Saturday, March 29, 2014

How to Get Rid of Bad Links: Part Three

Step Three: Create the Disavow File

Step Three is creating the disavow file of the links you haven`t been able to remove.  You'll submit it to the disavow tool.  Don't worry, it's not hard.

What You'll Need
  •  A simple text editor like Notepad or, for Macs, TextEdit with plain text selected. 
  • The spreadsheet of the links you downloaded and imported into Excel or Google Docs and used in Parts One and Two 
  • Access to the disavow tool within Google Webmaster Tools.  Don't use Word or other more elaborate word processing application since the documents they create won't be accepted by the disavow tool.   Find all the bad links you have identified as bad for your site's ranking but have been unsuccessful at removing. 
Open your Notepad and Type
Now that you have the links, type them into Notepad, one link or domain per line.

How to Format the Disavowel of a Page
It's better to disavow an entire domain instead of pages but if you want to disavow a single page you just format it like this:

How to Format the Disavowel of a Domain
If you have several links from one domain or if you are unsure how many you have and want to make sure you remove all of them, disavow the entire domain. Unless there are links from a domain you want to keep, disavowing the domain is the wisest choice. Disavowing the entire domain, looks like this:

Making Comments
You don't have to make a comment for each link, as some experts claim, but if you want to make a comment for your own use, type the number sign ahead of the comment. This comments out your words by telling the tool to ignore the text that follows.  Here's how comments are formatted:

#I emailed the owner two times to ask for removal but haven't received a response.

Example of Disavow File
Here's an example of one of my disavow texts for a client.  I've only disavowed domains here. There are no comments. Check out the formatting:

Now here`s one with comments and links as well as domains.  See how it's formatted:

What I've Learned
The above is how I used to format the disavow file in the past.  I wrote comments as if I was making an argument to some poor Googler, convincing him or her to disavow the links. Yet now I`ve learned that no human reads the comments, so since then I make it much easier on myself by not spending a lot of time on them.  Keeping the text uncluttered with comments also makes it easier for the the disavow tool to read the list of links to be disavowed and ensure greater accuracy.  Now when I disavow, I make all the pages into domains and leave out the comments.

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

Ducktoes Search Engine Optimization can help you disavow your bad links and recover your ranking.  We are an SEO firm in Calgary.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Get Rid of Bad Links: Part Two

Step Two: Use Whois to Find the Owner

Link Removal can be Enjoyable like a Video Game

What if you try to remove a bad link using a comment form or email found on the site, but you receive no response? Or on the site there is no comment form or email or any way way of contacting the owner?  You need to move to Step Two.  Step Two is to try to find some alternate way of communicating with the owner of the site.

Removing Bad Links
Removing bad links is hard work. You have to be persistent.  It is not for the lazy or the feint of heart.  If you give up or get discouraged easily then you should not bother.  Start over with a new domain right now.

You can make link removal more enjoyable if you have the right attitude and like a good challenge.  Pretend it is a video game and the links are targets ( they are.)  There is a certain satisfaction in removing each link and the end goal of recovering your ranking is the sheer pleasure of winning.

Site with Bad Link
Here is a site with an article linking to my client. My client hired someone (not me) to do SEO for him in 2009, not knowing that low-ranking article sites might not be a good idea, or maybe the article site was not low-ranking at the time. Besides, it was before article spamming was even known to be harmful.  Certainly my client was not at fault, but last spring, several years later, his site went down in ranking.  The articles were still there on now low-ranking, spammy sites.  His site got hit with the second Penguin.

For over six months I have been removing his bad links. I have tried in vain to communicate with the owner of this article website via the comment form.

Comment Form Not Working
What you can't see above are my comments, asking the owners to remove the link and article, so I'll let you see them below. They make me laugh since I sound so pleading and pathetic.  Speaking of which, you can't let ego get in the way if you are doing link removal. Pathetic begging becomes routine. Think of that before you sign up for bad links.  Link removal ain't pretty.

I use the "we" in the comments, although neither my client or myself signed up for this article.  It was a previous SEO company who in 2009 thought that this was a good practice. I'm not judging them too much because it was standard then.  (Much like guest posting was thought a good practice until recently.)

The owner is either not seeing these comments or ignoring them.  It is obviously time for Step Two.

Step Two: Use a Whois Site
You need to fine a good Whois website.  I use  You'll need to type in the domain of the site with the unwanted link.  This is what I find:

Still No Contact
If I want complete details, and the contact information, I have to go to the Godaddy Whois.  When I get to Goddaddy I find I have to enter in the verification code into the captcha to see the details. This is the result:

I find the site is listed as private.  The contact information is still not available. This is disappointing news but perhaps if I write to the Admin Email at of Godaddy, they will forward it to the owner. This is what I decide to do.  I email the admin contact and ask for the link removal.

Perhaps You'll Have Better Luck
Sometimes the contact info is available on Whois and you can write an email or even a letter.  I've even called an owner before when nothing else worked. Just because whois and emailing didn't work this time for me, it doesn't mean you won't find the information you need.

Time will Tell
Only time will tell if the owner will respond to my email.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.  And if not all is not lost.  There is still Step Three.

It is more than a month later and I still no response from the website/article owner.  Definitely time for Part Three.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to Get Rid of Bad Links: Part One

Best First Step: Ask for Removal on the Site Itself

Now that you've identified your bad links, you can now start the process of getting rid of them.

