Ever dined in a sketchy restaurant?
You know the type I’m talking about:
Glassware’s got smudges on it. Fries taste like they’re cooked in the same oil as the fish. Eggs are of the powdered variety.
I’m guessing you won’t go back to it, right? Much less recommend the joint to your friends and family.
That’s the same mindset Google has about referring people to sites riddled with spammy, low-quality backlinks.
They’re not going to recommend those sites to their users.
So if you’re serious about ranking well on Google (or any search engine, for that matter), you’ve got to eliminate trashy backlinks from your site.
Sure, it can feel overwhelming, especially if you have a substantial amount of backlinks.
But only if you try to do it on your own.
Today, you’re gonna learn how to get rid of bad backlinks in record time using one of the most powerful backlink management tools on the market—Monitor Backlinks.
It all starts with gathering your site’s backlink data into one place, followed by finding the “bad apples” and then throwing them out.
Let’s get to it.
How to Get Rid of Bad Backlinks in Record Time with Monitor Backlinks
1. Gather Your Site’s Backlink Data
Backlink management becomes infinitely easier once all your backlinks are gathered into one place.
From there, you can start the process of finding and removing bad links.
You have two options to complete this step.
Option 1: Let Monitor Backlinks do it for you
The first option is to let Monitor Backlinks compile your list for you.
Here’s why that’s a good idea:
Monitor Backlinks uses Google’s Analytics referrals and Ahrefs API to compile your site’s list of backlinks—two of the most trusted backlink sources. Which translates into confidence that your backlink list will be as complete as possible.
It also explains why I recommend this option even if you’re migrating from other backlink monitoring software.
To let Monitor Backlinks automatically generate your backlinks list for you, you’ll first need to sign up for Monitor Backlinks if you haven’t done so already. There’s a free trial available here.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to add your domain to your Monitor Backlinks account by clicking the “Add New Domain” button at the top-left of your dashboard:
Then, choose to use Google Analytics:
(Note: This step is optional. But if you want to take advantage of Analytics referrals data, then I highly recommend you choose to add your domain using Google Analytics.)
Once you’re finished, Monitor Backlinks will import all links that are currently pointing to your site (one link per domain).
Option 2: Import a backlink list from another source
If you’re not currently using another backlink monitoring service, then you can skip this option.
But if you are, then you might want to import your backlinks from that service to your Monitor Backlinks account.
To do that, you’ll need to start by downloading your backlinks list as a .csv or .txt file.
(Virtually every backlink management program should have this feature. And shame on them if they don’t.)
Once you’ve downloaded the list to your computer, your next step is to click the “Import” button in the Your Links module of Monitor Backlinks:
After you do this, you’ll see this box:
Here’s how you’ll want to proceed:
1. Click here to find and upload the .csv or .txt file you just downloaded from your previous backlink monitoring software.
2. Add any tags you’d like to use to label these backlinks (for example, if you’re importing a list from Ahrefs, you could use the tag “Ahrefs” to denote their origin).
3. Define the max number of links per domain (I recommend setting this to 1 to avoid site-wide backlinks).
4. Check “Live Links Only” to import only links that are still active.
5. Once you’re done, click this button to import your backlinks list to Monitor Backlinks.
Once you’ve performed one or both of the above options, you should see a complete list of your site’s backlinks in the Your Links section of your Monitor Backlinks account:
With that finished, it’s time to move on to how to find the bad backlinks you’ll want to get rid of.
2. Find and Tag Bad Backlinks
It’s no secret that Google’s picky about their links and strict on the definition of a quality link.
And for good reason.
At the end of the day, Google cares about sending its users to quality pages that are relevant to their search queries. And using backlinks as a ranking indicator has been a top priority for them since their inception.
So, your job as an SEO is to make sure your site’s pages are filled with quality backlinks that tell Google your site is worth paying attention to.
That involves doing two things:
- Getting more quality backlinks
- Getting rid of bad backlinks
You can learn all about doing number 1 here.
