One of the tasks that I help website owners with is cleaning up their website’s backlinks. If a site has been penalized by Google, or the website has been penalized by the Google Penguin algorithm update, then it’s necessary to take the time to try to get the low quality and toxic links that are pointing to your website removed. I have actually a pretty good response rate when it comes to contacting the site owners. Many are very helpful and will remove links if you ask politely. [Read more…]
Guest blogging for SEO purposes started its downfall recently, especially with Google penalizing MyBlogGuest, and before that it was Google finding and penalizing advertorials. And before that, it was paid links in general. It’s not that Google’s against those advertising vehicles, it’s that they don’t want SEOs and website owners manipulating their algorithm, gaming the system so to speak, and “buying links that pass PageRank“. And now, if it’s paid, we all know that it’s not just Google’s problem: the United States FTC has also spoken up. [Read more…]
I spend a few hours each day helping site owners and business owners recover from the dreaded Google Penguin algorithm update. I thought that I had received crazy emails from site owners who don’t know how to update their website. But it’s also amazingly hilarious to me when I run into a site owner who doesn’t even know that certain pages exist on their website.
Let’s take, for example, a site owner named “Lee”. I sent him an email recently about getting a link on his “resources.html” page removed from his site, which is an obviously spammy type of link scheme page. It has at least 50 outgoing links on the page, and it’s all to off-topic sites:
> Hi Lee, > > Recently when we reviewed all of the links to XXXXXXXXX.com, we noticed that your website is linking to XXXXXXXXX.com on this page here: > > http://www.XXXXXXXXX.com/resources.html > > I'm wondering if you would remove this link on your website to XXXXXXXXX.com? > > Thank you, Bill (on behalf of XXXXXXXXX.com) >
After my email, Lee responded a few days later, with this:
Subject: Re: Question about XXXXXXXXX.com From: "Lee XXXXXXXXX"
Date: Wed, March 12, 2014 3:34 pm To: "XXXXXXXXX" Priority: Normal Options: View Full Header | View Printable Version | Download this as a file On 3/11/2014 6:27 PM, XXXXXXXXX wrote: I am not sure where that came from. We did not authorize any links, and i would not even know how to do such a thing. I do not know how to undo what you say happened. In fact I do not know where to begin. Lee
I responded to Lee, asking him if he had access to his website and whether. I also asked him if he was going to be able to remove that page on his site or if he still could remove the link. I have not heard back from him yet.
I suspect that a lot of business owners, especially those who are not as technical, don’t know about certain pages on their websites that their webmasters have built or added to their website. Pretty much now a “resources.html” page on a website isn’t recommended, especially if you are going to link out to sites that are off-topic.
Oh, the irony. Google is hosting the very articles that contain links that Google is telling us that they want removed. Wait. What?!? That’s right, in what can only be a unique twist of irony, Google is playing web host to thousands of low quality spammy articles, the exact same type of articles that Google wants us to remove. And the links that they’re penalizing websites for having.
Let’s first take a look at this ‘article directory’ website:
If you look at the screen shot, you’ll see that it’s an “article directory” that’s similar to the what Matt Cutts talked recently talked bout. In fact, he said not to build links using article directory websites. Let’s take a look at the video that Mr. Cutts posted about article directories: [Read more…]
There’s a search engine optimization company out there that is requiring that you pay for removal if you want your link removed from their directory. This same SEO company built these web directories several years ago, touting the fact that they would help your search engine rankings if you were to get listed. Now they want payment for removal of your link.
If you have a link on one of these directories, then expect to pay $25 for each link to be removed: [Read more…]
Dear Shady SEO Firm:
Would you please stop, immediately, from spreading false and untrue rumors about the Google Disavow Tool? By spreading false rumors, you’re hurting the SEO industry as a whole and making it even more difficult for us honest, Google-Webmaster-Acceptable-Guideline-Abiding SEOs to get our jobs done properly. And don’t even think about threatening website owners about removing links to your client websites. That’s just flat out wrong. [Read more…]
Google has launched an improved URL removal tool that will make it easier to request updates based on changes on other people’s websites. But there is actually another use for this tool: it can be used to aid in a website’s Google Penguin Recovery if your site has been hit by Google Penguin.
