As oxygen is to the body, links is to a website. Simply put, the modern search engines’ core algorithm ranks web pages based on a crucial factor – how many other sites are linking to a site and how good those sites are. It suffices to say that the higher the quality of sites that link to you, the better the chances of your site ranking.
However, what about all the bad, supposedly spammy, low-quality links pointing to your site? Should you be worried about them? Can they harm your site and do they have the ability to bring down your rankings? We’d like to think “not” but Google has sent out mixed signals about that recently with their latest Penguin updates.
This fad about removing links has gained momentum in the last few months after Google has been sending out “Unnatural Link Warning” notices. With the most recent set of notices sent, it was surprising to see that even a site like SEOMoz.org got an unnatural links notice. So the question that begs itself, if Google is issuing such notices, should you remove some of those links pointing to your site?
Well, there are two ways of looking at it:
1. You could spend hours removing (or at least attempting to remove) as many suspicious links as you can, contact Google informing them of your efforts and hope your site recovers in their next algorithmic update.
2. You could spend the same amount of time that you would’ve spent in removing links but instead on renewed link building efforts that result in a stream of quality links flowing to your site. The resultant effect of such an effort being that your rankings do eventually recover because of a rebalanced link portfolio and that the penalty effect of the unnatural links wanes over time.
I am of the opinion that the latter might be a more sound strategy because the Penguin update is an algorithmic update after all and not a manual update. So what that means is that when your link profile does start looking stronger and more diverse, your sites’ rankings will automatically come back in the fold.
You could ask, what about the “penalty” effect of those “unnatural” links if you don’t remove them? What if Google is not just ignoring the value of those links but in fact imposing a penalty? I believe that there are two aspects to be looked at here to understand how Google could `possibly be interpreting your links where the Penguin update is concerned:
a) They’ll look at the quality and diversity of your links in terms of the kind of sites that are linking to you. The basic premise of PageRank remains, the value you get from each link would be determined by the quality of the site. However, if you have one too many links from a very similar profile of sites, then the site could possibly be “Penguined”.
b) They’ll look at the diversity in your anchor text. If you have a large number of money keywords and little to few branded/domain based keywords or natural linking words, then this could be another possibility of your site being “Penguined”.