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How To Find All Active Inbound Links To A Website For Effective Link Cleanup

April 26, 2013

By Greg Finn
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Picture this sad story: A non-tech savvy company hired an SEO firm to provide services. Without telling the site owner, the firm did the least amount of work that would garner the most results. What was provided was an SEO dis-service as the site is now plagued by boatloads of spammy links. This happens all the time – and it sucks for us reputable companies.

When plagued with this problem, our first course of action every time is to try and remove the “work” of the corrupt company – may times at 4-5x of the original cost. While this is a tough gig, it is the best method hands down. One of the issues surrounding this is finding out exactly which links are still active. The standard footprint of an SEO hack is that many of the sites and pages where links were “built” don’t even exist anymore. We’ve come up with a solution that allows you to mix Google Webmaster Tools data with Screaming Frog SEO (pro) to quickly display all of the inbound links to your site.

Why Webmaster Tools? Well, we love Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer, but Google WMT shows more results — and the results are coming directly from the horse’s mouth. The only issue is the over-reporting of Google.

Here’s how to fix this and only display the active inbound links:

Run “Sample Links” Report

To do this, simply login to Webmaster Tools then head to Traffic -> Links To Your Site. You’ll see the following:

Sample-Links

Download the report.

Check .CSV & Convert to .TXT

Open up the report and view it in Excel. You should see all the URIs of the inbound links:

Links-

Save the spreadsheet as a .txt file.

Import into Screaming Frog

Once converted to .txt open up Screaming Frog and choose Mode -> List. Then click on Upload File:

upload-list

Now hit start and let Screaming Frog do its magic. You’ll begin seeing data on the various links that were uploaded:

Forbidden

Add Custom Filter

So we’ve now run all of Google’s data into Screaming Frog. Great. It’s time to start cleaning it up to ensure that the links are actually active. To do this, we want to search the source of the HTML pages for our sitename. To do this head to Configuration -> Custom:

Contains-URL
In one of the filters, you’ll want to add your domain and hit OK.

Save The Results

To see the custom filtered data, you’ll need to head to the Custom tab on the far right:

filter
Then you’ll want to select the filter option where the site information was added to. For us, we used Filter 1. Then choose “Export.”

View Results & Get To Work!

You’ll now have a list of all links from Google Webmaster Tools that is cleaned and filtered to be only the active links:

Output
You can now target these sites (and specific pages) for link removal if you’ve been tasked with a link cleanup gig.

If you liked this please  follow us on TwitterInstagramFacebook & Google+ for more Search Knowledge. Still need help? Leave a comment below or fire us a message.

Greg Finn

Greg Finn

Greg is the director of marketing at Cypress North. He has been managing internet marketing campaigns for more than seven years and is a certified Google AdWords partner in search advertising. Greg has been both a speaker and moderator at SMX, the world's leading search engine marketing conference, and is also a contributing editor and regular writer at SearchEngineLand and MarketingLand.

See Greg's Most Recent Posts

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