How To Analyze Your Link Profile To Avoid A Google Penalty

Posted by Vikram Rathod

August 11, 2016

SEO 26 min read

Analyzing your link profile from a Google Webmaster guidelines perspective can help you make sure that your linking activities don’t cause you to lose everything you’ve gained for your site.

Google Panlties

Google Penalty! That’s the dangerous word, simply thinking of a penguin update may strike up the site owners into trouble in the first place. It is a fact that most Google penalties are avoidable, but the site owners need to make diligent efforts to avoid them.

Believe me, it’s too easy to avoid a penalty than to get back into search giant’s good graces. Just imagine, you wake up one day and find that scariest email in your inbox: that your site has been hit by a manual penalty!

Don’t wait until you get struck with Google telling you to fix up your link profile. By that time, your site may likely get de-indexed and you’ll have to put up all the efforts again for a reconsideration request.

Panda & Penguin

Usually, Google manual penalty is only hit to those who are the worst of the worst in violating Webmaster guidelines. Most of the sites affected by the ranking issues related to bad link profiles face an algorithmic penalty (Penguin) instead, which means that the site will lose its search visibility. In this case, you don’t receive a notification email from Google.

How To Check Whether Your Site’s Been Hit With A Penguin?

One way to check is by monitoring the website’s traffic in Google Analytics(or whatever is your primary web analytics platform). If you observe a sudden, drastic drop in organic search traffic in just a day, it can be an alarm for you.

Penguin Hit

There are many ways to keep these issues from happening, the first thing you need to do is proactively perform your site’s link audit and build up a healthy link profile. Create a regular link remediation schedule that helps you identify and eliminate the bad links before they become a disaster for you.

How To identify The Bad Link Profiles?

Setting up a regular maintenance schedule for checking up the link profiles is the best way for large companies. When you’re working for huge sites, it can be a big challenge to monitor all the resources of the company that include Who, When, Why, Where, What and How are the links acquired. All this stuff can impact how Google perceives your site’s link profile. So, to manage things reasonably, it’s better to have a responsible person for this process who monthly or quarterly checks out the links.

Violations as per Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

Now, let’s have a look at what exactly is a bad link or a violation according to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

1. Buying or Selling links that pass Page Rank.
2. Excessive links exchanges.
3. Marketing articles on a large scale or guest blogging campaigns with keyword-filled anchor text links.
4. Textual ads passing page ranks.
5. Low-quality directory or bookmark site links.
6. Links with optimized anchor text in blogs or press releases distributed on other sites.
7. Widely distributed links in the footers or the templates of various sites.
8. Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature.
9. Keyword-rich, low-quality or hidden links embedded in widgets distributed across various sites.
10. Local advertising where payment is received for articles including links that pass page ranks.

It is advised by Google in their webmaster guidelines that PPC advertising links that do not pass page rank to the buyer of the ad do not violate their guidelines.

Additionally, Google recommends following these things:

Use a no-follow to prevent page rank from passing.
Redirect the links to an appropriate page that is blocked from the search engine with a robot.txt file.
Create unique and relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the online community.
Avoid getting other sites to create high-quality relevant links to yours.

Develop an Effective roadmap to manage your linking activities

It’s an ideal way to regularly perform link remediation to find out and remove the bad links from your site’s link profile. This will dramatically help you to find the harmful links affecting your site’s ranking. It’s crucial to identify and remove those links to ensure that your site never gets hit with a penalty. Therefore, establishing a roadmap that works well for you will be important to ensure the longevity of your website.

Link Building

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step and the journey of creating a high-quality link profile too. The rule of thumb is that Google expects you to spare at least as much time removing the harmful links as you spent to create them.

So, set up link remediation activities at regular intervals. There are many tools like Ahrefs, Raven tools, SEMrush and the Google search console which are extremely handy for this process. Even Excel is an important tool for managing your site’s links and creating client-centric documents which reflect your efforts in link analysis and cleanup.

Finally, Link Analysis And Cleanup

First of all, have a compiled list of all the links from at least three different tools in order to find out all the links impacting or can impact your link profile. The analysis and cleanup process may differ depending on which tools you’re using and have access to:

Backlink Analysis

1. The first step is exporting links from the Google search console and other tools to multiple Excel spreadsheets.

2. Compile all these links to one Excel sheet.

3. Use the Remove Duplicates function in the Excel sheet to filter the duplicate links. For the sites having thousands of backlinks, using conditional formatting can be helpful for manual link audits.

4. Once, the spreadsheet is compiled, import it into a tool that acquires the useful information for each link and compile it into an easy-to-use report. This will help you quickly identify the harmful links without visiting the sites individually. However, manually checking the sites is always a good idea.

5. So, using this information from tools, you can now begin the analysis. It is always recommended to perform a manual link review in case any small errors are missed out by the tool and find the issues the tool may not have identified otherwise.

6. Perform a detailed Link audit and categorize bad links based on spam and other obvious problems including the way they violated guidelines.

7. The next step of link remediation goes with removing links. Once you identify the bad links, it’s time to move forward and contact the webmasters of these links. Make sure you keep a log of the site you contacted to show it to Google if they ever request to see the log. Generally, the rule says to contact webmasters 2-3 times each round of link removal. If you don’t receive any response after the third attempt, you can proceed to disavow that link.

8. After contacting all the webmasters behind the links, if there are links you couldn’t get removed, use Google’s Disavow tool. You can easily disavow the links that are considered spammy. Remember, do not disavow good links unless you found later that the good links turned up to be spammy ones.

Final Thoughts:

Just like it takes a good time to create and establish a good high-quality link profile, identifying and removing the bad links is also a time-consuming task. However, if you set up an efficient link remediation process, you can easily clean up your bad link profile. And, vigilantly monitoring your link profile on a regular basis can prevent many issues which otherwise wreak havoc on your search performance.





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