Link profile analysis: How to prevent penalties by being proactive
Columnist Brian Harnish tackles how to analyze links from a Google Webmaster Guidelines perspective, and how to make sure that your client's linking activities don't cause them to lose everything they have gained.
As most SEOs know, links are still extremely important to ranking highly in the Google search results. In fact, a recent study performed by Backlinko showed that “the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.”
Thus, it makes sense for most all large companies with a significant website presence to implement a regular link pruning schedule. At ymarketing, we call our process of link pruning “link remediation.”
The normal way most sites handle a penalty is reactionary in nature. The SEO wakes up one day and finds the scariest of emails an SEO can receive in their inbox: They have been hit with a manual penalty.
Once they notice the manual penalty email, they scramble to analyze their site’s backlink profile. They find they have indulged in one too many link exchanges or article marketing techniques.
Depending on how bad it is, it can take weeks or even months to clean up the link profile before submitting a reconsideration request. At a past employer, I spent almost eight months helping to remove or disavow over 260,000 backlinks to remove a manual penalty. The effort was successful, but it was an astronomical undertaking, and the business lost untold revenue from organic search traffic during those eight months.
Usually, a manual penalty is only reserved for the worst of the worst in violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. A majority of sites affected by ranking issues related to bad links will be faced with an “algorithmic penalty” instead, meaning that the site will lose search visibility as a result of an algorithm update such as Penguin. In these cases, the SEO will not receive a notification from Google.
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