As SEO-expert, digital marketer, or webmaster, you are well aware that the best and most effective way to increase your ranking is to have quality, niche-related websites to point to your website. According to Google’s algorithm to determine a site’s value, popularity is one of the main factors taken into account; if a website is worth visiting it will organically get plenty or good backlinks, or at least, the majority of the backlinks will be coming from high quality sources.

The strategy that aims to drive more quality links pointing to your site is called backlinking and includes parameters such as content freshness, social sharing, links to other sites that add value to your site’s quality; for instance, if your blog talks about cinema, it will be obvious for such a website to connect with blogs and sites dedicated to film news, movie reviews and silver screen related sites (read more about how to create better back-links for your site). When you are planning to spend energy and money to increasing the number of backlinks to your site, you should be aiming to get 1 or 2 backlinks at week as more than that for a young site could be flagged by Google as spam, above all if your site is still seldom visited. The most important lesson that you can learn when you plan digital marketing is to try to engage with people, build relationships and finally grow backlinks naturally. As I explained in this blog the first rule of digital marketing is to be helpful. That does not mean you cannot apply a dose of self-promotion, you can still ask people to promote your articles or ask them to be a host of their blog, however, you need to keep in mind that you are building meaningful relationships that aim to add value to users and website visitors. Therefore, every self-promoting scenarios should aim to to create natural organic relationships and not a cheap method to get backlinks fast.

1. Track Backlinks

The best tool for tracking your inbound links (links pointing to your site) is to sign up to Google Webmaster Tools. If you already have an account, log in, click on your app name URL. On the new page click on Search Traffic from the left-side menu and then to “Links to your site” option from the drop-down menu. This option will generate a full list of sites linking in which can be downloaded and analyzed in Microsoft Excel. Another method is to download the Alexa Rank Site tool extension for Google Chrome Tool-Bar which allows you to track the number of sites linking in. If you have an Alexa account, you can even download the list of sites linking in.

2. Find Bad Backlinks

While you decided to promote your blog or website using pure-white hat strategies, some people might decide to use your website as a dumping ground for generating Black Hat backlinks back to their site. One upon a time bad backlinks were not taken into account by Google as ranking factor. However, negative SEO has now become a reality as bad backlinks are taken into account as an indication of the type of crowd a website is connected to as Google considers it is a webmaster’s responsibility to keep track of the links pointing to their site and eventually erase bad ones. This could make the task a little bit more daunting in particular when you are just starting out and you are not massively familiar with the entire SEO process. In case you are worried that links coming from suspicious sites could be potentially harm your ranking factor, the best approach is to download the CSV file that lists all the links coming into your site from Google Webmaster Tools. Open the file in Microsoft Excel and check each single link. The file contains a URL of the site and the date in which the link was added. Just click on the link and see what the site is about. A little tip: as the day in which the link is created in indicated in the file, save this file as it indicates what was the last link added to your site since the last time you checked.

3. Remove Bad Backlinks

In case you find the some sites are potentially spam and you are afraid you could encounter in a penalty, the first approach is to contact directly the webmaster and ask them to remove the link. If they ignore your request it is now time to ask Google to disavow that site. It will take time, so be patient. In order to ask Google to disavow some backlinks you need to follow Google Instruction.

  1. First, in a .txt file you need to copy and paste the URL of the entire website or a specific page you want to have Google to ignore when calculating your ranking.
  2. After listing all the URLs you need to explicitly tell Google that you have followed the rule of contacting the webmaster of the spam site first and asked them to remove it.
  3. For each website you want Google to ignore you state: “# Contacted owner of WEBSITE.COM on DATE (mm/dd/yyyy) to ask for link removal but got no response”. You finish with “domain: WEBSITENAME.COM” for each website you have listed. Now go to the website listed below, press “Disavow Link” button, ignore warning, “Upload file” and press “Submit”.
  4. For more information, read Disavow backlinks post from Google support.

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