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Note: This blog post is mainly concerned with Google as a search engine, as well as websites that are at least five years old. A penalty in this post can refer to either an algorithm penalty or a manual action.

Search engines have evolved tremendously over the years: what has worked in the past is quickly becoming invalid. The numerous manual action penalties given to webmasters from Google are becoming more public knowledge. Even the slightest change in the algorithms puts everyone in a frenzy. Discussions pop up everywhere: new questions arise, new theories surface, and then it is usually followed by speculation. A lot of speculation.

One thing I’d like to point out, I love the feeling of togetherness we all have all over the world amongst SEO professionals. We all just want to help and play our part in making other people successful. I think that’s just wonderful!

In that same spirit, I’d like to present this post with the premise that link removals and disavows should be essential to any SEO strategy and not just be another weapon in the arsenal that gets used in times of penalties. So, let’s dive right into it.

1. Link Removals And Disavows Are Mainly Reserved For Penalized Websites. Care To Think Otherwise?

I’ve noticed that people only bring up link removals and disavows post penalties. It’s usually fine not to concern yourself if you don’t have a penalty. However, all I see are benefits to taking a pre-penalty stance. Conducting regular link removals and disavows is nothing but healthy. It is a known fact that one cannot control who links out, but one can let Google know to discount all the bad backlinks pointing to a domain. The other common encountered argument is that it’s unnecessary to perform disavows as that might get you on the radar for no reason. My rebuttal is: let Google dig through your website. Let Google see that you have nothing to hide. Let Google rummage through the chaos! You might even see positive increases to your site. I for one, see this as an invitation to Google to look at my profile and see how I’ve been a good boy. It’s like taking a shower. We all need cleansing. Why not do the same with your website? It might very well be the source of your livelihood.

2. Enable Efficient Crawling Capabilities.

The Internet is growing exponentially. New websites/pages/social media engagements emerge every day. A lot of times it does boil down to how crawling resources are used. We’ve all heard horror stories of servers crashing due to too many requests. If Google and other search engines have to crawl through fewer backlinks for your profile, or quickly ignore others by adhering to the disavow, more resources can be spent focusing on important backlinks and pages of the website. Here’s the thing: bad backlinks don’t help with rankings. So why keep them? You’d be inclined to conclude that this doesn’t matter as much. I’d agree! It’s not hard to imagine that in a few more years, ease of crawling will be an important algorithm factor. Remember how we had to come out with IpV6? We literally ran out of IP addresses.

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3. But I Don’t Have Bad Or Unnatural Backlinks. Why Clean Up?

And you thought I’d never ask. A bad or unnatural backlink is, even more, broad and vague than the reasons my wife gets mad at me. There’s always a reason. I never really know. Google is similar. We can only hypothesize how it behaves, or how it evaluates the links. Again, you don’t really need to be aggressive if no penalties exist. But any reasonable person with some good judgment can identify what those bad, or seemingly unnatural links are. What was the latest Penguin announcement? Hmmm, been over a year! Should we expect another one?

4. Google Already Knows About A Lot Of Things.

True! Very true! Google is nice enough to realize that sometimes, things are out of your hands. Google probably understands that people might have abused their algorithm in the past to build links. What if the rules suddenly change? What if Google is patiently waiting to see whether or not webmasters are making efforts to get rid of their past sins? I believe that people who proactively clean it up might get a ranking bump over people who didn’t. It is true that machines and humans both can malfunction. Why take chances? Why not be more certain with the disavows? Google does a pretty good job of following it.

5. I Got A Penalty!! OMG!

It is quite obvious to start with link removals and disavows at this point. If you truly were preemptively and sincerely concerned with both, and you still received a manual action penalty, chances are you might attain a quicker resolve as you were already taking necessary steps before you got hit. It’ll be less daunting when filing for reconsideration. Wouldn’t that be nice? A quick recovery!

The intention here is not to have you run helter-skelter, but to make sure that you leave no stone unturned. I think we’re all smart enough to distinguish the good link from the bad. If you believe that you don’t have any harmful links, then I’d like to sincerely apologize for wasting your valuable time on this post. But do remember that the future is uncertain. It still might be a good idea to regularly dig through your backlink profile, and see how things look.

Questions, comments, concerns? Please let me know!

P.S. I Love my wife very much! Just in case you were wondering.

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