• http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I also used Moz’s Open Site Explorer because that tells you in the download file if a link is follow versus nonfollow. You can delete all the nofollow links right from the get go and save yourself an immense amount of time. Work smarter, not harder! Dealing with a link warning is stressful enough.

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    I couldn’t agree more, Nick! We have a tool we developed that does this (also checks for meta robots=nofollow), but Moz is a good paid alternative.

  • Jonny Lis

    Hi Jenny,

    I like the article and it’s really well written, however there’s 1 or 2 things I thought I’d comment on. Firstly I think what’s more important in determining whether or not your site needs to have a link clean up (other than when a penalty is in place) is the quality of links themselves rather than having a high number of links from few domains (although this should also be addressed). You could potentially invest in link software like Link Research Tools to give an indication of your overall back-link health as well as checking the links manually.

    I’ve also found that disavowing links and submitting a reconsideration request is unlikely to overturn a links penalty alone, especially if the site has a high number of links (but feel free to prove me wrong if you have had success through that method!). I read elsewhere that Google wants to see you have made a ‘significant effort’ in removing harmful links to your site, so I understand that to mean that you should contact the harmful links, which isn’t necessarily time consuming if you create a template email and use a mass-mail sender.

    If you’re interested, I wrote a blog post on my method for removing links penalties here – http://www.smart-traffic.co.uk/seo-blog/shazzam-how-to-remove-a-google-unnatural-links-penalty-first-time-around.htm. This method might be different to your own but I always like to read about how other people go about removing links/penalties anyway.

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Hi Jonny,

    Thanks for your comment. You are right that Google wants you to make an effort to remove bad links. The truth is, though, usually you don’t have the original email address used to procure a directory submission, or the blog comment link is on a blog that hasn’t posted to in over 2 years. Honestly, the chances are good that if you contact someone to remove a link and they actually respond (unless that link was a paid arrangement and you should just be requesting nofollow), then you probably just removed a legitimate link. Just my opinion.

    Using the techniques described above, I have achieved “manual spam action revoked” for several clients.

    But you’re right that I should have mentioned it’s quality over quantity. So while the number of referring domains/links ratio is useful, if you know you’ve been spamming, grab a chair and start cleaning up!

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    only using the disavow tool and not removing any of the bad links will not work; this is true. However, there are many steps you can take to clean up as you go, such as “If you’ve contacted someone and successfully had them remove a link, you should list it here.” and “If you know of directory submissions you can remove or paid links you can stop paying for or add nofollows to, you should absolutely do that.” In many cases, we’ve also identified uniquely coded links (such as affiliates) that we can run through a 302. This post is simply meant to help diagnose the problem and go through the manual checking stage. Next month there will be more. :)

  • tim789

    Jenny – Thank you for a very thorough, yet simple guide. Our Google WT shows 17.5k links to one page from 27 source domains. Ouch. problem is, I can’t figure out where they are coming from. Clicking the linked page shows a list of domains, but the most links from any one domain is 75. The total is nowhere near 17.5k. A Google search on that one domain shows 856 links, still far short of the total in Google WT. It’s very frustrating. I’m not sure how to find the actual sources. Any thoughts on this are greatly appreciated!

  • Pete McAllister

    Great article Jenny, link cleanups are hot just now and this guide cuts through the fluff! Absolutely love actionable content like this :).

    I use http://www.urlopener.com to get through browser checking multiple urls a lot more quickly. Just thought I’d share that as it may help out some other readers…

  • http://adsmark.in/ Amrit James

    it will help alot :) thanks

  • Agência MACAN

    Hello Jenny Halasz!

    Firstly congratulations on the post, is very practical.

    I wonder if there is any way to speed this removal of links. We have managed to remove the links of some areas that had a large amount and also insert the file disavow.

    Do you have an estimate of time for them to disappear GWT? We send the files over 15 days and a small amount of them were removed.

    Thank you!

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    You should get a response within 24 hours that Google has received your reconsideration request. Then it takes a couple of weeks to a month or more to get an actual response. Sorry, no way to speed the process up. Although it helps to have everything formatted properly, which I’ll discuss in my next post.

