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  Universe Design Introduction to Joomla
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We Build Web Sites That Work As Hard As You Do

Written by Neil Fabbo. Posted in About Us

About Us

Universe Design is one of the top Joomla!® CMS web design companies in Massachusetts & the USA. Our team of top professionals provide web design and internet related services to a broad range of clients ranging from small businesses to large corporate organizations. Our services include web design, web development, internet marketing, graphic design, multimedia and consultancy. Our aim is to provide our clients with the very best website possible, on time and within budget.

Universe Design takes pride in the fresh approach we bring to all web design projects thanks to a unique mix of skills combining creativity and technical expertise. Universe Design is constantly researching new web technologies and the ways in which technology can be harnessed to enhance and promote our clients business activities.
Our Joomla!® Content Management Sytems (CMS) puts you %100 in control of your own website. Don't get taken hostage by those other web companies, call or contact Universe Design today and take control of your own web site!
If I could give you a web site that had the flexibility to add any type of content yourself, whenever you wanted, using just your web browser and delivered it in 3 days, at an affordable price, would you be interested?
That's Right! Add Your Own
  • Articles. News & Events
  • Pictures & Movies
  • Products, Menus & Specials
  • Support  Downloads, Documents &  Help Files
  • Forums, Catalogs & Portfolios
  • Reservations & Newsletter Subscriptions
  • & Much More!

Unvierse Design In Peabody, MA Can Get You There At A Fraction Of What You Might Expect To Pay!

What Is Joomla?

Joomla!® is an award-winning Content Management System (CMS) that will help you build your website content and manage powerful online applications.

Joomla!® in Action

Joomla!® is used all over the world to power everything from simple, personal homepages to complex corporate web applications. Here are just some of the ways people use Joomla:

  • Corporate websites or portals
  • Online commerce
  • Small business websites
  • Non-profit and organizational websites
  • Government applications
  • Corporate intranets and extra nets
  • School and church websites
  • Personal or family homepages
  • Community-based portals
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • the possibilities are limitless?

Joomla!® can be used to easily manage every aspect of your website, from adding content and images to updating a product catalog or taking online reservations.

Joomla!® for End Users

Once Joomla!® is installed and running, it is simple for even non-technical users to add or edit content, update images, and to manage the critical data that makes your company or organization go. Anybody with basic word processing skills can easily learn to manage a Joomla!® site.


Via a simple, browser-based interface you will be able to easily add new press releases or news items, manage staff pages, job listings, product images, and create an unlimited amount of sections or content pages on your site.

Taking Joomla!® to the Next Level

Out of the box, Joomla!® does a great job of managing the content needed to make your website sing. But for many people, the true power of Joomla!® lies in the application framework that makes it possible for Universe Design to install and customize powerful add-ons and extensions. Here are just some examples of the hundreds of available extensions Universe Design can build into your website.

  • Automated Billing & Online Invoicing
  • Shopping Carts for E-Commerce
  • Document  & File Management Downloads
  • Image and Multimedia Galleries
  • Secure Personal Messaging
  • Customer Support or Community Discussion Forums
  • Event Calendars & Classified Ad Systems
  • Newsletter Subscription & Autoresponders
  • Community Directories & Membership Information
  • Data Collection & Reporting tools
  • Banner Advertising
  • Live Webcam Broadcasting
  • and many, many more?

Universe Design provides professional, customized Joomla website design and development services. Our professional Joomla website design is fast and affordable. We can build a website that works as hard as you do! Contact us for a FREE design consultation and to learn how Joomla is taking the internet by storm!

Call Us:  978-210-6148 In The United States

Joomla CMS Websites are suitable for virtually any type of business. Whatever you want to achieve with your online presence Universe will deliver a fast, professional and easy to manage web site. We provide all of these features and functionality for a fraction of what you might expect to pay.

Universe Design provides web design and internet related services to a broad range of clients ranging from small businesses to large corporate organisations. Our services include web design, web development, internet marketing, graphic design, multimedia and consultancy. Our aim is to provide our clients with the very best website possible, on time and within budget.


Universe Design takes pride in the fresh approach we bring to all web design projects thanks to a unique mix of skills combining creativity and technical expertise. Universe Design is constantly researching new web technologies and the ways in which technology can be harnessed to enhance and promote our clients business activities.

Joomla!® CMS - Take Control of Your Website Free!

Written by Neil Fabbo. Posted in About Us

joomla green globe logoThere are a number of content management systems (CMS) available on the market and thus one is likely to get bogged down when he/she is supposed to choose one of the CMS development platforms. However, if you evaluate the features and functionalities of the top ranked open source CMS solutions, you can easily figure out the perfect platform for your business requirements. I right way believe that Jooma!® CMS development is the finest web solutions for businesses today.