Recovering from Google Penguin is not an easy task by any means. In fact, it takes a very highly skilled technical SEO with a lot of search engine optimization experience in order to recover from Google Penguin properly without doing long-term damage to a website’s search engine rankings. The Google Penguin recovery process requires that you remove the “low quality” and unnatural links to your website. However, that is actually a lot easier said then done. Some sites have over 100,000 links pointing to their site. How are you going to gather all of those links (not one single tool out there will tell you about all the links, so you have to use multiple tools)? How are you going to sort through all of them and decide which links must go, which links must stay, and do that efficiently? [Read more…]
If you have ever received a manual penalty from Google, then you most likely have received this message in Google Webmaster Tools that could be an unnatural link warning, similar to this one that my client received:
The message reads something like this:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.XXXXXXXXXX.com/,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
If you receive a warning like this, then you need to take it very seriously. Specifically, you need to look at ALL of the links pointing to your website, over the entire history of your site. I recommend MajesticSEO‘s historical links in order to see all the links that your site has, and combine that with the list of links from Google Webmaster Tools. Put that data into a spreadsheet.
Then, you need to go through the painstakingly time-consuming task of going through each and every link. Make a record of everything that you’re doing, so you can give this information to Google. Again, record it in a spreadsheet.
Depending on the number of links that your site has, it could take days, weeks, or months to go through this process.
Whatever you do, though, you need to be very open and honest with Google. You need to tell them everything that you’ve done to get the unnatural links to your site removed. If there are links that you simply cannot get removed, then you’ll need to disavow those links. Make notes in the disavow file, as well.
Upload a copy of the spreadsheet that contains all of your notes to Google Drive (formerly Google Docs). Notate the URL of the spreadsheet and include that in your Google reconsideration request. I won’t go into the exact details of what you should include in a reconsideration request–because it needs to be customized for every website. But you need to tell Google what you did, the links that you think are unnatural, what you did to remove those specific links, when you contacted the site owners, and that you’ve changed your policies: you won’t engage in unnatural linking again.
Right now, depending on the amount of links you have and some other circumstances, once you file a reconsideration request with Google it is taking anywhere from 5 days to 15 days or so before you hear back from Google. My experience has been that it will take 5 days if you still have unnatural links pointing to your website: Google can spot those pretty quickly and tell you that you’re still in violation of their Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Once you’re manual penalty is listed or “revoked” by Google, you’ll receive a message in Google Webmaster Tools notifying you of their action. It will look something like this:
Reconsideration request for http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.com/: Manual spam action revoked
September 23, 2013
We received a reconsideration request from a site owner for http://www.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.com/.
Previously the webspam team had taken action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this action.
You can use the Manual Actions page in Webmaster Tools to view actions currently applied to your site. It may take some time before recent updates to your site’s status are reflected on this page and in our search results.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking. Google determines the order of search results using a series of computer programs known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking will happen from time to time as we make updates to present the best results to our users.
If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see our Help Center for help with diagnosing the issue.
Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of search results for our users.
You see, if you do everything right, and you truly identify all of the links pointing to your website and you get those links removed and disavowed, your manual penalty from Google will get revoked. But it takes time, a lot of hard work, and someone who knows that they’re doing. And remember, having a manual penalty from Google (one where you got a message like the one above) is completely different than having a Google Panda or Penguin Penalty. There are different ways to deal with a manual penalty (which can be much worse) than how you would deal with Google Panda or Google Penguin issues.
Does your site have a manual penalty from Google? Contact me and let’s discuss getting that manual penalty removed.
There are so many companies out there, some calling themselves a Link Building Firm, that claim to offer natural link building services, which is an interesting type of service. Think about it for a minute. If your company offered something called “natural” link building services, then the links that you get to your website uh, well, would NOT be natural?
Is the company you’re going to deal with really a Link Building Firm? My definition of a natural link is one that you did not obtain by asking someone for a link–and you did not obtain that link because you hired an SEO firm to build those links for you.
This is exactly why I continue to be a strong believer in the Link Earning type of linking or link building service rather than “link building”. It’s a strong focus on the actual content: and using social media to get your content noticed. It’s then when you will truly obtain “natural” links. The Link Building Firm of the past should be called a Link Earning Firm instead.
I just had to laugh when I got an unsolicited email from someone named “Shane” who calls himself a “business development executive”. I have so many problem with this email below it’s amazing. Not to mention the fact that it was sent unsolicited, and I would first consider it to be spam. But first, take a look at it:
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 7:18 AM
Subject: Natural Link Building Services !!
To: Info@ XXXXXXXXXXX.com
I am Shane Business Development Executive.
