Recently I saw a website taken offline. This was a website which performed extremely well for a variety of highly competitive key phrases. I won’t “out” the site here but I just happen to have screenshots of the site’s performance in Google search up until the day it was taken offline. The act of taking this site down is literally jaw-dropping.

Why would someone take down their own site?

Unfortunately, in this case the site was taken offline due to their SEO team’s recommendation. This was obvious to me as a new site with a new URL popped right back up for the business (a Los Angeles law firm, in this case) and the old domain had text which listed the new URL with no link. Additionally, there was no 301 redirect in place. SEO people take these very specific actions this when they do not want the old links to pass through from a penalized site to the new site, but would like human visitors to know that a page has moved. This is indeed the best course of action when a site has been penalized.

Of course, the site no longer ranks on page 1 or 2 but is now on page 18 of Google’s search results.

This was, obviously, a catastrophic mistake.

Who still disavows links?

Years ago, crappy SEO agencies used to spam the Internet with links to manipulate search rankings of client websites. When Google began penalizing said websites, the salespeople at these agencies were then tasked with selling the same clients link removal and link disavow services to lift their manual actions and algorithmic penalties. With many SEO experts hard up for cash, they are still selling these services to people who do not need it. It is amazing this is still happening in 2017, but the fact remains that many people have no idea how you rank a site. In 2017, Google representatives have publicly stated that penalties mostly now occur only when sites have outrageously misbehaved, otherwise questionable links are simply ignored.

In this particular case, I was able to see most of the backlinks to the site via Semrush. There are a total of zero links to the site that I’d get rid of. While I can’t see all of them, it is clear that the backlink portfolio of the site was decent.

I am certain that in this case the “SEO expert” working on the site wants to just milk their client and convinced them that they had toxic links. By destroying their web presence, they get themselves job security for the foreseeable future. In some cases, business owners are jerked around for months or years on end while the SEO expert keeps working on “fixing” their website.

Link disavowing, while it can be a legitimate service, is one of the biggest scams deceptive practitioners of SEO offer their clients.

Furthermore, these days, Google often ignores links that it thinks were manipulated. That means far less algorithmic penalties, even for people who buy questionable links or build them a bit haphazardly.

Need a second opinion?

Now if you’ve been blasting blogs in China with random comment spam, yes, you have a problem; but if you’ve been building quality links or obtaining them naturally, chances are there is absolutely no problem with your links whatsoever.

Warning signs of a bad SEO expert:

  • If an SEO expert ever tells you that you should delete your high ranking website from the Internet, RUN.
  • If you have fallen to page 2 of search results for a competitive term, your competition is just doing something better than you are. Penalized websites most certainly do not rank on page 2.
  • If you have been told that you need to remove links and feel like you may be getting jerked around, feel free to send me an email and I’ll be happy to take a quick look at some of the links that they’d like to remove.

If you are being blatantly scammed by your existing SEO expert or you feel they may be ignorant as to how Google works, please feel free to reach out to me. You may also wish to visit my page dedicated to Second Opinions on Google Penalties and Link Removals.


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