Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Find Bad Links



Have you had a significant drop in traffic and ranking? You probably have bad links pointing to your site.  If so, they could be hurting your ranking under Google's Penguin update.  Here's is how to find them.

Finding the Links
First log into your Google Web Master Tools account. You'll find a list of your sites.  Double-click on the site in question.  The dashboard will open.  Then find and click on the small triangle by "Search Traffic" so a drop down menu appears. Open "Links to Your Site."


You'll see some sample links but they're not specific enough since they only tell you the domain not the actual link.  You need to download the links themselves. Click on "Download more sample links" or "Download latest links".


The Spreadsheet
Google Webmaster Tools will ask you to choose the download format, either csv or Google docs.  The first will open in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel, the other in Google Docs spreadsheet.  You may need to download Google drive to access Google docs. I did.

Download and open your list.

You can copy and paste each link into your browser check out each link and find out the page rank.  You need to click on the far left column then drag and highlight the link with your cursor.  Paste that into the address bar of your browser. 

Check Page Rank and Quality 
I use Google Chrome with a PageRank SEO extension. You can also use a Google search toolbar with page rank.  Now you can check the quality of each link.  
  1. Go to the site by pasting the link into the address bar and see if the site looks spammy.  If it doesn't look like a quality or even mediocre site, you may not want it as a link.
  2. Check what the site's page rank is using your toolbar or page rank extension. If there is a question mark, n/a, or 1 then the site is low ranking.  PR4 and above is best. Be careful, however, sometimes a high-ranking site may have just been delisted and will still show a high rank.  Make sure you do the next check as well.
  3. Check to see if the site is delisted.  To do this go to Google and type Site:yourdomainname.com, for example site:duunia.org.  If the site doesn't come up in the search results, it is delisted. You definitely don't want the link if it is. The example I gave for the Duunia directory is. You can also just search for the site.  For this site search for "Duunia directory."  If the site's actual domain doesn't come up in the listings it probably is delisted.
  4. If there is a malware warning site, then the link is really bad.
Nofollow or Not
Also you need to check if the link to your site is "nofollow" or not.  If it is "nofollow" then it isn't passing much link juice either negatively or positively.  If the site linking to your site is low-ranking but has nofollowed your link then you don't have to worry about its impact, at least in most cases.

To check, go to the webpage where your link is by copying and pasting the link into the address bar of your Chrome browser. Type Ctrl + U.  That will take you to the page source where you can see the html coding. Now type Ctrl + F and search for your domain in the text box that opens in the top right corner
Type Ctrl + F and then type the name of your domain into the text box.
You`ll see the link within the html coding that links to your site. If you see rel = nofollow near your link or url.
This link is nofollow.


Record your Results
Inside your spreadsheet you'll want to keep notes so you don't have to check the sites of your links over and over especially if you have hundreds which many older sites do, you won't be able to remember.

On mine I've added columns for page rank and if the link is "followed" or "nofollowed".  I put in the word "gone" if the site is no longer online. I would also add in red if the site were delisted or had malware in red.  None of these sites do.

I`ve added PR and whether is link is nofollow to my spreadsheet.


Next you'll need to get rid of the bad links.  Click here to find out how to start.

The other posts in this series are:
How to Find Bad Links
How to Remove Bad Links Part One - Ask for Removal on the Site Itself
How to Remove Bad Links Part Two - Use Whois to Find the Owner
How to Remove Bad Links Part Three - Create the Disavow Tool Text

If you need help identifying bad links, Ducktoes can help.  We are an SEO and Web Design Firm in Calgary.