The Basics of Link Remediation, Link Removals & Disavows
Not many SEO people understand that link remediation, link removals, and disavows are critical task and they should be a regular process. This will help them stay on top of optimization efforts.
Sadly, we turn to these steps only when their utility strikes like when we find that the traffic has dropped drastically overnight which we came to know after checking our Google Search Console and Google Analytics. When the drop is huge, we wonder what could have gone wrong to cause this in a space of one night.
Chances are, a Penguin penalty has hit you. And you know this is a Google’s algorithm that targets the toxic links that harm your backlink profile. In fact, you could be in for more trouble – like an algorithmic demotion or exhaustive manual penalty – if your links border on the severe side.
Well, you should know toxic links are those that are in contradiction to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. And you should also understand that negative SEO is still there and it can make its presence felt. In fact, anyone can start a negative SEO attack on your site and can cause your site to lose value by reaching a higher level of link velocity and saturation.
You however can recover from a Penguin penalty if you understand the basics of link remediation and have an idea of what you should do. This is where an SEO expert can help a lot to you.
How to Discover an Algorithmic Devaluation?
A link penalty can be extremely granular to the point of impacting even the page or folder of your site. It even needn’t have to be site-wide as it can affect only a specific portion of a site. In fact, Google has clearly stated that Penguin is more granular as rather than affecting the whole site ranking it will devalue spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals.
So, Google is not necessarily going to penalize a website as a whole, but can do only parts of it. It can penalize a domain, a page, a sub directory or even a group of keywords, or anything that contributes to organic rankings can be affected by the Penguin to some extent. Naturally, you should expect to see penalty only for a part of your site rather than for the entire domain. You can also expect negative attacks to single directories.
So, in case one of your pages on the site is contributing to a ton of traffic as a whole and you find an algorithmic drop, there would be several reasons. In such cases, you should first check if a page on the site is penalized and is not able to send that much traffic. Another reason could be that you have removed the page responsible for ton of traffic.
That’s why a drop may not always be an algorithmic devaluation as it could also be brought on by the fact that you removed the page that was sending all those traffic to your site.
Is It an Algorithmic Devaluation or a Manual Penalty?
You have several ways to find out whether you have been hit by an algorithmic devaluation or a manual link penalty. You can just take help of your Google Analytics or Google Search Console and reach to the crux of the matter.
First, in Google Analytics, click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
Then, click on Organic Search.
Next, click on Landing Page as the primary dimension. You can click on Keyword if you want to go really granular; and click on Secondary dimension if you want for the landing page as secondary dimension, and then searching for landing page and then clicking on Landing Page.
By doing this, you could have information on both keyword and landing as traffic drivers on your site. This will help you know what pages have lost traffic and then you can take steps to fix the problem.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console can help you conduct more granular traffic analysis by using the search queries that are bringing traffic to your site.
So, first of all, click on the Performance button.
Next, click on + New
Then click on Page
Click on URLs Containing, and after that, type in the name of the page you’re interested in.
You will see any pages that may or may not have lost traffic.
In fact, Google Search Console will give you more details about the pages you found through the Google Analytics analysis yet could not clear the doubts much.
This will help you can answer to the cause of your link profile getting compromised.
Now, it’s time to do a link analysis to find out why there are a number of toxic links pointing back to your site. You can do a link analysis and do a detailed review of the links pointing to your site or link profile. This analysis can thus help you recover from a penalty.
What Next if You’ve Been Hit with a Manual Penalty?
A notification in Google Search Console is received when you have been hit with a manual penalty. This will let you know if any manual actions have been taken against your site.
When that happens, you just need to follow the instructions within Google Search Console, remove the links you found out, and you will recover.
When there are tons of links, it may take a lot of time getting them removed before you get back into the good old days of search rankings. In some cases, it could even take weeks or months for manual link removal with sending and receiving messages with the spam team to get those toxic links off.
So, you should try to avoid getting manual penalties as they can be tough. It’s always better to follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines even if things take a slow pace that you desire for results. This can be quite like the support of a digital marketing expert for your brand promotion.
Get All Your Links Together
It’s time to gather all your links together in your link profile and you can do this effectively only by pulling them together from multiple sources. Thanks to those many sources, you will be able to see your profile as a whole. Even if you can’t even pull together all of your links, this will help you have a good idea of your links across the web.
Since Google does not crawl all your links, you should not expect Search Console to find all the links in your profile. You will need to combine links from different or multiple sources. Apart from Google Search Console, you can also rely on sources like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz Open Site Explorer etc. to gather all your links. Naturally, different software will give different links and only a combination of software can help you get all the links together.
Perform Link Remediation
Link Remediation is basically the process of link pruning. In this, you have to crawl your links, keep them together in a spreadsheet and then analyze then manually one by one. You need to mark them as spam or not spam and then define what type of link they are. It may feel boring doing that involving hard work but if you want to restore the sanity of the site you have to do that. It’s meant to be a slower process and if it’s not taking time, you are doing it wrong. Even if there is some form of automation there, you should not expect to accurately review a site using AI.
Remove Toxic Spammy Links
Removing toxic links is going to the next key aspect of your link clean up tasks. And as per Google’s official guidelines for link removal, you must devote as much time removing them as you spent building them. And if you can’t get those links removed, there is always an option to disavow them. Similarly, your link removal campaign will involve being in touch with webmasters having your link on their site and asking them to remove those links. And be sure that this process is going to take time and when you have a big site with a large link profile, it can take many hours as well. And that’s why you should try to avoid manual action penalty.
Create a Disavow File
In the end, you need to create a disavow file to let Google know there are links on your site they should not count during your site evaluation. You also need to be first sure about that the site linking to you is bad site in violation of Google’s guidelines. However, an overwhelming majority of sites don’t need disavow file and they should also not worry about random low-quality links either. So, the focus should be on only getting rid of the links that are harming you, rather than those helping you.
Link Remediation Is Critical for the Modern SEO
An algorithmic or manual penalty could be the reason behind losses to your site in terms of ranking and links. To know the exact reason behind this, you have just two options – first, do link analysis and then disavow those links causing harm to you. There may be chances that competitor has done negative SEO attack to harm you and this happens more than you could imagine. Even if that happens, you can bide time, put in effort and remove toxic links that are causing a drop in performance of your site.
And yes, you just can’t remove all links and then re-build the site’s authority to replace those links. That’s why “the disavow” is just not the end of the world and you need to continue re-acquiring valuable links. And a modern SEO is not complete without detailed analysis, remediation, and removal and disavowing of toxic links.
Clearly, you need the support of best backlink builder to get the basics of link building right and take the right step towards restoring the authority and value of your website. And when you right link profile, this can always add value to your site’s SEO performance.
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