Like Me? Follow Me.
More and more website owners have currently been receiving unnatural backlink profile messages in their Google Webmaster Tools account. For many this may be causing a lot of questions such as “What does this message actually mean?” and “What should I do about it?”.
There are a lot of directory services out there that will promise you lots of links for little money. You pay your money and hey presto you get lots of links to your site and your rankings start whizzing up towards first page and the money starts rolling in. You put down the deposit for your £1,000,000 house and book your holiday to Hawaii. Then whoops... the unnatural link building message comes through in your Google Webmaster Tools account and your rankings, traffic and revenue start to drop like a stone. I imagine you would then get annoyed, pull out of the £1,000,000 deal on the house and then get pretty annoyed with your directory listing company and start asking yourself: “What on EARTH have they been doing to ruin my business?!”
The below details one of the many issues which can arise with your backlink profile and will give you a pointer in the right direction to help resolve some of your dirty links.
Many directory services have hundreds of domains on their books, which will fire your anchor text link onto a lot of irrelevant domains. For example, the anchor text pointing towards your site may be “PPI Claims” and this link will could be sitting on irrelevant domain such as www.englishtogermantranscriptions.co.uk, www.ilikeredshoes.co.uk, www.ilikeholidays.co.uk (I pulled these sites from the top of my head, so if these sites actually exist they are not necessarily a bad site!) None of these domains have anything to do with PPI claims and are usually crammed full of other links bought by other customers of the directory company you have used.
All these domains will also be coming from the same IP address which shows that the owner of all these websites is situated in the one location – a nice red flag to Google.
There are tools such as SEO Majestic that will let you analyse the backlink profile of your website so you can see all the links your website has. You can look through the domain names to see if there is anything suspicious in there. Make a list of what you are suspicious of and then use a website such as http://webipaddress.net/ which will tell you what the IP address of the website is. If you get similar IP address for lots of the suspicious domains then you know there is your problem.
The next step is to contact the owners of these directories and the directory service you used to try and get these links removed. At present this is the only way of removing links which is not great considering that a lot of these directories are probably no longer manned if they are old. Google is talking about the disavow tool which could be implemented soon in Google Webmaster Tools for those instances where you cannot get hold of directory owners.
Done That, Now What?
Start doing ethical link building by finding your own links, one great link is as good as twenty or more low quality directory links. If you are not sure how to do this yourself then contact a company that promotes their ethical link building services. Don’t forget you can always ask where your links are going so that you can monitor where your links are – this way you can really see if a company is ethical or not.
It’s really important to remember that if you are with an SEO company and this message appears, that there could be a good chance that the bad links were built way before they ever got their hands on your website. If you do receive this warning message in Google Webmaster Tools, your SEO should be telling you that they are cleaning up the backlink profile for you. If your SEO is not talking to you about the message, you need to worry as they probably don’t know what it means or how to fix it. Unfortunately there are a lot of cowboys out there offering SEO, so be careful.
Moving forward, it is a good idea to check out where your links are going so that your backlink profile is always squeaky clean, and also so that you can keep your million pound house!