Link Pruning is a term that has became increasing popular since the latest Google Penguin update which affected a large amount of websites. Link pruning is basically the method of analyzing your backlinks and getting them removed. Many webmasters are forced to remove links due to penalization.
The Method of Finding Links
First of all before you can remove any unwanted links you will have to first find what is linking to you. There are a lot of 3rd party providers who offer great tools in finding backlinks to your website a few mentionable ones are Google webmaster tools, Ahrefs and Backlinkwatch. Without these there may be limits on exactly what you can find and will involve more work figuring out the nature of the backlink to your site.
You will want to analyze your backlinks to decide whether its necessary to get it removed and if it may have a negative effect on your link profile.
Here is some criteria which can be used to decide if a link is bad:
- Coming from a bad neighborhood (xrated, MFA, link farms, blackhat)
- Totally irrelevant to your own website e.g. backlink from fishing site when you have investing niche
- Link stuffed content
- Banned domain in Google
- Removing Low value links to neutralize your keyword density (if you have existing high keyword density).
Its up to you how far you want to take it when going through the process of removing links, some webmasters may just want to remove their links from bad neighborhoods while others want any link that they feel is not helpful removed. Another helpful reason for link pruning is for those people who built tons of links on their “money keyword” and have a high percentage of backlinks with it. The penguin update focuses on over-optimization so getting that percentage down is important. Anything over 60% usage of a main keyword is probably excessive.
This part is probably the toughest to accomplish, due to getting them removed requires real people to manually remove them or get them removed by force. Keep in mind dont expect links to removed within 1 or 2 days it sometimes can take up to weeks if they are removed.
You will first want to ensure you have copied or wrote down which links are prime targets for removal. Go through them one by one and locate the hosting site of the backlink. Go to the page that the backlink was placed on and find a contact email somewhere on the website. You will want to come up with an email template for link removal this makes it easier instead of typing the same email over and over. When emailing be kind and courteous and quote the backlink and where its located and ask them to remove it. In the case you cannot find any contact form or contact email for the site administrator you can look up a domain whois to find a contact email.
No response from the Webmaster?
This is where it can become a little less pleasant for you and the hosting website, if its been about 7-10 days and you have got no response at all its best to send out a follow up email. Again make a template for the follow up email stating that you have previously contacted them about the link removal and have not heard back from them. And then state if you do not hear back again you will be forced to contact their hosting provider. To find their hosting provider you can simply lookup a domain whois. In the case you did not hear from then again after a week simply send an email to the hosting company about your issue with wanting to remove the link.
Overall link pruning can be drawn out process that can take as little as a few days or up to a month possibly longer. But if you have negative links bringing down your link profile the end results will be beneficial for your website in the long run.