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Google Encourages Webmasters To Remove Backlinks Before Using Disavow Tool

     
4:30 pm on Sep 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Nothing particularly new in this message, but a repeat as a reminder.

I wonder if the disavow tool is being overused?

The problem here is that sometimes it's impossible to get links removed, especially from sites where the webmaster is awol, or if it's being used for negative seo.


For a reconsideration request to be successful, a significant percentage of inorganic links should be removed from the website. If you can get a backlink removed, remove the link instead of adding it to the disavow file. Simply disavowing links will not be enough to make a reconsideration request successful.Google Encourages Webmasters To Remove Backlinks Before Using Disavow Tool [plus.google.com]
5:15 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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That is for a manual penalty though. Is it the same for an algorithmic penalty?
5:56 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Do any of you do a significant amount of link removal work?

I'm assuming that all of the "send 1000+ link request emails in 1 click" automation tools probably trashed the potential of anyone actually reading and acting on a link removal request.

Is the value to Google the punitive nature of the effort to send and document link removal requests? If so, that ship already sailed...it's a button click, with probably little actual result.
6:11 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Is the value to Google the punitive nature of the effort to send and document link removal requests?


Not "punitive," but "educational":

If it's harder to clean up unnatural links than it was to get them, acquiring unnatural links may not be worth the potential hassle.
6:43 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Ahh, yes. "Educational". That's a good euphemism, like "Reeducation Camp".
7:13 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I hope that nobody actually spent any time trying to get backlinks removed. The whole idea is nonsense.
8:13 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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"Educational". That's a good euphemism, like "Reeducation Camp".


Or like what a lot of mothers say: "I hope you've learned your lesson."

Some people are learners, others are losers.
9:37 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Aristotle, I spend a lot of time getting links removed for my clients... Apand have become quite good at it if you ask me. I typically get about 50 percent of requests removed.

If you have a penalty, you have to show proof that you reached out to site owners, that is the name of the game.
10:18 pm on Sept 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I typically get about 50 percent of requests removed


That's much better than I would have suspected. Are these perhaps mostly links on otherwise good/maintained sites? I can't imagine 50% success on things like crappy article syndication, directory sites, low-quality blog network, etc.
12:15 am on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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bhartzer
Thanks for your reply. It sounds like removing backlinks is part of your work-for-a-living job. In any case, I apologize if I annoyed you.

But I still think that the whole thing is nonsense. First of all, trying to get backlinks removed is a totally non-productive use of time. It accomplishes nothing of value. Why would Google ask anyone to waste time on such a non-productive worthless task? It makes no sense.
1:55 am on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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IMO the reason Google asks that you take down as many links as possible before disavowing is two fold:

1) Leaving the links in place means they have to continue to waste computing resources crawling those links and maintaining them in their link graph and
2) As a bit of punitive busy work just to "teach you a lesson" and make recovery painful.

If everyone simply disavowed all of the crappy links, Google still has to waste tons of resources crawling them, maintaining them in their link graph... AND additionally... they now have to process the disavows associated with those links.

The magnitude of the low quality and/or unnatural link problem that results from all of the daily web spam is mind boggling when you think of it. The number of crappy links that their crawler encounters on a daily basis has to be growing by many million each day. The cost of the CPU cycles required to crawl that many additional links (and those previously deemed crappy), disk space for storing that many additional links (and those previously deemed crappy), CPU cycles for adjusting rankings based on those old and new crappy links, etc. is likely some equally mind boggling amount. Penguin would take much longer to run each time they run it offline. Having even 20% of crappy links removed by those hit by Penguin or unnatural linking penalties likely saves them many millions of dollars per month.
2:25 am on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If website owners are to build a reliable disavow database for Google, the data submitted for processing must be clean. It would seem that is what Google is trying to do - build a database of unmoderated and uncaring websites by asking website owners to remove a certain percentage of inorganic links. Such a policy is simply not feasible for small businesses hit by 200,000 Fiverr link spam blasts. How many months would it take to manually identify the bad links, contact website owners and wait for a few responses to come in?
6:53 am on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If Google took the time to tell me which of my links were dubious then I would be more than happy to contact webmasters to remove them.
1:24 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've never gotten any messages from Google about this (or anything else), but if I did get such a message, the only "lesson" I would learn from it is that Google is all screwed up.

As for wasting computing resources, Google created that problem itself since nearly all of the millions and milions of worthless spammy backlinks on the web are intended to influence their rankings, or possibly in some cases to sabotage a competitor's rankings.

