How to Disavow Bad Links

LinksWeb sites suffering a significant loss of rankings as a result of the Penguin Update last spring have been scrambling to correct the factors that have hurt them. One main class of factors is on-page keyword stuffing. The other main factor is a bad inbound link profile.

Bad Backlink Profile

If you’re getting too many links with keyword rich anchor text (the clickable text in the link that points to you) and few or none of the more generic type (your URL, your company or website name, or “click here”) that may be taken as another kind of keyword stuffing. Also, if you’ve engaged a company to get you tons of links from non-relevant websites or participated in link farms, those links can hurt you as well. Some inexpensive off-shore outfits promise hundreds or thousands of backlinks to your site from websites they own and control which were set up just for the purpose of providing those links. Others send comment spam to unrelated blogs, hoping those comments will be accepted and provide links back. Some website owners worry that people might point bad links at their sites in an attempt to harm them with “negative SEO.”

All of these bogus or artificial links carry the risk of earning you a Penguin penalty. You need to try to get those links removed or dis-counted so they don’t continue to weigh down your rankings.

Disavowing Links in Google

Google logoIf you’ve contacted the webmasters of sites with bad links to you and have been unsuccessful in getting them to remove those links, Google has a “link disavowal” tool that can tell Google you disapprove of those links and they shouldn’t count toward your link popularity. That will also cause them not to count toward a Penguin penalty as well. Google says this about the tool:

If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

Search Engine Land wrote about the process a few weeks ago and their article is worth a read. To go straight to the Google tool, click here. I encourage you also to read Google’s instructions.

Caveat from Google

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

Bing has a Disavowal Tool, Too

Bing logo

To disavow links in Bing, you can do the same thing via Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing’s instructions are here. I’ve seen no sign of a similar tool from Yahoo, but that may be unnecessary as Yahoo and Bing share the same index.

If you’ve suffered a Penguin Penalty, take a look at your incoming links and see if they may be the cause of your trouble. If you need help with that, Rank Magic can help.


3 Steps to Better Local Search Visibility

Local search use is way up

A recent survey shows that more than 20 percent of Google searches are for a local business and that users are gravitating toward the local listings over the organic listings. If your business serves local customers on a face-to-face basis you need to respond to that. Here are three steps to take advantage of local search to build traffic to your website and in turn build new customers for your business.

The Big Three

To start with, you need your own page at Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local to even be considered for a local listing. Once it’s set up you need to flesh it out as much as possible, with your logo, other images, information about your service area, hours of operations, payment methods accepted and more. Then the more challenging part begins: getting citations and reviews.

Sample local search listing in Google


There are lots of local directories that that people use to search, and it’s very helpful to ensure you’re listed on the most popular/powerful ones. Not only will it help your local SEO and your organic link popularity, but it also provides another way for customers (or clients or patients) to find you.

Here’s a list of the biggest general ones that you need to be listed in:

  • Angie’s List
  • City Search
  • Dex Knows
  • Express Update USA
  • Insider Pages
  • Judy’s Book
  • Kudzo
  • Localeze
  • Merchant Circle
  • Shop City
  • Superpages
  • Yellow Bot
  • Yellow Pages
  • Yelp


Reviews from customers, clients or patients can be very helpful. For one thing, they add legitimacy to your citations and the more positive ones you have the more likely you are to be listed prominently in local search results. For another thing, if you have a lot of stars and many excellent reviews, people reading your review will be more likely to click over to your website or call you.

I recommend asking a few delighted customers to go to one of the listings that accepts reviews and write a few words about how they feel about you. Caution: don’t put words in their mouths and don’t try to phony up reviews yourself. Search engines are very conscious of the natural temptation to do that and are quite diligent about sniffing those out.

When asking a customer to write a review, it helps to provide them with a direct link to your listing page where there’s a clear “Write a Review” button.

Find this process a bit daunting? Rank Magic can help.

Yahoo & Bing May Now Require Robots.txt File

Robots.txt File May No Longer Be Optional

Bing logoIt’s come to my attention very recently that Yahoo and Bing are purging websites from their listings if they don’t have a robots.txt file. One of our clients just got a notice from Bing that their website couldn’t be crawled because there was no robots.txt file.

Yahoo logoThis used to be optional, but apparently that’s no longer the case for Yahoo and Bing. We’ve seen a couple of websites where there are plenty of keywords ranking well in Google but nothing (or almost nothing) showing up in Yahoo and Bing. Upon checking, we’ve found they’re missing the robots.txt file.

Please check to see if you have a robots.txt file, and if not then ask your webmaster to create one for you. Your webmaster will understand what that is; they’re not difficult to create.

Search Engine Market Share

New search engine ordering - Google then Bing and then YahooWe haven’t reported on the respective market share among the three top search engines for a little more than a year, and we see some new trends going on. A year ago Google had 64% of all US searches, Yahoo had 16% and Bing had 14%. That’s changing.

