A standout link profile is at the heart of legal search engine optimization. This sort of online networking not only aids in the connection to related sites, but it also satisfies Google’s search algorithms in a manner that significantly boosts your website search rankings. Unfortunately, a poorly maintained link profile can cause a detrimental amount of damage, rendering your site difficult to find and causing you to waste part of your firm’s marketing budget in recovery. If you find yourself hit by bad backlinks, you must identify and remove them as quickly as possible.
What Are Bad Links?
Bad backlinks are, by definition, links that cause Google’s search algorithms to view your page negatively. These links can come from a number of sources, some of which are innocent and others of which are malicious. Most commonly, the source of bad links is a link-spam site, usually poorly made SEO websites that seek only reciprocal linking relationships in order to boost their own ranks. Other bad links can come from sites identified as being of poor quality; this identification is often due to thin content, bad ad-to-content ratios or other issues that have been frowned upon since the Google Panda and Penguin updates. Malicious updates might come from competing websites seeking to lower your rankings on purpose, usually through the use of illicit tactics or simple link spam. Nonetheless, no matter the source, these links can ruin the visibility of your website.
Use the Tools in Front of You
Your first step will simply be to identify the source of the harmful backlinks. The Google Webmaster Tools suite, while exclusively managing your backlinks, does provide a resource that can help you to identify your most recent links. If you are looking for something with more power and accuracy, you can also use a service like Link Detox to audit your links and figure out which links might be considered “toxic”. This basic bit of knowledge will inform you on how to proceed.
Removing the Links
Removing the links to your website is not quite as difficult as sending a cease and desist on the part of your client, but it does require that you use some of the same tools. First and foremost, you will need to identify the person or entity responsible for setting up the toxic links to your website. If the person is identified as the owner on a website, you should have all the information you need. If not, you can set up a simple WhoIs Lookup to identify the person who registered the domain name. Once this information is accessible, a simple e-mail or phone call will usually suffice to get the links removed to your site; most site owners do not want confrontation, and even fewer want to talk to an agitated attorney. Should this fail to work, you can try sending out a cease-and-desist letter; the odds of this working are not quite as high in the typical business world, but it also is not offensively time-consuming on your part.
Should you fail to have the links removed this way, you can also make use of Google’s Disavow tool (which more information can be found here). This tool should help to ensure that Google ignores the toxic links, but it is always a tool of last resort. Its results are sometimes less helpful than you may desire, and the process may leave you with a false sense of security. While the Disavow tool does at times work, it is not something upon which you should depend.
Managing the links to your site is imperative if you want to succeed at legal SEO. Staying on top of every toxic link can feel like a full time job, but only performing cursory checks can lead to your site tanking in the rankings.