Jooma!® CMS offers a vast array of user-friendly features and robust functionality. Because of these fascinating attributes, Jooma!® development services are preferred by both developers as well as businesses. Below are some of the exclusive benefits offered by Jooma!® CMS:

Open-source Technology – Jooma!® is an open source technology, which means that it is available for free. You need not pay thousands of dollars as a licensing fee and license renewal fees. The framework is released under GNU general public license, so anyone can see the source code of Jooma!® and customize it as per their needs. This is truly a great flexibility for Jooma!® developers.

Joomla Cms – The Right Way Forward For Successful Content Management

Written by John Tweak. Posted in Joomla Articles

If you own a website that requires fresh content every time, or require more control over your website content to suit the tastes and needs of your online audience, then it is time to think about a content management system. In your profession, you may be a content manager or a website professional managing a dynamic website that needs to be updated repeatedly. In this case, you require a Content Management System (CMS).

A CMS does precisely what we have discussed. It allows you to manage and change content easily on your website in a professional manner. The evolving nature of the web and the advent of Web 2.0 design have made content management indispensable for every professionally meaning website. A CMS thus offers the right way ahead in content management for a wide variety of portals and websites from an extensive range of industries.

One of the best CMS packages available presently is Joomla CMS. In fact, Joomla CMS is extremely easy to use and it has extensively attracted the attention of website developers all around the world. It leads the way in content management and suits the needs of a vast majority of web professionals including designers and managers alike. It is also called a 'dynamic portal engine' because you can use it to build dynamic websites as well.

Joomla is best suited for a variety of B2B and B2C portals and applications and easily meets the specifications for web development set out by companies that require direct access with informative content to their visitors online. Joomla CMS effectually meets the needs of companies and individuals in this information age. With Joomla, companies access vast and limitless possibilities to create open and powerful web applications in amazingly less time. You can easily put video, audio, blogs, and forum on your website. Plus, the availability of templates makes your task of building the website an easy one.

Since Joomla is flexible and adaptive, there are a number of advantages of using this package over several other competing content management systems. The simplicity of Joomla means that it is easy to use even by non-technical users. At the same time, it is an open source content management system and is available free of cost from the Joomla website. Besides being easily maintainable, it allows for faster and better organization of web content.

The open source nature and free-of-cost availability of this package means that the Joomla community comprises of many distinguished entities such as community forums, corporate portals, ecommerce websites, corporate intranets, educational websites, website directories, and many more.

Due to its flexibility and ease of use, Joomla has received a lot of support from large and small companies, businesses, and even entrepreneurs. With the Joomla community growing day-by-day, many web development companies now offer a variety of Joomla related solutions that are proving to be effective and valuable in this competitive business scenario.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Implement A Content Management System

Posted in Joomla Articles

I have been building websites for many years. In this time it became evident to me that there had to be a better way to create websites that were easier to update and offferd my customers more. Joomla CMS has arrived!  A lot of web designers think differently, they claim that CMS's are restricted and enjoy the trickle of income that comes from website updates. A lot of customers don't even know what a Content Management System is. What you're average person needs to know is that it is a system that holds all the content of your site in a databse that you access through a nice website backend. If you can use basic Microsoft word functionality, you can update your website. So how exactly does this benefit you?


Things You Should Know About Google's New Pigeon Update

Written by Neil Fabbo. Posted in Internet Marketing Articles-SEO, SEM

If you're a local business suffering from less traffic as a result of the Pigeon Update, there are a handful of steps you can take to correct your drop. Since you have not been penalized by Google, don't think of this as domain authority recovery. Think of it as an adjustment to your SEO strategy in response to these new changes:
First and most importantly, claim your space on every major local directory and industry directory you can find. Hunt down all the major review sites relevant to your business and register your business with them.

How To Use Content Tags in Joomla! 3.x

Written by Neil Fabbo. Posted in Joomla Articles

Only this version: Joomla 3.1

Tags in Joomla! provide a flexible way of organizing content. The same tag can be applied to many different content items across content types (articles, weblinks, newsfeeds, contacts, and categories). Any item can have as many tags as desired.
Once an item is tagged with a specific tag, browsing to the link for that tag will give a list of all items that have been tagged with that tag.
Creating Tags
Tags can be created in two ways.
You can browse to the Tags manager (link on the Components menu). There you can create detailed tags in a way similar to creating an article. Besides a name, tags can include a description, images, meta data and other items similar to all other Joomla content types. In the Tags Manager you can also choose a parent for a tag to create nested tagging.
You can create tags on the fly in any content editing screen that has a tags field. Start typing the name of a possible tag. Once you get to three letters you will start to see suggested tags that alread exist. If you are creating a brand new tag finish typing the name and hit enter and the tag will be created for you when you save.
Displaying Tagged Content
Once you have tags and some tagged items you can display them in the front end in several ways.
By default Joomla! will display tags embedded in each item that has been tagged. You can turn this display off by changing the parameters. You can control positioning of this display with layout overrides and alternate layouts and you can style it with your css.
You can create a menu link that displays a list of tags, with links to the tagged items for each tag.
You can create a menu link that displays a list of tagged items for a given tag and display either as a list or blog style.
You can use one of the tags modules. Popular tags will display a linked list of the tags that have the most tagged items. Similar Tags will display a list of items that have a similar set of tags to the currently displayed item (note that this module does not display on pages that are not showing content items).

