Backlinks cleaning is a process which appeared with the fears associated with Google Penguin launch which aimed at penalysing websites with too many inorganic backlinks.
Backlink cleaning is a complex process. The first step is to track backlinks and to identify bad or inorganic links. It can be made with devoted SEO tools or Google Webmaster Tools which may sometimes send inorganic backlinks alert.
The second and most difficult task is to obtain bad links removing. Webmaster have usually no time for the operation. In a paradoxal situation, we may meet webmasters asking for removing backlinks they have asked or paid for.
Because it is often difficult to obtain suppression of inorganic links and because some of them might have been created by malicious competitors, Google has launched in October 2012 a tool for disavowing toxic links in GWT
Backlink cleaning has probably been a little over-publicized by SEO vendors and new softwares or functions in SEO tools have been developped.
How to find bad backlinks
The main difference between good and bad backlinks is the quality of the website they are on. Sometimes bad backlinks are easy to find, sometimes you do have to check the website itself to see if and why the backlink can have a negative impact on your website.
Links from a website that is just set up for SEO links
If a website has a ton of articles that lack all coherence, chances are the website is set up solely for the purpose of linking other websites. If the website is a WordPress site, most of the times a default WordPress themes like TwentyEleven is used. These websites are usually not linked from other websites, or are part of an odd link network designed just to link these lousy websites.
Links from the comments of other websites
Bots populating your website’s comment forms telling you ‘great article, love the info, hope you can elaborate more about the topic soon’. Personalized comments even, including author name. Spambots get more intelligent by the week, unfortunately. We’ve reviewed a site that was run by an older man replying to all of these comments, thanking them for the kind words. Don’t get fooled. Comment spam links are bad for your backlink profile.
Links with over optimized anchor texts
In general, one can assume the most backlinks to a websites are linked using the website name as the anchor text (link text). The URL itself is also often used. If your website has a huge number of websites linking to your website using exact keywords, as the shady companies we mentioned tend to do, that looks very suspicious. If our main backlinks would have WordPress SEO Premium or website review as an anchor, that will ring some alarm bells at Google. The most used anchor for links to our site should be ‘yoast’ in a natural link profile. And it is, of course.
Links within lousy, duplicate texts
Usually, websites that are just set up for the links have content that just doesn’t make sense, or is scraped from related websites. Some black hat companies create sites per subject, to make it look like the links are on related, quality websites. In most cases Google Panda will hit these sites eventually, resulting in yet another low quality backlink for your site. Duplicate content is a sign of low quality in most cases, and that is (among others,) what the Google Panda updates are about.
Links from China, while your local audience is in the US
As the websites linking to you preferably are obviously related to your business, you will understand that a link from a Russian or Dutch website (for that matter) for your local consultancy company site in Kansas City doesn’t look natural at all.