If your website traffic and rankings have taken a significant hit in recent months it is quite possible that it is a result of Google’s Penguin algorithm update.

Penguin was first rolled out in April 2012 and there has been numerous official updates since then, the most recent coming in May this year as well as a possible unannounced update in August 2013.  Google Penguin punishes websites that participate in ‘Cloaking’, ‘Keyword Stuffing’ and ‘Link Schemes’.

The majority of our clients that come to us and who have been affected by Google Penguin were hit because of bad or spammy links to their website. These links would have been originally gained through paying for links, link farms, bad directories or other link schemes that violate Google’s guidelines. More often than not these techniques were carried out on the clients behalf without their knowledge.

So how do you remove bad links?

Disavow

Google allows Webmasters to Disavow links to their websites. This means that they will not “take certain links into account when assessing your site”. However in order to submit a disavow request to Google you must first make a genuine effort to get as many of the low quality links as possible removed and be unable to get the remaining links taken down yourself. Not only is this set out in Google’s disavow guidelines, but in our experience we have also found it more beneficial to get as many links as possible removed yourself as the disavow process can take a long time.

Remove Bad Links

There are a few things that you will need in order to follow our step-by-step link removal guide, which are:

  • Email Address
  • Webmaster Tools Access
  • Microsoft Excel (or another spread sheet application)
  • Ability to Identify Low-quality, spammy or artificial links
  • Logins to any linking websites (your webmaster or digital marketing manager may have kept a list)
  • Time & Patience

Step-By-Step Guide

1)      Login to your Google Webmaster Tools. If you have not already got your Webmaster Tools set up you can learn how to add your site here.

2)      Navigate to the ‘Search Traffic’ option on the left hand side.

3)      Then click on ‘Links to Your Site’

4)      By choosing the ‘More’ option you will be able to see a full list of Domains linking to your website as well as the number of links and linked pages.

5)      At this point I would recommended downloading a full list of these domains in an Excel worksheet (See Fig.4). This is done so that you can keep track of which linking websites are good or bad, which sites you have contacted, the date you contacted them and which links you have managed to get removed (See Example Fig.5). 

 

 

6)      This is when the real work begins. You need to go through each and every linking domain, and individual links in many cases, and determine the quality of these links in order to identify which ones need to be removed. This is a very long and time consuming process and it can be difficult for people to identify which are the good and bad links without some guidance. Removing good links could affect your website’s traffic and also your site’s rankings in the search engine results pages so we would advice consulting an SEO professional for advice.

7)      Once you have identified which links need to be removed it is time to start emailing. You will need to email Webmasters with all the necessary information, which may include a full list of links from their website to yours. This list can be downloaded through your Webmaster Tools as above.

8)      Emailing a Webmaster requesting a link or links to be removed does not mean that they will reply to your email or remove the links in question. Remember to keep all your activity updated in your excel worksheets.

9)      Now that you have finished the long process of attempting to get the bad links to your website removed, you will now need to evaluate all remaining links. Any untrustworthy incoming links which are left and which you were unsuccessful getting taken down should now be submitted to Google using the Disavow Tool.

Nua Marketing have been successful in helping new and existing clients to remove bad links and to develop sustainable link building strategies. If you have been hit by any Google Algorithm updates contact us for a FREE Consultation and we can help you out. Alternatively, if you’re interested in any of our digital marketing services, please do get in touch!

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