What is Link Pruning?

Link pruning simply put is the removal of unnatural and spammy links in your websites link profile. Whether these links were purchased on the cheap (Fiverr specialists) or acquired with an automated submitter like Submiteaze, it is time that these links are weeded from your link profile. This process can be extremely time-consuming, but by following some of these tips and tricks, you can shorten the length of time from review of links to email to webmaster considerably. The tools needed for this process are:

  •   Sharp mind
  •   Excel
  •   A text editor (check out notepad++)
  •   Cup of coffee
  •   Webmaster Tools, Majestic SEO, or Open Site Explorer
  •   Marketing Optimizer account

*Sharp mind and coffee optional, but if you do bring coffee it should be jet fuel.

The Process

Draft yourself a simple email stating exactly what your wishes are with the links on the page containing the unnatural links. Try and make the job as easy as possible for the site owner by providing precise information because as we know they do not have to remove the link, and honestly (ass-umption alert), if you wouldn’t have been buying shady links you wouldn’t have to request their removal!

For the first step of the process, reviewing your link profile, I decided to use Open Site Explorer. This tool makes life extremely easy because I can download a .CSV with up to 10,000 results containing the URL, Title, anchor text, Page Authority, Domain Authority, Number of Domains Linking to this Page, Number of Domains linking to Domain, Followable, 301, Origin, and Target URL, all on one spreadsheet. This makes your data easily filterable in multiple ways for deciding which way you’d like to prune your links.

{The next portion of this process is purely subjective and by no means must be done this way.}

Breaking Up Your URLs

Apply filters to your top row of data and sort your column page authority from largest to smallest. Choose a numerical starting point (say page rank of 25 or so), highlight all links of that amount and less then copy only the URL and paste it into a new worksheet, these will be the links flagged for attempted removal. Next we will break apart the URL by using the text to columns option in Excel located under the Data tab, then select the Delimited option, and within the Delimiters group select other and in the input box type “/”, unquoted. Once you click next you will see a preview of how your worksheet will look, every “/” turned into the start of a new column so now you will not have slashes any more but we will add them back later by using a CONCATENATE function, which basically means this column etc…

Excel text to columns

Now you may notice a bunch of duplicate URLs on the spreadsheet which we will simply select the whole worksheet and use the remove duplicates option. First click unselect all then choose the column that contains the root domain, if you started in column A then column C is likely the option you will need to select, and press ok.

Create Email List

Select the column containing the root domain and paste it into another worksheet in column B. Then in Column A we will type one of the follow options: webmaster@, admin@, or info@, and copy it all the way down to the end of the list of URL’s. These seem to be the most popular default emails out there that can at least get you in contact with someone working with the website. Now with the handy CONCATENATE function in column C (=a1&b1) copied all the way down the column we generate our list of email addresses, copy and paste the emails into your text editor, and we have our list of contact emails that we will import into Marketing Optimizer.

Rebuild Your URL’s

Jumping back to the worksheet 2, where we used text to columns and removed duplicates, we have to put our URL’s back together. The Process is simple enough using CONCATENATE in the furthest right column and using the function (=a1&”//”&c1&”/”&d1), make sure that you extend this formula as far as needed so when you copy it down the column it generates the complete URL. Copy your list of domains and paste it into your text editor and close Excel. Now use find and replace for any extra “///” portions of the URL with “/”, these happen during the process, it’s okay, with just a couple find and replaces you can fix them all. Be careful with the “http://” when you find the double forward slash you’ll have “http:/” just find and replace the whole portion of the URL and replace it with the double slash. Finally, populate your website column with your domain URL. Now we have our list of contact URL’s that we will also import into Marketing Optimizer.

Concatenate Function

Creating Your Email Template

Before we start importing this information into our CRM ‘all willy-nilly’, we should prepare the system first. To start, we want to set up the email template that the automations section will use to contact all of the site admins. Again, we need to keep it concise as to why we are contacting them. Go to the email templates section and create a new template. Give the emails a straight-forward subject line like “Link Removal Request” – direct in our request but not too demanding to avoid an immediate trip to the recycle bin. Copy that email draft you wrote earlier into the message display, or type in a brief message now. They key points we need to convey here is the URL where the link(s) are located, the links’ URL (your website), and the fact we need the links removed. The two URLs involved can be automatically inserted into the message by using Marketing Optimizer’s dynamic field IDs located under the “Template Legend” on the editor toolbar. Copy the IDs for the two URLs and paste them in the body of your email where those two addresses would go. Thank the kind reader for their assistance in the matter, and click “save”.

Marketing Optimizer Email Template

Automate Email Delivery

With our message prepared, we can now set up an automation to automatically send out the email requests as new URL lists are uploaded. Go to your automations section and click “add new”. Name your automation appropriately, and click the actions tab. Expert Marketing Optimizer users may ask “why did we skip the filter tab?” If your Marketing Optimizer account is dedicated to link pruning, then filtering is not needed, but you do have the option to filter what contacts the automation applies to if you manage other non-link related contacts as well. As to the actions, only one action is needed, “send an email to the contact”. Highlighting that option on the left in your “add actions” menu will allow you to select your newly crafted email template on the right. Click “add”, “save”, and activate your automation.

Link Pruning Automation

Uploading Your Contacts

Now that we have all our ‘ducks in a row’, it’s time to upload our list. Importing into Marketing Optimizer is straight forward. Go up to the “Contacts” drop-down menu and click “Contact Import”. You will need to download an import template, which is essentially an Excel spreadsheet with the field names labeling the column heads. Take the column with the website URL from your worksheet and copy/paste into the column of the same name in the import template. Repeat this “mapping” for the link URL and contact email address. Once all of our information is moved over, save the template as a .CSV file, eliminating any fancy formatting or cell formulas. Browse for our template from the import window and click save and confirm. Voila! Like magic, the list of emails you just uploaded will be contacted with our request to remove, as will any future lists we upload.

Other Useful Information

You can easily update and resend your requests to an alternate email for the same links by using Marketing Optimizer’s deduplication feature. By telling the system to compare the link URL to any new uploaded contacts you can update the associated email addresses, duplicate your automation and resend.