Ever since Google launched the infamous Penguin update, website owners have been on high alert about the quality of the links pointing back to their sites. Link quality continues to play a significant role in the ranking of any given site, so it's crucial to keep tabs on your incoming links to avoid being inadvertently penalized by Google. While Google's Disavow Tool has made it easier to stop your site from being associated with specific bad links, you can't use it without identifying those links first. Fortunately, plenty of tools automate the process for you, and we've handpicked the 10 best examples.
- Google Webmaster Tools - Google Webmaster Tools can be used to get a feel for how many bad backlinks you're going to have to tackle, but it's not a full-fledged bad link identification and removal tool. Navigate to Dashboard -> Links to Your Site -> Download Latest Links to begin. Save the file as a Google document or as a CSV file, and then use the file to generate a final report with one of the other tools on this list.
- Linkquidator - This handy tool doesn't have a free option, but it's so loaded with features that you're unlikely to care. In an instant, it evaluates all of your site's backlinks and uses 20 parameters to gauge which links should be removed. A "Linkquidator Index" is given to all sketchy or questionable links, and you can manually assess them to zero in on the ones that need to be removed. From there, Linkquidator helps you remove the offending links using Google's Disavow Tool.
- cognitiveSEO - This exceptional tool may not be free, but it's loaded with a vast array of features that makes it a breeze to identify and eliminate bad links to your site. In addition to offering backlink reports and a wealth of link management tools, it boasts a link analysis tool that lets you filter all backlinks by link context, link position and more. The link preview feature lets you see the link in action without having to navigate away from the tool. After manually reviewing your bad links, you can add comments and then import data into Google's Disavow Tool.
- ahrefs Site Explorer - Though a standalone bad link tool isn't available, the Site Explorer feature on this tool is an excellent way to find and remove low-quality backlinks. A subscription is required, but you'll get two months free by signing up for an annual subscription. The Site Explorer tool studies your site's backlink profile; all you have to do is type in the domain. A tabulated report is then generated and includes information like most popular anchor texts, the domains generating the most links and the most popular types of links.
- Link Detox - The premise behind the tool is simple. Enter the domain of the site you'd like to check, and this tool awards risk ratings to each detected incoming link. Links can be rated low risk, medium risk or high risk, and it's then up to you to decide how to proceed. Visually stunning charts clearly demonstrate how many problems you're up against, and you can even run what-if scenarios to see how links coming from certain sites would affect your backlink profile.
- Link Research Tools - The Backlink Profiler feature on this extensive tool offers quick, effective way to locate low-quality links so you can remove them. In an instant, you can see which domains are giving you quality link juice. By sorting them the opposite way, you can see which ones are potentially dragging down your ranking. One-click export lets you create a CSV file of the offending links so they can be handled by the Disavow tool later.
- Remove'em - Unlike most other bad link tools, this one can be purchased for a one-time fee instead of a monthly one. That's incredible considering how well it works. In a few seconds, it searches the Internet for backlinks to your domain and analyzing various metrics, including anchor text matches, so gauge the quality of each. R-scores are assigned and fall into three categories: Danger, Warning and Review. This tool then searches the sites from which the links originate to pull contact information so you can request their removal.
- rmoov - This tool is especially great if you have several domains to check. Just add their URLs, and rmoov will set up a "campaign" for each. You'll receive ongoing notifications about the progress of each campaign, so there's very little that needs to be done manually. One-click summary reports are available on demand as well. The extent of the features varies based on whether you have a paid or free plan, but even the free one is quite handy.
- SEOMoz Open Site Explorer - Free and paid versions of this tool are available. In addition to analyzing your links based on criteria like anchor text and domain authority, it can be used to calculate social media shares and other data. Conveniently, it also allows you to study competitors' links to get a feel for what seems to work and what doesn't.
- Majestic Site Explorer - By opting for the paid version of this tool, you'll gain access to a variety of terrific features. It performs an in-depth analysis of your site through the Bulk Backlink Checker. From zeroing in on over-optimized anchor text to identifying links that come from penalized sites through the Clique Hunter feature, this tool is absolutely indispensable. You can also sort backlinks to quickly identify the most problematic ones. As with so many other tools, this one lets you create files that can be used to disavow bad links through the Google tool.
Any one of these tools can help you get your bad links squared away. Explore them all a little to figure out which one has the specific features you want and the price you need. No matter which one you choose, using it regularly will help you keep bad backlinks - and potential penalties - at bay.