How Regular Link Removal Is Better Than Investing 1000$ On SEO
Read This Before You Proceed
Written below is my opinion on Link Removal and I do understand that some of you may find this rather drab and time-consuming. I have also accounted for a story from the past which I find amusing because it may be an eye-opener for many webmasters who have not had the experience of getting a link removal request. This blog is for educational purposes and I believe that first-hand experience from real-life stories is a better teacher than any books or journals you will find on the Internet. If you just want to jump to the accumulation of facts, then do so by hitting Ctrl+F(Win) / Cmd+F(Mac) and searching for “The Importance of Link Removal and Backlink Audit”
I have also published my Link Removal Request Email Template and Google Reconsideration Email Template just before the conclusion.
My tryst with Link Removal and the importance of SEO audits.
Being in the SEO Consultancy field has a lot of perks, undeniably, but there are times when there is more to a scene than meets the eye. Having handled more than 3400 clients last year I got a chance to meet and interact with lots of people from various parts of the world. Each with its own set of distinctive problems and business objectives.
Conversion-based clients, people struggling with bad reputation threats and low returns, Social media challenges and most obviously the fight for the number one position on Google and other search engines.
Just by interacting with these clients and trying to decipher their unique problems that are somehow interconnected – I feel tolerant, and every time there is a knock on the door, I am acquainted with the various possibilities for the story lurking behind it.
There have been many peculiar incidents in my consultancy life, but one such incident that refuses to leave my mind is of a friend from Australia, Lucas Donato.
It goes something like this…
It was a Sunday afternoon and I was sulking in my cabin when I received a call from Lucas. He sounded a bit agitated. Taking a moment to weigh the situation I guessed that maybe his rankings had dropped or there were rumors of another Google tyranny. When I landed on my desk I was amused to see a very ordinary-looking email from him, which was the reason for his distress. I laughed, staring at my screen – it was a forwarded email from him, the same one that he had received earlier that evening from a fellow webmaster.
I kept staring at the screen and laughing. I understood the whole scenario. Lucas was worried because he thought there was something terribly wrong with his website profile that had made Camela want to get the links deleted.
This is the email that I sent him, followed by a call (because at times blunt text messages are not enough to pull my clients out of their distress).
Lucas was relieved after having a whole-hearted conversation with me over the phone (Sorry brother if you are reading this blog, but I know you wouldn’t mind). Many a time I recall this incident to my clients, because Lucas is a perfect example of a hardworking entrepreneur, who just like the other webmasters on the Internet, does not have profound knowledge of the stringent quality guidelines that Google keeps buffing day after day, year after year.
“Many webmasters find solace in spending thousands of dollars every month on their Internet presence. They take refuge behind massive expenditures feeling safe, only to know that their final outcome – the reason for their low bank balance (trying to rank on the SERPs) is still distant from the finish line.”
And in this endless marathon for Google supremacy, they take into account their Social Media Profiles and Online reputation and overlook the importance of Link Removal.
I have personally dealt with many clients who retained good rankings on the SERPs just by thoroughly auditing their backlink profile and I felt like putting it up on the blog, instead of just keeping it inside myself. I want this to be an account for all my past experiences with bad link profiles and link removal and things that I have imbibed along this journey of Search Engine Optimization.
The Importance of Link Removal and Backlink Audit
Just like the Lucas story (read above if you haven’t), there are webmasters who splurge a lot of money on the SEO of their website, paying less attention to their backlink profile. Lucas was confident that there was nothing wrong with his On-page or Off-page SEO or with the quality of content that was constantly being placed on his websites. He was actively involved in various blogs relating to his niche and had a great network of bloggers and webmasters who would amuse themselves through his websites. But, even when you are 100% sure that nothing can go wrong, here are reasons for doing regular backlink audits (if you don’t already have the habit) that I have personally accumulated through various experiences:
- Prevention is Better Than Cure: Of all the activities that interconnect the SEO field, having to file a disavow file to Google just after your website has been hit by a manual penalty is the most painstaking. Primarily because the damage has already been done, and it’s like putting double effort into the same thing that could have been done easily in the past to avoid all this mess and begging. Secondly because after a website is hit by a manual penalty (Penguin especially), there is no saying when it may regain its rankings ever. It can take from months to years and I know of a few people who went totally out of business and suffered great loss as they were unable to recover from the shock.
If you know someone personally who has suffered such an experience, they will tell you better. Once you are in the pit, you are not given any logical explanation for the misdeed. There were people who had to completely disavow their entire profile because they were unsure what to keep and what to delete after getting affected. The pressure of the situation simply adds to the misery, it’s like adding salt to an already burning wound.
- Immeasurable Trust Factor: Webmasters who maintain a clean and stout profile are susceptible to being trusted by other authorities in their field than the ones who accept citations from random sources.
It’s simple. If you do a thorough backlink audit of your website and ensure that links to and from your website are in good shape, you will learn to trust only a few power sources instead of any rookie-level webmasters who might indulge in techniques that are not favorable by Google guidelines. Ensuring a clean profile will earn you links from trusted sources with great trust flow.