4 SEO Dangers to Be Wary of Plus Advice to Protect Yourself

Written by Clint Maher. Posted in Our Universe

Most website owners who want to know how to succeed on the web with Google and the other big search engines will try a lot of different SEO tactics to try to succeed. But many people who delve into the world of SEO with a do-it-yourself mentality will make a few errors along the way, especially in their early days. Some of those errors simply mean that your efforts will be fruitless. But sometimes the wrong approach to search engine optimisation can put your site's success in serious jeopardy.

Search engine optimisation errors can come from getting bad advice or from getting outdated advice. If you decide to try it on your own and use the web to help you get free SEO advice on how to optimise your site, there's a good chance you'll read a lot of outdated or totally self-serving articles. Bad things can also happen when you choose the wrong service providers to help you with your website.

SEO can also go wrong if others attempt to sabotage your efforts (yes, some people do this). What's your best defense? A careful strategy with lots of checks and balances and continuous monitoring of your online reputation are all important.

Beware of the Black Hat

Black hat SEO involves doing sneaky things to try to trick search engines into ranking you. Black hat tactics don't work long term. If they do work for you, the results will be just temporary and you could wind up losing more than rankings. You could get blacklisted altogether. Be sure when you deal with SEO companies and service providers that promise to get you the site placement results you want that you know they are using ethical strategies. Watch out; not all SEO companies will tell you whether or not their methods are considered ethical by big wigs like Google so be sure to ask and investigate to verify their reputation. (Tip: be wary of being spammed with offers for backlinking services that seem too cheap and too good to be true but also be a little bit wary of anyone before trusting them with your website)

Negative SEO

Negative SEO results can happen when someone tries to sabotage your efforts in order to gain favour in the search engines. It's never advisable to try to sabotage your competition. Not only will you look really bad if you get caught but your efforts are best spent on your own success, rather than trying to sabotage others. Negative SEO is something to be very cautious about. Watch your own online results to make sure your success isn't being thwarted by someone trying to sabotage you. Spamming your website, digging in through security holes, reporting your site as spam, putting online negative reviews, and other tactics launched against you can be harmful. (Tip: When you work with a good SEO company, they will help you protect yourself against such malicious attacks)


Complacency is a dangerous area of SEO. If you think your efforts have worked out well, don't make the mistake of thinking they're sustainable. If you stop investing time, energy, and money into your SEO, you'll soon slide off the radar of the search engines and out of sight equals out of mind in online marketing. SEO is something you have to continually work at.

Does successful SEO sound like a tall order? It is.

Oracle Digital is an expert SEO Company Perth specialising in a comprehensive range of internet marketing solutions for business. Our personalised and systematic approach to business ensures that we realise the goals of our clients. Our expert services include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and many more. Visit us today and get your site on top of the search engines!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Clint_Maher

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/7069208

Hot To Upgrade Your Joomla 2.5 to Joomla 3.3

Written by Neil Fabbo. Posted in Joomla Classroom

n this short tutorial, we will inform you how to migrate your previous Joomla 2.5 to newest Joomla 3.3. Are you planning to upgrade your Joomla version? Then, you have entered correct blog here. :)
Things You Need to Check

1. Please identify your Joomla extensions (3th-party components, plugins and modules) that may have compatibility issues with the newer Joomla 3.3. You may need to check on project website or contact with developers to see if there are newer versions that you will need to reinstall. Remember that Joomla 3.3 also continues the move away from Mootools based javascript with the Joomla core, and towards the JQuery user interface. If current, used component don't have new updated version you have two options: wait with migration/upgrade until it will be available (for example VM) or use alternative, replacement component which have similar features.

2. The second thing you need to check is please make sure your hosting allows you to install Joomla 3.3. The minimum required PHP version is now 5.3.10, but it is highly recommended that servers are update to the latest version of PHP 5.4 (or 5.5) for best performance, security and compatibility. If you doubt that your hosting provider offer the latest PHP 5.4 or not, then please kindly contact their support team.