I was on your website and observed that you are an online service provider. I was just wondering if you would be interested in outsourcing your campaigns to us. We would be happy to execute the same for you on a white level basis.
Why choose us?
The answer is simple! We provide very UNIQUE link building service. It’s not the same as what most SEO companies do:
Top 20 Benefits of Our Service:
1. Securing “unidirectional” (One-way) or only-Incoming (non-reciprocal) links
2. Links with relevant “Keywords” in the Anchor Text
3. Links from industry-relevant pages.
4. Links from industry specific article pages
5. Links for your Website should not be through a “redirect” script
7. No links from “framed” pages
8. No “flash” embedded links
9. No paid or time-bound links
10. No email spam used to solicit links.
11. No links from “Link Farms”
12. No links from FFA (Free-For-All) link networks
13. No links from Pornographic, Casino, Viagra and other sites containing offensive content
14. Full data sheet of links created at the end of each month
15. Only relevant established links are counted in the final report
16. No links text nude
17. No “no-follow” links
18. No more than 75 outgoing links
19. No links from blog, directory, forum posting.
20. All the links will be Google cached and indexed pages.
However, all these benefits leads to one goal: “Increase in Sales”.
Let me know your views and I would be happy to provide further details.
Business Development Executive
First off, I would NEVER do business with someone who sent a spam email to an “info@” type of email address on my website. I just wouldn’t. But that’s just me.
I wouldn’t call myself a “Business Development Executive”. We all know that he’s a sales guy. Well, now a sales guy that’s a spammer. But I digress.
“I was on your website and observed that you are an online service provider”… Really? The site it was sent to is a local geo-type blog. Think “cityname + blog” type of keywords for this site. He never visited the site. That’s a lie. I don’t hire liars, either.
“It’s not the same as what most SEO companies do”… really? The problem is that all the SEO firms out there claim and do exactly what this guy is claiming. All of those statements, I would hope, are followed by just about any other SEO firm claiming to do link building nowadays. So, what exactly is unique about what Shane’s SEO firm does that no other SEO firm does? Well, uh, he never says!
Who builds links from FFA (Free For All) sites now anyway? That’s Sooooooo, 1998 link building I’m amazed that it’s even a tactic listed here.
One more thing. What the heck is “No links text nude”. I mean really, I didn’t know that links could be nude.
In a post Google Penguin world, it is still okay (an natural) to link out to other websites. Here in June of 2013, I am horrified that I actually have to have this conversation with other website owners and bloggers. I mean, really. Why would it possibly hurt your search engine rankings if you linked out to a company’s website when you mention them in your blog post?
Well, apparently there is a rumor going around. The rumor is that if you write an article or blog post and put it on your website, you should NOT (ever) link out to another company’s website–even if you mention them in the article. Supposedly Google will somehow mistaken your outgoing link for a paid link and penalize your website in the process. So, apparently the answer to all of this is to stop linking out to other websites.
What?!? When I heard this from a fellow blogger, the first thing I thought of was the fact that that is one of the most ridiculous rumors I have ever heard (and I’ve certainly heard a lot of them). But I can honestly say that with all of the information (and misinformation) out there about the Panda and Penguin Google Updates, I can see where people could get confused.
Let’s first start with this. At the Pubcon conference (yes I just linked out to another site), in April 2013, I gave the following presentation about Google Panda and Google Penguin. It’s important to understand the basics–what Panda and Penguin are about.
If you look at the following article (there again I linked out yet again and it won’t hurt my rankings), Guillaume Bouchard writes for Search Engine Watch and mentions the following about what constitutes a fishy link:
Outbound links using exact match anchor text from low quality sites (or penalized by Google), or from the same IP address
Well, that certainly could be confusing. He’s talking about LINKS THAT ARE POINTING TO YOUR SITE, not links that you have on your site pointing to other websites. What you don’t want is exact match anchor text links on low quality sites pointing to you. Get rid of those. Get them removed. Or disavow those links.
Remember, linking out to other web sites is natural and part of one of the core principles of the internet: other websites links to you and you link out to them. Want more proof? Here is what Web Page Mistakes has to say:
Providing Relevant Outbound Links is Good
Why is linking out good? Because as you write your article and make statements you should provide links to related and respected sources to backup your statements. This can be done by quoting a source and providing the link to the original article you quoted from (besides being good manners on the net).
Another way to provide relevant outgoing links is to provide a further reading or resources section at the end of your article.
