Do you know who’s linking to you? The quality of the links pointing to your site has always mattered; in a post-Penguin world, it matters more than ever. The reality is that the new, more sophisticated search engine algorithms are becoming increasingly picky about your backlinks. If you’ve accumulated low-quality, low-value links—you could be penalized.
If your site’s performance has been adversely affected by the Penguin update, it might be time to clean up your backlinks and remove those pesky, low-quality links that now act as a roadblock to your site’s success with the search engines. Here are some tips for getting started:
Identify the offenders.
Ideally, your links will be a reflection of your popularity. The more quality links you have, the better your rank for your target keywords will be. However, the post-Penguin reality is that volume of links—even good ones—isn’t necessarily going to be rewarded by the search engines.
Backlink profiles can be manipulated and rankings inflated. Poor-quality sites can bloat your profile with nearly worthless links that could actually hurt your site’s standing with search engines. So, you need to identify links that might possibly be a problem. Start with a backlink tool, such as the one provided by Google, or any tool that checks for all backlinks to your site. Then use the following criteria to determine which links are less than desirable:
links from sites in a different language
links from sites that contain viruses or malware
low-value sites created just to link to other sites
sites using overly optimized anchor text that is not diversified
Target the worst offenders.
Once you know which links could be a problem, sift through to determine which actually need to go. Not all low-quality links need to be removed. For instance—inactive, 404 redirects and no-follow links don’t do any harm and can be left alone. All other links would be considered active and should be removed.
Backlink tools that identify links for live or dead status can be helpful during this process.
Contact the appropriate sites.
Next, you’ll need to request that the bad links are removed. Contact the webmasters for the host sites and ask that they delete these links and/or change their anchor text to text that is not overly-optimized. Links that are no longer active should be designated as "nofollow" links. These are actions that should be taken on their end to help you clean up your backlinks.
Of course, not all webmasters will respond. In this case you do have recourse. Clean up the links that you can. Then, if you’re using a link-building service, ask them to assist you in removing or cleaning up your backlinks. Also, consider contacting Google. You can request that they reconsider your ranking, in light of the cleanup efforts you’ve made and the record you have of all steps taken to improve your backlink profile.
The Penguin update offers all site owners the opportunity to clean up their act with the search engines, so take advantage of it! Making the effort to examine your backlinks, and removing the ones that are hurting you, really pays off with search engines—now more than ever. So don’t let poor-quality links bring you down. Show the Penguin update that you—and your site—mean business.