Know How: Conducting a link audit & cleaning up the bad links
If your website starts getting traffic from unnatural/bad links, very soon you will lose rankings on search engine results. Unnatural links might have generated if your SEO agency is not transparent with you on how they are building links for your website. If they are using methods that do not abide by Google's webmaster guidelines, sooner or later Google will catch you and your site will be penalised. Since search engines keep revising their algorithms, it becomes very essential to have regular link audits to avoid search engine penalties. A thorough link audit is the perfect opportunity to protect your site from any damage. It can help you identify existing and potential threats to your website and also help you devise a strategy to fix them.
How to begin your link audit ?
To begin the audit you should first know how a bad link looks like. As per the guidelines given by Google, it can be of the following forms :-
- links from sites that are irrelevant to you domain(niche).
- links from sites with low domain authority and page rank.
- links from spammy blog comments.
- links from malware sites. The browser triggers a warning if you are about to open a malware website. You can also check here for the list of malware site.
- links from sites that have not been indexed by search engines.
- links from web pages created with the only purpose of creating backlinks for a target page, to boost the search engine ranking of that page, also known as link farms.
These inbound links will hamper the site's SEO and ultimately your site will bear the consequences of bad links by ranking low on search results.
List of tools that can be used for audit
Now that you know what a bad link is, following are some of the tools that can come in handy to find them :-
- Google Webmaster Tools – is a free tool from Google where you can get warnings about unnatural links to your website. To use this tool, you have to insert a small code on your website to verify the ownership of the website. You can find the list of links pointing to your site under the traffic section. Here you can get a detailed report about the inbound links.
- Ahrefs - is another great tool that can help in link audit. Data provided by this tool is limited in the free version but if you go for the paid version you will be provided with comprehensive about the website. The pricing starts from $ 79 per month and is totally worth the money. You can segment inbound links according to New/Lost links, broken links,referring IP which can be further segregated to do-follow & no-follow, the type of site (such as educational,governmental etc).
- Open Site Explorer - is a tool from MOZ which helps in analysing the site by providing details on metrics such as Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Spam Score etc. You can get the list of site from which your website receives inbound links along with their DA, PA and Spam Score. Links from site with high DA & PA and low Spam Score will benefit your website in search result rankings and vice versa. In the free version, there is a limitation on the number of times you can use this tool in a day. Also, you will be provided with limited metrics. For unlimited use of the tool you will have to upgrade to the paid version.
Now that you have identified bad links, what next ?
You can recover your site from penalties only after you get rid of bad links. We at envigo use various tools to monitor and remove bad links for our clients. Following are some of the recommended options that you can consider to purge them :-
Contact Site Owners
You can send a polite request to the webmaster for the removal of link from their website. You can do this be sending a mail on the email ID given on the website. Alternatively, you can also find the contact details of the webmaster using WHOIS (if available). If you have unnatural links in large volumes you can use paid automated tools such as Zoho, Pitchbox, ActiveCampaign for sending emails. These tools will help you design a template, automate your email with autoresponders and track the performance of your emails to ease out your work.
Remove'em is professional tool for removing bad links. It helps you identify bad links and also includes a database of more than 8 million webmasters.Their proprietary algorithm extracts your link data from all major sources and provide you with a refined data. The subscription starts at $ 99 per month.
Submit to Disavow Tool
If the Site Owners don't respond and you don't want to shell out money from your pocket, you can consider using Google Disavow Link Tool. You can find this tool in the Google webmaster dashboard. All you have to do is upload the sheet with the list of bad links. By doing this, you are requesting Google not to take into account the links submitted in the Disavow Tool while examining your website. Only disavowing is not enough to get rid of bad links but apparently you will find improvement in your Google rankings.
Is your website ranking affected by bad links? Connect with us for a free link audit.