Should I be worried about unwanted backlinks to my travel blog?

Declining traffic, dodgy external links, and always trying to appease a mysterious and omnipotent Google… some days I wonder why anyone would be stupid enough to start their own travel blog.

Today we’re going to take a short break from the beautiful, amazing world of travel, and discuss the challenging, often infuriating minefield that is the realm of blogging. I say it’s a discussion, but it’s really more of an open question or a rant than anything else.

If you’re a blogger, perhaps you’ll be able to help me out; if you’re not a blogger but you want to be, this blog post will give you some insight into some of the ongoing trials you can expect; and if you’re not a blogger and never want to be a blogger, I suggest you read one of my other articles instead.

My travel code: the top 15 philosophies I travel by
Click the picture and be transported to a wonderful world of beaches and beer.

Still here? That’s good. Now let’s get to the crux of the matter at hand…

Recently while trying to diagnose a sudden drop in traffic to my travel blog, I discovered in Google’s Webmaster Tools a list of links to my website. I almost wish I hadn’t, because the domain with the most links to my website wasn’t the quality, travel-related one that I’d hoped it would be.

Instead, the website with the greatest number of links to my website is a dirty old escort website.

Furthermore, there is a whopping 723 links from that single website to the family friendly travel blog that you’re reading now. Judging purely by the URLs (I promise), many of those links come from pages that host some incredibly raunchy videos that are far from family friendly.

I won’t name the site or any of the pages that link to my blog – not only because I’m afraid of suffering Google’s wrath, but also because my mother reads this blog.

Should I be worried about unwanted backlinks to my travel blog?

Why would a website like that link to my blog in the first place? Am I the victim of a negative SEO attack? Or is the person behind this disgusting website just a huge fan of my travel blog?

I can’t imagine there’s a lot of crossover between people who are looking for travel tips and people who enjoy watching women in, shall we say, unconventional and, um, compromising positions. Then again, I don’t judge.

I’m just more than a little bit worried that Google will punish Man vs World for these links that I have no control over whatsoever.

Search queries are severely down this month as it is – I believe it has something to do with my blog post about the best place to view the Petronas Towers not performing as well as usual in organic search results – which may or may not have anything at all to do with these decidedly dodgy external links.

To be fair, I don’t post on Man vs World nearly as much as I used to, so that could be one reason behind recent fluctuations in traffic.

Should I be worried about unwanted backlinks to my travel blog?

After troubleshooting this problem on the web, I stumbled across Webmaster Tool’s “disavow links” tool (Note to self: I really should become more familiar with Webmaster Tools).

Apparently if you believe that your website’s ranking in Google has been affected by low-quality links beyond your control, you can ask Google (don’t forget to say “please”) not to take them into account when assessing your website.

So I’ve made a submission and now I sit, and wait, and hope that the all-mighty Google will cleanse my blog of all its purported sins.

It seems it’s not enough for a blogger to sit back and concentrate on producing great content for their website – you’ve also got to keep a close eye on such things as crawl errors, negative SEO attacks, and changes in Google’s search algorithm.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a long road to the top if you want to travel blog.

Has this ever happened to you? Am I right to be concerned about these unwanted backlinks?

Also check out these posts about blogging:

About Simon Petersen 309 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.

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