Google & Bing Up  — Yahoo Down

Now Google’s share has improved to 66%, Bing is up to 15% and Yahoo is down to 13%, their lowest share of the market yet. That moves Bing into second place for the first time.

Ask has about 3% od the search market and AOL comes in at about a percent and a half. So the big three still monopolize search adding up to 94% of all searches.

Need help getting found in Google, Bing & Yahoo? Request our Overview & Pricing Guide via the button on the right.

Bing & Yahoo Search Share Increases

Last month, Bing and Yahoo increased their share of total US searches, at the expense of Google.

BingGoogle now accounts for 64% of searches, Bing powered search  accounts for 30%. Both Bing and Yahoo are powered by Bing now; Yahoo gets 16% of searches and Bing gets 14%. All the remaining search engines split the remaining 6% of US searches.

Google’s share is down  by 3% last month, Bing’s share is up 6% and Yahoo’s share is up by 5%, continuing the improving trend for the Bing-powered search engines.

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Google & Bing Watch Twitter & Facebook

Search engines watch links from FacebokAccording to WebProNews, Google and Bing are both closely watching activity on Twitter and Facebook. The more people buzz about you and your website, the better your online reputation and link popularity.

Google & Bing watch tweetsLinks from prominent people (“authorities”) count more in your favor. So if you get prominent followers and visitors who are motivated to post or tweet about what you’re doing and what’s on your website, Google & Bing will notice.

More at WebProNews.

Bing Now Powers Yahoo Search Results

Yahoo!The Yahoo/Bing “merger” has happened within the past two weeks in the US and Canada. Searches on both Yahoo and Bing are now powered by Bing’s index and pay per click (PPC) results on both will be combined soon. Both companies see this as a big deal, especially in terms of helping them compete with search goliath Google, which still gets about 70% of all searches.

BingThis doesn’t, however, mean that results on Bing and Yahoo will be identical. While both are using the same index (the list of pages on the web with information about their content and linking), the two search engines maintain different algorithms. That means that different ranking factors are being weighed more or less heavily by each of them.

We can expect rankings in Bing and Yahoo to resemble one another more closely than they used to, but our client rank checking shows they’re still quite different.

Web Pro News has a video news report that goes into more detail on this and some of the implications for SEO.

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June 2010 U.S. Search Engine Rankings

GoogleGoogle Sites led the U.S. core search market in June with 62.6 percent of the searches conducted, followed by Yahoo! Sites (up 0.6 percentage points to 18.9 percent), and Microsoft Sites (up 0.6 percentage points to 12.7 percent).

Both Yahoo! Sites and Microsoft Sites have experienced gains due in part to the continued utilization of contextual search approaches that tie content and related search results together. For more detail on contextual searches, please read this post on the comScore Voices blog.

Ask Network captured 3.6 percent of the search market, followed by AOL LLC with 2.2 percent. More from comScore here.

At Rank Magic, we’re changing our keyword ranking reports to focus on Google, Yahoo! and Bing alone. We’ve found that including other search engines tends to confuse our clients, and since the three top search engines account for more than 94% of all searches it makes little sense to worry about tracking the others.

Bing on Web Spam

The Black hat SEO techniques product short term results.official Bing blog recently had a post about web spam. According to Bing’s definition, web spam is “unwanted web content that uses overtly manipulative techniques in an effort to fraudulently attain undeservingly high ranking in search engines.” These are also considered Black Hat SEO tactics.

If you use spammy, Black Hat SEO methods, you might get high rankings on search engines quickly. Unfortunately, searchengines usually detect all spamming methods sooner or later and they will completely remove your website from the search results as soon as they find out that you use these methods. Here are a couple of graphical depictions from Axandra:

White hat SEO techniques produce lasting results.

If you use ethical White Hat SEO methods, it will take longer until you get high search engine rankings. However, your rankings will grow steadily and you’ll get a much better performance in the long run:

SEO for Bing

SEO for BingMicrosoft’s Bing search engine is different from Google and Yahoo in a number of ways. It groups results differently, and provides a number of features that may (or may not) improve your searching experience.

But what about your rankings? Since Bing is going to power Yahoo searches starting sometime next year, that’s something that has many web site owners concerned. But don’t worry. Here’s what Microsoft has to say about that.

Best of all, the type of SEO work and tasks webmasters need to perform to be successful in Bing haven’t changed—all of the skills and knowledge that webmasters have invested in previously applies fully today with Bing. Moreover, investments in solid, reputable SEO work made for Bing will bring similar improvements in your website’s page rank in Google and Yahoo! as well.Ultimately, SEO is still SEO. Bing doesn’t change that. Bing’s new user interface design simply adds new opportunities to searchers to find what the information they want more quickly and easily, and that benefits webmasters who have taken the time to work on the quality of their content and website design.

You can download a complete Microsoft white paper on New Features Relevant to Webmasters, with an explanation of all the changes, here.

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