This whole matter of Google wanting backlinks removed or disavowed is the result of a fundamental flaw in their algorithm, manifested in penguin, that tries to incorporate questionable backlinks (whoever created them) into their rankings calculations as a negative factor. The whole thing could be resolved very easily and simply if Google's algorirthm would just ignore all questionable backlinks.

It seems that Google's recent mistakes have caused some people to spend a lot of time on non-productive efforts such as creating author tags or trying to get backlinks removed. (Except apparently for some who have found a way to get paid for cleaning up backlinks that other people created.) If anyone needs to "learn a lesson", it's Google itself.
4:03 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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As for wasting computing resources, Google created that problem itself since nearly all of the millions and milions of worthless spammy backlinks on the web are intended to influence their rankings, or possibly in some cases to sabotage a competitor's rankings.


Sure, and retailers who introduced the concept of "self service" are responsible for shoplifting.
5:37 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Sure, and retailers who introduced the concept of "self service"


If the retailers consistently gave shoplifters a reward for more than a decade...that would be a pretty close analogy.

Google actively rewarded unnatural links for a long, long time...to the degree that it was difficult (in many niches, granted not all) to break into the top 10 without gaming the system.

The webmaster guidelines were pretty consistent, yes...but what they actually valued and rewarded did not match their guidelines.
7:51 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google actively rewarded unnatural links for a long, long time...to the degree that it was difficult (in many niches, granted not all) to break into the top 10 without gaming the system.


Maybe, but just because people some ignored the guidelines and escaped the consequences doesn't mean they're now entitled to a free pass.
9:49 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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No one should have to waste time removing links that are being added by people just to charge to remove them. The whole system is messed up. Why does anyone at Google think a small business should have to deal with this instead of building the great content that Google says they should? Meanwhile the negative SEO building the bad links gets a new round of business benefits. The whole thing makes no sense to me and waste of resources on all sides. People have better things to do and Google should just totally block and ignore thousands of sites that are just links.
10:28 pm on Sept 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Why does anyone at Google think a small business should have to deal with this instead of building the great content that Google says they should?


Maybe because the small business invested its time and money in link-building instead of building great content?

For all the talk of Fiverr, negative SEO, etc., the fact remains that many site owners and SEOs have made the mess that they're now being asked to help clean up.

In my sector, there are thousands of bloggers and other publishers who earn money by selling links. Even now, I continue to receive e-mail pitches from SEOs (often in the UK or India) who want to buy PageRank in the form of text links or "guest posts." Are we supposed to feel sorry for those link sellers and buyers when they get caught and Google says "If you want to have a chance of getting back in our good graces, you'll need to make a good-faith effort to get rid of the links that you bought or sold in your efforts to subvert our search rankings"? They should be grateful that Google isn't telling them, "Buy a coffin--you're dead."
12:34 am on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Maybe because the small business invested its time and money in link-building instead of building great content?


I suspect this thread is going to get locked soon, but the idea that small business is 100% responsible for the current state just isn't right.

Big business did (and does) as much, or more, manipulation, as small business. It's just "higher end" manipulation...still spam and/or paid links, just more expensive versions.

So, when Google finally decided to slam the door, big businesses largely escaped. Google hasn't yet, for example, gone after the real link networks...the ones run by high dollar agencies. Why? Because it's expensive to buy your way in to find the sites.

I'd personally bitch less about Google if they were going after big business with the same vigor.

I do think most (not all) claims of negative SEO are bogus. There are however, several situations where site owners are being asked to remove links they didn't create:

  • @adamxcl's point about a new "pay for removal" industry springing up is 100% correct. Brand new sites are popping up with links that NOBODY asked for, with a "Click Here to Pay For Removal" link right underneath. Google could crack down on that, but they don't. I suspect they don't mind the additional pain that brings.
  • There's also the case of sites that traded hands. I have a few of these myself. When I bought them, I saw that there were a lot of article directory links from the likes of ezinearticles, etc. I did get rid of them, but not before they were syndicated to hundreds of crappy little sites.
  • Scraper sites. Scraping either your content, or things like DMOZ, and republishing them.
  • And, lastly, there's a category of links that Google once said were okay, but changed their mind later...with no grandfather clause.
  • 1:21 am on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    the idea that small business is 100% responsible for the current state just isn't right.


    Who said anything about 100%?
    3:58 am on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    Who said anything about 100%?

