As the SEO industry continues to evolve at an incredible pace, web designers and marketers are devising advanced strategies and to improve their rankings. However, one strategy that has remained largely unchanged is the activity of backlinks. But they have to be the right kind of backlinks!
Backlinks not only help your website’s ranking, but they can also be a cause for concern as far as your website’s data is concerned. Here we’re going to explain if you should hide your backlinks… and how?
But first, here’s a quick summary answer to help you on your way, then we’ll dive into the how and why of hiding backlinks!
Should You Hide Backlinks? You may want to hide your backlink profile from metric gathering sites such as SEMrush or Moz, or from referrer spam sites. You can disable known bots from crawling your site. This is done through either robots.txt file or the .htaccess file. Follow our simple instructions below to do this.
But the question arises if backlinks are so important for search engine optimization and ranking, then why is it necessary to hide them …and, would doing so affect your website’s ranking and visibility?
Well, luckily the answer to that is it will not affect your SEO rankings. By hiding your website’s backlinks, you’re merely preventing third party bots that might scrape your data from gaining access. As long as search engines like Google are able to see what they need to see, your website’s ranking would not be affected.
You might already know that SEO experts often hide their websites’ backlinks from their competitors and from spam-linking sites – but perhaps you aren’t sure why?
Why Hide Backlinks?
Well, this is because building backlinks is not an easy task and demands a lot of hard work. Thus, by hiding these backlinks you’re ensuring that all the hard work you put into building this network won’t be visible to your competitors.
This way, you can prevent them from copying your web content and using it to generate traffic on their website.
Similar to Google, other major search engines out there have their own set of crawler bots that find websites and follow links to new web pages. The process is continuous and will log all the old and updated links to websites you’ve added that are on the internet – saved into their database along with information regarding which sites they link out to.
However, unlike Google which makes use of an algorithm to sort this information into search results; other SEO tools make this data available for everyone to see.
In other words, there would then be an open blueprint on the internet that anyone can see and replicate. So, in order to keep your website’s content unique, and thereby improve search engine rankings, it’s crucial to hide your website’s backlinks.
By hiding your website’s backlinks, you can make sure that your website’s data remains safe from malicious crawlers – designed specifically to copy your content.
But let’s back up a little, here, for the beginners among you, let’s just define which type of backlinks we want to hide – as that’s pretty important! … so, what is a backlink?
What Is a backlink?
So first, let’s understand exactly what backlinks are. Backlinks work two ways, both outward bound backlinks… these are links that you add into your content to cite and/or include other websites and sources.
And inward bound backlinks. These are links that others create to your content. These inward bound backlinks are from various external domains that point to different pages and posts on your domain. These inward bound links – the right kind of links that is! Are gold in the SEO industry.
Whenever your webpage receives a backlink (inbound link), it’s like your website has received a vote of confidence.
The greater the number of these “votes” you get from high impact websites, the higher your website’s ranking will grow, and search engine visibility would get higher. Thus, backlinks play a huge role in your website’s prominence in the search engines.
Search engines such as Google and Bing prioritize websites that have a greater number of valuable backlinks when listing results for a search query.
So, by having valuable backlinks you are creating a higher value to your site, attracting a greater number of people to your website. It’s like a popularity contest, if lots of popular people (sites) link to you, you will, therefore, become more popular by association! Shortly, we’ll dive into the types of backlinks you may want to prevent.
Why Are Backlinks Important?
People often think that creating a website is the hard part, but in fact, creating content that will generate organic traffic to your website requires a lot more effort. You can’t simply expect people to start visiting your website as soon as you design it and make it live.
For this, search engine optimization and your website’s ranking on major search engines such as Google matter a lot. This ranking determines where your website would show up when people make search queries that are relevant to your website.
This is where backlinks come in. They’re one of the 200 ranking factors that Google uses, and they can greatly help your website’s ranking and improve your site’s search engine visibility.
In fact, when explaining those rankings, Brian Dean reports, that based on studies, backlinks account for one of the more major ranking factors…
How to Hide Backlinks
There are some simple ways to hide your backlinks, all of which depend upon the particular type of backlink you’re trying to hide. For instance, if the backlink originates from your personal network, then you need to ensure that the tools aren’t given access to the whole website as you probably would not need to hide your internal links.
There are a number of ways to do this, out of which using robots.txt file or the .htaccess file are the most common.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that using the robots.txt method might not completely work for each bot out there. And it’s also worth noting that you want to get this right, messing up your robots.txt file can set your site back in the rankings if Google can’t read it correctly.
Using the Robots.txt File
Using a simple disallow command on your robots.txt file will make sure that bots are unable to gather any sort of data from your webpage.
However, you need to specify each bot you want to block. A quick Google search will give you a list of the most common crawlers out there, but if any bot that’s not listed on your robots.txt file attempts to steal your content, they’ll be able to do this without any problem – so you’ll need to update it from time to time.
- Rogerbot is MOZ
- Semrush is SemrushBot
- Ahrefs is AhrefsBot
- MJ12bot is Majestic
- Xenu is Xenu
These are some of the most common crawlers around, but it’s extremely likely that there are a lot more bots that you will need to block, and it is totally up to you the ones you wish to block.
However, it’s a wise practice to block as many bots as you can in order to make sure that your data is kept as safe and secure as possible. So this can also be done with spam based backlinks too.
Using the .htacess File
Now, it’s also a well-known fact that the bots won’t always follow the rules set forth in the robots.txt file.
So, in order to make sure that these bots are fully unable to scrape your website, you can use the .htaccess file to completely disable these bots from gathering data from your site.
This method redirects the bots to another website so that they are unable to scrape data from yours. You can select which other websites these bots would be redirected to. It can be any small, unknown website that doesn’t have any significant amount of data on it.
Ideally, you should use both methods for maximum protection against bots that might attempt to steal your website’s data.
It may not bother you that your backlink profiles are displayed on metric data related sites. If it does bother you, then carrying out the simple steps above should keep your profile from becoming common knowledge to anyone that wants to search for it.