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Link Penalty Remediation (1/5)

Link Penalty Remediation to combat loss of traffic and sales

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Link Penalty Remediation to combat loss of traffic and salesOur recovery specialists lifted their first manual link action in May 2013, some three months after the first penalty notifications had been issued by Google, through its Webmaster Tools system. That remediation - for one of the world’s largest adult toy stores - involved over 5,000,000 links and took three months to complete.

We've done this a lot...

We've lifted manual actions for companies on both sides of the Atlantic, for airlines, cloud hosting providers, nationwide locksmith chains, overseas real estate agencies, even an SEO company, to name but a few.

Since 2013, we’ve lifted more than fifty Google unnatural link penalties and audited well over 100,000,000 links. The largest - for a British Celebrity News and Gossip Publisher - consisted of more than 45,000,000 links before being culled to around 5,000,000.

Link Profile Screenshot from

It's not about links. It's about Referring Domains (Websites that Link to Yours)

The first thing to realize is that link numbers, like those above, actually mean very little to link penalty remediation. Referring domains are where the real work is. If a website is trash, so is every single link from it. It doesn't take an expert to figure out that a hundred-thousand links from a single bad site are all going to be bad. But if those hundred-thousand links are coming from ten-thousand websites, you'll have to check all ten-thousand sites to see how many of your links are toxic.

How would your company deal with a penalty involving 45,786,577 links from 165,945 referring domains? THAT was one of our jobs.

Armament Lifts Penalties

Link Penalty Remediation - A Strategy Guide

Questionmark at the center of a maze

Questionmark at the center of a mazeYour Problem

  • Google has issued a Manual Action for “Unnatural Links to your Site”
  • Search Rankings have been Wiped out Overnight
  • You have Lost most of your Visitors and Sales
  • The SEO Agency who Caused All this has Deserted you
  • You must Assess and Quantify the Damage, and Fix it

That is the battle you’re facing. Now what do you do?

How hard is the hit? How long do you have? YOU NEED TO KNOW!

  1. What percentage of revenue are you losing per day/week/month?
    Before you can take any coherent action, you first need to establish exactly how bad the situation is. If organic search rankings only account for forty percent of your sales, the situation is less critical than it is if you’re facing a ninety percent loss of revenue.
  2. Is this situation capable of destroying your business? If so, how long do you have?
    You need to establish a baseline from which to plan your strategy. Once again it boils down to having an accurate knowledge of how long you have before your ship hits the rocks.You might be surprised how many online businesses operate with a financial cushion of four weeks or less. If that is the case, you have bigger priorities than getting your manual action lifted, because you'll be bankrupt before you can even file a reconsideration request.
  3. Does your organization have the personnel, expertise, and time to handle this situation inhouse?
    Given time, and one or two good people with some technical aptitude you can delegate this task to, lifting a link penalty inhouse is not an unrealistic proposition. The problem is that time is usually a critical factor, because your company will be hemorrhaging money by the hour due to lost sales.

The Remediation Process Begins

1. Create a List of ALL Inbound Links

(For the purposes of this guide we will assume that your organization faces a fifty percent loss in revenue, and that you’ve made the decision to handle the situation inhouse.)

A lot of SEOs will advise you to download your links from Google Search Console. However, since Search Console limits the number of links it displays and allows you to export up to one hundred thousand, it’s rarely a comprehensive enough data source to tackle anything but very basic manual link actions. Secondly - and more importantly - Search Console gives no indication of any given link's overall quality. Its data forces you to assess every single link "manually", since it doesn't prequalify/eliminate anything as high-quality or toxic.

So, to save time, as well as your sanity, we recommend that you use a link tool for this part of the remedial process. There are a few such tools available, but our weapon of choice is Majestic, for two very simple reasons:

  1. Majestic has a larger Link Data Pool than any other Tool¹
  2. Majestic is the Most Accurate in its Assessment of Link Quality²

Unless your website has more than a million inbound links, you only need Majestic’s “LITE” plan, to access the link data reports you need. Once you’ve signed up you’ll want to run a link report to get your initial list of inbound links. From there you'll be able to start filtering out toxic links, quality links, and those you’ll need to audit manually. We’ll break the process down for you in the video below.

Following the instructions given in this video enables you to carry out an audit of your website's link profile. We'll go into more detail about the audit process in this guide's next section.

Next up: 2. Audit your Inbound Links

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  • ¹ This is a contentious statement. Some SEOs claim that AHREFs link data pool is more extensive than Majestic’s. In tests we have found this assertion to be unsubstantiated.
  • ² Unlike its rival tools, which are all about link numbers, Majestic scores referring links/domains on two separate metrics: Citation Flow (Number of Backlinks) and Trust Flow (Quality of Backlinks). This makes identifying spammy links using Majestic’s tools much easier than any of its competitors³.
  • ³ Armament Solutions Limited is not a Majestic affiliate and receives no payment in return for this endorsement. All Majestic logos, emblems, tools, screenshots, etc. remain the copyright of Majestic-12 Ltd.


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