Link building is still an important part of ranking a website. Making fresh inbound links is great however have you ever stopped to take a look at the quality of the links you already have on your website? Performing an audit of your link profile can help improve your rankings almost as much as adding to the profile itself. Over time links have greater potential to become irrelevant, obsolete, or perhaps there have been links added that you don't want pointing to your website or that have been constructed poorly. Reaching out to webmasters whom you already have a relationship with (via a link to your site) can help improve your link profile. Finding the links Take some time and sift through Google or Bing WMT, Analytics, or whatever tracking you have installed on your website. If you have thousands of links to your website, make a goal of analyzing a certain number per day or per week. For example when I did an audit of one particular website, I went through about 20 links per week. If you use Google analytics or even webmaster tools, you can view the path of a link and see the exact page that is linking to your website. Once you find the path, visit the page and take a look at how the webmaster has configured the link. Does it have keywords you are targeting as anchor text? Is it used in a way that would make it easy and relevant for visitors to follow? Is it in a good spot on the page? All these things are opportunities to improve the link if they aren't already in an optimal condition. Reaching out If you find links that can be improved, reach out the webmaster or owner of the site. Start out by introducing yourself and thanking them for having a link to your site on theirs. Then politely ask them to make any changes to a link that you feel could be improved. For instance if your company name has changed you can ask them to change the URL and/or anchor text that is displayed to their visitors. If you want to have more of a particular keyword in your backlink profile as anchor text you could ask them to make that change. Or if the link is not in a good spot on the page you could ask them to change the location for you. This may seem like an intrusion or a lot to ask but if an inbound link to your site is not helping, there really isn't a point in having the link their in the first place. For instance if anchor text is hurting your domain more than helping it, you want to get that changed. Identifying Bad Links and Removing them Use the same tactics above to find spammy links to your site. It may not always be possible to tell which links are hurting your site but most of the time you can tell if a property linking to yours shouldn't be. If the site has nothing to do with the content or theme of your site, this is a good indication that you will want to get it taken down. If the site does not appear to offer anything of value, has thin content, or overall appears to be poorly designed and structured, chances are its not doing you any good. You can use tools like open site explorer or GWT to find links but much of the investigation needs to be done on your own. Once you have a running list of the links you want taken down, the first thing you should try is reaching out to the webmasters and/or site owners that have the links on their websites. Although tedious and time consuming, you should try this first because (once accomplished) it is a fool proof method for removing links. There will be no questions about configuring an XML file correctly for the disavow tool or ambiguities from a link removal service. Once the link is gone you can be sure its gone for good. If for some reason you cannot get in touch with the webmaster on the site in question or they refuse to remove the link, you can then use other methods like the disavow tool from Google or a third party service. Be Patient Link building (and in this case link maintenance) is one of those SEO tasks that (when done right) are extremely time consuming. Plan for the long term when you go to audit your link profile. Don't get frustrated if you can't change everything in a few days, or a week or even a couple months. It is easy to get fed up and want to throw your computer against a wall because a webmaster isn't getting back with you or Google hasn't yet reviewed your XML file for disavowing links. Focus on winning small battles over time and remember to measure your progress. Here are some resources for analyzing links to your website. http://ahrefs.com/ http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ http://www.link-assistant.com/rank-tracker/ What link maintenance strategies or tasks have you found helpful? Are there things that work well or that don't work at all for you?