You probably remember we removed 1.7 million backlinks by deleting our WordPress theme pages to fight off Google Panda/Penguin penalties and unnatural link warnings, The traffic sustained despite removing 1.7 million backlinks to the pages over the last few months.  The idea was that deleting urls with bad links would make 404 pages which will make the backlinks useless. Yet the  92% traffic drop still persisted.


Is Losing Backlinks A Good Idea

thinking new redirects
So I curbed my theme designing activities for the last year as it  no longer seemed possible to get credit for my theme designs with footer links. But then I observed that most popular theme design companies like Studiopress (Genesis Theme), DIYThemes (Thesis theme) and many other theme design services did maintain a dofollow footer credit link and performed well in search.

Moreover, how would Google analyze a site where 1.7 million entries to the site return 404 errrors? Also it seemed silly to loose all the link juice by 404 pages.

Deleted urls

After all we did  not force people to use our WordPress themes, it was listed in the official WordPress theme directory like millions of other themes and were free to use under GPL licence.  There had to be a better way…

Fixing Google Penalty

Here is some official Google advice which everyone must seriously consider, and it suggests a way to deal with such content issues. They say that low-quality content in any part of the site can impact ranking of the whole site –  so possibly you should remove these low quality pages, or improve content quality. The other way is to mov these low  quality pages to a new domain name and this might help improve search engine rankings of your good content.

New WordPress Theme Site

So I created a new site to host all out WordPress themes at the new domain name I removed the 404 errors to the 3 theme pages and redirected all the links to the new theme pages using htaccess rules. This not only removed millions of 404 errors received by search engine crawlers, but also facilitated them to find the new site.

I added the site to Google webmaster tools and it started showing in search results (in a day!) and now shows that at over 700,000 backlinks have already migrated to the new site in 2 weeks.

new backlinks

I also updated the WordPress themes and had a chance to start redesigning again and do expect to create many more new themes as this site is targeted to WordPress themes and design. Maybe I will develop a themes FAQ and other cool tips around the new site.  Keep watching the site.

Better than removing 1.7 million backlinks – What do you think?

  1. That’s indeed a smart move by redirecting those links to actual theme site… How’s your new site performing in search engine? You should try gaining authority for quickonlinethemes by getting it listed on some popular WordPress resource sites like WPMu, Wpbeginners, Managewp …..and for download implement social download (Tweet to download or G+ to download).. This will ensure that your new site will not be penalise…as by the end you redirected all those links to new site…

    For QOT, it’s indeed a smart move and looking forward for your case study result on new-domain after redirection…

  2. P. Chandra says:

    Thanks Harsh for your valuable advice as always. Will keep posted.

  3. Varun says:

    That’s really a nice move. :)
    keep us updated about QOT traffic after this.

  4. Sunday says:

    Well, everything still boils downs to the fact that obeying Google’s guideline is helpful.

    Removing “unwanted” back links should be done under the premise and expectations of the search engine. In the long run, it could be helpful in regenerating search traffic.

    However, its helpful having to learn of the actions that were taken to improve traffic via the new WordPress theme site!

  5. Hendra says:

    Yes You’ve done do what you have to do..I think it’s the best choice..I hope your site will recover from google penalty..

    Good luck..


  6. Sandra Kurt says:

    Thanks for sharing us a very nice tips on making a smart move in SEO, every of your posts is a lesson for me.

  7. Google is simply trying to make it all human and natural. No one would want to see thousands of links with 0 or no relevancy in them. I feel such updates from google will help geniune site owners and affect the rest.
    Really nice article by Mr. chandra. Thanks for sharing.!

  8. junaid says:

    Hi well do we really lose backlinks ??? so strange we work hard building backlinks and i did not know that we lose it all too :( sad man well Yes to SEO :D <a

  9. Imtiaz Ali says:

    1.7 million is a lot of backlinks! Removing them is difficult :)

  10. Too many links :)

  11. How long did it take to fix up all your google penalties?

  12. Rohit Kumar says:

    Removing 1.7 million backlinks, you need a serious gutts to do it. my question is directory submission is good idea to create backlinks?

  13. P. Chandra says:

    Paid directories and free unmoderated directories have often been penalized by Google.

  14. Storewars News says:

    Really informative. But did you know that Target Corp. is ready to rebound as sales their traffic increase , check it here at

    For more information and news about the latest happening in the world of business, marketing and retail, check out our Twitter,

  15. Ravi Chahar says:

    There are many reason for which are considered as suspicious and Google may penalizes the blog. I have studied about many reasons and having bad back links is also included in it. If you have back link of a blog which is not that much popular and having error then it may effect your blog.

  16. rubel says:

    i hope that your site will get recovery soon and you have to do seo right approach by maintain Google algorithm updated.

  17. Sid says:

    Tarikh Mahdi if you really want to start leaning SEO then first go to SEO Moz and read as many blogs as you can and when you consider yourself as expert then go to SEO THE SEA, if you want more help you can contact me i can provide you some useful books and what ever i could do i will surely do to help you or anybody else.

