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Does Google Have a Toxic Link Penalty? How Do You Correct It?



2:14 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I was always told that links pointing to your website can never hurt you because you have no control over links pointing to your website or if a competitor is trying to hurt you etc...

I am confused now because I am now hearing that Google now penalizes for Toxic inbound links pointing to your website.

If this is true the chances of getting those links removed by calling or emailing realistically is not going to happen.

So the question is then, how can you wipe the slate clean from these toxic links if the webmaster on the other end will not accommodate?

One method I have heard and would like to hear from anyone who has any experience in this is to remove toxic inbounds you just change the filename. Then use a custom 404 as a new sitemap to acknowledge the change to those who were linked/bookmarked to the old page, and provide the alternative via link.

This method appears to me a lot easier than frantically emailing and calling realizing the removals won't happen.

Has anybody used this method? Does it work to remove toxic inbounds and lift the Google penalty? If it does work, how long did it take for Google to remove the penalty?

Thank You in advance for your replies.


5:39 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Here's one type of situation that might be incorrectly analyzed as a toxic link penalty:

1. The penalized site is hosting parasite links.
2. The hacker-spammer has pointed links at those pages to boost their ranking power - for as long as it takes Google to spot and devalue them.
3. Such backlinks then hang around indefinitely and look toxic.
4. But the actual penalty is caused by the parasite links hosted ON THE SITE, and not by the toxic backlinks in themselves.

A while back there were some black hat services that offered to take down a site's competition (for a hearty fee, naturally) and they seemed to rely on a creating a BIG pile of toxic backlinks to do the job. I haven't heard of that working for a while - Google seems to have handled it.

Then use a custom 404 as a new sitemap to acknowledge the change to those who were linked/bookmarked to the old page

Of course, this would break the link juice flow from legitimate backlinks, at least until they changed over. If there are significant legit backlinks, I'd be very hesitant to change the URLs of their target page.


9:32 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If you really suspect that toxic backlinks are causing your rankings to go down, then here's what I'd suggest:

1. Document all the suspicious backlinks that you've found.
2. If it's not a very long list, they're not your problem.
3. If it is a VERY long list, then put them on a URL somewhere.
4. Submit a concise Reconsideration Request disavowing any connection to those links, and include a link to that documentation URL you created.

I'd try this approach before twisting my site's URLs into some kind of knot.


12:04 am on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I've definitely seen what JoeHouse has seen, but only on newly launched sites with very little backlinks. If you just recently launched example.com and you load up on comment spam or paid text links, you'll find you get nowhere fast.

I have actually done this recently with a new domain I launched, although I'm not 100% sure it's an inbound link "penalty". Basically, I've got a personal site that I'm currently working on and handing out beta invites for. I posted on twitter about the new site launching, getting invites, etc. I also posted on Digg (talking about beta invites going out) and commented on recent on-topic blog posts announcing the site. In total, I would guess the domain has no more than 10 links (1 twitter, 1 digg (nofollow), and 2-8 blog comments (nofollow) with the keyword + domain name as the anchor text). I am finding now that a search for "keyword keyword" (the domain name without quotes) does not return the domain at all in results 1-999. However, if I search for "domain-keyword domain-keyword other-keyword" (without quotes), I'm on page 1 for the particular phrase. Also, before the blog comments and digg link, I was on page 2 for the particular phrase, which is where I probably should have been considering it's a very non-competitive area.

It's the beginning of the link building process for this domain so I am not concerned, but I believe that if you start off with low quality/easy-to-get links that you can quickly find yourself removed from Google's index for your targeted phrase(s).


1:31 am on Aug 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well many links came from high pr sites but on the inner pages with no PR, using our chosen anchor text. Also did a bit of comment blogging. The sites with high PR are very respectable however many links were from profile pages etc....I have a lot of friends doing this for their sites as well with no issues at all.

The only other thing I have not mentioned is that we believe the penalty is called a Trademark Submission Penalty because our business name does not show up in the results, but our main keyword phrase which was ranking at number 4 is now at number 50 and all our other keywords not in the top 50.

I am told from a very reliable and respected source that this type of penalty can result from the following:

Multi-domain once a valid strategy involving the purchase of many domains each addressing a separate keyword target, now a penalized offense.

We were using 35 wordpress domains and because these domains display level redundancies, including automation, shared functionality including content etc. this is now a penalty from what I understand. According to Google the usual consequence is at least a trademark suppression and a drop in rankings, which is what has occurred with our main domain.

When I heard this I immediately took down and removed all these domains and its content.

Do you think this may have cause the problem or maybe a combination of both.

Now that I have taken down the wordpress domains and they no longer exist, should I also remove the links we have been building as well over the last 4 months? We obtained approximately 250 links a month on these inner pages of these high PR sites. The links were good but the relevancy was not very good.

We have gone back and reedited all the links to have a wide variety of anchor text (more than 30) with 25% of using our Business name as the anchor text. Also 90% of the links were pointing to the homepage which we changed and now we have moved these links to all deep linking with very little links pointing to the homepage.

Was this a good move, or should I remove all those links as well before I ask for a reconsideration request?

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