Have your rankings dropped?
The answer for most of us during the last year or so is probably yes.
Backlinks (links which point to your website) have been and will continue to be one of the primary factors which Google analyses to determine the quality, authority and ranking of your website.
Recent Google changes have turned the SEO world on its head. Strategies and tactics that were acceptable a mere 18-24 months ago are now cause for concern as those things that worked very well just a short time ago can now lead to penalties, lost rankings and traffic, and worst of all, decreased sales and conversions. We’ve even heard of businesses collapsing as a result of losing web traffic and ultimately sales. This is especially the case for online retail and e-commerce businesses which have been hit be Google’s updates.
Sadly, many webmasters and website owners who with all the best intentions in the world either outsourced or delegated the task of link building to others are the ones feeling the pinch. Our service has been born out of the need from clients who have approached us because they are not sure exactly what has happened and how to fix it.
How do you know you're in trouble?
Typically our clients seek out this service for one of three reasons:
They have received an Unnatural Inbound Links message in Google Webmaster Tools. There have been various formats of message from Google but they all look similar to this.
They have received a Manual Actions Penalty message in Google Webmaster Tools, which looks a bit like this.
They have noticed a sudden drop in rankings or traffic such as that shown below for some of their previously well performing keywords and suspect an algorithmic penalty may be getting enforced by Google e.g. Penguin or Panda.
In each of the above cases the website owner would have to be SEO savvy and have a lot of time on their hands to perform their own audit, or engage our service to do just that.
Our service is made up of two main tasks: an SEO / Link Audit, and Link Removal.
Step 1 - SEO / Link Audit Service
We will go through and review each and every one of your backlinks
During your SEO / Link Audit, we individually go through each URL within your backlink profile to flag which URLs may be negatively affecting your rankings according to Google’s quality guidelines. In addition, we obtain your website's backlinks from at least 3 different resources, including your Google Webmaster Tool’s account and others such as Open Site Explorer.
Each link is visited manually where site quality and relevancy to your company are examined. Many SEO agencies that we’ve come across, especially ones that offer fixed price/packages, tend to mainly care about the quantity and speed of acquiring links. To do this they may have used automated tools or ‘fake’ sites created by themselves or a network of sites that they belong to. Some of the sites on which they’ve posted links back to your site will be absolutely irrelevant, poorly designed, and in some cases incorrectly presented as legitimate blogs, sites, etc. The goal was simple, get a link placed on an external site as quickly as possible, in order to pass PageRank back to their clients’ site. In many cases this was made worse by the fact that unnatural and quite often the same anchor text was repeated for each link created (i.e. this is normally a keyword or phrase you’ve chosen to use as the text in the link placed on the offending sites - Google has been very careful to include this as part of their search algorithm). This practice although clearly artificial did work very well for SEO until recently and now many businesses are finding that they need to review and in some cases remove every link in order to recover from a their penalty.
We will consider overuse of anchor text
Depending on the quantity of links in your backlink profile, we may verify if any anchor text is being overused. More often than not, our standard link audit will have highlighted the poor links, and with them the higher concentration of those sites containing the overused anchor text. This is a check we do in instances where the previously best performing keywords have dropped off dramatically.
We will send you a detailed SEO / Links Audit spreadhseet
Upon completion, we will send you a detailed spreadsheet with the flagged domains being recommended for link removal and notes indicating specifically why they may be considered harmful to your website. You will also receive a custom report detailing our findings as to the type of links we’ve encountered.
Step 2 - Link Removal & Disavow Service
Once you have reviewed the links we have audited and we agree to the number of unique domains that need removing, we will work on your behalf in reaching out to webmasters for manual link removal. This includes follow-ups, if our first attempt did not work.
We will attempt to manually remove bad links, including follow-ups
Rather than immediately submit these links to the Google Disavowal Tool via your Webmaster Tools account, Google has stated over and over again that their wish is for webmasters and site owners to actively and thoroughly attempt to have the “bad” links they have identified removed manually:
"If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links."
We will provide thorough documentation and a Disavow file outlining the work
Moreover, they insist that you document your efforts and submit this supporting documentation along with your Disavowal file which includes those links you wish that Google no longer associate with your domain.
After completion of reaching out to webmasters, successful attempts will be noted in a detailed spreadsheet and unsuccessful attempts will be placed in a .txt file for you to submit for disavowal in your Google Webmaster Tools account. This is the supporting documentation noted above.
We will draft the Reconsideration Request
As mentioned we always follow Google’s guidelines and best practice for disavowal.
We will also help draft a custom reconsideration request letter which outlines the work carried out and findings, which you can send to Google to help get the penalty lifted.
How to place an order?
Unlike other providers, you won’t have to pay a monthly fee with us. There are just two separate charges when you engage our service:
- The SEO / Link Audit (based on total quantity of unique linking domains). Prices start from as little as £350 for websites with under 1,000 backlinks. Websites with over 4,000 backlinks will require a custom quote.
- The Link Removal (based on total quantity of unique linking domains flagged for removal). This is provided at a low cost of £5 per unique domain that has been flagged for removal and includes outreach (the link removal), follow-ups, detailed report and Disavow file.
Both our SEO audit and link removal services are done completely manually. You can however choose to perform the outreach portion yourself once we provide the list of recommended links to remove.
FAQs relating to the service
How does it work? +
Simply put, you engage us to first perform a link audit. We use a minimum of 3 sources to gain an accurate picture of your backlink profile and then manually review each one to determine if the link is “natural” or harmful based on Google’s quality guidelines.
Secondly, once you have reviewed our list of links recommended for removal, you can choose to hire us to perform the manual outreach to webmasters and website owners whereby we ask them to either remove the link to your website or insist they make it a “no-follow” link.
All activity (outreach) and data (replies) are recorded and following a 30 day period we compile a supporting document that includes details of our efforts to have the links manually removed, along with a .txt file you can use to submit to the Google Disavowal Tool that includes a list of those links you failed to remove manually, but that you no longer want associated with your site.
For manual penalties imposed by Google and for which you’ve received a Unnatural Links warning or Manual Actions message, a reconsideration request is recommended to which Google will reply saying either the penalty has been lifted OR there is still more issues with your site. In the case of algorithmic penalties, you will likely have to wait until the next major algorithm update to see what kind of effect the work has had on your rankings.
How much does it cost? +
There are two separate charges when you engage our service. The SEO / Link Audit (based on total quantity of unique linking domains) and The Link Removal (based on total quantity of unique linking domains flagged for removal).
We do not offer any software whereby you can perform either task yourselves. Both our audit and removal services are done completely manually. You can however choose to perform the outreach portion (the link removal) yourself once we provide the list of recommended links to remove.
How long does it take to get a penalty removed? +
So far, we have seen instances where the manual penalty has been removed within weeks of our completing our work and submission of the disavowal doc and supporting files AND we have also seen it take several months.
For algorithmic penalties (where Google has provided no clear indication as to why your site has fallen out of favour), it is impossible to even estimate if poor or unnatural links are even the main problem. Typically however, any positive movement following our work would be seen following a more major algorithmic update by Google.
Do I need to remove links if my site isn’t penalised? +
Google is stepping up their game. We already know the quick and dirty ways previously employed to gain top rankings by SEO agencies no longer work, especially when it comes to link building.
Your backlink profile should be considered one giant testimonial. It is (or should be) a resume of all those sites, clients, organisations, and useful content you have either shared or that others have deemed worthy of sharing and who have been so kind as to link back to you.
A clean, curated, and relevant backlink profile will never hinder your site’s success, and it is in your best interest to always remain aware of the sites linking back to yours.
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