But for now, let’s talk about how to find the bad backlinks that are bringing your site down.
I highly recommend that you take advantage of Monitor Backlinks’ tagging feature for this bit. Tag every potential spam link you find in the following steps, so you can easily come back to them later and get rid of them.
All you have to do is click the checkbox beside the link you want to tag…
…and click the “Add Tags” button at the top of your backlink list:
Then, type in the tag you want to associate with the link…
…and click the “Add Tags” button.
You can give a single link multiple tags, so tag as much and as often as you need.
Now, here’s what you need to look for in the Your Links section of Monitor Backlinks to find bad backlinks:
a. Links with a high Spam Score
Spam Score is a Moz metric that predicts the spamminess of a link based on 17 spam signals.
The spamminess of a link is reflected in a score that directly correlates with the number of spam signals found on the referring page.
So if a link in your link profile has a Spam Score of 3, that means only three spam signals were found on that page.
The higher a link’s Spam Score, the higher the chances it’s a spam backlink and greater the risk it will negatively affect your rankings.
Once a page’s Spam Score reaches 8 or higher, the risk of it being spam increases exponentially.
So you’ll want to find all backlinks with a Spam Score of 8 and higher…
…and tag them as “High Spam Score.”
b. Links with low Domain Authority
Domain Authority is another Moz metric that predicts how well a website will rank on search engines.
If a referring site’s Domain Authority is low, then it’s safe to assume that the backlink originating from it will be of low value too.
Set the “Domain Authority” filter to show all links with a Domain Authority of 10 or lower:
Tag those links as “Low Domain Authority” and then continue on to links with low Page Authority (below).
c. Links with low Page Authority
Page Authority does the same thing for pages as Domain Authority does for domains.
Set the “Page Authority” filter to 5 or less and look over the results:
d. Links with a low MozRank
MozRank is a Moz metric that predicts a page’s overall power based on its link popularity, using a scoring scale of 0 to 10.
Use the “Moz Rank” filter to show all links with a MozRank of 0:
Tag these links as “Low MozRank.”
e. Links that aren’t indexed by Google
Links from non-indexed domains and pages add zero value to your link profile. And having too many of them can even hurt your rankings.
Use the “Google Index” filter to show all links that have not been indexed by Google…
…and tag them as such.
f. Links with a high number of external links
It’s safe to assume that most pages with a high number of external links are low quality.
As a matter of fact, high external links is one of the 17 spam risk factors used in calculating a link’s Spam Score.
Use the “External Links” filter (tick the “High External Links” option) to quickly and easily show all links with an external link count of 100 or more:
g. Links with exact match anchor text
Exact match anchor text is a key spam indicator used by Google.
For the uninitiated, exact match anchor text is anchor text that’s identical to the target page’s target keyword.
For example, anchor text “big red dog house” pointing to a page who’s target keyword is “big red dog house.”
If you know the target keywords for your linked-to pages in the “Link To” column, you can compare the anchor text used to that of the page’s target keyword:
Pro Tip: Use the target keyword in your URL when creating pages. Not only does it make finding exact match anchor text easier in Monitor Backlinks, it’s also just good SEO practice.
h. Links with a foreign TLD
Links from foreign language top-level domains (TLD) are unnatural.
It just doesn’t make sense for a site written in Chinese to link to a site written in English.
Google knows this and they may penalize your site if you have too many of them.
You can find the referring site’s TLD by looking in the “TLD/IP” column:
Pay attention to the flag on the left. If it’s different than your country’s flag, then it’s a foreign TLD.
i. Links that share the same hosting IP
Private blog networks (groups of sites that are created solely for link building) tend to use several domains under the same hosting IP.
Google doesn’t want to see links from private blog networks in your link profile.
So it’s best to sniff them out and get rid of them as soon as you can.
Look at the red number beside the IP origin to easily spot potential private blog networks:
If you see numbers of 10 or above, it’s safe to assume that site’s part of a private blog network. Add a tag like “potential PBN.”
