Prepping Your Backlink Profile for 2013
Many people have seen their websites’ rankings drop recently and are wondering why. There could be many causes for this, including:
- Over-optimized web pages
- Duplicate content
- Copyright violations
- Too many ads
- Poor or spammy internal linking
- Weak or suspicious backlink profiles
While it is important to improve all of these issues as soon as possible, I will dive into improving your backlink profile. This is a very important factor in your site’s ranking position, and will be an essential step to take in order to best optimize your site for your strategies in the upcoming New Year.
Google’s Reaction to Black Hat Techniques
Many webmasters have utilized black hat techniques to build hundreds or thousands of spammy links back to their site to boost rankings. For a while this worked, and rankings would soar up to the top while some companies would make enormous amounts of money. Then Google dropped the hammer on these sites with the Panda update. Since then, sites have been dropping like flies, rankings decreasing from 10 to 100, and some sites have even endured the dreaded de-indexing. This sends the message that the links to your site must have actual value, and must not be there purely to boost rankings.
So if you were hit by the Panda Update or are in fear, this is how you can check your link profile to be sure that you are safe from the all-knowing being that is Google.
Tips and Tools
First and foremost you have to find out what your backlinks are. To do this, use a tool like Open Site Explorer. Enter in your URL, and then run the report. Once this is done, you will need to change some of the settings in the links form setting choose “Only External” then in the pages to form select “Pages On This Root Domain” then hit filter.
When the correct settings are configured, export that data into a .csv file. Once you have the export you want to throw it into the free tool Link Detective. You can set up a free account, and then upload your .csv file and they will supply you with some additional data that Open Site Explorer leaves out. This tool will return two graphs and a data set that can be exported into Excel.
The first graph breaks down the link by type
This graph shows the ratio of link types:
This information is very valuable because there are five types of links that should be of concern if their ratios are over 20%: Article, Directory, Sidebar, Footer, and Comment. All five of these send strong negative signals to the search engines. When you have high ratios of any of these link types, it suggests to Google that you are utilizing spam-like tactics to build links.
The second graph breaks down the data by anchor text.
This graph shows you the anchor text distribution of your links. In almost all cases your brand name or URL will appear first. When terms that are not your brand name or URL have a higher percentage, it can raise red flags.
Link Detective also allows you to export their data into a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet allows you to align the data so you can find suspect backlinks that should be removed.
So now that you have all of this data, how can you use it to find bad backlinks?
- Look at the Link Type graph; find any of the six bad link types that are above 10%. Then go to your spreadsheet and sort by the link type column and secondarily by Domain Authority. Links that have a Domain Authority of 20 or less should be removed.
- Look at the Anchor Text graph and note any anchor text that is over 7%. If this anchor text above 7% and the term is not a form of your brand or domain go to the spreadsheet. Sort the spreadsheet by anchor text first and domain authority second. Links that have a Domain Authority of 20 or less should be removed.
- Using just the spreadsheet, sort by Links To Domain. Links that have a 10 or fewer Domains should be removed.
- Finally, sort the spreadsheet by Domain Authority. Links that have a Domain Authority of 15 or less should be removed.
The next step is to find out who to contact to remove the links. If you have on file who you contacted originally to place the link, then you can use that information. If not, go to the page and find the section containing contact information. In general, email is the best way to send your request. There is a high likelihood that your request will fall upon deaf ears, so be persistent. It is not absolutely necessary to have the link removed but it is worth a shot in order to improve your site’s web presence.
It is important that your backlinks are beneficial to your business and that they send positive signals to search engines. By using different tools, you can evaluate the quality of your links, the ratio of the types of links, and the ratio of anchor text. As you move forward in creating your new link building and marketing strategies for 2013, it is highly recommended that you perform a back link profile in order to better optimize your efforts and not get lost in the depths of Google rankings.