Links are often described as having only a minor effect on the Google search algorithm. Even Matt Cutts downplays there importance. However, if you look at the humble beginnings of Google you see something completely different. Fifteen years ago Larry Page and Sergey Brin had the thought that search engines we ranking sites based on a poor strategy… Popularity. Back then if a site was popular, it deserved better ranking, thus more popularity. Their thought was that if a site had better links it was more important than popular… thus was born their first seach engine, “Backrub”
Links and Backrub
If you think about it, it was, and still is ingenious. Using the type or quality of a links to determine the value of a site. It was then, and still is today a great idea. However, when webmasters figured out that they could manipulate their ranking by creating false or empty links Google was all over it. Immediately announcing the use of links as a rank building platform was over.
Links today are considered by many as a low importance when ranking a site. I disagree, we at e2-ts only allow our clients to have high quality links from “very” reputable sites. I know (based on extensive A & B testing) that links are still important and valued by the search engines.
A brief links story
I have a client that I have been coddling a little. She is a in a very competitive business. We built the site with all of the correct poramiters; we wrote copy with all the right densities and treatments, we launched a social media campaine (that is setting records) All along I have be discussing linking and the importance of links. Finally we are ready to start a link building campaine.
However, because I had been preaching link building, without my knowledge she bought some from a “friend” We had spent the time and written articles and promotional information and were in the process of posting them in the entire appropriate place online.
I knew the links were coming. I had checked the site a week previously, it had “zero” links. I knew they would not even start to hit for a 2 or 3 weeks more. I checked again and she had 150 LINKS, what in the hell was going on?
I called her and asked if she knew about these links… she said “O ya, you’ve been saying how important they are, and I had a friend say she could get me some” OMG they were directory listings from porno sites. THESE ARE ALL TOXIC LINKS, I calmly told her and explained we must get rid of them.
Links Options with toxic links
My client swiftly understood the damage that was being done, and we began to correct the problem. When it comes to removing toxic links you really only have three options.
1- Delete you own web site. If the site is new, and under productive you may consider deleting your own site to remove the toxic links. Then start again, and pay more attention to the links.
2- Contact the owner or webmaster of the of the poor quality site linking to yours, and ask them to please remove the link. This is time consuming and difficult to archive. Many poor quality sites make it hard to reach or contact them.
3- Use the Google Disavow Tool. This should only be used as a last chance. Google wants you to use every other option before using this tool. In their words, “you must have exhausted all other avenues” before deploying this tool.
I have also herd stories of clients using this tool, with no results for months, then when they turn the tool off they saw ranking benefits.
Toxic Links are dangerous. Pay close attention to who is linking to you, and control the people that links to you, and you link too. This is an important methodology of achieving good or even great page rank. However, do not abuse it, or allow your site to be abused by toxic links.