Search London – Avoiding the Wrath of Google

The Link Removals and Avoiding the Wrath of Google presentation took place on the 30th of October, 2013. This was a very topical subject to speak about at Search London , considering many sites have been penalised by Google.  We had two great speakers at the event; Kirsty Hulse, SEO Strategist at Digitas LBi and Jose Truchado, Head of SEO for Expedia Europe.

Digtias LBi were the sponsors for the event and let us have their amazing venue for Search London – thank you Digitas LBi.

Brick Lane

Kirsty Hulse started the presentation by addressing :

Link Removals

1) When should we think about removing links?

  • If your site has a links penalty
  • A GWT warning
  • Links form ezine articles
  • Links from Free SEO directory
  • Spun content

Removing links is not easy or cheap.  Make sure it is the right choice for your site. Make sure it is cost effective.

  • So look holistically at the landscape
  •  Don’t be a scaredy cut
  • Make informed judgment calls based on your users and your expertise

2) How can we make it as painless as possible?

The process: Identify GWMT

  • Start with the links in GWT
  • Use tools to identify the worst links
  • Excel is your best mate


  • Threaten owners/bloggers with disavow email
  • Don’t lie either
  • Don’t pay to remove the links


  • Ensure the link is actually removable
  • Offer to give SEO or Social advice in exchange (instead of paying)
  •  Bad links can be on high quality sites (advertorials etc) use this as an opener
  • Include the link in question in the email (prioritise your mail mergers)
  • Pick up the phone
  • Then disavow if do not succeed

Machine learning and SEO

Machine learning algorithms mimic processes like those occurring in the human mind.  And Google is starting to get good at it – within three days it had created a neural network that can recognize cats and human faces.

What does this mean for SEO?

SEOs will need to start thinking as though Google has capacity of a human testing.  As we saw with Panda, machine learning algorithms are hard to reverse engineer – so SEO needs to be quality from the start. We need to build great links that are relevant which will last.


These were some great tips from Kirsty and from personal experience it is important to follow them.  I recently wrote a blog post about Link Removals from Search Love which goes into more detail about the process.

Jose and Kirsty

What is the Future of Link Building?

Jose Truchadero then spoke about the future of link building and what they are doing at Expedia.  The company had been affected by a Google Penalty, as there were 5 different versions of the site.  Therefore Jose understands and knows what it is like to have a penalty, remove it and move forward. Expedia are building value content to scale across the European markets.

Jose shared with us a few tips when creating content:

  • Don’t just think about where you can post content
  • Think about how to build a relationship and get influential authors posting on your site
  • Matt Cutts has confirmed that Google will be moving more towards authorship.
  • Links have more value when they are in a “social” wrapper

Jose referred back to the famous “Content is King” phrase which was actually an essay written by Bill Gates in 1996.  If your content is not good, you will not achieve long lasting success. It is Content and Distribution – King and Queen – they go hand in hand together.

Content Tips


  • Find your angle, become your own brand
  • Be social as well
  • Scalability of strategy

What is important at Expedia is scalability of strategy, they have to be able to replicate it in 15 markets.   This can be really hard, but they have to allocate sufficient time if they want the results.  Expedia are no longer writing content for Google but for users.  Once they had the penalty lifted, Expedia built a new team and started blogger outreach. They identified those who can be an influencer, and also write well.  Expedia decided to make a video about London and show people the areas that people do not usually see.  They featured Regents Canal and Brick Lane.

How much did this cost?

In total Expedia made 9 videos of different destinations and they managed to generate around 30 links per video. But the videos cost far less than anyone expected at just £400.

Jose recommended we follow 4 steps in content creation:

  • Think and listen
  • Research
  • Engage
  • Distribute

Thank you to both speakers and also to the Search London Organising Team.  We will be organizing more events in 2014, so stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *