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Backling 'cleansing'


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#1 ClickClick

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 08:56 AM

Hi

 

My website got hit by a Google update last year around May time, and then another in July. The site went from around 10,000 daily visits to around 8,000, then to around between 4,000-5,000, which has been maintained since then.

 

The site had a massive rise between 2011 - 2013, where we went from having between 1,000 and 2,000 visits per day to around 10,000 (the visits increased in increments, not all at once). We were getting 10,000 a day for around 6 months before the first update hit. All SEO was totally white hat - the site and content has been worked on for many years (the site is almost 15 years old) and it finally paid off over that 18 month period.

 

All of our pages still seem to be there in the Google listings, but they have just moved down a few places. For instance, for our main keyword (which is very competitive) we have moved from spots one to 3 (we used to fluctuate), to the bottom of the first page or sometimes the top spot of the second page in Google. There is a similar pattern for many of our keywords.

 

We have not had any messages from Google in Webmaster tools with details of a penalty.

 

I have been in discussions with an SEO agency and they say that the first step (that has worked for many of their clients) is to 'cleanse' our backlinks. They say that they will try to get rid of all of the bad or useless ones (by contacting the websites) and they also say that our 'branded' keywords vs. anchor text keywords are not balanced (there are an unnatural amount for our main keyword vs. our brand online) so they will try to tidy this up and change some of the keywords to brand words so that the balance becomes better. They say that a cleanse is very important.

 

Please note we are also working on a big website update and improving things across the board, which of course is the most important thing, but do you think that what the SEO company have advised could help? I was always under the impression that bad links don't have any negative impact - if they did competitors could build lots of bad links against your site to ruin your rankings!

 

Thanks in advance!



#2 chrishirst

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 09:43 AM

 

They say that a cleanse is very important.

They are idiots and trying to fleece you.

 

 

If YOU have not been "link building" using crappy methods such as blog commenting, article dumping, forum link dropping and the like, nothing needs 'cleansing', the muppets who tell you it does will probably do more harm than good by removing 'good' links.

 

The ONLY time you need to think about removing or 'disavowing' links is when you have received an "unnatural links" warning from Google via your webmaster tools console/dashboard.



#3 Jill

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 10:29 AM

I disagree with Chrishirst. 

 

It's possible that what they say is necessary. They've presumably done a full audit on your site and the links and have a good handle on what you've got going on. 

 

If the company is reputable and can show you that when they've done the cleanse with other company websites and had it work, then it's likely they know what they're talking about.

 

On the other hand, where you haven't received an unnatural links warning, it's probable that Google is simply ignoring your bad links. Or they may be ignoring the anchor text. Changing the anchor text *might* help, it's hard to say. Better yet would probably be to be making sure you have content worth linking to and are continuously getting those real and true natural links. 

But it's impossible for anyone on a forum to say without looking at your specific situation in great depth as they're not all the same. Do you trust the SEO agency or not? That's the real question.



#4 qwerty

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Posted 10 February 2014 - 05:14 PM

Assuming they've performed a link audit, how much of the results have they shown you? Have you seen examples of links they propose removing? How many are there? If they say that the anchor text of your backlinks are too heavily weighted toward keywords rather than branded terms, just what is the proportion?

 

Regarding that last point, if these links really are editorial in nature (that is, you didn't do any aggressive link building yourselves), I think it's highly unlikely that the proportions are so unnatural that it's hurting you. Maybe these people are going to try to convince you that you need to have a 50-50 split between keywords and branded links, and that 55-45 is enough to get you in trouble. That's nonsense. Your link profile needs to really look like you made a serious effort to get a lot of keywords as anchor text for it to cause you problems, and the odds of that happening naturally are pretty small.



#5 rankingsurvivor

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 05:32 PM

The biggest problem is that most people think that there backlinks are "whitehat", when they actually aren't at all. Obviously I'm not calling you a liar but I see this all the time from friends that tell me they can't figure out why their rankings plummeted by Penguin. Then a quick review of their links show mass blog commenting on auto approve websites, mass article submissions on every article site created in the history of mankind, and just about everything in between.

