Tips on backlink analysis that will help your site’s positioning

In-depth backlinks analysis can not only help you optimize search engine traffic. It can tell you much more interesting information about your site.

John Ball from “Search Engine Journal” points at four main uses of backlink analysis:

1. Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis can provide you with wide range of useful information. You will learn what keywords are most useful, which pages of competitor’s site are most linked, which content proves to be most effective, which sites are linking to it.

2. Link prospecting

It’s a very important element of link building process. First you should start with queries most important for your clients. Then you’ll need to additionally filter the results, deciding, which of them are most useful, and of the highest quality. Once you’ve done it start building the relation with the website owners (bloggers, publishers) by contacting them. Here are some useful tips on link prospecting.

3. Backlink Audit

This is a very important part of link building. Toxic links can be as harmful to your search engine visibility and business to overshadow all backlink building process. Google may decide to penalize your site or even ban it because of toxic links. Sites that used to be considered high quality at a time, may be treated as spammers by new search engine algorithms.

Some of the linking pages may not respond. Some of the links may point at redesigned or removed parts of your site.

It’s also not recommended to over optimize the backlinks net. While auditing your backlinks, go through all the points we’ve mentioned here.

4. Link Reclamation

The final result of the analysis is link reclamation. You may contact the linking site’s owner to change a wrong URL or inform him about his page not responding. In case you decide it’s not possible or simply not worth it, you can disavow a link, using Google’s dedicated tool.

Remember, according to new search engine standards, it’s often better if some sites aren’t linking to yours.

image by mterraza via sxc.hu

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Why has Google banned my website?

It’s a webmaster’s nightmare. First, you notice sudden drop in traffic. You log into Analitycs only to find out, that visits from Google have dropped to zero. Your site has been

Google ban

Why? For how long? What should I do to bring it back?

For its part Google will provide you only with general information:

Google may temporarily or permanently remove sites from its index and search results if:

  • it believes it is obligated to do so by law
  • if the sites do not meet Google’s quality guidelines
  • or for other reasons, such as if the sites detract from users’ ability to locate relevant information.

Google’s hints are very vague. The main quality guidelines are:

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

You can spend hours wondering if you are breaching any of them, and come with no clear answer. And even if you are sure you do comply with all guidelines, there are always “other reasons”.

As a general rule Google will not provide you with any individual clues:

We cannot comment on the individual reasons a page may be removed. However, certain actions such as cloaking, writing text in such a way that it can be seen by search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in removal from our index.

How Google can tell if suspicious links have been set up by you? It can’t. That is why so many sites are blacklisted by mistake or as an effect of toxic external links fabricated by competition.

Google ban may happen to anyone, and it’s always a great challenge. Even more difficult, since the search engine won’t provide you with practical steps to go through.

The most tedious task in trying to lift it is inbound links analysis. You need to go through each one of them (sometimes even hundred thousands) manually and by your own judgement decide to disavow it. And you will never get to know for sure if your decision was right. After removing part of incoming links, you will just have to implement the change and wait for the result. If the ban stays  – keep on experimenting.

It all takes time, and website owners observing traffic meltdown don’t have it.

We went through this ordeal. That is why we decided to create a tool that will help you identify the reason of Google or any search engine ban. WebDNA.io is a self learning tool, that collects data about links from different sites, and quickly provides you with advice on what to do to remove the ban. Try it now or come back if you ever face a Google ban, which is not such a big problem if you’re using our tool.

 

How to get your site’s inbound links file from Google

Incoming links to your site are one of the most common reasons for a site to be penalized or even banned by Google. In such case the first thing you should do is to download a list of links to your site from Google Webmasters Tools. Once you do it, you can prepare a list of toxic links you can disavow in order to bring you search engine traffic back to previous levels.

We’ll walk you through this step by step.

1. Log in Google Webmasters Tools and chose the site you need the file for. You should verify both www and non www addresses (www.webdna.io and webdna.io), since they are different things for Google.

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2. Under “Search Traffic” go to “Links to Your Site”.

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3. Click “More” under “Who links the most” list.

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4. Download “Click “Download more sample links” and chose CSV Format.

