Why Asking StumbleUpon To Remove Your Links Is Dumb

Turns out, StumbleUpon is getting regular requests each week from people asking for it to remove links to their sites, people who are worried that being linked to from a popular and long-standing social media sharing site is somehow hurting them with Google. The linksanity sadly continues.

Every since Google stepped up its attack on bad links last year, in particular with its Penguin Update, there’s been panic in some quarters about getting links removed. But it’s not about removing all links. It’s about removing bad links, and I wouldn’t count StumbleUpon as one of the sites you should worry about.

StumbleUpon is an established, respected social media site. Its very nature is to let people share links with others, in a channel surfing approach.

That is a far different situation than obtaining links from “article sites” that often seem to have no other purpose but to let people obtain links. Those types of links, where they haven’t really been earned and exist mainly for the purposes of just having a link, those are the links Google has tended to target.

To understand more about this, and the idea of “easy” links versus “hard” ones that count, see my post from last year: Link Building Means Earning “Hard Links” Not “Easy Links”.

True, Google does want people hit by its Penguin Update to make an attempt to remove bad links. It doesn’t want them to just rely on the disavow link tool. But asking StumbleUpon to remove your link is a waste of time. I’d say. That’s the type of link you actually do want.

What’s Google’s ruling on this? It wouldn’t comment on StumbleUpon specifically, but Matt Cutts — who heads up Google’s web spam team — told me that people should use the disavow tool if they don’t get a response from a site they ask to remove a link.

As for StumbleUpon, it’s not inundated with these requests, characterizing them as a “handful” per week to me. But they’re really unnecessary. If you really don’t want your links on the site, I guess you can use the disavow tool. But I’d say put your effort into other areas.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Disavow Links Tool | Google: Penguin Update | StumbleUpon | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • http://twitter.com/RossHudgens Ross Hudgens

    This has nothing to do with Penguin or links, at least in my experience. It has to do with Panda. SU creates a high volume of traffic with an extremely high bounce rate and low time on site, and if it possible Google is interpreting user behavior from Chrome, GA or some combo and using it as a negative signal that could potentially impact whether or not our sites get hit by Panda, it is a best practice to get removed from the index.

    Whether or not this is something that’s actual a signal or not is up for debate, but given that SU rarely delivers relevant traffic or links, the cost-benefit of a removal request is low, especially if SU traffic accounts for a large portion of a profile. Would love to hear Cutts say that SU can’t impact Panda, but I don’t think he will.

  • http://twitter.com/RossHudgens Ross Hudgens

    That said, I’m sure there are some stupid people doing this for Penguin purposes as you mention Danny, but I am sure that several are doing it primarily for Panda.

  • http://twitter.com/factive Cameron Olthuis

    lolz

  • http://twitter.com/ChaseSEO Chase Anderson

    Interesting take Ross but I think you give the average SEO too much credit. This is definitely about penguin, I’m sure SU didn’t receive an influx of link removal requests in March of 2011.

  • RyanMJones

    I highly doubt Google is using bounce rates from Chrome or what not. There are several types of sites where a high bounce rate is a GOOD thing.

    Example: weather sites, dictionary sites, etc. I personally run a few dictionary sites and my bounce rates are in the 70% area. People come, see the definition of the term they want, and leave to go use that term. There’s no reason for them to stay. Same with weather. After looking up the weather in Detroit I don’t care what the weather is in Tuscon, so I leave.

    What I DO think google uses though, is not your typical “bounce rate” but more of a “search refinement.” that is, search for a term, click a result, come back to google really quickly and then click another result or refine your search. I think that’s gotten misconstrued as “bounce rate.”

    TLDR: don’t worry too much about bounce rate affecting your SEO.

  • RyanMJones

    also, my god people: stop removing links. If you don’t have a manual warning from Google saying “hey, these types of links are hurting you.” then you’re fine. If you do get that manual warning, it’s most likely because you spammed a ton of links and you know which ones those are. If you didn’t spam links, then there’s nothing you need to be removing.