  18. Arti says:

    hello thanks for share

  19. Mizan Ahmed says:

    Your posted tips are very helpful and it works. Really awesome for the learners. Keep posting such unique posts.

  20. great idea!i have to remove some myself!

  21. Yenka says:

    Great Article. it’s Really Useful. I am a New Blogger. your all Tips will help me Very Much. Thank you very much for Sharing.

  22. William says:

    Removing 1.7 million backlinks this will be a tough task. I hope you will succeed it. I need to know about which is the best way to get more backlinks. Give me some ideas? What are the techniques you are following to get more traffic for your website. Suggest me some useful ideas.

  23. shirisha says:

    How to find out the low quality pages, based on what factors we decide it is a low quality page.?

  24. vikas says:

    gr8 one…. thanks for the post

  25. Manoj says:

    1.7 MILLION BACKLINKS, super famous site.

  26. Sameer Bille says:

    It is one of the best move for safe a site/blog from Google penalty as maximum bloggers and webmasters are facing same problem. So this article will help 1000s of newbies to face such problems.

  27. rajeshprodeb says:

    Great Idea.I never expect these kind of information anywhere.Once we lose a backlinks it is really tough for getting top results in search engines.but you provide the another way without losing backlinks.Thanks for sharing nice information.keep posting thses kind of information.

  28. ArbazFida says:

    Great think!!!
    Really informative. 1.7 million is a lot of backlinks! Removing them is difficult

  29. So this means that if somebody targets you with Negative SEO, you can evade the damage ?

  30. Sam Woods says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to remove that many links! Great alternative though.

  31. Adam Kielich says:

    That would be a huge loss of backlinks! It’s really interesting that Google suggests dividing high ranking and low ranking content from the same site to improve rankings of one site and let the rest sink like an anchor on its own. I had never seen that advice directly from Google.

  32. thank you very much for interest subject

  33. Gary says:

    Very informative blog for those who are doing off page SEO. Just want to know one more thing “What is dofollow footer credit link?”

  34. Now that what I call a smart move buddy.Just one question I wanna ask that your new domain got bulk of back-link in very short time so don’t you think this will again raise a red flag for you.

  35. P. Chandra says:

    Links on the footer of wordpress themes which have links pointing to the theme page on the theme designers website.

  36. P. Chandra says:

    I am trying to transfer this penalty to the new domain. But then that is a pure theme design site and these backlinks might be considered as ok. Either ways, the new backlinks are all nofollow and as more people update the themes, these links will be nofollow links to the new domain.

  37. Corey M says:

    thanks for sharing such a nice blog on helping me to improve my SEO for the future. Tips are useful to me. All i can suggest is keep posting as your posts are awesome.

  38. Josh says:

    That’s amazing! I know that changing some of your low quality pages can help with your rankings but I have not seen a full study of it. I guess it really works better than removing a lot of links from your site.

  39. rajesharinos says:

    Thanks for sharing wonderful information.I do wonder after losing the those backlinks still your site is in the position.

  40. Karan Rawat says:

    You indirectly gave us an idea, how to fight with google penguin and panda updates. And your idea to redirect links to another website is great, its Better than removing 1.7 million backlinks.

  41. Afiq says:

    WOW! 1.7 Million Backlinks – the number really make me impressed.

    I’m starting my new blog, so I think I’ll take care on my link building strategy so that I can prevent such things from happen to me.

    Thank you very much for sharing such an awesome post!

  42. Nora says:

    Great tips Harsh :)

  43. Nicely written P. CHANDRA,
    Sir, is it better to create the backlinks to niche now?

  44. Sandy Sunny says:

    Yes, I agree with you completely Harsh. It’s really a smart move

  45. kabar sehat says:

    lost a lot of back links for a new site or change Halk url is very disappointing. Hard work over many months or even years destroyed many a day. This is what makes us sometimes frustrated and give up.
    your success in getting backlinks again after I lost the inspiration to be successful like you. Thank enlightenment. I was very helped

  46. Praveen says:

    This sounds cool ! But it is quite difficult to remove all for myself ! But i’ll try to remove as much as possible !

  47. Tauhid says:

    Excellent idea, but to test now.

  48. Ravi Verma says:

    This was a nice effort to save the link juice from that 7.1 million backlinks.
    Great to see harsh here as well.
    by the way thanks for sharing it.

  49. Dinesh Verma says:

    Thanks for sharing such a useful post. I am a newbie in this field and thought that backlink once created will exist forever. Removing useless backlinks will surely improve the growth.

  50. peter says:

    Thanks for a great resource i will definitely try your suggested ways to nail useless links which are effecting site

  51. shashi says:

    Awesome post, i have seen only a few of sites that have been able to fight google penalty’s panda or penguin. Loosing 1.7 million backlinks takes a bow!

  52. rahul says:

    thanks for sharing this post…. this will really help me a lot

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