- Today’s Good Links Maybe Tomorrows Downfall: Link attributes are not static, they are dynamic. If your website indulges in good SEO practices, a link obtained from your website by another website may act in their favor less today and more tomorrow as it grows powerful with your healthy habits. The same is the case vice versa, a good link that you or your SEO company obtained for you today may be a healthy ranking factor today but you never know what the website is going to do tomorrow. Link statistics can change from good to bad in a matter of weeks and something which boosted your ranks today may work to destroy your internet presence, inviting a penalty tomorrow. Still, need more reasons? Keep reading.
- Negative SEO Tactics and Competitors: Remember your business does not only have competitors but the SEO you employed also has competitors. At times, other competitor brands or the competitors of your SEO gurus may run spammy link-building schemes to spoil the reputation of your brand or invite a penalty for your website. Yes! It might look demeaning but such things do happen and corruption is not only prevalent in the real world, as you are aware – corruption prevails where humans hide. Some websites run automated scripts that steal the website architecture and content from another website and put it on theirs (though this might not get you caught for plagiarism), but it will definitely get you penalized for attracting too many low-quality backlinks.
- Links That Are Incorrectly Placed Into Website Templates: Sometimes you may acquire backlinks from trusted sources, giving you a sense of great achievement, but what if that single and powerful looking link has been placed by the webmaster in their website’s template by mistake (for example links in widgets, sidebars or footers). This will cause the link to be replicated amongst the numerous pages of the website and look like spam to various Search Engine bots. End result – irrecoverable manual penalty by Google, easily avoidable through Link Audit and Removal.
- Over Optimized Keywords and Anchor Texts: There was nothing wrong with the over-optimization of keywords and anchor texts a few years back, but off late such endeavors are not being given the best of treatments from our big brother (Google). So what might have worked for you a few years back, may work against you today and this is yet another powerful reason to cleanse your link profile with proper link removal.
I have come across websites that were penalized for over-optimization of keywords and anchor texts because they got way too many brand name anchors and website anchors from various sources. Even though the links were from authentic sources, but there is no dodging the ban hammer if even by chance your main key terms have been over-optimized. You can always request webmasters to change the
- Over Optimized Images with Wrong Context: Webmasters are still careful when placing text links on their websites, but often when it comes to optimizing images they get a bit lazy. Over-optimized and wrongly customized images are easy to overlook and may invite a penalty, if there are way too many images with the same Alt Text, Alt Attribute, etc. Such petty things are easily overlooked by even the most knowledgeable Search Engine Optimizers, so casual webmasters are nowhere in this league. Not only will auditing the backlinks that you receive via images help you dodge the Google hammer, but it will also attract better organic traffic to your website from Google Image search.
- Find Like-Minded People and Establish Relationships: Even though Google already has a feature called Google Alerts for this job, but there are times when an alert might not trigger because it does not fit all your criteria. This is where link maps are of great use. Performing a monthly link map will make you aware of all the websites that have unlinked you, or of the new websites that want to establish a connection with you.
The least you can do is, go to host the website and establish a relationship with the webmaster with a polite thank you and a review of their content to which your link is related. Sometimes there may be a discussion going on about you on a different website and who else will know better about yourself, than you? You can subtly join the crowd and take part in the discussion. Not only does this show other webmasters that you are watching your link profile, but also helps establish a sense of deep trust for future business relations, as they can evolve anywhere.
- Find and Repair Broken Backlinks: There is a lot of time, money, and effort that you put in to win a backlink from a website. Now, what if this link is broken or leads to a 404! Page Not Found? It is a great loss for webmasters if their organic links are pointing to dead ends, especially the powerful ones that could impact their rankings to a great extent.
If you have a thin link profile, even getting a single broken backlink repaired could mean a lot to your online presence, whereas if you have an authoritative website with thousands of backlinks, it is best to keep them checked and repair the ones that are broken from time to time. Links can be broken for various reasons. A webmaster might have misspelled a word in the link or the page he linked to has been moved to another page and you never took time to redirect the redundant link. 90% times this is the case with broken links as administrators change the link structure of a page to suit their keyword strategy, making the link lose all its earned backlinks.
- 95% Penalties Are Related To Backlinks: According to research conducted by SEO experts, over 95% of the websites are penalized by Google for their backlinks. No matter how many powerful backlinks you have. Every single low-quality backlink will work towards lowering your chance to SERP fame. If your website was penalized, or you notice a sudden drop in your rankings, it is important to make yourself updated with rel=”nofollow”> Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and also check their guidelines for link removal.
