5 Important Link Removal Facts Post Penguin 2.0

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Penguin 2.0 launched May 22nd, causing many sites to lose vital rankings, visibility, and traffic. This will without a doubt lead to yet another wave of link removal projects, which have been prevalent since Penguin 1.0.

Before diving into your backlink portfolio and attempting a Penguin recovery, here are 5 important link removal facts of which you should be aware.

1)    Matt Cutts recently stated that link removal/disavow needs to be done with a “machete”, not a “scalpel” or “fine toothed comb”.

5 important link removal facts

Cutts is fairly direct and straightforward. When a site is hit by Penguin there’s no sugar-coating it. Anything under suspicion needs to be removed if there’s to be hope of forward progress. His actual statement:

“Hmm. One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks. For example, often it would help to use the “domain:” operator to disavow all bad backlinks from an entire domain rather than trying to use a scalpel to pick out the individual bad links. That’s one reason why we sometimes see it take a while to clean up those old, not-very-good links.”

Personally I can attest to this. Anyone who has spent time working on link removal, disavow, and reconsideration requests knows that Google’s not going to reward half efforts. There needs to be considerable work done, and a true mending of ways. Even a hint of spam will receive nothing more than a vague “At this time…”

2)    There are no guarantees with Google

The first mantra of every SEO’s life should be ‘There are no guarantees with Google’. Before you launch a project, especially link removal, it’s important to stare this statement in the face. Think about it, understand it, and truly accept it.

We’ve had successful link removal campaigns, and we’ve seen recovery from both manual actions and algorithmic penalties. Given enough time, energy, and resources I have no doubt that virtually all recovery campaigns are possible. But, at the end of the day, there are no guarantees with Google.

3)    Link Removal isn’t a small undertaking

Link removal is an exhausting task. To meet Google’s standards there are basically four steps to any link removal campaign:

A)     Backlink portfolio analysis

Here you’ll be taking a complete analysis of your backlink portfolio using Open Site Explorer, Majestic, or Ahrefs. These can be quite large, potentially with tens of thousands of links or more, and need to be properly categorized.

Again, it’s important to ensure you’re not skimming the worst off the top. You’ll have to dive deep and ensure you’re getting as close to every offender as possible. Specifically:

  • Paid links
  • Link directories
  • Irrelevant links
  • Bad link neighborhoods
  • Site-wide links on low quality sites
  • Spammy blog comments
  • Article directories
  • Link exchanges
  • Etc. etc.

Basically, any link you wouldn’t want Google to take a look at, or you’d have to explain with a conditional statement (that link is actually good because…) get rid of it.

B)      Find contact information

You’ll need a way to contact all these sites in order to request to have the link removed – a very important part of the link removal process. Google will potentially ignore any disavowed links if there’s been no effort to have the link removed.

C)      Outreach

Such a simple word for an exhausting process. Here, you’ll be contacting every site which you wish to have your link removed from. Which typically involves thousands of sites, depending upon the project.

It’s important to note that contacting them all once isn’t enough. You should contact all the sites at least three times, over the course of a month, in order to prove you’ve made every possible effort.

D)     Disavow

You’ll never be able to have every spammy, low quality, irrelevant link removed. There will be sites that are abandoned, sites with no contact information, webmasters that refuse or ask for money, etc. etc.

Once again, make every effort to have the link removed. Once you’ve had as many links as possible removed, go ahead and disavow the rest, including notes as necessary.

E)      Rinse and repeat

The hidden step, you’ll often have to rinse and repeat the whole process depending upon Google’s response. Once again, think machete, not scalpel.

4)    New links are vital

Link building is generally overlooked, or put on pause, during a link removal campaign. And, while it logically it makes sense to focus all of your energy into link removal, it’s actually better and more effective to build quality links in conjunction to link removal.

This is true for a variety of reasons.

First of all, building quality links signals Google that you’ve changed your ways, mended your tune, and changed your song. These newly built, high authority links will be a point of proof that you’re moving in a new, better direction, which is very important when wrangling with Google.

Secondly, these new links will help lessen the blow of your current link removal. You should be removing a large amount of links from your backlink portfolio. And, no matter how careful you are (you shouldn’t be overly cautious) you’ll be removing links that were passing value. Having new links, of higher quality, should ensure a quick recovery from any dip you see as you remove these links.

5)    Link removal is extremely difficult without tools

Tools are absolutely vital to a successful, effective & efficient link removal campaign. Often these projects have hundreds of hours invested into them, and any tool that can help provide an edge is important.

At the bare minimum, you’ll need help from a tool that can run a backlink analysis on your site. Some of the top rated:

Going beyond that, there’s tools specifically developed to help ease the pain of link removal. Some of the top rated:

  • Remove’em – A very comprehensive tool, also the most expensive. Helps keep track of the project and emails, as well as suspicious link discovery.
  • rmoov – Helps identify contact information, create and manage outreach, complete with reminders.
  • SEO Gadget – Automatically rates whether the link is ‘safe or not’. Can do 200 at a time, and will help find contact information as well.