3. This is very important for you. In order to avoid any problem, then you need to make sure that you have backup everything (files and database). Most of hosting provider will do daily backup, but we would recommend you to backup it on your end too. That way, if something goes wrong during the upgrade process, you can easily restore your site to the earlier version and wait for professional help.
How to Upgrade Your Joomla

Please follow this tips below to upgrade your Joomla. Here are few tips to avoid problem when migrate your Joomla site

- If you are migrating a website is a working website for long time, please set a Offline mode for this process time.
- Disable all plugins which are you not sure if they will work with new CMS version.
- Before updating your instance of Joomla! you need to fix the database tables for the site. The database tool can be found under the Extensions Manager -> Database tab in your site's admin. If you are using Joomla! 3.2.4 or Joomal 2.5.10 after the fix button has been clicked you should see a success message.
- Now you can install the Update to Joomla! 3.3. If the Joomla! Update component is not visible in your component menu then use the Discover tool to find and install the component. This process will take a few minutes. Wait until the process completes, don't change or open new browser tabs.
- When CMS updating has completed you may need to refresh your screen or empty your browser cache to adjust for template CSS changes.
- Now you should update all extensions (one by one) and of course template. Just reinstall them with new versions.
- If any database error messages show after the update, be sure to check the Extension Manager: Database tab followed by the Extension Manager: Discover tab.
- Remember to test the whole website and ensure that all features are working properly – then you can publish your website again.

Joomla 3.0 Released

Written by joomla.org. Posted in Joomla! CMS News


The Joomla! Project is pleased to announce the immediate availability of Joomla 3.0.0. This is the next major release of the Joomla CMS in the Standard Term Support (STS) track. All 3.0 users will need to plan to update to the new versions available in the STS release cycle every six months until version 3.5 is released. These updates are expected to be simple and backwards compatible.

Who is this release for?

The standard-term releases are designed for users who need access to the new features. Most users with existing 2.5.x sites will not want to update to version 3.0. Users creating new sites can use either version 2.5 or 3.0, depending on which best suits their needs. Please consider the availability of third-party templates and extensions when deciding which Joomla version to use. Also, if you decide to use version 3.0, please be aware that you will need to update your site every six months (to 3.1, 3.2, and so on) until version 3.5 is available. These updates are expected to be simple and backwards compatible.

What is the status of Joomla! 2.5?

Version 2.5 of the Joomla! CMS is a Long Term Support (LTS) release and support for it will continue until shortly after the release of Joomla 3.5, scheduled for Spring 2014. Users on version 2.5 do not need to migrate to Joomla 3.0.

What is the status of Joomla! 1.5?

Support for Joomla 1.5 will end shortly after the release of Joomla 3.0. It is currently supported only for security issues.

Will I be able to update directly from 2.5 to Joomla! 3?

Yes. Any update issues will be a top priority and will likely be resolved early in the 3.x release train. However, it is likely that many templates and extensions for Joomla 2.5 will need modification to work with Joomla 3. Always test prior to migrating and consult with the developers of any extensions and templates you use. Be aware that the technical requirements for running Joomla 3.0 are different. In addition to requiring newer versions of software, certain settings that were once recommmened are now required such as requiring that magic quotes is off. See the Technical Requirements page for the specifications. See the Joomla 3.0.0 Post-Release FAQs for more detailed information about updating from 2.5 to 3.0.

What are the new features of Joomla! 3?

  • Incorporation of Twitter Bootstrap into a jui media package.
  • A new responsive, mobile device friendly administrator template--Isis-- and interface.
  • A new front end template--Protostar-- built using Twitter Bootstrap.
  • Updated accessible template called Beez3.
  • A simplified 3-step installation process.
  • PostgreSQL Driver. You will be able to run Joomla 3.0 sites using the PostgreSQL database.
  • PHP Memcached Driver
  • Use of JFeed for feed management rather than SimplePie
  • Installation of language packages directly from the extension manager
  • Guest user group present by default
  • Saving blank articles allowed
  • New administrator statistics module
  • Update TinyMCE to version 3.5.6
  • Continued clean up of older unused code, files and database fields and tables and improved standardization of tables.
  • Improvements to Smart Search
  • Extensive work on code style standardisation and consistency
  • Unit testing in the CMS
  • Updated system tests in the CMS 
  • Custom active menu item for menu module
  • Let the SEF plug-in add the canonical url to the head
  • Version 12.2 of the Joomla Platform

This release also includes the current version (12.2) of the Joomla! Platform, which includes a large number of new and improved packages.



Get Inbound Links by Sharing Content

Posted in Internet Marketing Articles-SEO, SEM

It's the timeless question: how do you get other sites to link to you? The most commonly discussed ways are reciprocal linking (swapping links) and buying links. Yet there's another important tool for building links that should be a part of your toolbox: distributing content in exchange for one-way inbound links.

Content Sharing vs. Other Linking Methods

  • Reciprocal Linking: The big advantage of content distribution over swapping links is that the links built are one-way, and therefore presumably more valuable. Of course, reciprocal links still have value, but relying primarily on them might hamper your SEO efforts.
  • Indirect Reciprocal Links: I link my site A to your site, so you link your site to my site B. The problems are that this can be a lot of work, and also, Google can detect indirect links if you do it more than once with the same group of sites, which might make your linking arrangements look like a link farm.
Paid Links: The problem with paid links is 1) the costs add up; 2) search engines are getting better and better at discounting paid links. According to Matt Cutts' blog, ?I wouldn?t be surprised if search engines begin to take stronger action against link buying in the near future...link-selling sites can lose their ability to give reputation (e.g. PageRank and anchortext).?