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Now, when you have the file with links, you can use it to create a “disavow file” – a list of backlinks you want Google to ignore. You can edit the file you have just downloaded, removing some links, that according to you are toxic, and then upload it using Google’s disavow links tool.

How to create a Google Webmaster Tools account and verify you site

Google Webmaster Tools is a free of charge service for people managing a website. It’s an online app in which we are helping the search engine expose our content better: upload sitemaps, remove any obstacles for Google bots to crawl your site.  Yes, it means doing part of Google’s job for Google. But since the search engine is so dominating,  everyone will gladly help it include his or her site in search results.

Recently one of important features of Google Webmaster Tools is downloading inbound links file, which can be used to disavow unwanted external links, that may cause Google penalty or even ban.

Here’s how to set up Google Webmaster Tools account.

  1. Sign in to your Google account on Google Webmaster Tools page.
  2. Enter your site’s address:
  3. Now you will need to verify the ownership of the site. Download a HTML file, and upload it to your site. Then click “Verify”. You’ll get an instant reply.
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  4. If you cannot upload the file, you can use one of four alternative methods:
    1. Add a meta tag to site’s home page:
    2. Sign in to your domain provider
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    3. Verify it via Google Analytics, inserting the asynchronous tracking code.google-analytics
    4. Using Google Tag Manager
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One of these methods should work. If you still have any problems, just comment below.

Why has my website been banned or penalized by Google? 20 steps to recover

If your site has been banned by Google, here are some possible reasons. Make sure you double check if any of these activities are stopped immediately.

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source: sch.hu / mzacha

  1. If you were buying outside links. Google wants you to buy AdWords to get more traffic, not third party services that distort organic search results. It’s not official, but it’s likely, that the search giant is
  2. Participate in any link exchange programs. Although incoming links have always been the core of Google search, and are supposed to certify your site’s quality, nowadays they are often a burden, since it’s you, who are responsible for their quality.
  3. Have too many bilateral links exchanges. Which may be considered as a result manipulation.
  4. Common 404 Errors. If a large part of your pages don’t respond, not only your site is clearly confusing for the users, but you may also raise on Google’s potential spammers list.
  5. Overusing keywords on your pages is a spammy thing to do.
  6. Still haven’t removed good old fashioned outgoing links from the footer of your pages.
  7. Malfunctioning or outdated XML sitemap on Google Webmasters Tools.
  8. Are cloaking some links. Even by mistake.
  9. Link from your site to pages that don’t respond.
  10. You have build your incoming link base too quickly. Of course they may be all good quality organic links that are the result of natural buzz about your site, but remember: Google’s algorithms may be wrong. And when they are, it’s your thought.
  11. Have too many neatly anchored key phrases in your outgoing and incoming links.
  12. Duplicating content, even if it’s useful, i.e. when having different language versions of your site. Each copy, should be marked with Google’s “alternate hreflang“.
  13. Some of the pages of your site are not responding or loading very slowly.
  14. Your content is of very low quality or generated automatically. This is likely, if you’re buying texts in bulk at low price. If algorithms can prepare content, Google ones can identify such content.
  15. Check the comments on your site. There may be some spam with links attached.
  16. You have prepared too many dedicated landing pages filled with keywords. Once again, what used to be a perfect solution for top seeds in search results is now treated as spam.
  17. There are too many ads on your website. Google decides that it’s no longer useful. Which may be true.
  18. Toxic incoming links sent by competition. It may happen that somebody will point to your site from a page containing malware. By Google standards – you are responsible.
  19. Your site is lacking external incoming links. Too much is bad, but too little is no better. Since it’s impossible that all the information on your site is original, not pointing to the source is considered not fair, and banned.
  20. Bad site’s history. If your address had been used before, it may cause additional trouble.

These aren’t the only possible reasons. Google is a huge corporation now, and its algorithms have long history of fighting spam and interacting among each other. Recently even Google’s Matt Cutts stated that:

whether you call something a penalty, or ranking change…any of those things can be really hard to draw a fine distinction between those different points.

We hope one of these 20 steps will help you recover from a Google ban or penalty.