Before the Google Penguin update it did not matter who was linking to you. Now all those link packages that you paid $5 for have caused your site to topple. Unnatural backlink profiles are everywhere thanks to the race to get more links in order to rank high in the SERPs. With the new face of SEO after Google’s cleanup to rid the search results of spam site owners now need to audit and edit their backlinks.
To start with you need to identify your bad links. There are some free tools that can provide this information but if you want in depth details you will have to pay for a tool if you don’t already have one. Backlink tools like those offered by Majestic Site Explorer and SEOMoz are great places to start. They will identify details of your backlinks and the anchor text used to build them.
Cleaning Up Your Unwanted Links
It won’t be easy to cleanup your links and there will have to be a lot of begging involved. You can outsource the task but it won’t be cheap and you must be prepared to meet with resistance from the owner of the site that is hosting your backlink.
Create a Standard Email Template
Save time by creating a standard email template that you can use to submit your request for removal of your link. Be forthcoming in the email by letting the site owner know that you are trying to recover your site from a Google penalty and that is necessary that you have your link removed in order to do so. Point out the pages where the links are located along with the anchor text that was used to make it easy for the site owner to locate your links.
Take note that you may need to create follow up email templates as well since the site owner may not respond to your initial request. Some site owners are requesting payment for link removal. Do not resort to payment. The worst case scenario is to ask Google to devalue the link letting them know that you requested link removal from the site.
If you have to remove a few hundred or thousand links you will need to get organized. Create a spreadsheet listing the sites where you need to remove links and include columns for contact information, date of link removal request and the action taken. There is a twofold benefit to doing this. For one it will keep you up to date on the progress of your link pruning and two it can be submitted to Google when you submit a request for reconsideration. This lets them know that you are taking steps to fix your mistakes.
Go Back to the Source
You can trying going back to the SEO company that made the backlinks for you in the first place. Review your contract for any provisions for money back guarantee and request that they take the links down or issue a refund. If you worked with a freelancer who charged a small fee for your backlinks you might not be lucky with this request.
For some webmasters link pruning will be quite simple but for many it could take months of tireless labor to removed unwanted backlinks. It might even take some effort just to get the contact information of the site owner where your links are located. After going through this effort to remove your links you will be very cautious the next time you are presented with an unbelievable link deal.