No matter which tools you use, make sure you’re documenting your work. Documentation, documentation, documentation! Not only will it keep the project flowing smoothly and efficiently, but Google’s unlikely to revoke manual actions without proof of effort and change.

Here’s a video from Cutts himself which discusses the unnatural link detection warning as well as a few changes Google’s currently working on:

These 5 link building removal facts will hopefully prove useful as webmasters gear up for lengthy link removal projects, especially since the release of Penguin 2.0. I wish everyone the best moving forward and a speedy recovery.

If you have any questions, comments, or insights, please leave them in the comments below.

Jon Ball
Jon Ball is CEO and co-owner at Page One Power. He is a research expert that specializes in the implementation of highly effective link building strategies for clients all over the world. He’s also an avid photographer. Page One Power is a link building firm that focuses on relevancy and transparency.
Jon Ball
Jon Ball
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  • http://www.linkremovalservices.com/ Parveen

    Well written and got in depth knowledge. I have an issue What to do with “nofollow links”, We know they cannot harm but if in your link profile out 1000 you had 400 bad nofollow links what to do

    • http://www.rankwatch.com Sahil

      Links must not be built or removed if they are against the Google Webmaster guidelines. Google is definitely against the process of link building and considers it as manipulation. Post Penguin and Panda algorithm updates Google has time and again proved that Links must be earned and not built. Earned links carry more weight than the links which were built.

  • http://www.onlinemarketinghq.co.uk Online Marketing HQ

    really helpful ideas and those are very effective considerations for anyone who has got effected by Google Penguin or know that they build some naughty links during last few months.

    Thanks for sharing the backlink analysis tools.

  • https://twitter.com/hetshah84 Het Shah

    Hi, This is Really good when you panalty by Google Penguin/Panda. and you analyse that your ranking and traffic is down, then go with how to Penguin recover..Penguin is for low quality backlink so need to flush 1st. and for that down load your backlink report using opensiteexplorer.com and then identify your bad link and put on removal request by using google webaster tool. so suggested is also good tools.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skiT61C5Ogc Mark Nordlicht

    I was hit bu the algorithmic implementation of Google Penguin. As I believe the reason is related to Anchor text, what do you consider to be the right percentage iso that it is not “too keyword intensive”?

  • http://www.virtal.pl Pawel

    I have a feeling that all the links you’ve been getting to your site are “bad links”. When it’s about website with over 1 mln backlinks there’s no way to do all the things Matt is talking about. It’ll take months.

  • http://besttop10tip.com/ Channarith HUN

    Recently, Matt Cuts just announce new tool is Manual Actions . it help us to remove the spam links manually by ourself. This tools available in the Google Web Master Tool.

  • https://www.searchenginejournal.com Ashish Rajpoot

    After effect Penguin 5, With The Penguin 2.1 Spam-Filtering Algorithm, Is Now Live Ecomrece site Ranking Decrease For Example Cyberframe, etc.

  • Tim@linkaudit

    The Disavow Tool is not intended for removing everybody’s links. It is only there for people who are genuinely affected by negative SEO, not for those up to unnatural link building. It’d be far too easy for people people who are up to no good, who have been penalized, to remove the links and file for reconsideration.

    Also, when using Google’s tools, you do not get a detailed analysis of links, saying which links are toxic, healthy or suspicious, you just get a collection of links. So how are you supposed to know which links are harming your site. This is why you should get a link audit, when penalized, to see exactly which links are affecting your site.

    At The Link Auditors, we have tools designed by our team, to analyse all your links on your site. These tools all give very detailed results, stating not only which links are harmful or not, but how bad they actually are. We also have a removal tool. This tool, just like all the others is designed by us, fully automatic and there is nothing like it anywhere else on the internet. When uploading your links to this tool, it automatically finds all necessary contact details for the sites linking into your site. The tool will send out removal requests to each and every webmaster linking to you, with a detailed, non spammy message detailing which links need to go.

    As I said, all our tools are fully automatic. You can remove thousands of links at once, have reliable results on which backlinks are harmful to your site, fast reliable results for removals in days all with just a few clicks, No more fussing around with finding your toxic links, and contact details and removal requests, come to us and the process is easy, fast and reliable.

  • http://www.penaltyrecover.com/ Angelo

    So many are trying to take a short-cut by just compiling all the list of possible bad links that they have and then proceed with the Google Disavow tool but in reality this should be your last option. You should be doing the steps mentioned on this post to show Google that you are really making so much effort on removing the bad links that you have. Do expect as well that this is not an easy thing to do as you need to compile all of your links, look for the contact numbers of the web masters, sending and following up emails etc. If you have tons of bad links the best time to clean up your links is ASAP. You might have not been affected much by Google’s latest update but sooner or later one update will surely hit you bad.