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How Cleaning Up Your Backlinks Boosts Organic Search

by Brian Colling - December 29, 2015

Backlinks are defined as any hyperlink from one website to another website, and every good, organically-obtained backlink gives websites a boost to their search engine ranking score. For example, if The Guardian’s website had a good link to an article on Huffington Post‘s website, the Huffington Post would receive an appropriate boost in its search engine score. Both the quality and number of backlinks that a website has are factors in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm.

Identifying Bad Backlinks

Now, you might think, why not simply build a few extra websites and use them strictly for linking purposes? Or, even better, why not just pay someone to create a few hundred backlinks for you? But doing so is dangerous: Google and other search engines have rules that evaluate, grade and either boost or penalize your organic rankings. Removing toxic links and obtaining higher quality natural links came out of the two most notorious google updates called “panda” and “penguin”. Backlinks should only be generated naturally, and the higher a website’s search engine score in which your backlinks are posted, the better. Getting low-quality websites to link back to your site should not be part of your marketing plan, Google will see through it and penalize your site for it.

Link Pruning

If you know that there are low-quality websites linking back to your site, you should start working to address the problem. This “cleaning up” process is known as link pruning, and there is a method to this tactic. First, understand that both the website that’s backlinking to your website and the anchor text on the backlink itself can be potentially harmful. When link pruning, the first thing you should do is identify the bad links using an SEO tool such as Google Webmaster Tools or link research tools. Pull all of the backlink data into a master list. Next, sort and categorize that list by domain so you can identify which domains are potential problems. You will also need to identify which of your web pages are being linked. After you’ve fully identified which domains and web pages are problematic, the easiest way to clean them up is by using Google’s Disavow Tool. Google’s Disavow Tool will allow you to tell Google to forget about certain websites and backlinks pointing to your site. But be aware, though, that using the tool incorrectly can work against you and your website’s SEO score. You will need to be absolutely certain that the link is hurting your score.

NOTE: it is important to contact the individual webmasters to see if they will remove your link before submitting a disavow file. This is a very complicated process and doing this wrong could seriously impact your site. We recommend hiring a professional team to help you with this.

Taking the time to clean up your backlinks will ensure that your website’s SEO score isn’t being negatively affected by them. Don’t take the issue lightly, either; if your website has a large number of bad backlinks, it will suffer, translating to bad organic search rankings. Doing more link building will only act as a band-aid to this issue. It is crucial to remove any bad links before building new ones. If you think your site is affected by toxic backlinks, contact us to have a backlink analysis done on your website today.

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