How I Cleaned Up a 30,000+ Backlink Profile in 15 Minutes

As you might know another Panda update is scheduled for end of this month. So I highly suggest you make sure your backlink profiles are clean! Below are the steps I used to cleanup a 30,000+ backlink profile in under 15 minutes. There are no excuses for you now.

Make a quick clean sweep of your backlink profile using the steps below.

I use a tool called Web CEO. If you have read my blog before you probably already know I love this tool. While it isn’t the cheapest tool on the market it saves me so much time! The backlink tool in Web CEO is powered by Majestic so it means one less subscription you need to worry about per month. The startup plan with Web CEO costs less than a subscription from Majestic, and it does 100+ more things! If you do any kind of marketing, this is one tool you shouldn’t be living without.

Web CEO (Majestic powered) Backlink Profile Beforehand

webceo ahrefs backlinks

Now lets get down to the business.

Step 1

First in the Web CEO dashboard click into your domain and then into “Backlink Quality Check.” Then click on “Linking Pages.”

backlink quality check

Step 2

Then from the drop-downs select “All except lost” and “Juicy Links.” You can see that brought us down to 25,000 links.

juicy links
Don’t worry about including nofollow links in your disavow file.Click to Tweet

John Mueller addresses that here:

You don’t need to include any nofollow links…because essentially what happens with links that you submit as a disavow, when we recrawl them we treat them similarly to other nofollowed links.  Including a nofollow link there wouldn’t be necessary.

Step 3

Now on the right hand side click on “Export” and select “Download as CSV.”

download backlinks

Step 4

Open up your CSV now and we are going to delete all the columns except for “Linking Page URL” and “Link text / Link type.” Then select the two columns and click on “Format as Table” in Excel.

convert to table excel

And select “My table has headers.”

my table has headers

Step 5

Click the filter button for the column. Uncheck “Select All” and then you can browse through your alt text / link text and click the ones you know are spammy.

filter alt text

If you are unsure on a certain alt text simply make a note of it to check it at the end. The great thing about Excel filters is you can easily crunch the data quickly. Some common ones you might want to double check are “no link text” and “/” as there could be legitimate sites in there.

I was able to filter down to 1,947 bad backlinks within a matter of minutes.

bad links

Step 6

Now we need to parse just the domains, so create a 3rd column and use this formula. (Props to Annie Cushing for the formula)


Don’t worry about the duplicate domains, as this will be taken care of later.

domain formula excel

Step 7

Highlight the domain column to your clipboard. Now go back to Web CEO and click into “Toxic Links” and click into “Settings” on the top right.

toxic links

Step 8

Click into the “Whitelist & blacklist” section and paste your list of domains into the black list box. Then click save. Once you hit save it will automatically remove all the duplicates. It will then mark any links from those domains as toxic.


Step 9

Now we have a list of all of our toxic links. So I select them all and click on the “Report selected links to Google.”

report selected links to google

Step 10

I then click on the “Download a txt file.” Web CEO has generated my disavow file for me. Follow the instructions in the window to submit your disavow file. Then click on “Done, I’ve followed the instructions.”

download disavow file

Then you will see you don’t have any toxic backlinks found.

no toxic backlinks

Web CEO keeps track of everything so you can always click into the “Links reported to Google” tab to see which links you have already disavowed. This is why I now choose to disavow links instead of entire domains, because Web CEO will keep track of everything for me.

links reported to google

Step 11

Then you can set your Toxicity factors so going forward it is a lot less work. Simply click into the “Not processed links” tab every few weeks and monitor the new backlinks that trigger your toxic filter.

toxicity factors

Also if you are interested in contacting the webmasters first to get them to remove the links, which I do recommend,  check out my article on using rmoov to automate the process. And that’s it! You now have a clean backlink profile and are ready for the next Google update.

Check Out Web CEO

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below!

author bio
Brian Jackson

I craft actionable content and develop performance-driven WordPress plugins. Connect on Twitter or subscribe to my newsletter (once a month, no spam).

