You’re Still Penalized and It’s Your Own Damn Fault

Because Virante owns Remove, ’em a blended tool and service that helps webmasters remove bad links pointing to their websites, we have had a unique vantage point in the post-Penguin world. We actually just celebrated our 1,000,000th link removal. Our perspective has allowed us to see hundreds of webmasters struggle through the process of reconsideration requests and penalty removals – some taking as long as 2 years – and there are a couple of things we have noticed time and time again.

By and large, the largest obstacle to getting out of a penalty tends to be the website owner him or herself. I do not mean to trivialize what webmasters go through, I often think it is incredibly unfair, but we all fall victim to a human tendency to prefer avoiding loss than acquiring gain. This “loss aversion” has set webmasters up to fail time and time again once a penalty has set in. So here are a few of the biggest mistakes webmasters make…

Guessing Google’s Link Qualification Algorithm

First, let me say that there are some excellent tools out there for link qualification. Cemper’s Link Detox, the new Link Risk and Remove ’ems internal link qualification system all do decent jobs of identifying which links are most concerning. In fact, I can say in no uncertain terms that Remove ’ems system is the least “specific” of these 3 in terms of identifying exactly which links are the worst, and instead errs on the side of removals. The reason is simple…

Missing 1 bad link can mean another round of reconsideration requests

Webmasters regularly make the error of trying to to remove the fewest number of links possible to get back into search results. The logic behind this is sound. Webmasters don’t want to get rid of any links that still pass value. However, just like the doctor who chooses to surgically remove a generous portion of tissue around a melanoma, so should you be prepared to remove a generous number of links around those you are certain are toxic to make sure you limit the number of necessary reconsideration requests.

More importantly, because the removal rate percentage varies greatly, it is better to reach out to a large number of potential removal opportunities early on rather than find out your first pass only produced a 5% success rate. The last thing you want to do is go through 3 or 4 reconsideration requests because each time you haven’t quite removed enough.

Pay the Piper

So many in the search industry have indicated that you should not to pay webmasters to remove bad links and I could not disagree with them more. There are several excellent reasons to pay “bounties” for link removals…

  1. removing links takes actual effort, and a webmaster should be compensated for it
  2. if you spammed the link, you should cover both their effort and their hardship
  3. paying to remove links speeds up the process. Nothing motivates a removal faster than a quick buck.

Just remember that each link you leave up is a potential extra 2 weeks waiting for that next reconsideration request to come in. Can your business survive that easier than paying another $15 bounty?

Sitting on Your Hands

This one is incredibly common and, frankly, infuriating. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have heard these words “we filed a reconsideration request and now we are just waiting.” Are you crazy? If your boat is sinking do you stop trying to empty the water out because you put in a call to the Coast Guard? Get back to work! If you used the Disavow tool, you have more work to do. Keep working on that list so the day they respond, if it is negative, you can follow up with evidence that – in good faith – you continued to work and you now have a new set of link removals to show them. If you aren’t prepared with a quick response, it is evidence that you are trying to get by doing as little as possible.

So, time to fight.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but you aren’t going to get there by complaining or waiting. Grow up, accept what things you have done or have been done in your name, own up to them, clean the mess and get back to business. It is hard as hell, no doubt, don’t think for a second you have no control.

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1 Comment

  1. Pepper Oldziey
    Jun 22, 2013

    Thank you for publishing this explanation. When you dive in to tackle this you don’t realize the potential cost to remove all this mess. Neither does your client. However it is a point well taken that someone needs to pay for this and all these spammy sites should be going down down down. Until recently though, until Google helped us all, these were legitimate sites. And people did this for a living and made money for SEO. It is digusting. But we have to move forward and sitting around still being spammed and punished for it gets you nowhere. It is good though to write about it so it is not so much of a surprise to be levied all these penalty removal fees. One can then plan for a cost analysis of an amount that is reasonable to pay.

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