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Cleaning your backlinks - ideas and suggestions
tedster




msg:4450201
 3:37 am on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

With all the "over-SEO" and "webspam updates" recently - and especially with the flood ov WMT notifications about backlinks - a lot of webmasters have their attention on what they can do practically to make Google happier about their backlink profile.

The general SEO blogging community has recently begun pumping out ideas and articles. While we do not usually approve links to blog articles here (unless they are by a Google authority of some kind) I feel it's a good idea to start looking at some of the ideas being shared. So this thread is an exception to our normal rule. Let's use the general SEO community to help everyone out, here!

Some of these approaches look pretty darned good to me, and they mirror the kinds of steps I've worked out with several clients who had some real success.

[edited by: tedster at 3:53 am (utc) on May 7, 2012]

 

steerpikegg




msg:4452542
 10:35 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm sorry, but the whole concept of the webmaster having to hunt down and request removal of links just makes me mad. Now there's been talk of lawsuits for companies refusing to remove links as well.

The hyperlink is the core principle of the web and the foundation of the whole idea of sharing information. Imagine the web without freedom to link to anything you like (I'm not talking about hotlinking images or stealing content, just linking to take the user from one place to another) - there wouldn't be one.

For G to even contemplate a move that sees webmasters punished for people exercising their right to use hyperlinks just staggers me. All this is solely to compensate for flaws in their search algorithm and their drug like dependence on links as a measure of quality.

I haven't posted here for months although I still do lurk quite a bit, but in all honesty I have completely abandoned the concept of seo or webmaster guidelines and now do what my users need and want and to hell if anyone, G included doesn't like it.

jemois




msg:4452552
 11:34 am on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

@steerpikegg
I fully agree with you. Its just a game. G says: you need BL. Everybody tries to get BL. At a point G says: to much BL are not ok, only HQ ones are good, the rest are spammy, i will penalize you. G say:do SEO for better ranking in order to show the most relevant information to the users. Later, he thinks: to much SEO is not good, i will penalize you. I also hate this game, but G makes the rules. We are like pets playing by their rules and like almost all american companies, they fist launch a product/update to see the impact and do the necessary modifications on the way, without testing is it well before its launch. Let's face it, its impossible to get rid of the low quality/spammy links you have and when you get new ones you have to check the authority, PR and other stuff about the website you put/get your BL onto. Natural link building is almost dead, since PR is getting divided to the number of insite and external links you have, you might get penalized for linking to a site if that site maybe by mistake has a link to bad neighborhood, even if that link was posted in a comment on that site. You maybe choose to nofollow that link, but G my ask himself why you link to a site using the nofollow attribute since nofollow main purpose is to be used if you link to a site you don't trust. Conclusion: if you link normally to a site from one of your pages, that pages looses a little value, its not good your you and you might get penalized. Using nofollow is pretty useless for the other site, so why linking to other sites anymore ? What G says is contradictory about having links on your site.

HermanMunster




msg:4452662
 7:07 pm on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Another issue is that if you're not getting traffic from Google, then you need to work it up from somewhere, but pretty much any self-promotion you do toward that goal just makes the Google situation worse. I'm not supposed to post in forums, I'm not supposed to create new blogs that link even if they have unique content, I'm not supposed to seek out linking arrangements with other sites, I'm not supposed to post linking comments anywhere lest they deem something unnatural even if I do it myself in a natural way. How in the heck is anyone supposed to find me?

Google wants you to get all of your traffic from them, and if they cut you off they want to punish you even more for seeking alternatives. Never again. I'll be doing what feels natural to me and my visitors to build and promote my website. Luckily I have built a good-sized and loyal following over the years, so I do OK even without Google, but I still need to find ways to reach new visitors. Thankfully traffic is up about 30% just from the small amount of social media work I have done in the last week. And if Google doesn't like it, I won't be losing sleep over it.

crobb305




msg:4452683
 8:27 pm on May 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Now there's been talk of lawsuits for companies refusing to remove links as well.

Not to mention an new industry for paid link removals.

