Time was when everyone believed that you could never be penalised for the links pointing to your site. Even Matt Cutts confirmed that these links were something beyond your control, and thus not something you could be punished for. Then in 2012, suddenly all that changed.
Site owners started receiving warnings in their Webmaster Tools about the presence of unnatural links. More alarmingly, many experienced a plunge in rankings and traffic. The culprit? Unnatural links.
What Are Unnatural Links?
In Google’s system, links from other sites to yours are a sign of your worth. You earn back links by providing value. Other sites link to you because they’ve decided it would be worthwhile for their visitors to click through to your site. These kinds of links are called natural links because they are not created or ‘built’ by you.
In the rush for rankings, many webmasters took a shortcut to link acquisition and many schemes sprung up to help them. Some people sold links, others setup link exchanges, others setup blog farms and link wheels, and software became available to mass create forum profiles to get a link back.
This behaviour was a violation of Google’s policies and one day, it took action. Fortunately, if you were affected, you have a way to remedy things. First, you have to identify those bad links.
Detecting Unnatural Links
You have a number of tools available to you in your quest for unnatural links. Other than Webmaster Tools, you can also use the commercial services offered by such sites as Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer.
These services offer you detailed information about who’s linking to you and allow you to find those that may be causing problems. It will take time and skill, but you should be able to weed out those links Google considers manipulative.
Dealing with Unnatural Links
Once you’ve uncovered those links that are causing you grief, it’s time to get rid of them, and here you have a number of options. You can email the owners of the relevant sites and ask them to take them down. You can also use the disavow function in your Webmaster Tools control panel.
Once done, you can contact the Google spam team and ask for your site to be reevaluated. Be sure to keep a record of all the links that you’ve dealt with. It’s a time consuming and fussy business but the results are usually worth it.
The Future of Link building for Sydney SEOs
Links will continue to be important for ranking, but you have to be very careful as to how you acquire them. The best way of all is just to create a site so wonderful that people will be queuing up to link to you. Of course, that takes time and effort but it will be so worth it.