or so, you’ll earn quality backlinks. Nope, it doesn’t work that way!
The truth is that you have to do the link-building job consistently. More importantly, you should track your SEO progress constantly.
When tracking links, consider managing the following in a spreadsheet:
- The number of backlinks earned.
- The number of referring domains.
- Organic traffic.
- DA score.
- PA score.
- Link spams.
This is a great way to measure your overall SEO success.
Similarly, you’ll be keeping track of what works and what doesn’t, with real data to back it up.
3. Monitor and claim lost backlinks
Lost backlinks are ones that have recently stopped pointing to your site.
There are several reasons why this might have happened:
- The author of the page may have removed the link.
- The entire page no longer exists (404 error).
- The page gets redirected.
- The page is no longer indexed by Google.
- Or something else.
Based on the specific case, you can run a link reclamation campaign accordingly.
4. Evaluate backlink opportunities
As you’re managing backlinks, you should always be on the lookout for new backlink opportunities.
- Identifying new websites relevant to your industry or niche.
- Analyzing backlink profiles of your competitors.
- See the kind of content influencers and thought leaders are publishing, and who they’re linking to.
- Using HARO as part of your link building.
5. Consider who links to you and double down
This step is simple but an important part of backlink management.
- Analyze your backlink profile with SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush.
- Make note of who is linking you and in what context. As in, what kind of content, how your links add value, and so on.
- Look up similar websites or content, and consider how you can add value there as well.
HARO and journalist outreach are particularly good for this step. As you’re connecting with journalists looking for quotes or information on a certain topic.
Then, as the industry expert, you contribute, add value, and they link back to you.
To recap, backlink management is an important part of any SEO campaign.
You don’t want to just build as many random backlinks as possible.
Instead, you should be on the lookout for high-quality ones and manage the ones you DO build.
Sometimes, this means disavowing links to your website, if they look spammy or irrelevant.
Other times, you audit your backlink profile, see where the links are coming from, and double down on high-quality websites. Similarly, you can take a look at the backlink profile of your competitors and see where they’re getting their links from.
Ready to build healthy links that boost your organic traffic and outrank your competitors?
At JollySEO, we provide sustainable, long-lasting growth by building backlinks that meet search engines’ criteria.
- Average DR 75+ backlinks.
- Average 1,000,000+ organic traffic.
- Earned links from household names like Forbes, Business Insider, etc.
- We never buy links. We build all backlinks through manual outreach.
- No shady, generic link lists.
- No paying for syndicated links.