Removing unnatural links and tackling Google Manual penalties


Tougher action has started to be taken by Google for unnatural link building practices. Tactics taken action against include excessive link exchanges, links in blogs or forums created by automated link building software, paid advertisements and links and large scale guest blogging and article campaigns using commercial anchor text. But how do you know if you have any unnatural links? We explain how we’re removing unnatural links and getting our clients out of Google Manual penalties.

How to tackle unnatural link penalties

The first step is to take immediate action and download all data from your Google Webmaster tools account, along with further paid link analysis tools such as MajesticSEO – gather as much data as possible, including data from anyone you have previously hired to build you links. Once you have all this information gathered into one document, go through the links carefully and look for common patterns emerging, for example the same anchor text used repeatedly. Using a paid tool such as LinkRisk may make this task easier for you.

Any links identified that may be causing the penalty need to be removed. Contact the relevant webmasters and ask (nicely) for the link to be removed. Any contacts refusing to remove the links need to be noted within your spreadsheet.

Make sure to document all your efforts in removing the proposed penalty links. A detailed record of proof of your efforts, including a link to it in your reconsideration request, will help your case. Simple details are needed, such as the link from the URL(s) and domain, the contact, the dates of your request efforts and whether the status of the link (whether it is live, been removed or refused etc).

There’s a strong chance any bought links are the links causing the penalty. Refer to your Google analytics and establish whether they are sending referral traffic to your website. If they are, ask the webmaster to change the link to re=”nofollow” rather than removing it.

Has your website been copied for other websites without your permission? If so, ask them to remove the content, or take further action with this with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and make a complaint with their hosting company.

Disavowing bad links is something you will need to speak to your digital agency about. This is an advanced feature once you have removed all the links you can. Google recommends your make broad strokes when using the disavow tool, meaning they would prefer you to disavow an entire domain rather than a list of individual URL’s.

Finally, include as much detail and information as possible when submitting your reconsideration request. Highlight all the actions you have taken out, as Google will be looking for your efforts in removing the links. Speak to your digital agency about any concerns with unnatural links – they will be able to discuss best practice tips with you.