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Beware! Toxic links can mean that you P-P-Pick up a Penguin…

Toxic Links and PenguinGoogle first rolled out it’s infamous Penguin algorithm update in April 2012 and we’ve seen several more roll outs of further changes since then, the latest being Penguin 2.1 in October this year (2013). The goal of the Penguin changes were to decrease the ranking ability of websites that have violated the Google Webmaster Guidelines, the main issues being spammy inbound links to your website from completely unrelated websites. This is seen as blatant link building by the search engines, and offers nothing to the internet community and hence why they want to eliminate it as much as possible.

If you have been targeted by these updates, then you may have received a dreaded “unnatural links” message to your Webmaster Tools account. This is usually followed by a sharp drop in your search engine rankings and therefore a drop in web traffic as well. The only way to recover from a Google penalty like this is to analyse your website’s back link profile, identify the offending ‘toxic’ links, and then try and remove them. This is not an easy process! Luckily, here at Ardent, we have some sophisticated tools that help us identify which inbound links are likely to be the most toxic, and then we can focus on removing these. Identifying the toxic links is only half the battle though (actually, it’s probably more like 5% of the battle!) – the hard, time consuming part is getting the links removed. This can only be done by identifying who the webmaster is of the website where the link belongs, finding out their email address, and then writing them an email asking as politely (or not) as possible if they could remove the links. As you can imagine, the hit rate of this is fairly low. We also have a tool for automating this, which decreases the time consumed dramatically, and with a carefully worded email and a bit of luck we have had success in cleaning up several web site’s back link profiles.

If you haven’t had a Google penalty for any dubious backlinking practice, then a pat on the back for you, however I would still recommend a toxic link review as you never know when it is going to hit you. Sadly, this whole toxic links business has opened up the possibility of ‘negative SEO’ where a competitor could purposely build spammy links to your website with the intention of getting you penalised through no fault of your own – the bounders! There isn’t much that you can do about this I’m afraid, you cannot stop someone linking to your website, so the best course of action is to keep an eye on your backlink profile and be proactive in removing any toxic links before you get the dreaded Penguin visit.

If you are interested in our toxic links removal service, call us today on 01483 267 915 or fill in the enquiry form on our contact us page.