Scotch




msg:4452762
 2:17 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've got a question regarding backlinks cleanup - if you have the ability to change the text of the backlink from keyword text to actual brand name only of link, should you do it? Or just delete the link outright? In the sites that I manage, the ones that got hit had too many keyword text links pointing to them... so rename to actual brand or delete altogether?

indyank




msg:4452781
 3:32 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

They generally aren't editorially given and come as standard with the theme. I think Google sees any such mass footer linking as something that goes against their quality guidelines. I can understand why.


Enough of this crap. Who is google to say that you shouldn't have attribution links? That is an age old practice for free stuff and there are several users who willingly carry back those attribution links with brand or names as anchor text. But yes there are a few thankless people like you who find all ways to remove those attributions.These craps want to use that free stuff but will still do all such crap.

Do you have any valid points against such such attribution links with non-keywods as anchor text? What is wrong in promoting brands or names that way unless google thinks that the only way sites can promote themselves is through their ads?

indyank




msg:4452789
 4:14 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

They generally aren't editorially given and come as standard with the theme


Most or almost all of Google's model sites or "Google's high quality sites" do not give out links editorially. They nofollow them. It is a disgrace.

And you should understand the difference between branded attribution links and given links with (money) keywords as anchor text.

How do offline businesses promote their brands other than advertising through traditional media? The do it by giving free T-shirts and other stuff that carry their brand names, offering free services or free camps or free training etc.etc. This practice of web designers is no different.

tedster




msg:4452796
 5:14 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

You are welcome to advertise by buying links - always have been. Google just says those shouldn't pass PageRank. Google has been public about not liking sponsored Wordpress themes since 2007 - see [webmasterworld.com...]

In Google's mind, a paid link that passes PageRank is like an ad that doesn't identify itself as an ad. There are even US laws about that. And it's relatively common for free WP themes to sell embedded ad links to third parties and have those ads pass PR.

As I see it, the theme creator's link should be ignored if it's there. The value should be in publicity, not ranking power And if the theme creator sells advertising links to third parties within the theme that they distribute, those can be penalized if they pass PageRank.

I think Google's problem is that enforcement of this standard should have been uniform since 2007 - and they let it slide for too many years. They had some real public attention back then, especially when Matt M removed sponsored themes from the main WP site.

indyank




msg:4452800
 5:37 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

As I see it, the theme creator's link should be ignored if it's there.


Tedster, I am referring to only those theme creator links and not of any other type that you have described above. But theme or plugin creator links that link back to the creator site with brand name or author name other than any keyword shouldn't be penalized. But they appear to be penalizing wpmu.org.

tedster




msg:4452802
 6:00 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, Matt Cutts said those links are now being ignored - and apparently they were being counted up to now. I appreciate that there is some doubt about how true this is. However, they are showing over 287,000 backlinks from only 4,000 domains. If I have a client with that kind of profile, red flags are flying for me.

Rosalind




msg:4452822
 9:03 am on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

It'll be very interesting to see the fallout from this change on free theme designers. Is the web about to get uglier as designers pull access to their own themes and companies stop paying to sponsor them?

It's one thing for Google to have this policy in place since 2007, but now they can enforce it algorithmically people will sit up and take notice. This doesn't just apply to WordPress themes, it could hit anything that's released for free and previously subsidised through higher Google rankings.

Planet13




msg:4452879
 2:13 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

But they appear to be penalizing wpmu.org.


If I remember the graphic they showed of their traffic drop, the wpmu.org had an average bounce rate or around 80%

Maybe their site is SO GOOD that people are able to find EXACTLY what they want in one click and then get out of there?

Or maybe their site WASN'T really retuning the content that users actually wanted, and their rankings were being floated by the massive footer links?

Maybe google got that one right?

I think it is important to note that it might be very difficult to establish the difference between a ranking loss due to a penalization and a ranking loss due to a devaluation.

I am not sure that anyone outside of a google employee might be able to identify one AT THIS TIME with all the different algo updates that have been rolled out.

chewy




msg:4452881
 2:17 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google will get their act together, or they won't.

Or partially.

So we wait for a "distinguished engineer" to make some public or non-public moves, maybe a partial rollback, a re-update, or something.

Anything that makes me feel less like an endangered panda in a zoo waiting for someone to set me free would be going in the right direction.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of webmasters out there waiting for things to change.

