Mistakes to Avoid While Removing Unnatural Links by Removing Pages on the Website!

Sep 26, 2013 | 1,661 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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If your website has been hit by Penguin or you have been manually penalized by Google, it’s time to clean your unnatural and manipulative inbound link profile. Webmasters can easily perform the backlink profile cleaning action by removing the pages that are being pointed by the bad links. However, the trick will not work for the links that are pointing to the homepage of your website.

Removing the Page with Unnatural Links Pointing

Google's John Mueller was asked following question during a Webmaster Central Hangout:

"Does removing a page that has unnatural links pointing to it accomplish the same thing when it comes to removing a link when it comes to the Penguin algorithm? If a site has its entire links pointing to one page and removes the page is the issue solved"

To which, Mueller replied, "Yes, essentially that’s pretty much the same thing. So, what happens when a page is removed and the page returns a 404, what happens is that we drop those links so that they don’t count. Generally speaking, if you can’t remove those links and you don’t want to use the disavow backlinks tool then you could remove those pages."

Mueller replied to the question on the same topic in Google Webmaster Forum. He said, "In general, if you remove the page that is being linked to (such as a spammy forum thread) and make sure that it returns a 404/410 HTTP response code, we'll ignore the links to those pages".

Mistakes to Avoid:

You must understand this clearly that the page should be truly removed so that links pointing to it do not count. Here are some of the things that won't work for link removal:

  • Blocking a page by robots.txt will not work as it will simply tell the Google not to crawl the page. However, if links point to the website, they will be counted towards the website and the page will receive PageRank.
  • A nofollowed or noindexed page will receive PageRank from links. Marking a page nofollowed or noindexed is different from physically removing a link.
  • If you redirect the page, it will pass 95 to 100 percent of the PageRank from the bad link to the redirected page. Redirecting doesn't means removing a link.
  • If you remove the link but create an identical page with a different URL, Google can recognize the content and automatically canonicalize the page. 

404 Pages or Disavow Unnatural Links?

When Mueller was asked, which of the two options is better, he said the using Disavow tool asking Google not to count the bad links will work equally like 404ing the pages.

What are your thoughts about removing the entire page to clean the backlink profile? Do share your experiences and suggestions with us.

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail Mistakes to Avoid While Removing Unnatural Links by Removing Pages on the Website!
4.thumbnail Mistakes to Avoid While Removing Unnatural Links by Removing Pages on the Website!