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How to Quickly Spot Potential Problems in a Link Profile

See how link categorization tools can help you spot potential problems in a backlink profile quickly to rectify or prevent Google penalization.

Do you think that your website, or your client’s, has suffered a Google penalty due to bad link building? Or do you just wonder why a website isn’t ranking well? If so, then you probably want to take a look at the link profile for the website. Pouring over a list of links can be cumbersome, especially when you just want to do a quick analysis. Thankfully, there are link research tools that allow you to see potentially issues at a glance.

Signals of an Unnatural Link Profile

Let’s look at some signals that may tip off Google that a website has an unnatural link profile and the tools that make those signals easy to spot. The following is an analysis of Interflora.co.uk, the site most recently trending for their penalization for links, using the inBound Analysis tool by cognitiveSEO.

Overuse of Keyword Anchor Text

One of the easiest to spot signals of an unnatural link profile is overuse of keyword anchor text. It’s an easy metric to target because a website with nothing but organic links would naturally have a variety of anchor text. Your average webmaster would link to a website using the website / business name, the URL itself, or potentially random keywords like “my favorite shop” or the infamous “click here” as opposed to “flower delivery.”

Low Authority Backlinks

Trust, authority, reputation – these are all major factors when it comes to link building. A link from a website with high authority can help your rankings. Alternatively, a lot of links from low quality websites can hurt them.

Irrelevant Backlinks

Again, when you’re considering an organic link profile, backlinks that were not relevant to a website would occur, but not in mass amounts. If a flower delivery website has a ton of links from gambling, casino, or other sites that are considered bad neighborhoods, it sends up the red flag that something is wrong. Even a lot of irrelevant links from good sites may do more harm than good.

Backlinks of a Certain Variety

Organic links are ones that are given to a website without request. Organic links typically happen on sites like blogs, social networks, media outlets, and forums. Links that are requested by someone typically happen on article directories, web directories, and press releases. If a website’s backlink profile consists mostly of non-organic links, Google will not rank it as highly as those that have organic, unsolicited links.

Poorly Placed Backlinks

Next on the list are links that are placed for search bots instead of people. This is a murky one to determine as many website owners, particularly bloggers, do tend to naturally place their favorite links site wide in their sidebars. There are also well-meaning webmasters that create a page chock full of links to their favorite resources. Nonetheless, Google tends to frown upon links placed site wide, in footers, or on pages with a large number of outgoing links.

Off the Map Backlinks

Does it make sense for a local business located in the UK to have a majority of their links from websites in India? Not really. Local businesses especially need to steer away from links on websites without a geographically pertinent audience. All websites should stick with backlinks from websites in locations that share the same language.

Backlinks to the Homepage Only

Google wants searchers to have a great experience, and one way to do that is by offering them the pages that most fit their search. If you have internal pages for specific keywords, but insist upon trying to target all of your keyword phrases to your homepage, Google may ding you for it.

On this factor, it’s always good to remember that links to your internal pages help boost the overall strength of your website. This is something you can see pretty quickly with the Visual Link Explorer tool.

Need a Quick Analysis?

If you don’t want to speculate about what links are potentially harmful and you want a report of which ones to remove, which ones to analyze closely, and which ones are the best links, then you should try the Link Detox report from Link Research Tools. This report will break down your best and worst links.

This can also make a great competitor research tool. Simply run a detox report on your competitor’s websites and pursue only their healthy links. If you need just a one-time report for a website and don’t have a full membership plan, you can sign up for a separate Link Detox account or a Daypass.

How to Take Action

If you think your website, or your client’s, has problematic links and has been penalized by Google, you will want to start repairing the damage by making an attempt to have the website’s worst backlinks taken down. This can be a long, tedious process. But to ensure the best success rate possible, you will want to do the following.

  • Just like your link requests should be personalized, your link takedown requests should be as well. By all means, use a template to make the process faster, but at least try to address the webmaster by name.
  • Let the webmaster know that it is beneficial for them as well to remove the website link in question.
  • Specify what link you are trying to remove and where it is on their website. The easier you make it for the webmaster to find your link, the more likely they will be to remove it.
  • Be polite. Politeness goes a long way whereas thinly veiled threats will only annoy the webmaster and make them less likely to comply.
  • Record your efforts. Who you emailed, when, and about what link. You’re not going to be able to get every bad link taken down, but you will need to prove that you tried. Plus it will help you keep track of what sites you might want to follow up with later vs. which ones were successfully taken down.

What tools do you use to help diagnose Google link penalties? Please share in the comments.