should-you-remove-backlinks-if-you-haven't-been-penalized

Website owners whose websites have lost search visibility due to a penalty or Google algorithm change targeting their link profile have had to invest a lot of time and effort into cleaning their backlink profiles. The question is, if your website has not been affected by a penalty or Google algorithm change, should you leave things alone or should you do a pre-emptive link purge to ensure that your website maintains its search visibility?

The answer is tricky. If you remove links that would have otherwise remained undetected by Google, then you risk losing search visibility due to the lost links. If you take the wait and see approach, links that had flown under the Google quality radar could be noticed. To determine whether you should remove certain backlinks from your link profile, here are some questions to ask:

Does The Link Drive Traffic?

Links that drive quality traffic to your website are the last ones that you will want to have to remove from your backlink profile. If it’s a link to your blog from a blackhat SEO forum post with a list of blogs that you can comment on for dofollow links, that’s one thing. But if it’s a link that is driving potential customers to your site, then you’ll want to leave it alone. For the most part, getting qualified traffic from a link means that it is a quality link from a relevant website.

How Was The Link Obtained?

Did you pay for the link, outside of the scope of a business or advertising profile? Links from networks like The Knot because you have paid for the profile as a part of your business advertising are within Google’s guidelines. Links from a website’s footer because you paid the webmaster $500 for a year are not within Google’s guidelines unless the link has been nofollowed and you purchased it for visibility/traffic purposes.

Aside from paying for a link, the other ways you could get in trouble is if the link was obtained via spammy measures.

  • Did you submit low quality content, such as a bad infographic or a guest blog post, to obtain the link?
  • Did you spam the comments section of a blog or threads in a forum to obtain the link?
  • Did you exchange links with another website simply for the purpose of building backlinks?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then you might want to consider having the link removed. This is especially true if you are not gaining any traffic from the links.

Is The Link Relevant?

Relevancy is key when it comes to natural link building. There’s generally nothing natural about a diabetes supply company getting a link from a gaming website. A few non-relevant links may not hurt, but a large batch of them will eventually set off Google’s unnatural link signal.

Is The Link On A Quality Webpage/Website?

Aside from relevance, there are additional ways to define the quality of a webpage and website for potential link building. Here are some questions to ask to determine if your link is on a quality webpage, on a quality website.

  • Is the webpage and the website created to provide useful information to visitors, or was it created to provide backlinks?
  • Are the links surrounding yours going to relevant websites of the same caliber?
  • Would you want your clients visiting the webpage and website your link is placed upon?

If the answer to the above questions is yes, then your link is likely on a quality webpage and website. If the answer is no, and you do not receive traffic from those link, you may want to consider removing them.

Tools To Help

If you don’t have time to analyze your entire backlink profile, then there are tools you can employ to help with the process. Here are two popular ones.

  • CognitiveSEO has a feature in their inBound Link Analysis tool that will detect unnatural links in your backlink profile. It will define why the link was identified as unnatural, allow you to flag and tag unnatural links, ignore links that you have already disavowed, and export links that you want to submit to Google to disavow. Pricing starts at $99 per month with a 14-day free trial.
  • Link Detox Pro is another tool that helps you find and analyze risky links in your backlink profile. Pricing starts at $199 per month, or $130 for one-time use.

Last, but not least, be sure to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools if you haven’t already. That is where you will get notified about manual penalties and be able to start the recovery process if necessary.
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