For SEO purposes, it’s important to have inbound links pointing to your website that establish relevance and trust. However, not all links are going to be valuable. A link from a website that has absolutely nothing to do with your website isn’t going to help. In fact, it could hurt your SEO link building efforts. All links aren’t created equal and this has become more apparent with the recent Google algorithm updates that are targeting websites that have lots of low-quality inbound links. If you want to recover from a penalty or attempt to avoid one altogether, it’s important to analyze your current inbound link portfolio and take the following steps.
Generate a Link Report
Using Google Webmaster Tools or a paid backlink reporting tool, generate a report of all of your inbound links. The number of inbound links will vary from site to site. If you’ve been active in SEO, content marketing, and social media for awhile it’s likely that there are thousands of inbound links.
Manually Visit Each Link
This is a rather tedious task, but it must be done. Visit each link, find the link to your site, and determine whether it is a link worth having. Common sense will be able to tell you if it’s worth keeping in many cases. If you see lots of ads, spelling/grammar errors, a strange URL, and no obvious website goal or objective it’s probably a link farm and the link holds no value. Make a list of the bad websites.
Analyze Anchor Text
Using keyword anchor text has always been a common SEO practice. However, using too many of the same keyword or keyword phrase to link is now considered “over optimization” by the search engines. If you find that you are using the same anchor text over and over again, make note of the sites that are repetitive.
Reach Out to Webmasters
Once you have a list of sites in which you would like to change the anchor text and a list of sites that you want removed from your link portfolio entirely, you will need to contact the webmasters of those sites. Tell them what the URL is and what changes you’d like made. Typically you can find contact information on the website. If not, try looking for the information of the domain registrant.
After initially contacting the webmasters, wait a few weeks and see if any action was taken. If not, reach out to them again. Organization is key throughout the process. Keep records of links, anchor text, webmaster contact information, when a request was sent, and whether the request was granted. You may need to repeat the process a few times.
With luck, you’ll prune your link portfolio and start to look like the reputable, high-quality site that you actually are.