“If your SEO agency does not give you a monthly backlink analysis report, or they have not even suggested the idea of getting your backlink audits in the right time –
[blockquote photo=”” author=”Piyush Agarwala” company=”Prime One Global” link=”” target=”_blank”]
My Opinion (Take it if you like):
SEO is not merely about building backlinks, the more the better and it never will be. In fact, SEO is about a strategist mind that works around to clock to decipher Google’s next move and make an appropriate action plan to power up and retain your social and search presence even during the time of an Algorithm update. Minor fluctuations in your rankings are always possible as most everyone on the web is spending money on getting better ranks, but if you see a drastic drop in your rankings or get an Unnatural Link Warning from Google Webmasters Tool, it is time to move on to a better SEO company.
It doesn’t matter if you spend a thousand dollars on SEO every month, or if you opt for an in-house team to do your SEO work. Your SEO team should be well versed with the history of changes and be able to maintain a firm record of your backlink timeline in order to prevent a mishap from destroying your plans for the future.
Handy Templates for Link Removal
You can rip this template exactly if you want. However, be sure to double-check the entire piece before putting any of these to use.
Considering the fact that you have your link audit report in hand, you would now want to either hand over the entire process of link removal to a professional SEO or do it yourself. I have used these templates for sending emails to Google Webmasters Tool or to fellow Webmasters for dealing with my link problems.
Email Request To Webmaster Asking Them To Delete a Link
Sub: Link Removal From Your Domain (Domain Name)
Hello (Webmaster’s Name),
I am writing this email in order to inform you that there is a particular link on your website (their website name) that is pointing to my website (your website name). The link is appearing on this URL (give URL) with this anchor text (hyperlinked text).
I recently conducted a backlink audit and my SEOs are asking me to remove the link from your domain. There is nothing to worry about it as the integrity of your website is not in question, nor will the link impact your bottom line. I just don’t want to obtain backlinks from unknown domains.
Please do not mind me asking this, as I am just playing carefully to avoid any Unnatural Link Warnings from Google.
I expect your full cooperation in this regard. Please let me know when you receive this email and I will verify my credibility as the webmaster of (your domain name).
In case you need help removing the links, you can revert to me and I will be glad to help you.
Reconsideration Request In case Your Website Suffered Manual Penalty
Remember one thing – there is nothing that can be hidden from Google’s eyes. So don’t overlook any of your backlinks and if a link needs to be removed or makes you question your motives, IT MUST GO!
When filing a reconsideration request, granted that you were too late for Link Removal and are already hit by a manual penalty, you must state your message concisely and hide nothing from the all-knowing Google.
There are a few things that you must complete before filing a reconsideration request. If you are planning to put only half your effort into this, then don’t even bother. Google will overlook your reconsideration request if they see that you made a negligible effort on your end to remove the links. If you emailed a particular webmaster and they did not cooperate, then you must mention that in your disavow.txt file along with a screenshot proof for the same. All evidence should be mentioned to show that you tried to remove as many backlinks as you could “manually” before asking for reconsideration.
Here is a template that I have used for many of my penalty hit clients:
Dear Google Webspam Team,
Thank you for bearing with my reconsideration request. My website (website name) has recently received a penalty for unnatural links. Unfortunately, I was not aware that my SEOs have used the wrong tactics to hike my website in the search engines and I was not aware of low-quality backlinks and over-optimized anchor texts as such. I do remember purchasing a link package from the SEO Company (Name of Company), but I was informed that these were 100% manually written and organically obtained links. I claim full responsibility for their carelessness and I no longer employ them.
To recover from the penalty, I bought a link audit service from this company (Name of Company). After receiving the entire backlink report, I have analyzed all the backlinks along with the help of a professional and got some of the webmasters to remove my link from their website. However, as I have unintentionally become a victim of link farming schemes, there are a lot of websites that are not actively moderated. I have sent an email to all the websites and the ones that cooperated and removed my link are mentioned in the first half of the disavow.txt file.
The second half contains the list of those backlinks, whose webmasters are either uncooperative or asking me for cash payment in exchange for link removal.
The third part contains a list of those websites that are just a part of link-building schemes and are not replying to my messages. I have also been unable to find the who-is details or contact details of certain websites and even those are mentioned in the third party.
Please check the attachments for all the emails that I have sent out along with the replies from the webmasters. I believe that this is evidence enough to show that some of the webmasters are uncooperative or careless in this regard.
I have also attached the disavow.txt file that I have submitted through the Disavow Tool. Thank you for reading my request again and considering my website. I was unaware of such schemes and I believe that It will never happen again in the future.
I have really worked hard to mend the loss and this is as far as I could delve.
Your Name (Webmaster of Website)
So this was my take on the importance of Link Removal. Though many may disagree, I believe, especially for the old players who have been doing SEO for a long time, Link Removal can do more good than obtaining a huge number of power links. Keeping your profile clean and maintaining this healthy habit not only get you a better trust score in Google, but also in the eyes of other webmasters who do the same.
This blog is an accumulation of all the points and facts that I have witnessed firsthand about the power of Link Removal. I do believe that I might have missed out on other important factors that don’t seem to cross my mind at the moment (let me know through the comment section below). Also, feel free to share my Email and Reconsideration templates if you found them useful.
Have a good day!