3. Get Rid of Your Site’s Bad Backlinks
Once you find all of your site’s bad backlinks, the next step is to remove them from your link profile.
Bring up all your tagged links with the “Tags” filter, and select the tags you created:
Look for backlinks that have been tagged at least 2-3 times. These are the ones to get rid of.
You have two options for doing this (one is preferred over the other).
Option 1: Get the link’s source to remove the link (recommended)
Google recommends you attempt to remove as many links as you can manually before disavowing (more on disavowing in just a bit).
Manual link removal means reaching out to the referring site’s owner or webmaster and requesting that they remove the link from their site.
To do that, you first need to know how to contact them.
The first spot you should check is the linking website. Look for a contact page or a spot in the site’s sidebar displaying contact information.
If that doesn’t work, you can also try using a service like ICANN WHOIS to track down the site’s contact information.
(Note: If you can’t find contact information for the site in question, you can skip the rest of this step and move on to Option 2: Submit a disavow file to Google.)
Once you track down the contact info, you’ll want to send a polite email to the site owner or webmaster requesting that the site remove the link.
A few notes on how to construct the email:
- Don’t be confrontational
- Don’t accuse the contact of malicious linking
- Don’t make any threats about contacting Google
- Be cordial and polite
- Briefly explain why you want the link removed
(If you want to check out a sample email, I included one in this post on running a link detox.)
Two things can possibly happen after you reach out to the contact:
1. They agree to remove the link.
In which case, wait a couple of days and then check the link in Monitor Backlinks to see if it’s been removed. If it hasn’t, reach back out to the contact or move on to Option 2.
2. They do not agree to remove the link or do not respond.
Don’t waste your time and energy on reaching out to the contact again. Simply move on to Option 2.
Option 2: Submit a disavow file to Google
If reaching out to the site owner or webmaster doesn’t pan out, then it’s time to disavow the link.
(Remember: This option should be used as a last resort.)
Disavowing a link means that you’re telling Google to ignore that link when cataloging that page’s backlinks.
But you won’t need to submit each individual link to Google for disavowing. Instead, you’ll gather all of the URLs and domains you wish to disavow into a single text file and submit that file to Google once.
Disavowing can be a bit intimidating for some site owners… especially if it’s their first time doing it.
But it’s incredibly simple to do when you do it using Monitor Backlinks.
Here’s how it works:
First, you’ll need to compile your list of URLs and domains you wish to disavow. You’ll perform this step twice—once for URLs and once for domains.
Find all of the individual URLs you want to disavow (choosing to disavow URLs only removes the one link from that domain. Any other future links from that domain will not automatically be disavowed).
Click the checkbox by the URLs you want to disavow:
Then, click “Disavow” → “Disavow URL:”
Next, do the same for all the domains you wish to disavow (disavowing domains will remove all current and future links from that domain). Except, this time choose to “Disavow domains:”
Now, go to the Disavow Tool module in Monitor Backlinks and confirm that the list of URLs and domains is accurate:
Once verified, click the “Export Disavow Rules” button to download the disavow file (in .txt format) that you’ll submit to Google:
The file will download to your computer.
After that, click “Send To Google” to be taken to your site’s Google Search Console where you can follow the steps to submit your disavow file to Google.
Keep in mind that disavowing won’t happen as soon as you submit the file.
It can take Google several weeks to recrawl your site and actually remove the links. So be patient.
There’s no other way to say it…
If you don’t know how to get rid of bad backlinks on your site, you’re throwing away any chance you have of running a successful SEO campaign.
Bad backlinks are inevitable and they’ll hurt your rankings if not handled properly.
You need to have the knowledge and tools to perform a simple backlink analysis on your site.
Now, with the knowledge in this post and a free Monitor Backlinks trial account, there’s nothing holding you back from creating an inviting link profile and catapulting your site to the top of Google’s rankings!