Five Crucial Components of Web Design

Written by Woody Longacre. Posted in Web Presence Articles

Five Crucial
Components of Web Design

Professional website developers know the importance of web design and the role it plays in making a website successful.

Designing a successful website is no easy task, especially for someone who is new to the world of web development. With the help of web development applications many people can and do create decent websites. But decent in most cases is not good enough to make a site successful from a traffic or financial standpoint.

There are five crucial components of web design that you must focus on in order to make a site valuable to its visitors and successful for you.

• SEO -
Getting free traffic to your site.

• Usability -
Ease of navigating around the site and finding desired information quickly.

• Aesthetics -
Visual appeal.

• Content -
Valid, up-to-date, relevant information.

• Graphics -
Eye candy that relays relevant visual information to the visitor.


Before you ever lay down a byte of HTML code for a site, you have to know and understand at least the basics of SEO and how it fits into the design. SEO is the art of designing a site in a fashion that gives the site an advantage for obtaining free and abundant traffic.

The number one aspect of SEO is selecting keywords relevant to your site. The keywords you select should be based on high usage, low competition and relevancy to your topic. Once you select keywords you can then begin the development of your site. Keep in mind keywords are a critical aspect of the design. The keywords you choose will be applied within the design in strategic fashion to benefit the flow of traffic to your site. To understand more on how to implement SEO you should read and learn more about this important subject. If you don't, your website success will be difficult to achieve.


Your website must be easy to navigate and designed in a way that makes it easy to find information. Visitors will not stay long if it takes more than one or two clicks to get the information they want or if it takes brain power to figure out how to get the information they want. One of the goals of your site design is to keep usability easy, and simple. To do this, apply the following three fundamentals of usability.

• Provide a site search tool.

A visitor in a hurry can quickly find the info they desire then move on to the action they desire.

• Provide simple, intuitive and consistent site navigation.

This provides visitors the tool they need to leisurely explore their way through your site.

• Provide logical and simple to follow content.

The message of a site should start off in a simple and basic fashion with well defined links pointing the way to more detailed information or explanation as needed.

In the cases above, the goal is to make it easy for your visitor to find the information they want without frustration or difficulty. Doing this well will have a positive effect on increasing the return of your visitors.


A website has to look clean, uncomplicated and strike a balance in layout that is pleasant to the visitor. Pleasing aesthetics come about when the colors of a site complement each other, the graphics blend and lend continuation of the theme and the layout brings unity and openness to the page.

Often overlooked by novice designers is the color palette of the site. While you can select color in a willy-nilly fashion and still provide a visually appealing site, a better idea for color selection should be based on an understanding of the color wheel and proven color strategies.

Many web designers often view a web page as an opportunity to blast a visitor with lots of information in hopes this will convince the visitor to take action. Usually this results in a quick exit due to the overwhelming visual effect and complicated look. A better approach is to provide less content and open space (referred to as white space) to allow visitors eyes to scan and explore with ease.


An important feature of any website is the quality of the text content. Visitors come to a site expecting to find answers to their questions, solutions to their problems or for entertainment value. The content offered at your site must be well-written and without grammatical or spelling errors. It also has to be relevant to the theme of your site, with valid, up-to- date information for your visitors. Content is King!


You can have a functional and usable website without graphic elements. However, if there are similar sites to yours that employ graphics, guess which site will get the most traffic. The necessary companions to any well-designed site are the images and illustrations that grace its pages. The images can't be any willy-nilly graphic that you might think is cool. Graphic imagery has to support your branding, and communicate the message you are trying to convey. Before you incorporate graphic elements into your site, take some time to look around the web. Notice what looks good and how elements are laid out. These same layouts techniques can be used as models for your site.

The Internet is a highly competitive business arena. To be successful with a commercial website, you have to keep these five crucial web design elements in mind. Contrary to what many will tell you, it is rarely possible to have commercial success without the benefit of a professional website. This is not to say that you must hire a professional, however you must implement professional design elements to improve your chances for success.
About The Author
Woody Longacre, Internet Web Design. We invite you to visit the Web Hosting Goods Store for Web Design Services, Web Hosting, and Domain Registration.

How to Use Link Removal & Google Disavow to Fix Link Penalties

Written by Ben Kemp. Posted in Internet Marketing Articles-SEO, SEM

Over the past year, Google has really tightened the screws on what they determine to be participation in manipulative link schemes. This has been tackled from both sides of the link equation; he who giveth, and he who taketh away.

Those who give out links from a site which was engineered to manipulate search engine rankings may have their sites penalized. Manual reviews that see evidence of serious breaches of Google’s commandments may result in excommunication. Yes – banned, de-indexed and sent into galactic oblivion. That might be for the sin of selling page rank via text based-links, giving run-of-site links, encouraging guest blog posts, allowing registration of sploggers, along with and each and every form of manipulative link-building schemes known to man.

