Link clean up is very important.

As the SEO world adjusts to life after Penguin, webmasters are starting to figure out how to identify bad links and become a site that link vendors can trust.

In a recent Search Engine Journal article SEO consultant Alan Bleiweiss took on this topic in some detail.

In How To Clean Up Bad Links and Establish Trust With Link Vendors, Bleiweiss walks SEOs through what he’s learned about link cleanups and the new normal for working with link vendors. He covers a lot of ground and the whole article is worth a read, but here are a few of his top tips.

Identifying Bad Links

The Penguin update left many SEOs with the daunting task of figuring out exactly which links were trouble and which ones were still valid. That why Bleiweiss recommends doing an exhaustive link audit to suss out those clunkers and rebuild authority.

Over the course of a large number of SEO audits, Bleiweiss has come up with a number of warning signs that, not surprisingly, focus on quality and relevance. The include:

  • Links from low quality/low quality content sites.
  • Irrelevant/Off-topic sites.
  • Any sites that include a site name or title name with the words, “SEO,” or , “Link.”
  • Article directories.
  • Foreign websites that lack relevance.

Once the bad links have been identified, the really hard work begins.

Contacting Problem Domains

As many SEOs have found out, there’s really no simple way of removing bad inbound links. Bleiweiss does address the Disavow Links Tool, but only after a thorough manual effort has been undertaken. The link removal technique he suggests involves a whole lot of detective work. His ideas include:

  • Keep your request records on a spreadsheet and carefully note how was contacted, and what the response was. This will help with future efforts, too.
  • If a site is producing more than a couple links that seem bad, just send them a note asking that all your links be removed.
  • Use Disavow as a last resort.
  • Be thorough and check out each site before disavowing. With a limited number of authority sites out there, you don’t want to accidentally cut one loose.

Only when all these steps (and several more that are covered in the original post) have been done is it time to start contacting link vendors.

Link Building Services

So how can webmasters insure that link building services will maintain Penguin-friendly best practices? That’s something that needs to be spelled out clearly in an agreement with stipulations such:

  • Guidelines regarding link and content quality.
  • Sample content ahead of any link placement.
  • Pre-approval of content that’s heading out for guest blogs, as well as pre-approval of the sites themselves.
  • Detailed monthly reports the cover where links were placed and how they’re faring.

If you’re thinking that all this is very hands-on in comparison to how things used to work; you’re right. As an SEO strategy, links are still viable, but the days of putting them on auto-pilot and forgetting about it are long gone.

Are you getting back on board with link vendors? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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