What tools are recommended for this process?
Tools we typically use include:
Link Research Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools
What is link classification and is it a time-consuming process?
Once you’re happy that you’ve discovered all of the links within your website’s profile, the next step is to classify them. The aim here is to select and shortlist the links that you feel need to be removed in order to lift the manual penalty and make the overall link profile more natural. Essentially, we are looking at removing any links that have been suspiciously acquired.
Depending on the size of your link profile, this may be a fairly hefty task and – yup, you've guessed it – it really needs to be a predominantly manual process to ensure that each link is assessed accurately.
That said, we often recommend using a link classification tool such as the one provided by CognitiveSEO to get a head-start or to at least create an initial split between what is seen as ‘Natural’, ‘Suspicious’ and ‘Unnatural’.
How aggressive should you be in your classification?
You should be very aggressive. We say this because many people, particularly when first dealing with a manual penalty, will try the ‘slowly slowly’ approach and aim to remove just one or two suspicious links at a time in the hope that this will tip the balance and remove the Manual Action by Google.
In doing so, they’ll often remove the links which are the most obvious offenders but leave a stack of other unnatural links in the hope that Google can’t identify them as being manipulated. This is a bad move and is likely to prolong the penalty. Just be aggressive, or maybe a better word is ‘honest’.