I think we’re all familiar with how much Search Engine Optimization (SEO or Search marketing) has changed over the last 2 years what with a veritable Noahs Ark of animals being released to feast upon digital marketing managers who played fast and loose with their websites. So now a big part of backlink management is the removal of links. Here is a free step by step guide for you to use to help you figure out which backlinks you should remove and how to get them removed.
Step 1 – find all your backlinks
You can use any source you like for this but naturally Googles Web Master Tools (Login->site->traffic->links to my site) is a good place to start. You can download csvs of all the domains and specific urls (and date found). But this may well just be a sample, so if you have another source such as MajesticSEO then that will be useful.
Put the list into excel or google drive (or any spreadsheet app) remove duplicates, and put the backlinks into root domain and actual link urls.
Step 2 – Identify which backlinks to keep and which to remove
Next you need to take a look at each of the domains and the specific backlinks to understand which ones you need to consider removing. Typically you are looking for sites with zero page rank, no indexed pages in google and the usual signs that a website has been slapped by Panda, Penguin, or whatever animal Google choose to introduce into the ecosystem.
You should also manually do this step because it’s not always obvious that there are bought links on a site, or a site is simply full of spam that devalue your link when using automated tools.
Typically the types of backlinks you should be considering removing are:
- Blog networks
- Forum spam
- Comment spam
- Banned sites
Step 3 – Contact Site Owners
Now you need to take the domain list from your backlink list and use one of the many wh.ois services to get the contact details of the site owners. This isn’t the perfect solution though so for sites where it’s obvious the whois information is unlikely to have an email address that will be answered it may be worth looking through the sites for a contact us form, again this can be automated if need be.
Next you want to write a standard email that asks the site owners to remove the links from their sites. So use a mail merge, or a standard email marketing tool like Interspire Email Marketer, Mail Chimp, Aweber etc and contact them. Keep checking the links and your email to see which of the sites have responded and update your spreadsheet accordingly. You may need to send emails several times before you will see action from the webmasters but make sure you give them a chance to respond first by leaving a few days between each mailing. You should accept that you may have to pay them to remove the link and make sure you advertise this to them in your email.
Key Point: Keep your spreadsheet updated with dates of contact, responses, and whether links have been removed or not, you will need this information for the next step.
Step 4 – Tell Google using the Disavow Tool
Using your spreadsheet again take all the links that cannot be removed and list details of why.
Next use the Google Disavow tool, use the root domains not just the specific page url.
Step 5 – Tell Google What You Have Done
Finally, once you have completed all the steps go back into Google Webmaster Tools and make a reinclusion request. Ensure you include all the details of your attempts to remove the links, why the problem happened in the first place and what steps you have taken to ensure it will never happen again.
Other useful information
As you can see steps 1 and 2 are all about finding your links. In future try and log where you place links and the contact details of anyone you have spoken to at sites to ensure placements are made. And of course finally, don’t use the same SEO methods that got you into trouble in the first place.