A lot has changed in the world of link building over the last few years and much of this change is attributed to Google’s release of Penguin in 2012, an algorithm update that targets spammy link building strategies. An updated version of Penguin was released earlier this year in May.
Before Penguin there were still link building tactics to avoid, but many SEOs elected to perform them anyway. As a result their sites were penalized and their rankings likely dropped significantly. Many SEOs are still trying to recover from these penalties.
Are there things SEOs can do to remove bad links from their profile? Absolutely, but first lets highlight some link building strategies that should always be avoided.
- Purchased Links – Paid links, whether you’re buying or selling them, are very risky to have as Penguin has helped Google detect them. An obvious sign of a paid link that Google can catch is a link on a site with high page rank and no relevancy to your own site. Although it’s tempting to purchase high page rank links, we highly advise you not to as it’s not worth the risk of being penalized by Google.
- Link Exchanges/Reciprocal Links – The concept of you link to me and I’ll link to you was very popular among SEOs back in the day. Now such a relationship has no value in Google’s eyes.
- Low Quality Directory Links – Attaining directory links is still a good strategy for SEOs today but you have to be selective. It’s best to stick with directories that are relevant to your industry.
- Link Spamming – Whether it’s through blog comments or discussion forums, creating links for the sole purpose of a link is considered spam. Google’s head of web spam Matt Cutts recently spoke about avoiding spam penalties when blog commenting and said it’s best to have a diverse backlink profile. If the majority of your backlinks come from blog comments, that’s often a red flag to Google. As always it’s important to leave comments on sites that are relevant to your industry and to ensure those comments are beneficial for the discussion.
- Press Releases – Many of the free press release submission sites are likely devalued by Google these days. Typically such sites don’t have any editorial guidelines and generally consist of low quality content.
How to Get Rid of Bad Links
Regardless if you’ve been hit by Penguin it’s important to remove any bad links directed towards your site. Completing a backlink audit and determining which links are low quality is a great place to start. Once you find the bad links you need to contact the site owners and ask them to remove them. If you don’t get a response you can use Google’s disavow tool, but according to Matt Cutts this tool should be used as a last resort.
Have you had to use Google’s disavow tool in the past?