How to get rid of unwanted backlinks
Previously, sites linked to yours could not harm you. Then came Google’s Penguin update.
Now, for many websites (and many business models that involve selling 50,000 links for $10), the sky is falling. Websites that have built an unnatural-looking backlink profile using an aggressive strategy of using exact-match anchor text set off Google’s spam alarm.
And now ? Well, there really is no way around a good old fashioned backlink audit. You can pay someone to sort them out and identify the worst offenders, or you can do it yourself.
If you decide to go it alone, the first challenge is to answer what are the bad links? On the other hand, they are generally not too difficult to find.
Now that Yahoo’s site explorer has gone the way of Google’s supplemental results, if you want really good backlink data, there’s probably going to be a cost to even do your own link digging. A few tools offer free information but require payment for really deep data.
If you’ve been hit by Google Penguin or an unnatural link penalty, you’ll want to break through, baby, through. The more backlinks you can assess, the better.
A few of my favorite backlink tools:
These three tools will give you a very detailed and clear overview of your backlinks and even the anchor text distribution. The problem is that you can also get different data from all three. They each have their own indexes and can report different backlink numbers. So while using just one tool may drop a few links through the cracks, right now using one or more of these tools may be your best chance of finding the backlinks you need. you have to get rid of.
Take out the trash of backlinks
Once you have passed the exploratory phase of digging through your backlinks and identifying the ones you want to get rid of, how do you remove them?
The answer is simple: it is not easy.
Now, I invite anyone to weigh in on how they got backlinks removed, but in my experience the only surefire way I know of to get backlinks removed is to ask. Someone put it up, so someone has to take it down, and that means reaching out and making the request.
Virginia Nussey on the Bruce Clay Blog offered some advice on how to send link removal requests:
Create a link removal request email template that you send to webmasters in charge of links identified as low quality. The template should candidly explain that you are an SEO or site owner trying to recover from a Google penalty and that he or she please remove the following links. List the URLs where the links can be found, the URL of your site they point to, the anchor text ─ all the information needed to easily find the link you’re requesting removal.
She noted that there were four possible outcomes. The website removes the link and tells you so, removes the link and doesn’t tell you, doesn’t respond or does nothing, or responds by saying it will remove the link if you pay for it.
During this process, Nussey suggested keeping detailed records of your efforts to remove the links (she suggests compiling a spreadsheet with the linking URL, contact name, contact email, the date of the request to remove the link and the response/action taken by the linking site), which you could then send to Google as part of a reconsideration request to show that you have made the effort to remove all bad links directed to your site.
And as if the thought of having to contact a group of people weren’t enough, in many cases, knowing who to contact can be your biggest hurdle. But don’t worry, there are several ways to skin this cat.
Go to source
Go back to the company or freelancer you hired in the first place. If it wasn’t you and it was your predecessor or a company you contracted with, find the original agreement. Track the money back if you owe it.
If you purchased backlink services, whoever sold them to you should be your first point of contact. If you bought in bulk, chances are the process was automated and hopefully whatever simple method that got you on 1,000 websites overnight can also get you off the ground. . If they don’t have an automated system, they probably have a network of minions they can send the message to.
The thing is, if you didn’t get those backlinks yourself, start by contacting the person who did. Best-case scenario: They may be able to turn what could be a long and tedious burden into a conversation with a single point of contact. If you can do it that easily, count yourself lucky and think very carefully about the help you seek for link building in the future.
Find a Contact on the Site
If you are unable to remove them as easily as they have increased, your next action may be to start trying to reach each site whose links you wish to remove. I know, it sounds awful and it probably will be.
The biggest challenge here, aside from the annoyance of having to send all those unlink request emails, is finding people to receive them. You may have better luck finding contacts with certain blogs, especially those that sell paid reviews, or link space independently.
While some people make it fairly easy for you to find them on the web, others make it harder.
For those intent on turning you into cyber Nancy Drew, there are a few tricks to stalking people. However, in many cases, there may not be an individual behind the blog or site your link is on, as it is part of a larger blog network. In this case, where you cannot reach a real person for a site, you will have to go to the top. Fortunately, there are a few tools to help you figure out the way to the top.
- Domaintools.com: If you want to know who owns the site your link is on, visit domain tools or type “whois.sc” in front of a URL. In any case, you will get very useful information. Now it’s another free tool with the most useful and interesting information hidden behind a paid curtain. But without paying, you can often find names, email addresses, and even companies associated with URLs. Provided they are not hidden behind a private record. Even if you can’t get those details, you can find the name of the company that owns the domain and the number of other domains it owns and is associated with.
- Class C verifier: If you have a list of all the links you want to get rid of, you can run them through a bulk C class checker to see how many of them are on the same C class. This is important because if you have multiple sites hosted on the same C class, this can reduce the number of individual sites you need to contact. Chances are that websites of the same Class C are connected through a main entity. So that means you only have to contact one person, or company, to try and get the links removed from that whole group of sites.
- WebSpyon: If you only have one URL to work with, this tool lets you know what other domains they are associated with. Just enter a website URL, IP address or even the Google Analytics or AdSense code and you can find all websites connected to it. Not only can you find a major website with someone you can contact, but you can also see if any of your other links are from that network. If a site is really bad, chances are you can afford to lose all the links in the network it is in.
- Social networks: Whether you’re trying to reach the company that bought your links, a major networking site, or a website that refers you, if they have social media profiles, you can use them. I strongly advise you to contact people discreetly and politely as a first approach. However, if after a few friendly emails you still can’t get results, head over to social media. Shouts on Facebook can bring back calls, and dissatisfied tweets can lead to refunds.
Social attacks should be a last resort. In many cases, the types of sites where you find bad links will not have social networks available. If they haven’t taken the time to write content with competitive phrases, they probably haven’t bothered to create a Facebook page. So you’ll probably have to research the company behind the network to even find someone to complain to.
Deleting your links can be as simple as placing the order, or it can be a miserable battle that devours months of your life. If you manage to lose the links that gave you trouble, consider that a major win either way.
Remember the experience the next time you’re tempted to take a link that seems too good to be true. The subsequent cleanup can be worse than just getting high-quality links from the start.