As of late, Google has clamped down on what it deems the manipulation of link popularity for SEO purposes. Whether the manipulation involves spreading a link out to other websites in hopes of it blossoming into some ultra-popular link, or the taking of links from other sites to put onto one’s own website, Google has its eyes wide open – ready to discipline not only the givers, but the takers as well.

For the givers (those looking to enhance their site popularity by giving out links to their site to the point of the act almost being indistinguishable from spam), a permanent ban is not out of question. Yes, you heard that right: your website may be banned permanently from the SEO game for taking part in said activity. So the next time you think about artificially boosting the number of guest blog posts on your blog, or the number of members registered to your site, think again. Punitive measures are no longer impossible – in fact, they are highly likely.

The recipients of links designed to artificially and unscrupulously increase traffic are also subject to being disciplined as well! It’s not just the one doing the manipulating – and for many, that is a great cause for concern. Whether or not you are ignorant of it, Google doesn’t care. You won’t receive the harsh penalties of being excommunicated the way the link-spreader will, but a penalty will still be handed out to you.

For the most part, having bad links on your site will not drop your site down to rock-bottom from the Google or Google affiliated search network rankings; instead, it will be a slow strangulation of your site’s search engine visibility. A group of keywords that were once triggering your site’s visibility will now be declined. And that is no good for any site when it comes to its SEO results.

Once your website gets punished, it takes an incredibly long time to get it back to where it once was, if that is even possible at all. This gives people all the more reason to not take part in this game of link popularity manipulation.

I Had No Clue Whatsoever…

You may be completely unaware that others out there on the web are making a link to your site. You can tell that to Google all you want. Unfortunately, it won’t do you any good. Save yourself the time and the energy.

It is indeed frustrating that it is possible for your site’s search engine results to wane due to insidious activity that wasn’t in fact committed by you. It gives every website owner out there, who is now cognizant of this, an element of vulnerability that he or she may not have been aware of before.

Identifying Your Incoming Links

With a Google Webmaster account, all the links that point to your site will be accessible. Take your time and look through each link, that is, if time permits, and if there aren’t more links than there are grains of sand on a California beach. But in all seriousness, it would be wise to take as much time as possible to look through the links to see whether or not they lead to spam-like websites bereft of any substance. You can dump the links that you think are hurting your cause. Please be careful though; the last thing you want is to dump a site that is actually helping your cause as opposed to hurting it.

Paying for Link Analysis

The thought may have never occurred to you, but yes, there are link analysis services out there. They may be a tad bit expensive, which may be reason for you to forgo the service. However, if you look at it like an investment – one which will help keep your website at the top of the search network rankings – it is worth every penny.
If you are seriously considering working with one of these link analysis service companies, I’ve heard that LinkDelete does a great job. I’ve never worked with them myself, but from all the people I have spoken to who have worked with them, I’ve gotten nothing but great to raving reviews. If you do choose LinkDelete, read the following mini-paragraph. It will help you get a sense of what the process is like working with a link analysis services company.

After establishing that you want to work with LinkDelete, it will take a couple of days for them to complete a full report. Once the report is done, you will receive a spreadsheet. In the report is listed a comprehensive list of incoming links. Each link is given a quality score. It is your job to determine whether or not you want to keep the websites with high quality scores and drop the websites with low quality scores. This sounds so obvious that it may come off as insulting to even be given such advice. The reason why I mention it, though, is that some links with low quality scores may not actually be spam. If you somehow know that to be the case, don’t let the report trump your empiricism, and do not remove the link.

LinkDelete provides a list of suggestions for determining what link to keep and what link to discard. In general:
*dump a page that has over one hundred miscellaneous links.
*dump a link if the site just screams advertisement; go with your gut – it’s almost always right in these situations
*keep a link that has close to thirty sites – that are all relevant/similar to one another
*it is a good sign if a website has a backlog of submissions

It’s worth reiterating that a low quality score doesn’t automatically mean that you have to toss that site into the trashcan. No doubt, it is advised that you keep sites relevant to the industry, discipline, or line of work that you are in. Keep sites – even poor performing ones – that are part of your business contacts. What your gut says, as mentioned earlier, should trump any given quality score.

Google Disavow

Google Disavow came to the scenes near the end of 2012. Somehow, it hasn’t gotten the publicity that it was expected to. It has still gone almost almost unnoticed – and we are halfway done with 2014. Very surprising, to say the least.

If only more were aware of the value that Google Disavow can bring to one’s website. Surely, from a value standpoint, Google Disavow deserves the fame and glory that its sibling Google services have received.

So what is Google Disavow? And what is it for? Google Disavow is a tool that is used to prevent you from being harmed by low-quality links that you don’t actually control. With Google Disavow, you can make a request to Google to not take into account those particular links when it comes to calculating your website’s quality score. Google itself mentions that Google Disavow isn’t the be all end all for resuscitating listless links from again appearing in search engine search results. It recommends doing the manual work that a service like LinkDelete provides.

A disavow request takes some time to be processed. The time it takes depends on various factors which we will omit from explicating here. But, rest assured, the request will be processed, whether it takes 5 hours, 5 days, or 5 months; success in properly identifying harmful links is incredibly high, so the wait is not worth losing sleep over.

At the end of the day, Google calls the shots; but make no mistake about it, by willfully taking the time to analyze some of this stuff yourself and to take action, you can improve the likelihood that Google will reward you as opposed to discipline or even punish you. It is drudgery to go through this monotonous set of steps, but it is totally worth it.