18 thoughts on “How I Cleaned Up a 30,000+ Backlink Profile in 15 Minutes”

  1. I won’t lie, when I clicked on this post, I was expecting to have to pay for this kind of info. Thanks for sharing, super helpful!

  2. I wasn’t familiar with Web CEO before reading this. It looks pretty comprehensive. I’ve always been a fan of Raven Tools. I might have to check this out though, as it seems like a better overall value. Great post as always.

    • Ya Nicholas if I could only pick one tool out of my entire toolbox, I would pick Web CEO. Make sure to check out my review on Web CEO: I need to update it with new features because they release new things every month. I have used Raven Tools, WebMeUp, PositionOnly, Moz, you name it. Web CEO blows them out of the water. Although it is a little spendy, but well worth it.

    • Thanks Afroniquely! Glad it was helpful. Make sure to cleanup any sites you have before the Panda update hits here shortly.

  3. Hey Brian,

    thank you for the excellent guide,

    I used to do this manually, it takes ages but eventually I manage to finish the list.

    Good to see this new tool powered by Ahref, will give it a try and see if it helps.

    Hate to hear about the pandas though, I guess it is a sad necessity that we have to deal with it anyway.

    Uttoran Sen,

    • Thanks Uttoran. Glad you liked it. Ya, using the process above really speeds things up. And once you do it once, you can then just monitor new backlinks that come in, which makes it even faster.

  4. Pingback: This Month in WordPress — June 2015 Edition - WordPress Community | powered by Mpress Studios
  5. Great stuff, Brian.

    Haven’t tried Web CEO for a while, looks like they’ve really stepped up and added some killer features.

    One quick note about nofollow links:

    I know John Mueller says you don’t need to worry about these and for the disavow that’s true but other than that, they can have an impact on rankings.

    One of my clients had their listing scraped from Yell, it was then republished across 100s of spam loaded sub domains (all incorrect categories). All in all, it was about 80,000 links across 900 domains/sub domains.

    All of these links were nofollowed and tanked my clients rankings.

    One email was enough to get them to remove all of the links thankfully and rankings returned soon after.

    Ever since that I’ve been very cautious about nofollow links.

    • Hey Adam, thanks for stopping by! I can’t tell you how much I love Web CEO for my own sites and clients. Saves me so much time. Well worth the money.

      I agree with you on the nofollow links. I should probably reword that above, because depending upon the client I have actually submitted nofollow links in my disavow file before. Even though they say *cough *cough that it doesn’t matter. Also they can seriously skew your backlink reporting if you don’t fix them. Have you used Rmoov before? That is another great tool:

      I think the best method probably is first to do a full sweep cleanup including both follow and nofollow. Use Rmoov to automate the removal process, and then hopefully you get to a point where you are submitting your final disavow file with just dofollow links.

      • Hey Brian, no worries.

        I definitely need to check out Web CEO again at some point.

        Good point – what Google says and what really happens always seem to be entirely different.

        Yep, big fan of RMoov – not the most user friendly tool in the world but the time it saves is mind blowing, love their support too.

        I agree, a full sweep (or a machete maybe) is the way to go. Always better to play it safe.

    • Thanks Aaron! You made my day :) Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter or if you hate emails like I do, then follow me on Twitter! Have a great weekend.

  6. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for such a detailed article. Can you please help with my situation, i’ve done all the disavow couple of times and the exact same bad backlinks kept coming back. is there anything else i need to do to solve this recurring problem?

    • Hey! If you do the disavow file then you are safe in the eyes of Google. They will still show up in your backlink tool, because they are on the 3rd party site still. You can safely ignore them with a filter, or actually use another tool like rmoov to automate reaching out to the site owners and telling them to remove the link ASAP. I have another post about how to use rmoov.

      Or if it is just a couple links, just manually reach out to them and demand they remove the links.

      It depends on how OCD you are :) I would do all of it, but if you only disavow, you are safe SEO wise. Hopefully that makes sense!

  7. Wow you did a great job Brian on this post! There is so much good information in here, I think more SEO companies need to know about this. Cleaning up a bad backlink profile is incredibly important.


Leave a Comment