Marketing & Business
piece written on the 2nd April 2014 by  

For a long time backlinks (links to your website) were the driving force behind where your website would rank. People traded links, the blogroll become to in thing and basically people would do anything to get a backlink.. even pay for it! Of course, the efforts made to manipulate rankings grew and grew, and as such Google have changed their course somewhat. Not only are links less of an important ranking factor, bad links to your website will drop your rankings. Now, this isn’t breaking news or anything if you’re involved in the SEO industry, but if you aren’t and you’re simply a website owner who dabbles in a little SEO on the side then this post will be of use to you.

Considering the fact that Google now penalises a website for bad links, some months ago Google launched a tool called Disavow. The idea here was to provide website owners with a way of saying to Google, “Ok, I know this is a bad link, please remove it so I don’t get penalised”. Quite a simple concept, you’ve identified that you have a bad link and you want to tell Google that you’re aware. In return, Google would ensure that the link doesn’t pass any equity (negative equity in this case) to your website and thus avoiding the possibility of a drop in the ranks.

You do not want to see this:

Unnatural Links Warning

Sounds simple so far doesn’t it? Well it is, but the question is, how do you find bad links in the first place? Unfortunately this isn’t the easiest task and in many cases getting a professional involved is the best bet if your website is dropping in rankings or you’re anxious that you have done things in the past (*see below) that might result in a drop. With that being said, there are some ways to do this without too much hassle and/or cost.

One of the best tools (I use it frequently) is Open Site Explorer (OSE). OSE allows you to type in the address of your website and in return it will provide you with a list of all the websites linking back to you. You can export this list in a format that’s readable by Excel or the likes and then go through all the links one by one looking for oddly named links and or just looking at a website to see if it looks legitimate or not. Sure, this is going to be a fairly big task, but I tell you one thing, a bigger task will be fixing things when your site is penalised!

Open Site Explorer

A nice tip here is a blog post that identifies the top 100 websites that have been identified as providing bad links. This post was published by the folks who created the second tool in our set:

Another tool called Remove’em allows you to enter in your website address and it then provides you with all sorts of insights – the aim, to reduce the time you spend as well as lower the intelligence required to identify links that may either be affecting your ranks or could do so in the near future. The tool is still in beta and although I’ve had some success with it, I advise putting some time aside when dealing with it as there’s a fair bit of information to get familiar with.


Finally, rmoov is the third application that’s useful. Once you’ve identified the bad links pointing to your website, one step better than simply Disavow’ing them is to actually contact the website owner and ask for the link pointing to your website to be removed. rmoov allows you to enter a list of bad links into their tool and in return they do their best to provide you with the contact details of the websites which you’re going to want to contact to have the link removed. A serious time saver tool that you should have in your kit.

rmoov bad links

* One form of marketing that has caused a big hicup in industry is that of Matt Cutts (head of webspam at Google and basically the bridge between Google and SEOs around the world) announcing that guest blogging is a concern and it should be taken very seriously to avoid being penalised. So if you’ve done a lot of guest blogging or feature writing on various websites on the Internet with the single purpose of getting links back to your website, you should be careful. I did have a Google chuckle when I saw this yesterday though:


Fortunately it was accompanied with the following to place into the Binary Translator.

01000001 01110000 01110010 01101001 01101100 00100000 01000110 01101111 01101111 01101100 01110011 00100001

I mentioned it earlier – it might take some time to find the bad links and get them removed, but doing this in comparison to trying to dig your way out of being penalised for bad links is a walk in the park. Once you’ve been penalised, the road to real recovery is a long and painful one without any guarantees – remember, you can’t simply phone Google up and say you’re sorry!

Proactive, not reactive.