  • http://www.chiropractorpeoriail.com/ Peoria Chiropractor

    Who made it up in the first place? Perhaps another self-proclaimed seo-guru? LoL…. Dom Casas my SEO Specialist is the best I had and I’m pretty sure he’ll laugh about this…

  • Ds Hte

    you hear that

  • http://twitter.com/sbhsbh Steve Hughes

    A handful of stupid people per week…

  • http://www.submitshop.co.uk/blog Submitshop UK

    Yes, you are right Stumbleupon is a well respected social
    media site. I am also used Stumbleupon but its not hurting my sites ranking
    etc.Google don’t want only low quality links. You have shared some good points
    in this post .Anyway thanks for this post.

  • http://twitter.com/RankWatch RankWatch

    That’s really very true Ryan. Webmasters have to understand that its not all about removing links to improve their ever decreasing serp rankings, its about making sure that their site has been affected by a search engine manual spam action or algorithmic penalty before they even start sending link removal requests to the site owners or start using the link disavow tool. If they can add value to the users by providing quality content and then do a basic promotion via social media and other means. Then they will get people linking (voting) to the content naturally.

  • http://ftc.gov/ MonopolizedSearch

    It’s good that SU shared this with the internet community. The stupidity surrounding link removal requests has hit smaller businesses much harder by taking away an already limited amount of resources to devote to such requests. Some link removal are threatening, while others have used the DMCA to request immediate takedowns. Combined with others intentionally building lots of backlinks to their competitor sites, which is indeed happening, Google’s broken algorithm link policy has done nothing but inflict damage to the smallest enterprises that make up the bulk of the global economy.

  • http://twitter.com/GEORanker GeoRanker

    Perhaps the new algo is just Google’s way of inviting spammers to come out of their hiding places. A site who first gets intensively linked and then loses many of its links (through removal or disavow) certainly becomes somewhat suspicious.

  • Irving Weiss

    One of the web sites I worked got the following message from our Google contact “The Traffic Quality team told me they found some invalid traffic on your account.” – While not disclosing the site to us, I had a suspicion it was SU and I removed their campaign with SU and the next day I was told that we had taken care of the problem. I can’t say this means to ask SU to remove your links but it does speak about taking an engagement with them. I would like for SU to come forward and explain how they can satisfy Google with a marketing engagement.

  • http://twitter.com/davidhmcguire David H. McGuire

    Cool take

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    StumbleUpon has always sent good traffic to my blog posts, and why would anyone want to remove a source of quality traffic? I think site owners are so terrified of making a mistake they are actually making it harder on themselves to do well. So many DIY SEO site owners aren’t sure which direction they are supposed to take and end up shooting themselves in the foot because of it.

  • sagelewis

    We are definitely in a turbulent time when it comes to links. While requesting StubleUpon link removals sounds crazy, at least people are concerned about the quality of their link graph. So that’s positive, I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.hartnett2 Daniel Hartnett

    Maybe start use stumble upon more effectively ? Try putting your youtube links in to stumble upon and then adding sharing the stumbleupon/youtube link on your social media pages this definitely gets me more video views and then people to my site.

  • Alan

    The funny thing is they could remove all links and still not lose the penalty. This has happened on a number of occasions already.

  • http://twitter.com/RossHudgens Ross Hudgens

    This is all true, but in the context of a larger vertical, Google could make specific judgements. If everyone on SERP A has 80% BR and you do too, that’s normal. If you have 80% BR and they have 50%, that’s not.

    What you refer to w/ SERP bouncing is called “pogo sticking”, and I agree they could potentially use that as a great signal as well, which we can only partially interpret through bounce rate. So even if we can agree bounce rate isn’t specifically impacting it, if we look at bounce rate as a signal of potential Pogo Sticking, that informs the likelihood we could get hit by something like Panda.

  • Rahul Tilloo

    Haha , People are getting crazy.
    Asking to remove link from StumbleUpon is like making an own goal in soccer.

    StumbleUpon is really a great site and it’s one of the major traffic sources of many websites.

  • SEO Consult

    Or you’ve been Penguined, which is algo not manual.

  • http://www.CravingTech.com/ Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    This is just silly. I put my RSS feed as a full feed, and as a result (or not), I have sites copy-pasting my content to their own. Since sometimes I have an internal link that goes to my other posts, Google may see this as backlinks from a bad neighborhood.

    Even though Google clearly says they have preventive mechanisms to prevent competitors doing this bad trick to hurt your rankings, truth is, we do not know and nor do Google bots

    Traffic been going downhill

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