Removing Backlinks That Lead To Negative SEO: Interview With Jacob Bohall

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As part of our SEJ interview series, Jacob Bohall of Virante discusses removing harmful backlinks that can lead to negative SEO.

Jacob starts with an observation that the SEO industry is currently struggling with a combination of forces where sites are trying to recover from bad backlinking practices they have done in the past, while at the same time companies are maliciously building bad links to sites that are trying to recover.

When businesses come to Jacob’s company Virante to recover from an SEO penalty, most of the time it’s not the business’s fault for continuing to build bad links. Jacob is seeing the negative SEO is more a result of opportunistic website owners building bad links in hopes that the businesses will pay to have them removed.

How do you go about removing these bad links? Jacob explains in the video below:

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • One way Jacob’s company goes about dealing with removing bad links is to identify where they are coming from and then borderline harassing the website owners into removing the links.
  • If the website owners refuse to remove the links, Jacob suggests documenting that an attempt has been made to get the links removed and then adding the website to a disavow file.
  • Ultimately it’s in the website owner’s best interest to remove the link rather than be added to Google’s record of sites that have had their links disavowed.
  • Jacob sees no difference between no-follow and do-follow backlinks when it comes to negative SEO. Google can detect spammy backlink pattern regardless of whether or not the links pass Page Rank. The key to avoid spam penalties is to make sure the majority of your links come from trusted sources.

If you have any questions after watching the video, please ask them in the comments section and I will do my best to respond to everyone! Please visit SEJ’s YouTube page for more video interviews.

John Rampton
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, full-time computer nerd, and PPC expert. Founder at payments company I enjoy helping people and am always online to chat +/@johnrampton
John Rampton
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  • Nick

    Adding a domain to a disavow file and uploading it to Google doesn’t penalize the domain on your disavow list. It just makes it a nofollow link. You can’t penalize a link directory or someone else’s website by including it in a disavow file. Google doesn’t care. It’s just an algorithm.

    If that were the case, I would use Fiverr to create thousands of spammy links penalizing SEJ and all other SEO websites in order to make mine the best in the world.

  • avnish

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable information with us…

  • Sunday

    Great takeaways from this Interview. One of the most important revelations is the idea that negative SEO and bad link building is never the intention of most companies. I think that Jacob Bohall’s Virante is doing a good job to enforce best practices in SEO.

  • Sid Silhouette

    Why send the companies letter to remove the links? Why not just add them to the file to be disavowed? Especially since it takes Google approx. three months to respond to the file.

  • Tim Whittingham

    The Disavow tool is not a solution to your failed SEO project. It is meant for genuine victims of negative SEO. The Disavow Tool will not work for you if you want to upload a ton of links you have gathered over the years from poor SEO work to get out of a Google Penalty, as Google will see this as a cheap and easy way out. They want to see you work to get your links removed, before you use this tool! The Disavow Tool will work for you however, if you have a clean backlink history, then suddenly you aquire many spammy backlinks that are not related to your site in any way. In this instance, Google will see that you have not spent years manipulating their SERPs and will treat you as a genuine victim of negative SEO as you have been hit!

    This video explains the process of our link audits, and how we conduct them to ensure that your backlink profile is clean before you run the risk of a penalty, or to clean up after a penalty in order to file for a reconsideration request effectively.

    • Julie Waters

      I used The Link Auditors for my audit a few weeks back. You guys really helped me out, now I have a perfectly clean backlink profile and I didn’t have any trouble with reconsiderations. I’m waiting for my site to regain it’s original position in the SERPs but I have faith that because of the service you provided me with I will have no problems. Thank you.

      Also, I had a look at your videos. They are very helpful, and I think people who watch them will have a better understanding of the Disavow Tool and removing links because of it.