The recipients of the links won’t escape Google’s witch hunt for link miscreants either! Obviously, bad links lead directly to your website’s front door, so finding you is not at all difficult. On the basis of guilt by association, ignorance is no excuse. You may not actually be burnt at the stake, but you may be spanked for even minor link receipt infringements.

In many cases, the impact of bad links will not be dramatic. Instead, it may manifest itself as an erosion rather than an “across the board” drop. Often, a group of important keyword phrases will decline in the search engine results pages, while others remain relatively stable.

Getting your head around what’s happening can be extremely difficult because Google now has so many punitive facets to its algorithms. (*1) Incoming link quality and anchor text content, along with on-page content analysis, assessment of percentage of advertising content above the fold, exact-match keywords in domain name and heaven only knows what else! Devising a remedial strategy can be confusing in the extreme!

Basically, your best option is to take an holistic approach and address the various aspects in turn. In this instance, we shall address a mechanism for tackling algorithmic penalties.

Guilty Twinges Notwithstanding

Have you ever been seduced into building links to boost your rankings? Sure you have – hasn’t everyone tried to find a way to improve their position? Unfortunately, it’s highly probable that some of the links that boosted your rankings 5 or 6 years ago are now a liability at best. Even more likely, some are now an insidious impediment to your good rankings today.

I don’t think anyone in their right mind ever thought Google would actually penalize a website for incoming links. It seems just plain wrong to me, because its not an aspect of website ownership over which the site’s owner has full control. Anyone can make a link to your site without let or hindrance! In most cases, you won’t even know about it!

How to Identify Your Incoming Links

First, you’ve got to assess the big picture on incoming links and that requires access to in-depth information. If you have a Google Webmaster account, and your site is verified correctly, Google will give you access to all the links they find pointing to your site. That’s all very well and good, but the last thing you want to do is rush into dumping links that might actually be making a positive contribution to your rankings!

You need a way of determining the quality of those links, and you have at least 2 options:

  1. Manually review every linking site and decide if its delivering a good link or a bad link.
  2. Pay for a link analysis that provides a quality score to help with the decision making.

There are several commercial services that provide link quality analysis. The one I’ve used is LinkDelete, chosen because it had good online reviews. My own experiences with the service have been positive thus far, with deadlines being met and prompt responses to questions I’ve asked.

Initial payment gets your account established. Within a few days a comprehensive spreadsheet list of incoming links they’ve found via their sources is provided for your review. A link quality score is included with every link, and there are often multiple links found per linking domain.

You have three tasks at this point:

  1. Select the links to remove.
  2. Refine the links to the core link detail / account listing if possible.
  3. Provide a text file listing of all links you’d like removed.

Selecting the Links to Remove

Commence by copying all the spreadsheet data to a new worksheet. In the initial phase, you could opt to eliminate all links with a positive link score, on the basis that they are probably good. Sort the remaining links by Domain / URL to get a better view of how many links have been found from each domain to your site.

Be aware that the link quality assessment is NOT without flaws! It may not take into account the relationship of your site to the link genre, or that the site belongs to a member of your business network or contacts. Three of the sites I’ve worked on had Open Directory links showing as -100 link quality, which seems a little harsh! Most of us would commit to almost any indiscretion in exchange for a DMOZ link to our site – its always been the holy grail of directory links.

What is a given is that a link showing up as -500 quality rating is highly suspect! A link showing a positive link value is most likely a good link that you’d want to retain. Link quality is a factor of trust + relevance and automated assessments may throw up a few false negatives. Regardless, it’s up to you to review the list with due diligence! (*2)

Mastery of Excel spreadsheet commands is a handy skill if you want to refine lists because you can identify and remove duplicates, search and replace to drop portions of URLs and much more.

Link Quality Assessment

Carefully scan through the list looking for:

  • sites you know are good
  • sites you know are relevant to your industry / genre
  • sites that are part of your network of business contacts
  • local or regional directories and country-specific local businesses

Remove all the “probably good” links from the remove list. To verify an individual domain’s perceived quality, check it on Google by searching for the domain name. If the search results show the site in first position, with a number of the site’s pages listed as a sub-menu, its very likely to be a ‘good’ site.

If the domain name search does not show the site in top position, the chances are high that it has:

  • been taken down
  • been penalized by Google
  • been de-indexed by Google

If it’s in top place with no sub-menu pages listed, check how many pages its got indexed by changing the search parameter to “site:www.domainname.com”. Zero pages indexed may mean its been blacklisted by Google and you don’t want it in your link portfolio!

Linking Page Content

Open the linking page’s URL in a separate tab or window and review the page content and the actual listing for your site. Not all links pages are created equal, and some give clear indications of quality, or lack thereof.