    What percentage of innocents being damaged is acceptable to you? For that matter, how many innocent people sitting on death row should be killed in the name of justice? Essentially it's the same thing for real businesses who have been given a death penalty by Google for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    I think your opinion would change if you were the one hit with 100,000 spam links, lost all your ranks/most of your income and had to let employees go in a last ditch effort to salvage the damage only to survive a few months after before finally closing the doors. I've seen it happen and it's heartbreaking to witness for those who actually have a heart.
    4:51 am on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    <snip>

    Because a small company hired an seo company that built them crappy links their website should fall out of the serps for their niche in place of Amazon and lower quality pages because of some bad back links? I think it's fair to tell a site to clean up their act, but to tank their businesses because of it is messed up.

    A couple years ago that is how many sites used to rank. Now we know other wise but it seems fair to give sites that came from years ago to be able to clean up their site and removing some of the links isn't something everyone can do cause some sites may ask for money and if you pay maybe they will bring out more links ? That sounds like it would be contributing to more spam. And some sites may not even have a way to contact them or may simply ignore you.

    If anything it could make sense to discount certain sites and just take it out of Google's system so if a site has a spammy link from a while back it wont give them a boost. If a site continues to put out garbage links then I could see how it makes sense but it seems fair that A) Small business websites have a fair shot to clean up and recover and B) Disavow tool is effective so negative seo can be avoided and also other safeguard against negative seo such as ignoring some sites so spammers don't benefit from using them

    Also by the way it effects the users of Google as well, they may be getting less relevant/interesting results because of it. As said before we now have crappy scraper sites that may mess up our rankings according to 'Google's algorithms' and get penalized for something we played no part in. It seems like Google's Penguin Algorithm really has been destroying some legitmate businesses.

    [cnbc.com...]

    [edited by: xelaetaks at 5:01 am (utc) on Sep 6, 2014]

    [edited by: goodroi at 6:41 am (utc) on Sep 6, 2014]
    [edit reason] Let's stay on topic and avoid personal comments :) [/edit]

    2:56 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    What percentage of innocents being damaged is acceptable to you? For that matter, how many innocent people sitting on death row should be killed in the name of justice?


    Save the red herrings for breakfast.

    Rish3 wrote, "the idea that small business is 100% responsible for the current state just isn't right." As far as I know, nobody here has suggested that "small business is 100% responsible for the current state."
    4:12 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    This is just another example of webmasters having to pay the price for Google's mistakes and failures.
    4:17 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    This is just another example of webmasters having to pay the price for Google's mistakes and failures.


    Or for their own bad judgment.
    4:29 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    Unfortunately, it's not just webmasters that have to pay the price for Google's mistakes and failures, the general public is also harmed because Google's search results get even worse with each new mistake Google makes.
    4:42 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    <snip>

    Years ago tons of websites ranked by doing anchor text and link directory building, why should websites years later be tanked for that? Especially if they stopped doing that.

    Also it seems not right that Amazon can have more than one result showing in keyword searches while small business websites get dropped from the ranks.

    [edited by: goodroi at 5:54 pm (utc) on Sep 6, 2014]
    [edit reason] Please read and follow the rules or don't post [/edit]

    5:29 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    Unfortunately, it's not just webmasters that have to pay the price for Google's mistakes and failures, the general public is also harmed because Google's search results get even worse with each new mistake Google makes.


    The general public seems pretty happy with Google's search results--and with Bing's, for that matter. After all, the reported market share of the major search engines hardly changes from month to month.

    As a site owner, I can point to many examples of failures and inadequacies in Google's search results (I've often done so, in fact), but from the general public's point of view, it's the bigger picture that counts. As long as Joe Searcher can find a few useful search results in the top 10, it probably doesn't matter that the others aren't what he's looking for.

    Even if Google, Bing, Yandex, Baidu, etc. were perfect, a search engine couldn't know with 100% certainty that a search on "doughnuts" was intended to yield photos, recipes, nutritional information, or the address of the nearest doughnut shop. Searchers browse Web search results in the same way that they browse Google News results or headlines in a newspaper. That's why search results have snippets and not just "Click here" links.
    7:05 pm on Sept 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

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    For years Google has tested various manipulations and adjustments to its algorithm looking for ways to boost the rankings of big brands and big organizations. Those efforts are mainly the result of all of their failures over the years to keep spam and worthless garbage from gaining high rankings. Their strategy was to push spam and garbage down by pushing big brands and big organizations toward the top. Obviously that strategy hasn't been nearly as successful as they hoped, since there's still so much spam and garbage in the upper levels of their search results. But it did have a big effect in another way by pushing down thousands of useful small sites and small businesses.

    Because of the way this strategy has worked out, in their current state Google's search results support the status quo, and therefore make it very difficult for minority views to reach an audience or new products and innovations to succeed in the marketplace. So partly because of Google's mistakes and failures, the web isn't nearly so helpful to human progress and human welfare as it could be. Unfortunately.
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