For many website owners, the Google Penguin Update on April 24 came as a surprise. No one wants to receive a Google Webmaster Tools notification warning notifying them their website is full of unnatural backlinks. Whether it was your fault or not, unnatural backlinks need to go and they need to go quickly if you’re planning on returning to page one of a Google SERP anytime soon. Unfortunately, removing these unwanted links can seem troubling to those who thought they fixed the problem long ago.

According to SEObook, the update impacted about 3.1 percent of search queries. For those who are unfamiliar, the Penguin update was set into motion to stop spam sites from ranking well on a Google SERP. The biggest indicator of a spam site was of course unnatural links. Fortunately, there are several steps a company can take to help make sure that unwanted and unnatural backlinks are no longer pointing to the company website.

How to Remove Unnatural Backlinks Quickly and Efficiently

Removing unnatural backlinks starts by finding the unwanted backlinks in the first place. The easiest way to do this is by using a tool to help find all of the backlinks that are pointing to your site. A few great tools include The Webmaster Tools Links, SEOMoz Open Site Explorer and Majestic site Explorer. Once you can see all of these backlinks, it’s time to analyze which need to be removed. In general, a link is probably high risk if it’s found on a useless page or a directory that seems to be full of paid links that offer little value.

Once you know which backlinks need to be removed, there are a few different things you can do to make that happen:

  1. Ask for Link Removal. This is the first thing that you should do when you want a backlink removed. Simply ask the editor to take down the link, and in the majority of cases the editor will be happy to do so. In fact, many editors will appreciate you pointing out something unnatural. Make sure that in your email you explain where the link can be found and what the anchor text is so that the correct link gets removed. You can usually find contact information on the website, but if not you may want to use a WhoIs tool to help you find the person who owns the site.
  2. Ask for NoFollow. In some cases, an editor will not take your link down unless you pay them. If your company does not have the funds to pay the editors, consider asking them if they will set the link as a nofollow. This will help ensure that Google does not count this link when it comes time to analyze your website and rank the website on a SERP.
  3. Contact the Writer. Talking with the freelancer you hired or company you outsourced to earn you backlinks is a great way to help get the problem solved. Many companies hire freelance writers to guest post or add useful information and links to forums. In many cases these freelancers will have logins or accounts on the sites where you seen an unwanted link. Go back to this freelance writer or outsourced company and ask them for help.
  4. Go Social. This is usually the last resort for companies looking to get a backlink removed because many spam sites do not have social profiles (and if they do, the profiles usually are not managed). However, it doesn’t hurt to try and find social profiles and contact the editor through this medium if you’re stuck. After all, angry tweets or negative Facebook publicity usually gets an editors attention.

Once you believe that you have removed all of the unnatural backlinks to your site, it’s time to send a reconsideration request to Google. This request should be detailed and should explain to Google what you did to fix your problem with unnatural links. Consider taking a screenshot of the emails that you sent editors and keeping a detailed spreadsheet that lays out all of your unwanted links and what you did to get rid of them (or try to get rid of them).