  • If the page has 100′s of miscellaneous links, you should mark the link for deletion.
  • If the page has few (+ or -30) links and all are closely related sites associated within a correct category, it’s probably a keeper.
  • If the site is clearly advertising itself as offering fast, SEO-friendly PR links and the design is cheap and nasty, lose it!
  • If it’s a directory site that’s smartly designed, stated as human-edited, and there’s a backlog of submissions, its possibly a keeper.

If the page does not open, but a custom 404 Page Not Found error page displays, it may be that the linking page has already been taken down by the owner. I’ve observed many directories that have deleted ALL listings, but the base site still loads, indicating a possible ‘start afresh’ approach.

If a domain registrar’s page opens, showing the domain as available for purchase, you can cross it off your link removal list on the basis that the link has already be taken down.

Link Anchor Text

If the initial indicators are positive, look at the link’s anchor text.

  • If there’s a branding element included, such as your business or domain name, this is a link you’d probably want to keep.
  • If the anchor text is stuffed with exact-match keyword search phrase/s, the link may be a liability.

Some experts suggest you retrieve the anchor text for every link as part of the review process. If there’s only a few links, that’s something you can do quite quickly. However, if there are 5,000+ links to to be reviewed and sorted into good and bad, finding and checking individual anchor text would add a huge burden to an already time-consuming and tedious task.

In the overall scheme of things, it is important to understand that Google is assessing you on multiple fronts. Keep in mind that not only are the quality of the links to you assessed, Google also analyzes the keywords within the anchor text for manipulative efforts.

Thus, a link from an otherwise good site which has over-optimized anchor text can still harm your rankings!

Stages 1 & 2: Link Quality

I’ve settled on a system of making the first pass through the Removal List and eliminating potentially good links, at the same time confirming those which are clearly suspect and possibly toxic. I get link removal requests underway as Stage 1, with a follow-up in the second month where requests were ignored.

Stage 2 is using the Disavow Tool to distance the site from potentially harmful links.

Stage 3: Anchor Text Assessment

As a Stage 3 process, you could go through every remaining link and assess the anchor text content for keyword variation and branding inclusion. This might be the time to extract the list of links to your domain from your Google Webmaster Tools account, and match those up with the each link’s anchor text.

As is usual in SEO circles, there’s a range of conflicting advice on what’s the best format for anchor text! Overall, it seems Google expects that a natural link profile would show far more domain name and/or branded links than exact-match, high search volume keyword-rich anchor texts. Any potential imbalance could be addressed by addition of new “branded” links, rather than removing otherwise good links from trusted domains. If an otherwise good link contains over-optimized anchor text, you could try politely requesting the webmaster or site owner to revise the link using the text you provide. (*3)

Refine the Link Removal List

The LinkDelete process has a limit on the number of link removal requests per month, so targeting the primary link from a domain can reduce your overall list significantly. Look carefully at the links, and try to spot the core account link. For example, a directory may have your core listing, along with links to it from several category pages. Eliminating the core listing will automatically remove it from all other pages, as per this directory listing example:


You should spend time trying to find the account listing URL. It may be found as a link on the “More Info” button. You may even need to search the site for your domain then track down that primary listing.

Rather than have the “Please Remove Link” request list all the pages the link was found on, simply requesting the deletion of the primary account / listing link also helps the webmaster quickly identify the source to remove, and increases the chances of a positive outcome.

Submit a Text File listing Links for Removal

After reaching the end of that marathon effort, you now need to copy and save the list of links you’d like removed into a simple text file. Log into your LinkDelete account and reply to the Project’s link list message, and attach your Links to Be Removed text file.

Link Removal Report

Approximately 3 weeks after your link removal list is submitted, the first month’s process will be completed. You will receive a report outlining which links have been successfully removed, and which remain. At the same time, you will be billed for month two of services.

The number of links you’d like removed determines your next step. A single site has an allocation of 400 link removal submissions per month. None of the sites I’ve worked on have exceeded that, so a second batch of new removal requests was unnecessary. Instead, a followup contact with those sites that had ignored the first round of removal requests was the correct option. If you have no further new links to be processed for removal, you should now cancel your monthly subscription.

Towards the end of the 2nd month, you will have the final list of links removed from the follow-up campaign and are ready to take the next step.

LinkDelete will provide you with the evidence of two months of remedial efforts to remove links you don’t trust. You now have a list of links you’ve successfully removed, and a list of sites that have not responded to two consecutive requests to delete the link.

The Disavow Tool

This was provided in late 2012 for site owners to “disown” links that might be hurting them. It’s important to heed Google’s instructions. Here’s what they say about the use of the disavow tool! (*3)

“If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site. You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn’t enough.”

However, you’re now good to go! You’ve already done the hard yards and can back that up with demonstrable results from 2 months of link removal efforts. The links you are disavowing are owned by someone who steadfastly ignored your polite removal requests over 2 consecutive months!

When you submit a disavow request, it will be processed much like a sitemap is processed. Google will flag the disavowed links pointing at your site as if they have the rel=”NOFOLLOW” meta-tag attached to them. Effectively, in the context of both link counts and anchor text analysis, they will be treated as if they did not exist. On the Disavow Tools page, Google provides a link to detailed instructions.