Again.

Planet13




msg:4452882
 2:18 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is the web about to get uglier as designers pull access to their own themes and companies stop paying to sponsor them?


Possibly.

Or, possibly the "ads" in wordpress themes will simply look like more traditional graphic / banner ads, seeing how the PR value has been eliminated (theoretically) so the main value will be through branding.

Hmmm... I don't know much about how adsense works, but maybe designers will give out free themes but on the condition that they use the designer's adsense (or other affiliate program) code embedded in the theme? (Again, don't know if that is technically possible or not.)

aristotle




msg:4452967
 8:38 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

My suspicion is that Penguin identifies websites with an un-naturally high proportion of backlinks containing a particular keyword or key phrase, and then devalues that set of backlinks.

blend27




msg:4452978
 9:40 pm on May 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

Not to mention an new industry for paid link removals.

@crobb305,

Yep, all you need is dump of ODP(once a great source of info) on a few(hundred) throw away domains, flip the Anchor Text and one is in businessmen.

Then there is (insert integer here below 100)+(searchengines dot com) is a prime example of backlinks that not 1 Webmaster wants according to big G.

No wonder.

michaelj72




msg:4453074
 4:33 am on May 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

steerpikegg said: "...The hyperlink is the core principle of the web and the foundation of the whole idea of sharing information. Imagine the web without freedom to link to anything you like (I'm not talking about hotlinking images or stealing content, just linking to take the user from one place to another) - there wouldn't be one..."

here here! I totally agree. and one of the Moderators here at WebmasterWorld made the same point a few days ago in another thread, I wish I could find it, rather eloquent too.
that all these dependences on links (for valuation - by google) and now google's penguin and panda and all these 'demands' are going to have very chilling effects on anyone/web masters thinking about linking out and 'does it have to be no-follow' or 'what does the anchor text have to be now' or will the rules of the game change in 6 months or 2 years again, will i get penalized for doing it this way or that, should i even every exchange links any more etc etc.....

agent10




msg:4453806
 3:58 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Aristotle I agree, our domain is the main keyword in a specific insurance sector where we specialise in the particular insurance type, therefore all links generally include the keywords as per our domain and the insurance type. As opposed to comparison sites where they have a page per insurance product - therefore the keyword density is diminished for these types of sites. If you look at main insurance terms this is perhaps one reason why stand alone companies selling just one type of insurance are rarely listed in favour of comparison or other companies selling a range of insurance types using insurance as my example.

reseller




msg:4453931
 10:20 pm on May 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

It seems there are sites charging to remove links! [twitter.com...]

errorsamac




msg:4455309
 1:23 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been trying to get some links removed for a site I'm working on by emailing people and asking for removals. One response I just received was this:


Hello,

We charge a fee of 20usa for any link we remove from our site. Thank you.

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Should I just pay? Also, has Google addressed paid link removals at all? (a violation of their TOS?)

aristotle




msg:4455310
 1:40 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

If the backlinks to your site are just being devalued, you won't gain any rankings improvement by having them removed, even if they are part of an "unnatural" backlink profile. So the question is whether the unnatural profile is causing a penalty. That possibility opens a big can of worms, such as whether it gives a competitor an opportunity to harm you. So at this point, I don't think anyone outside Google knows for sure what actions you should take.

n00b1




msg:4455313
 2:13 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ aristotle

It is known that Google dishes out manual penalties for too many 'inorganic backlinks'. I also strongly suspect that Penguin filters this kind of behaviour and applies what is effectively an algorithmic penalty. I don't think it is just a case of these links being devalued any more, there is no doubt in my mind that a website can be penalised for external factors in 2012.

aristotle




msg:4455354
 3:53 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

n00b1
Certainly there are some strong indications that Penguin applies a penalty in some cases. But if a site's pre-Penguin rankings were heavily dependent on low-quality spammy backlinks, and these were devalued by Penguin, this could cause such a big rankings drop and traffic loss that it could look like a penalty. So while I agree that penalties could have been given out, I don't think it's been proven beyond any doubt.

n00b1




msg:4455369
 4:54 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have no doubt that certain aspects of 'Penguin' involve penalisation. My experience has been confounded by the fact my main website currently has a manual penalty applied (for 'inorganic backlinks') but this was specific to certain keywords and only really affected the home page to a large degree. When Penguin hit pages that should rank naturally in reasonable positions without any backlinks at all (non competitive phrases and in tune with site theme very closely) disappeared into thin air. Maybe there are different degrees and it tries to discount things but I have no doubt in my case that a severe penalty is in place site-wide. I also see casual mentions of the things I would expect these pages to rank for on my Twitter feed outranking the page by far and this shouldn't be the case unless there is a penalty in place - not to that degree.

