Building a backlink profile is considered a staple of SEO techniques, but eventually you may have to do some cleaning up, especially now that Google has introduced multiple algorithms to clamp down on the use of low-quality links.

If you’ve seen a sudden drop in traffic or rankings lately, it is likely you were hit by one of these algorithms. You may have received a notification of being penalized, but unless it was a manual action, it is highly likely you got no warning that you were hit by the changes. Either way, one way towards repairing the drop in traffic is to do some pruning on your backlinks, and removing low-quality links that are pointing to your site.

Cleaning up your links is neither fast nor easy. It takes time and patience, but with effort you can restore your site’s health. You can’t just go in and cut out random links hoping to solve the issue. Attacking the problem broadly could cause more problems, and pruning backlinks is considered a last-ditch effort according to SEO.com. “You should exhaust all of your other efforts like updating your content, building higher quality links and producing good content to promote and engage users before you consider removing bad links.”

After you have tried all these methods and determined whether your website was hit by a penalty or an algorithm update, then you can create a strategy for fixing your backlinks. Neither problem can be fixed automatically. If you received a manual penalty, you will have to do everything you can to fix the issue identified, and submit a reconsideration request. Algorithm updates, on the other hand, require changing your methods and waiting to see positive growth for your site.

If you are ready to put in the work and time to try to properly repair your site, and you’ve already tried everything else, then it is time to really get your hands dirty. SEO.com has a full tutorial for cleaning up backlinks, and it walks you through every step, including suggesting tools for analyzing backlinks.

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