How Bad Backlinks Hurt Private Practice Rankings

Person at laptop typing into their search bar.

As a private practice, you want to be associated with trust and authority.  One method Google uses for establishing trust is backlinks.

Good backlinks tell Google that your private practice is a website that can be trusted, which therefore increases your rankings.

Bad backlinks do the opposite. They hurt your website’s ability to rank, because then your website is associated with untrustworthy websites. 

What Is A Bad Backlink?

A backlink is a link from an external site that leads to your practice website.

Establishing links is a good way to improve your search engine rankings, as it shows that you’re a website with authority while building your web presence. A bad backlink is a link to your website from a source that isn’t trusted.

When a website with low authority and a lack of trust links to you, Google crawlers associate you with that website. Instead of inferring quality, the algorithm determine that you’re a site Google shouldn’t trust.

Bad backlinks were a serious issue prior to 2016, but Google has taken steps to prevent bad backlinks from ruining your website’s ranking. However, bad backlinks can still have a serious negative impact on your search engine rankings.

They Can Be Seen As Spam

Purchasing backlinks used to be big business (before Google clamped down on the practice). Website owners spent money to bulk buy backlinks from a variety of websites with no authority and no trust. Google’s old algorithm read the high number of backlinks as a good thing, regardless of where they originated. 

However, as the Google algorithm developed, it stopped associating these links with authority and now categorizes them as spam.

If you purchased backlinks in the past, they might be still clinging to your website and affecting your rankings. 

They’re Stuffed Alongside Other Links

Bad backlinks can come from irrelevant sites.

If an article about therapy links to your practice, there’s a clear connection.  If the link is tucked into a blog about gardening, there’s no clear connection between the blog and your site, and Google therefore discounts the link. 

They Won’t Send Clients Your Way

Good backlinks draw clients to your private practice because they come from a place of authority. They create an organic traffic stream. A potential client reads about your practice on a trusted site and follow the link to you.

But bad backlinks won’t draw clients to you because your clients are unlikely to be on the spammy sites (where bad backlinks exist) in the first place. 

How Do You Find Bad Backlinks?

Unless Google triggers a manual action due to suspected link spamming, you won’t be alerted to bad backlinks. You’re more likely to become aware of bad backlinks because of a drop in traffic and activity.

Too many bad backlinks can move you down search engine rankings.

If you suspect bad backlinks are leading to a drop in activity, you can find bad backlinks using Google Console and an SEO third-party tool such as Ahrefs.

A drop in activity due to bad backlinks is often related to a Google algorithm update, so check if there have been recent developments.

Removing Bad Backlinks

For the most part, you don’t need to remove bad backlinks. Google has learned to ignore small numbers of spammy links, recognizing that sometimes bad domains take advantage of good sites to improve their own ranking. (Almost every website has some spammy links.)

However, if you do want to remove bad backlinks, there are two ways to do so.

  1. First, you can contact the site owner. Find their email and politely ask them to remove the link. You can’t guarantee it will work, but it might be worth a try.
  2. Second, you can disavow bad backlinks. This tells Google you don’t want to be associated with the link and this can be done via the Google Search Console. 

However, for the most part, there’s no need to disavow links. It can be a time-consuming process, and Google will ignore the majority of bad links anyway. 

Final Thoughts

Bad backlinks can damage your private practice ranking by associating your trustworthy business with toxic websites. Focus on building good links from trusted sites, and never bulk-buy backlinks. 

Scroll to Top