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    That’s a really neat tool that I didn’t even know existed. Bookmarked – and thanks!

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    You’ve hit on the part of GWT that drives webmasters crazy. The numbers don’t match. Don’t focus on the number too much; look for trends and patterns instead. For that domain that shows 856 links, it’s probably a run of site link (look for an ad, a blogroll, a link in the footer, etc) that once removed will remove hundreds of links from your overall profile. That’s a time when it’s absolutely worth it to contact the site owner and ask them to remove your link or add a nofollow to it. Good luck!

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Hi Paul,

    All good notes, thanks. I always try to write my posts from the perspective of the small business owner who usually can’t afford tools (although I personally think certain tools are always worth the investment), but you are absolutely right that screaming frog does all this and more.

    I differ with you on including other data sources. Google says in their disavow how-to (linked in the post above) to use the list from webmaster tools. If you add more data sources, you’re just making more work for yourself, in my opinion.

  • tim789

    Thank you, Jenny. This is very helpful!

  • http://www.archology.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Hi Steven,

    I read your article, thank you for sharing. It seems that the only item in my list that you specifically disagree with is my assertion that trying to contact spammers to have links removed is a fool’s errand. I mentioned in response to one of the other posters – of course you should try to have any links you can removed – or if you can redirect them to another page via a 302 and strip the pagerank off, that’s always good too. We often do that with clients that have affiliate links.

    In terms of suggesting to people that they look at the source code of each link to determine where it is on the page, etc., I’m not clear on your objection. And finally, I take offense to your statement “(trying to pass off as an authority on the subject) who don’t really have the experience or the expertise in the field.” I’ve been in the industry since 1999, and at the risk of sounding cocky, I *am* an authority on the subject.

    I write all of my posts from the perspective of doing as much as you can for free… of course people can hire a consultant or buy a tool. But in this economy, I find that my readers respond better to sweat equity opportunities. If you’d like to discuss better ways to do link auditing without trying to sell your tool, then we’re all ears.

    Thanks for reading,


  • Naveen Kadian

    Hello Jenny,

    Thanks for this great article. First of all i didn’t get any message from
    Google regarding “Unnatural Links Warning” but my ranking is very effected in search
    engine after that i have checked my WMT and checked my all links and made a
    disavow file and submit it to WMT without removing my bad links. But didn’t get
    any benefit till now. Now after read your article i have come to know that i
    have to remove my bad links first, then i can make a disavow file for get back
    my ranking again. I am confused that which links is good and which one is bad
    for my website. I have some directory, Social bookmarking, articles and forums
    links which are links to my website. I have one problem that directory websites
    don’t have any email ID for mail but they have link remove request form. I have
    requested for remove my links on all directories and also removed my bad
    articles links. But i didn’t get any confirmation mail from those directories. Now
    i need your help, can i make a reconsideration request to Google or have to do
    anything more to do this??

    Waiting for positive reply asap.

    Naveen Kadian

  • Manish

    Hi Jenny

    Thanks for the tips, I did exactly what you intended to achieve, but I created a simple code in PHP to do so, I have multiple aged site and had many many links.

    One day when I can clean the code I will may upload it for in OS for others, It will let you add the links in bulk, check duplicate, put related links under the domain, then let you check all the links under each domain, add comments to each link or domain, let you select multiple options like , Good, Disavow,emailed,remove and done. can let you send email out on 1 click, also create the report for disavow. Well … I have multiple sites and keeps my work organised.

    Question I have: I was able to get my website penalty revoke after I submitted almost everything, in the process I have found many Website Analysis tools, Many web directories (paid and unpaid) and many Press Releases .. should these be disavow too, or not.

    I did found heaps of articles, which were removed, anything to do with link exchange was a no no, a lot of article sites shared our articles to other which cannot be removed and tons of Comments and Book Marks. All Removed as much as humanly possible.

    Question : It is almost 2 weeks and I still cannot see my website any where .. how long should I wait to see my website back even on 10th Page

    Also Should I ever clean my disavow list once the penalty has been revoked ?