Wait, what?!? Look at the sentence just before this quote. I linked out to another website, another web page that has all sorts of information to back up what I’m talking about. And, technically speaking, you probably came across this article because it ranks well in the Google search results. So, don’t be afraid to link out to other websites, especially when it is appropriate to do so.
You are not participating in a link scheme that Google will penalize you for if you link out to a company’s website when you mention that company in an article on your blog. That’s just insane to think that way.
In a post-Google Penguin world, yes, it is still okay to link out to other websites. In fact, if you don’t link out, it’s unnatural. That’s what might actually hurt your rankings.
If your website is banned in the Google search engine or if your website is penalized, then I don’t recommend writing and distributing a press release about it. IGXE the Internet Gaming Exchange, a company that specializes in selling MMORPG currencies, items, power leveling, and CD-keys, such as World of Warcraft gold, apparently got penalized in the Google search engine for buying links. As a result, instead of admitting that they did something wrong, they issued a press release telling others that they should not hire network marketing companies.
Here is some of the text from the press release that IGXE issued today. Essentially, they blamed someone else (network marketing companies) rather than themselves for getting penalized. They bought links, which is against Google’s acceptable Webmaster Guidelines. Google caught them, and penalized their website as a result.
WILMINGTON, Del., May 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — In January 2013, IGXE (www.igxe.com), one of the top in-game branding service websites specializing in MMORPG currencies, items, power leveling, and CD-keys, was punished by Google after IGXE took advantage of network marketing companies to improve its website ranking. When IGXE disappeared from the Google search engine, customers were left wondering why. Some even assumed that IGXE was closed. Others felt panic over their unused bonuses and vouchers. For this, the manager of IGXE marketing department, Vinson Hall, sought to assuage all concerns in an interview.
This punishment brought big losses to IGXE.com, as we lost lots of customers including our old customers. We learned a lesson. Vinson said that IGXE has already terminated its cooperation with network marketing companies. What’s more, bonuses or vouchers can still be used on IGXE. At any given time, IGXE will always protect its customers.
The whole premise for this press release (the reason behind it) is to blame some “network marketers” which I think honestly is a mistake. The problem mean “online marketers” or “internet marketers” rather than “network marketers”. The person who wrote the press release doesn’t appear to have a good command of the English language.
Rather than blaming some other company for your mistakes (buying links), then IGXE should only blame themselves. The company is ultimately responsible for all of their online marketing activities. If you choose to outsource your marketing efforts, then you must police those efforts and monitor everything that is being done.
There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing that you’re paying for links (which is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines). There are plenty of tools available for you to check the links to your website, and even some like Majestic SEO will give you all the data about your own website for free (as long as you prove you’re the owner of you site).
So, what happened?
According to IGXE, in January 2013, IGXE received a notice from Google (most likely via a message from Google Webmaster Tools) stating that there were unnatural links pointing to their website. Google also at the time apparently either banned IGXE from the search results or they severely penalized the site. for what it’s worth, IGXE is back in the search results now for brand-related keyword phrases.
What is amazing to me is that IGXE’s CEO is blaming Google for all of this. The company’s CEO is doing everything they can to blame someone else for this loss of revenue and “reputation”, and they’re not blaming themselves for doing something that is so very clearly against the search engine’s guidelines. Here is what IGXE’s CEO had to say:
It influenced our reputation significantly. Even now, some customers think that IGXE is closed. Besides, Google’s punishment affected IGXE negatively. As far as we know, we have already lost 30 percent of our old customers. Although we tried many other ways to reduce the loss, we still lost the trust of customers. This cannot be calculated.
Apparently IGXE has lost a lot of money and a lot of traffic. It even “influenced their reputation”. And they’ve already lost 30 percent of their customer base. IGXE apparently took a big hit in rankings and traffic when they were “caught” by Google buying links to their website. They are apparently now cleaning up the links. But, based on my experience, the site may not fully recover.
What’s my advice, here? Don’t buy links. But if you’re going to buy links (or participate in link schemes that are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines), don’t blame someone else for something that you did. Don’t blame the network marketers. Don’t blame the SEOs. Don’t blame the online marketers.
And whatever you do, don’t blame Zac, the “famous” SEO specialist:
Zac, the famous SEO specialist, said that there many ways to cheat SEO including hidden links, link spam, paid links, keyword stuffing, and more.
Who the heck is Zac?