Most of us have a pretty good idea where we’re getting the majority of our own backlinks from. But, unless you’re extremely diligent about monitoring your website’s backlink profile, it could be a lot worse than you think. Which is how it was for a few of the sites I run.
Recently, I’ve been forced to take and in-depth look at the backlinks to many of my own web properties. Something I probably should have been doing anyway. But since I don’t do a lot of manual link-building, it’s not something I pay that close attention to.
I figured there was no way Google would penalize me for anything that I had done thus far. But in the wake of the Google Penguin update, I had to accept the fact that it needed to be looked at more closely, and even cleaned up a bit. A few of my sites have indeed been hit.
That’s why I recommend you start monitoring your profile too, if you’re not already.
I keep a link building document for each of my sites, but when I downloaded all of my links through Google Webmasters tools, and ran an anchor text report using Ahrefs, there were a few item that really stood out. Some were even kind of embarrassing, actually. It’s just that I rarely ever pull my own link reports, because I’m always watching the competition. Had I been actively monitoring my own backlinks better, I definitely would have changed some of them a long time ago.
These were some of the most noticeable items:
And there were a few others too. But it’s the first one in this list that concerned me most, so I removed it along with any other worrisome ones I could, and have put in a request for any that are out of my control. Then I changed the anchor text of some of the ones on my personal sites because they still looked a bit heavy for a few of my targeted keywords.
When it comes to link-building, anything that isn’t 100% natural is suspect. Even the whitest of white-hats have unnatural backlinks. It’s nearly impossible to avoid, unless you’re not serious about building a business online. And unfortunately, Google can manually penalize you for just about anything it wants too. So it really all comes down to risk. How risky is a particular link, and is the payoff of having that link worth the risk to you.
For this site, having a site-wide backlink with perfect anchor-text from a food service consulting blog is fairly risky, extremely stupid, and probably wasn’t even helping me before any penalties anyway. That’s why it was the first to go.
Regardless if you were hit by Penguin or not. Please learn from my mistake. Take a look at your profile and fix any obvious red-flags before it’s too late. Google, Majestic SEO and Ahrefs let you monitor your own site’s backlinks for free. They just ask you to take a couple of minutes to verify ownership, so it really should be a no-brainer.
If you were hit by a Google update and make changes to your link profile, just be sure to give Google time to process the updates before freaking out and changing a bunch of other items too. It’s been nearly a month since I removed some of the links, and Google still shows them in it’s link report and cache. So it could take a Penguin data refresh or two before I have any idea if my initial changes were effective or not.
Even so, what I found was a bunch of items that needed to be cleaned up anyway.