Our clients ask us all the time if they need to allocate time to clean up links to avoid getting a Google penalty. Most of the time, the answer is no. If you haven’t done any link building or signed up with any link building services, then you probably don’t have any issues. If you, like so many others, jumped on the bandwagon of directory and article submissions a few years back, you might need to clean things up a little.
There are many services out there that offer link “cleaning”, but the main thing most of these services do is check headers and make lists. Since they charge you by the link, they make a killing, even if the list gets “cleaned” down to 100 links or less.
Instead of taking this approach, we deliver our clients a list of “cleaned” URLs, and we don’t charge by the URL. Here are the steps we take:
Get Your Link List from Google
We will download your link lists from Google directly, which is what Google has recommended. Other link services download from multiple providers, and you may spend time checking links that Google isn’t even aware of or has already discounted.
We’ll check your link list to see who links the most, how many source domains there are for each page of your site, and more. All of this helps you prioritize which links to check first.
Gather Information and Clean the Link List
We will download your lists from Google Webmaster Tools and clean them for you, by running them through a header checker and searching to see if nofollow code is on the link. If the links are going through a 302 redirect or if they have a nofollow on them, they are not passing PageRank, and therefore are of no concern to Google.
Finally, we’ll deliver a list of links to you. You will only need to check the ones in the first tab, which will save you time and money. If you prefer to try and do this yourself, feel free to use our template, which is available for download here:
Format Your Disavow List and Submit Your Report
When you finish checking all the links, you’ll have four lists of differently classified links. We will help you format this into the approved Google format, craft a reconsideration request for you, and help you submit it.
And Now We Wait
After the list is submitted, you have to wait for Google’s response. This can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, but we find that our submissions (because of the way they’re formatted) typically get reviewed in 2 weeks or less. Google will respond with any number of different templates – they may tell you there’s no penalty and all is well, they may tell you that all the links haven’t been removed (and possibly give you examples), or they may tell you a penalty has been revoked. Depending on their response, you may have to go through this exercise again, so be sure to keep good notes as you review the sites.
About Jenny Halasz
Jenny is a total search geek. Marketing strategy to technical SEO, she loves it all. Follow her on twitter @jennyhalasz and debate marketing strategy, 80s movie quotes or old-school Nintendo games.