Furthermore some of my review pages that were naturally very popular and receive lots of natural backlinks were shoved into nowhere. Seems that Google mistakenly thought that some of these links were built by me or weren't giving any 'benefit of the doubt' given the overall link profile of the website. What that boils down to is a penalty, not a discounting of links. Some similar review pages which didn't get this kind of publicity rank much better and they have similar competition and search volume metrics and on-page elements are very similar.

aristotle




msg:4455376
 5:55 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

n00b1 From your description it certainly looks like your site has been penalized.

On some other threads I've read about some odd behavior which conceivably could be explained as unintentional quirks in the way Penquin works. That's the reason for my uncertainty.

n00b1




msg:4455397
 8:12 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I originally thought that maybe Penguin knocked any existing manual or over-optimisation penalties up a few notches, even if perhaps it doesn't create any fresh penalties (so to speak). This could be it I guess.

Scurramunga




msg:4455436
 12:45 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

For G to even contemplate a move that sees webmasters punished for people exercising their right to use hyperlinks just staggers me. All this is solely to compensate for flaws in their search algorithm and their drug like dependence on links as a measure of quality.

I haven't posted here for months although I still do lurk quite a bit, but in all honesty I have completely abandoned the concept of seo or webmaster guidelines and now do what my users need and want and to hell if anyone, G included doesn't like it.


I couldn't agree more. Google started off by placing importance on the occurrence of backlinks in the search equation. Now Google wants to control the occurrence of backlinks in the search equation. How inorganic is that?

Once upon a time, my main site saw a reasonable flow of traffic and a reasonable Adsense income. Now, I do not have any of these things. Although my site has never existed as a spam site, I did clean up anything which could be deemed as over-optimisation after reading forum posts, watching Matt Cutts videos etc, but the numbers haven't returned.

Sink or swim, I draw the line here. I will NOT chase up those who backlink givers whom I have no control over. I am over it. I would rather spend my energies attracting quality social media traffic and maybe this is the going to be the way of the future. In any case, whatever the way, it can't be any more volatile than Google.

Scurramunga




msg:4455442
 1:05 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Any suggestions on how to deal with this? Should I just pay? Also, has Google addressed paid link removals at all? (a violation of their TOS?)


Wow! a whole new industry is emerging. Maybe Google should start penalising paid link removals.

The absurdities and ironies abound.

Jez123




msg:4455533
 9:56 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I submitted my site to DMOZ. I didn't wait for them to pick it up and list me. I heard that it would help my google rankings. I am going to request its removal in case google finds out and hunts me down and kills my wife in front of my children.

It's time to move on I think. This is ridiculous. Time to do some offline advertising. Meanwhile the real spammers rule supreme, as ever.

kidder




msg:4455540
 11:14 am on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a client who's been hit with a penalty. He's insisting we go on a removal binge now but I have serious doubts that its going to help his busted rankings.. Who can tell which links should be removed, which ones are the once causing trouble? I could take a guess but what if I'm wrong? Is the client better off to focus on improving his website rather than going down this path?

AndyA




msg:4455557
 1:14 pm on May 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

errorsamac wrote:
Hello,

We charge a fee of 20usa for any link we remove from our site. Thank you.


Looks like this mess Google has created of allowing third party links to harm a site has created a new income stream. Put links on bad sites, then charge the sites being linked to for removal. Nice.

I guess in response, one could say their site charges $25/month to link to their site, so either forward payment for the link or remove it. This seems so ridiculous, links from bad sites should just be ignored completely. Problem solved.

Has anyone tried throwing up a 403 Forbidden response for domains in bad neighborhoods that link to their sites?

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