Over the past few months, we’ve been working with lots of clients on SEO campaigns in addition to link removal campaigns. In April, I wrote an article for Moz regarding Google penalties. Since writing the article, we’ve seen how much of a problem poor link profiles are for clients and it’s made us much more vigilant to monitor new clients link profiles much more carefully.

Whats the problem?

In recent years, Google have been launching updates to try and combat spam and improve their search engine results. These penalties have names such as Google Penguin, Panda and Penguin 2.0. Essentially, these are changes to Googles algorithm which affect a fairly large number of search results worldwide.

The changes Google are making vary on each update, but this really can harm your business dramatically. A lot of our clients rely on Google for their income, so it’s extremely important to us to ensure that work is carried out on your site properly.

Link building is a huge part of SEO. In simple terms, this involves getting links from high authority websites that link back to you. There are both good and bad links, but if you have too many bad links, you’re risking getting in hot water with Google. If you do end up receiving from Google, it usually isn’t very straight forward to get the penalty lifted!

How do you determine a bad link?

When taking on new clients, we now perform link audits in order to assess the ‘state’ of the clients domain. Ultimately, we don’t want to take a client on and find that two months down the line, they have received a penalty for poor quality links which is down to work of a previous company.

To carry out a link audit, we use many of the leading SEO tools out there. This includes Ahrefs, Majestic SEO, OpenSiteExplorer and Google Webmaster Tools along with a few other less well known tools. We combine a list of all backlinks pointing to the clients website and run a series of tests on them that identifies the strength of the link. These tests involve checking if the domain is indexed in Google, the backlinks pointing to that domain, whether there are multiple sites from the same IP network pointing to the domain and more. We effectively want to try and categorise your links into safe links and deadly links.

If we feel your website had any chance of a penalty, we would get to work with removing the deadly links straight away as part of your first months SEO work. The search engines (Google especially) are getting smarter every day and poor quality links are only going to cause you problems in the future. We will build a list of all the deadly links, manually check them and identify that these are in-fact spammy links and contact the webmasters of these sites one by one to ask for the sites to be removed.

In addition to this, we would also run a report on your domain to find out the anchor text distribution of your website. All of our SEO campaigns are bespoke to the client we are working with

What happens if you can’t remove a link?

As you would expect, it’s not always possible to remove every link. We will try various different methods to contact the domain owners (email, telephone, website contact forms, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ are always checked). If we do not receive a response after contacting the owner a minimum of 3 times, we will consider creating a disavow file for your domain.

The disavow file is effectively a file you submit to Google to tell them to ignore these particular links. We generally don’t recommend submitting a disavow file to Google unless completely necessary. If we manage to remove the majority of the links and only a few poor quality links remain, then we would use common sense. We will always ensure that we’re doing the best for the client.


Monitoring your link profile is extremely important. We’ve seen a huge increase this year in new clients coming to us for link removal services, but it’s also worth monitoring your link profile to ensure that your site is in the safe zone!

You should always use an SEO company that you trust. We only build links that we consider are future proof to the search engines. This essentially means that any links built to your website are earned through hard work and research. We don’t spam directories, use grey or blackhat techniques. We’ll do regular checks on your link profile to ensure that it’s growing in a safe and sustainable manner.

If you’ve got any questions at all or would like to discus an SEO campaign or Link Removal Campaign, please get in touch.