Here is are some links for a site downloaded from Google Web Master Tools.  I've put them in a spreadsheet and started to analyse them.

Nofollow, No Worry
Notice that the first six links are all nofollow, since I've put an "n" in the "Followed?" column.  You don't have to worry about them, as a general rule, if they are "nofollow"  since they don't pass much link juice. The seventh is a followed and low-ranking link from the domain:  It has a PR 0.  This is probably not good for page rank, and looks a good one to get rid of.  Doing so can only help our ranking.

Best Way to Start Link Removal
The best way to start link removal is to go to the site itself to request link removal.  Sometimes there is a contact form to request removal and, on the other end, in the best of cases, a person who after receiving the request, will immediately remove it for you.  This is what happens with reputable site.

Let's Try it Out
Let's go to Alestat and see if that is the case here.  This is what Alestat looks like:

We will love their statistics, we are told. And so it seems, at first glance, we will.  Alestat is one of those sites that will give you statistics about your page rank and Alexa ranking, if you enter your domain name into the text box. It looks professional, clean, and reputable, like a good site.  It does not look spammy at all.  The site probably added our link when someone, out of curiosity, submitted our domain to find out the statistics.  (Warning: If you are following along, do not submit your site.)

Find the Contact
To top it all off there is a "Contact " too.  This is great, it seems, we'll be able to ask for removal.  Clicking the "Contact",  we find a form and on the form under "--select type of query--" there is even, yes, a "Delete link to website."  At this point we're loving this site and how easy they make it to request removal.  Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, we're almost there, we think. I enter "Delete link to website" and I find this:

Time to be Shocked
Now we're shocked, this site is so bad.  It lures people into their really nice, clean and reputable looking website, saying we'll love their statistics.  Unsuspecting, we enter our domain.  After which they give us a low-ranking link we didn't ask for, and then charge us $10 a year to remove it and keep it removed?  I don't think so.  I would not pay this...this is not reputable or honest.  This is a site to stay away from completely. Don't enter your domain to begin with, don't pay if you already have.

What to do Next
What I did was to disavow the link in Google Web Master Tools which I will talk about in a future post.  I put in a comment to tell Google why.  Disavowing will take the bad link's link juice away without paying the $10 or $25 dollars.

The Best First Step
With many sites, you can submit a request for removal in their contact form or, if they list an email address, by emailing them.  This is the best and easiest way to remove a bad link.  Many websites make it easy to request removal and will do it on first request.  Start there.  The harder link removals come next.

If you want help finding or removing bad links, Ducktoes will be glad to give advice or do it for you.

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

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, for example  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.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Don't Forget Dmoz and Yahoo

The Two Top Directories

Two great citations to raise trust in your website are Dmoz and Yahoo Directory. Don't overlook them. They can only help boost traffic to your site and ranking.

Acceptance into Dmoz Open Directory Project is difficult at best and if you get your site accepted you are doing something right. It is a goal worth striving for and attaining.

You can also apply to be an editor for Dmoz. You have to pick a category you know enough about to edit successfully. You choose three sites you think should be included in that category and write titles and descriptions for those sites.  If you do a good job Dmoz may accept you.  I have applied to be an editor for Dmoz.

Yahoo Directory
Yahoo costs $300 a year and does not accept all submissions, so there is a risk of losing your submission fee. You need to want the citation badly enough to come up with the money despite the risk.

If you would like help promoting your site on the internet please follow this blog and I'll give you ideas and help.  If you'd like even more help please go to my website.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Join the Discussion in your Niche

Some advice I give all my SEO clients is to start talking to other experts in their niche.  For instant if you are a catering company, I'd advise you go to other catering companies' blogs or food blogs and comment on their posts.  If you are a home builder go to new home design or construction blogs, and do the same. Talk to others and when they reply to you, answer back.

That way, whatever your niche is, you'll participate in a community, become even more of an expert in your field and niche, have more ideas to use in your own business, and your blog. You may even increase traffic to your site.  I use to advise that you would use your company name as the name and link back to your site.  But now I advise, since Matt Cutts suggested it, is just to use your own name.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Never Worry about Penguin Again: SEO Experiment Revisited

Well, I couldn't keep blogging during my vacation in Europe.  For that reason, I won't know the results to my SEO experiment's  for many more weeks.  The experiment is supposed to find out whether or not blogging four to five times a week will improve a website's ranking, so we never have to worry about ranking or Penguin updates again.  An internet marketing expert claimed that this was true. All we have to do is write. To read more about the experiment click here.

My family and I went on two river cruises back-to-back and I just couldn't find much time to write blog posts. The wifi on the boats was too spotty and slow when I did have a moment or two.  I was too busy anyway going on walking tours in wonderful cities like Rouen, France, and Bamberg, Germany, watching the river of the farmland, forests, and the medieval castles and towns as we floated by, spending time with my family, and thoroughly enjoying myself.

My Ducktoes site did go down in ranking a couple of places for the keywords "Calgary computer repair" when I stopped blogging for the two weeks, so maybe that's an indication. Now I'm writing a lot again.  I think I'll give it a couple of months before I decide whether it worked or not.

If you would like us at Ducktoes to write posts for your blog or help you improve your search engine ranking, please see our Ducktoesseo and internet marketing page.