 

I know I'm new and don't want to start on the wrong foot but I also disagree with chrishirst. If you receive an unnatural penalty, which you didn't, the last thing you want to do is use the disavow tool. You want to start by doing all you can to remove your links and show Google evidence of that. I know but that's the only way I got my penalty removed. Just disavowing links will never work in those cirucmstances. You can disavow links until you pass out and will never see any results until you remove links, document the process and finally follow up with a reconsideration request submission and a supporting disavow.

 

I would say that if you have blatant spam links and an over-optimized profile than to start cleaning up links. With each new algorithm update Google is placing more and more emphasis on link analysis. Even if they backlinks aren't a cause of the problem now, do you really want to move forward and risk it in the future?



#6 chrishirst

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Posted 12 February 2014 - 07:15 PM

 

If you receive an unnatural penalty, which you didn't, the last thing you want to do is use the disavow tool

 

But that is what the disavow tool is actually for, it is your 'apology' to Google for your earlier mistakes. Just removing the links does not send the message to Google that you have 'cleaned up your act', simply hoping Google's system spots this and removes the MANUALLY applied penalty. isn't going to work.



#7 rankingsurvivor

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 09:49 PM

 

But that is what the disavow tool is actually for, it is your 'apology' to Google for your earlier mistakes. Just removing the links does not send the message to Google that you have 'cleaned up your act', simply hoping Google's system spots this and removes the MANUALLY applied penalty. isn't going to work.

Please don't take this as me disrespecting you but I disagree based on my experience.

 

Google expects links to be removed for sites that have received an unnatural link warning. Matt Cutts has expressed this countless times in his videos and my experience and others proves that link removals are indeed required.

 

What good is it for users to be manually penalized for unnatural links to then submit those via the disavow tool and then "all is right" in the eyes of Google? Google's instituting spam cleanup by forcing known webmasters to undo what they've created.

 

In my experience the only way to recovery for manual penalties is link removal and documentation of the removal process.



#8 chrishirst

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:31 AM

What Matt Cutts suggests is that the links should be removed "when ever, and where ever possible"

 

 

In my experience the only way to recovery for manual penalties is link removal and documentation of the removal process.

Correct but merely removing the links WITHOUT 'documentation' [in the form of a 'disavow' list] is not telling Google that you are being proactive in cleaning up your own mess. Likewise 'disavowing' links that you 'don't like' without a receiving a 'warning', is suggesting that you just might be concerned about your earlier activities that Google might not have picked up yet, so is potentially asking for further investigations into your website and it's 'link profile'.



#9 ManSEOcom

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Posted 03 March 2014 - 07:47 AM

Thankfully, I have never had to cleanse my links on my personal site but I have done it for some clients who have had crappy SEO in the past. I would recommend using majestic to analyse your links in detail. It's better to be safe than sorry.



#10 MattsBackpack

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 05:15 PM

What the SEO agency are suggesting is good advice to an extent, but I'd be wary of anyone who jumps straight into diagnosing the issue as being link related.

 

It may well be a combination of onsite factors which have lead to or contributed to your recent ranking troubles.

 

Unfortunately though, the sales tactic now for some SEO agencies is just to diagnose backlink problems and recommend these cleanups.

 

It's not that what they are telling you is bad advice - you should always keep an eye on the links your site is accumulating and try to cleanup anything that seems potentially harmful. It's just that I usually tend to find (especially with larger sites) that the volume of and scale of onsite issues is usually far more detrimental.

 

It would be impossible for me to say whether your issues are indeed links based or onsite based or (perhaps most likely) a combination of the two, with the information currently available. All I'm saying is don't jump straight to the conclusion that link removal is what's needed. The onsite side of things isn't the biggest "buzz area" of SEO at the moment, but you'd be surprised how many major websites still get the fundementals wrong and the effect that can have on your rankings can be equally damaging.


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