Link building remains one of the most important components of any SEO campaign.
Without an effective system of backlinks — the links that bring inbound traffic to your site — your website will have a hard time showing Google’s algorithm that it’s a trusted, credible source of information on your industry.
But if your website contains too many backlinks from low-quality, spammy or untrustworthy websites (otherwise known as link farms), Google and other search engines will notice in a big way — and you can say goodbye to that first-page search engine ranking you’d been dreaming of.
Luckily, there are a few ways out of the bad backlink black hole. These are the five best ways you can remove bad backlinks from your site and rebuild your brand’s online presence as a source of expertise in its field:
Use a backlink tool to evaluate backlink data
There are a number of useful backlink-evaluating tools available online — and many are free. Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and the Majestic Site Explorer are a few high-quality examples of these tools (also see a great review of keyword tools here). All three tools provide a highly in-depth look at a website’s backlinks and anchor distribution — however, each backlink evaluator will likely provide you with different data and analytics, meaning it’s ideal to use more than one to analyze your backlinks. By using a backlink-evaluating tool, you can easily detect and identify the backlinks you need to remove.
Weed out bulk backlinks at the source
If you purchased backlinks in bulk from a company that offered them, it’s wise to reach out to the source, retracing your steps to reverse the damage done by these backlinks. In many cases, these link farms use automated processes to generate backlinks, meaning it should be just as easy for the company to destroy your site’s bad backlinks as it was to create them. This is not appropriate SEO in 2015.
Send out link removal requests
One of the most effective methods for backlink removal might also be the simplest: sometimes, you just have to ask. Simply send emails to the webmasters or companies that created the SEO links requesting that they take the links down. If you purchased backlinks from a variety of places, it may be helpful to create an email template. Be sure to include all the information needed to remove these backlinks, such as the links’ URLs, the URL on your site to which they link, and the anchor text.
Take advantage of Google’s link disavow tool
Google Webmaster Tools now has a link disavow tool that can help you remove bad backlinks in the event that the links’ webmaster refuses to take them down as per your request. By using this tool, you are essentially asking Google to not take certain backlinks into account when assessing your site and determining where it should be ranked. However, Google’s link disavow tool should be used with caution; this is a very advanced tool and can lead to negative results for your site if used incorrectly.
Determine if it’s worth it to start over with a new website
If you’ve tried the four aforementioned methods and are still having problems with removing your bad backlinks, it might be time to consider the benefits of ditching this website and starting from scratch with a new domain. This is only really a viable option for new websites or for websites in which you haven’t invested much. Carefully consider the potential cost of setting up a new website — if it outweighs the cost of spending more time attempting to remove tens of thousands of your current site’s bad backlinks, it might be worth a try.
Having bad backlinks doesn’t have to permanently derail your brand’s online presence. While it may take some extra effort and a few months of waiting, the benefits of replacing these bad backlinks with high-quality, reputable inbound links will do wonders for your SEO campaign.