Link building should be a top priority for you. There are so many benefits to capitalizing on awesome linking opportunities.
When you earn backlinks, you’re generating votes of confidence that signal to search engines how credible and authoritative you are in your industry.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are an essential piece of your SEO puzzle. In their simplest definition, they’re links that travel from one site to another.
Backlinks play a major role in Google ranking factors, which is why marketers are so focused on building links through various tactics, including manual outreach and reciprocal linking.
Backlinks can come from plenty of different resources, including:
- Blog posts
- Link directories
- Social media profiles
- Resource pages
- Webpage content
A common goal for marketers is building a diverse link profile, meaning backlinks that come from several different types of sites. Link diversity helps because you’re not relying on one specific kind of link.
This way, when Google updates its algorithm, you’re not at the mercy to these changes. You won’t set yourself up to see a major negative impact after an update.
Another consideration you need to look at when earning backlinks is quality over quantity. The old school SEO mentality of all links being equally beneficial is detrimental.
In fact, bad links can really hurt your site’s SEO.
What Is a Bad Link?
Links show your relationship to other sites, and if you’re being associated with spammy sites, it can hurt how search engines perceive your site.
After Google’s Penguin update, bad links have taken a big hit, making it more important for you to evaluate your link profile and address these bad links.
Google is focused on penalizing link schemes, meaning any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in SERPs. Some commonly used links that can be considered bad links include:
- Private blog network (PBN) links
- Directory submissions
- Links in blog comments
- Automated links from linking tools (like XRumer or ScrapeBox)
- Random nofollow links
Google penalties can happen as a result of a new algorithm update or from a manual review that finds potential black hat SEO practices.
So what happens if you find bad links on your site?
Obviously, you want to get rid of them, and many people run for the Google link disavow tool. But wait! There are other, potentially better ways to address bad links.
Before You Disavow Bad Links…
There are two main reasons you should use their tool to disavow backlinks.
- You found a ton of spammy links pointing to your site.
- Your site got hit with a manual action.
You can even prevent the manual action by proactively auditing your link profile and uploading a list of bad links to get removed. The process of actually using the tool to disavow links is very simple, but be warned. You must use this tool correctly.
As Google warns, this is an advanced feature. When the tool is used incorrectly, you can cause significant issues impacting your site's performance. Simply put, do not use the disavow tool if you haven't seen a drastic dip in rankings and if you haven't seen indications of a manual penalty.
The better alternative is to try manual outreach to the domains that are creating bad links.
How To Conduct Manual Outreach for Link Removal
The best approach to addressing link removal is to follow these simple steps.
1. Identify Your Bad Links.
Conduct an audit of your link profile to find spammy, low quality links. Some bad links can stick out, like links from irrelevant websites.
Create a list of the domains that are linking to you that you want to remove from your link profile.
2. Find Contact Information for Each Domain.
You can use prospecting tools to find the right people to contact at each of the domains that is creating bad links. When you find a name, you can use tools to find their contact information, like email addresses.
If you need to, you can reach out directly via social media, like LinkedIn. However, the best way to reach out is through email.
3. Conduct Outreach for Each Domain's Contact.
Now that you have your list of domains, names, and emails, you're ready to start connecting with them. You're simply just asking them to remove their link to your site.
Make sure you're providing context upfront, describing the situation you're in. Include the specific details, like the page on your site that is being linked to and the page on their site that contains that bad link.
Explain why you're requesting the link removal in a concise way. Oftentimes, webmasters don't have a ton of time to read long emails, so keep it brief and informative. Lay out exactly what you want them to do – remove the link, then let you know when it's done.
Before you hit send, reread your message and make sure your tone is kind and polite. There is no need to be too aggressive and threaten consequences.
Need some inspiration? Check out this template.
Link Removal Request Email Template
Subject Line: Please remove a link
My name is [Your Name], the [Job Title] at [Company]. I'm currently cleaning our website, and I found some links on our site that I would like removed. I found a link from your site, which I know is legitimate.
We are just removing as many links as we can.
This is your webpage linking to our site: [URL]
This is our webpage being linked to: [URL]
Can you please remove this link and let me know when it's done? Thank you so much for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.
If you don't hear back within a couple of weeks, follow up with a reminder. Ultimately, if they don't remove the link, it might be time to use the disavow tool.
Don’t Panic. Kill Bad Links the Right Way
SEO damage is hard to recover from, so you need to stay proactive in maintaining the health of your link profile. And when it comes to link removal, ensure you're doing it the right way.
In the end, you may have to use the disavow tool. Follow the directions carefully, and you're well on your way to cleaning up your website.