Having determined that a potentially toxic domain is linking to you, it’s sensible to simplify the process by dealing with links at the Domain Level, rather than individually specifying each link.

Basically, you need to:

  1. Copy your final file of non-removed links into a worksheet.
  2. Remove all the multiples so that you are left one link per domain.
  3. Search and replace “www.” with “domain:” because Google does not need the canonical version.
  4. Trim the page file names off the end of all the domains to ensure all links are disavowed.Save the list of domains to be disavowed as a text file (use Wordpad or similar). The file needs to be in UTF8 format, with a .txt extension.
  5. Go to Webmaster Tools / Disavow: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main
  6. Select the correct Domain name that you wish to disavow links to, and upload the text file.

Wait patiently – potentially for a quite a long time. Google may process the list quite quickly, but it may be weeks / months before the impact of the changes appears in a future iteration of the Penguin update process.

The Webscape Changeth

After months of link deletion efforts across websites in different genres, it’s clear that the impact of Google’s efforts to cleanse the web of link manipulation is having a broad impact.

“Bad” Sites Are Being Turned Off

While reviewing lists of links to assess quality, I’ve been surprised by the numbers of sites that have been taken down. Lots of cloned versions of dodgy SEO-friendly directories now have their domains parked or have had all content deleted.

  • If your *.blogspot.com site was created solely to improve SEO ranking of your main site, then there may no longer be any point in retaining it because it’s likely doing you more harm than good.
  • If it’s a link-scam directory, all it’s potentially good for is negative SEO. Its output is now harmful to the sites that are listed, or to unwitting sites innocently submitting links in future.

Of course, at the point where link removal requests exceed link submissions, running a directory becomes a pointless waste of time and money.

1st Month Link Removal Results

Of the sites I’ve worked on, the lowest removal success rate was 24% in the 1st month. Most achieved between 27% and 36% removal of unwanted links. The highest success rate was 100% removal of all unwanted links, albeit on a site that had a modest 81 domain links targeted for elimination.

2nd Month Link Removal Results

The follow-up emails achieved a 5% – 10% return, but provided additional supporting evidence to Google that we’ve tried to “make every effort to clean up unnatural links.”

How Rankings Improved After Link Removal

Across the board on all sites, demonstrable improvements to rankings were evident. Sites with 30% removal of poor links responded progressively, month by month. Even the site with the lowest percentage of links removed also responded positively.

Conclusion on Initial Link Removal Efforts

Clearly, the results of cleaning up potentially harmful links are positive. The task is relatively modest in cost and therefore well worth the effort. Like much of the work involved with SEO, it’s tedious and requires attention to detail.

The impact of the Google Disavow Links submissions remains an unknown quantity at the moment, and it will be interesting to see if there’s an incremental improvement as disavowed links are removed from the equation. There’s little in the way of online case studies as to the effectiveness of disavowing links and the timeframes for seeing results.

Stages 1 & 2: Link Quality

I’ve settled on a system of making the first pass through the Removal List and eliminating potentially good links, at the same time confirming those which are clearly suspect and possibly toxic. I get link removal requests underway as Stage 1, with a follow-up in the second month where requests were ignored. Stage 2 is using the Disavow Tool to distance the site from potentially harmful links.

A bad link is a bad link, no matter if the anchor text is good, so the priority should be eliminating the low-quality links first.

Stage 3: Anchor Text Assessment

As a Stage 3 process, I go through every remaining link and assess the anchor text content for keyword variation and branding inclusion. This might be the time to extract the list of links to your domain from your Google Webmaster Tools account, and match those up with the link’s anchor text.

As is usual in SEO circles, there’s a range of conflicting advice on what’s the best format for anchor text! Overall, it seems Google expects that a natural link profile would show far more domain name and/or branded links than exact-match, high search volume keyword-rich anchor texts. Any potential imbalance could be addressed by addition of new “branded” links, rather than removing otherwise good links from trusted domains. If an otherwise good link contains over-optimized anchor text, you could try politely requesting the webmaster or site owner to revise the link using the text you provide. There seems to be some consensus that targeted (exact-match keywords) anchor texts should not exceed 30% of your overall link portfolio. (*4)

There’s no magic bullet, no quick and easy shortcuts. However, those prepared to put in the time and energy required will reap rewards commensurate with the efforts they’ve expended.


1 – www.seomoz.org/blog/the-difference-between-penguin-and-an-unnatural-links-penalty-and-some-info-on-panda-too
2 – www.seomoz.org/blog/identifying-link-penalties-in-2012
3 – http://searchengineland.com/how-google-disavow-link-tool-remove-penalties-154928
4 – www.seomoz.org/blog/click-here-seo

Ben Kemp, a search engine optimization consultant since 1997, is a specialist in website redesign, and a veteran with 25+ years of experience in the IT industry.