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What We've Learned And Would Advise About Low Quality Link Removals

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What We've Learned And Would Advise About Low Quality Link Removals

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The idea of removing links is something that’s really and truly only hit the SEO mainstream in the last few years. Before the Penguin updates, link removal was a quite niche area.

However, as expectations arise that we’ll soon see a new spate of Penguin or maybe a guest post related unnatural link warning, it’s best to take a look at what we learned about removing unnatural links.

Beware of your Links

There are two reasons to clean up that SEO profile. Obviously, if you’ve just received the dreaded Google Webmaster Tools notification for unnatural links you need to get to work as soon as possible.

Alternatively, if you’re well aware that you’ve built some less than sparkling links in the past it’s also worth evaluating your profile – even if you’re ranking perfectly well. In any case, building some really good quality links won’t do any harm, but read – on before starting to blitz your profile.

Penalty vs. Devaluation

A penalty is something Google will place on a site for a number of reasons and will cause a drop in traffic . It’s different from link devaluation.

Link devaluation involves the amount of Link Juice coming from a link to fall. This obviously means the links are worth less and causes a drop in rank.

Link Data

Link data should be extracted from numerous sources rather than a couple – you run the risk of missing out on essential data if you go shallow here.

Remember, there are all sorts of things that can be construed from Google’s guidelines. So, though they may let us know there’s an issue, there is a wide array of things that could cause the issue. Eric Ward’s piece here shows how this vagueness can frustrate. For example, Google’s guidelines currently state ‘Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links’. As Eric Ward points out, ‘what is large scale?’

This is an example that gets to the crux of the matter – there are so many ways your site can breach vague guidelines or for that matter not breach guidelines – it’s hard to make a call.

Suggestions Please

Remove the Usual Suspects

The best thing to do is to remove the worst offenders. If you know you’ve paid for links, have links on networks or have a range of EMD anchor text – these are the places to begin. Other links to be sketchy of include ones from link wheels, sponsored posts, forum profiles and poor directories. These links tend to offer little worth and create plenty of problems, so be wary.

Find Webmasters

There are numerous ways to find webmasters when performing a link removal. SEOGadget is a good free service, though Buzzstream also works well. WhoIsHostingThis.com can also be a good place to start and garner the information required .

Webmasters may require some money for link removal – ironic considering the state of play as regards paid links.

Link Build

With the next likely link building issue relating to guest posts on the horizon, this is important. There are plenty of experts out there who feel Google will devalue certain sorts of guest post links – see here.

This devaluation isn’t a penalty, however as links are devalued the amount of page rank going to a site drops. In turn, this means a fall in rankings will occur. To counter this, it’s important to have a white hat link building strategy and build communities not just SEO content  in place and more linkable assets on site.  This helps ensure your site isn’t just losing rank, but making the effort to replace the lost links.


North London SEO  Cormac Reynolds suggests that disavowing is the easiest option and a buckshot approach to link removal. However, this is a job where effort is rewarded. By making the effort to remove the links manually via email first and logging attempts with screen shots, before disavowing you stand a far better chance of seeing a penalty lifted than if you just remove a few links here or there.

From our experience at Fusewave, a large amount of a link building profile needs to be cut before Google will take a look at reconsidering a site for inclusion. This obviously takes a lot of time and effort and cuts away at your previous efforts. So, make the effort to manually unlink before disavowing – it generally results in less damage and a faster removal.

Cost and Time

Sometimes, the cost outweighs the amount of effort put into link removal for a site and it’s easier to just begin again. This can be a tough call, however one that in the long term is a better one and gets that traffic back faster.

Link building

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