Source : verticalmeasures.com
By : Michael Harper – Your Universe Online
Category : Best Orlando SEO Company
Many webmasters have felt the wrath of the Penguin 2.0 algorithm updates from Google. They’ve seen rankings drop, and links that once performed well for them thrown into the ineffective pile. We gathered 4 top SEO industry experts–Bill Hartzer, Doc Sheldon, Jim Boykin, and Jody Resnick–to discuss the recovery process they’ve followed for clients and the successes and pitfalls they’ve discovered along the way. Listen on for more to catch the tips and tricks they’ve unveiled in this month’s Google Hangout.
Arnie: Hi everyone, I’m Arnie Kuenn with Vertical Measures, and welcome to another edition of our monthly Google Hangouts. Really excited about this one today. We’re going to talk about the disavow process and Penguin 2.0 recovery. We’ve got four experts here with a lot of experience and knowledge on the subject. I think if my screen’s lined up correctly, we’ve got Bill Hartzer, Doc Sheldon, Jim Boykin, and Jody Resnick. Hey everybody, how are you doing?
Bill: Hi, how are you?
Jim: How are you today, Arnie?
Arnie: I’m doing great. Sunny day in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s only 105. We’re happy with that.
Jody: It’s a dry heat though, right Arnie? That’s what we keep telling everyone.
Arnie: Yes, yes.
Jody: More like an oven. Here in Florida it’s more like a sauna, so.
Arnie: Yes, yes, that’s right. You do have the humidity. I was just there not too long ago. It was hot.
Jody: Absolutely. You get wet going outside, no question.
Arnie: Alrighty. So I’m going to dive right into it, because we do have four panelists. We’ve got a lot to talk about, and we do try to keep these within 20 to 30 minutes. But anyway, I’m just going to throw a question out, and the first one that wants to answer it — by the way, introduce yourself when you do answer the first time. But our very first question is, does anybody really felt like they’ve had a decent success with the whole Google Disavow process? Anybody want to just jump in and . . .
Jody: I’ve had some success pretty recently. My name’s Jody Resnick, I’m the CEO and Founder of Trighton Interactive. We’re a full-service digital agency here in Orlando, Florida. My specific expertise is in search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media. We build websites because we have to to make our campaign successful. Enough about that.
The success that I’ve had with the Disavow tool specifically, I’ll talk very quickly about two examples. One, it was for a law firm that had a shady SEO, they had built a lot of, probably 15,000 links on directories and just a bunch of spam directories and articles and things that were really penalizing them.
In that specific instance, we used a lot of tools to identify the domains that were certainly not adding any value, addressed with a letter to Google through the Disavow process specifically stating how this had occurred, what we were doing to remedy the situation, and removing some of these links manually, which is important. Google likes to see that you’re actively pursuing this. It’s not enough to just use the Disavow tool. In my opinion, you also must go in and actually manually get some of these removed, if possible. It really helps things, by either contacting the website, doing whatever you can. In many instances, they’re not going to remove the links, but you’ll find some people that will and that shows a lot of respect from Google.
Let me jump to the second example because I want to give other people, certainly, the chance to talk as well. It was a large Internet retailer, 100 client, actually in the printing vertical, and they got slapped with a manual Google penalty. They hired Trighton Interactive, and we are still working with them, but the penalty has been lifted and we used the Disavow tool. Similar situation, these guys had a content writer of articles, and actually the articles were very high quality, but the tactic being used was extremely Black Hat, which was in the bio section of each article was the exact same bio of this author and she had two keyword-centric links in the bio pointing back to our client’s website.
It was very unnatural, undistributed link profile. So in that situation, we were able to manually eliminate a lot of the links, and then with the Disavow tool and success being we’re seeing the traffic in the organic rankings really start to ramp back up for them. So those are my examples.
Arnie: Super. Alright. Anybody else want to jump in?
Bill: Sure, I’ll talk a little bit about what we specialize here. I’m Bill Hartzer from Standing Dog Interactive, Director of SEO. One of the things that we specialize in is working to Disavow and clean up some large, sites that have millions of links. One of the things that we’ve particularly talked about and what we’ve done in the past is really treat sites separately.
In some particular cases, we have sites that have not received any unnatural link warnings. So the way we deal with sites that have never received any unnatural link warnings, we’re doing that a little bit differently than a site that actually has gotten an unnatural link warning for the Disavow. So a lot of it is still looking particularly at really identifying all the links. I think that a lot of companies and a lot of people doing the Disavow, they will do a Disavow and not be successful because they’re not actually getting all of the links.
If you’re using something like link research tools, you have to realize that link research tools will pull links from a lot of different sources, however if you’re not giving even more links to them, for example, just taking the Majestic SEO links in particular and passing those on to link research tools or whatever other tool you’re using, you’ve got to find all the links and all the historic links that are out there, that there are links one sites that have not been crawled in two years that are still in there, links that we need to get rid of.
So as far as successes, one in particular, we did have an unnatural link warning. The client came to us specifically that wanted to get that removed. We did the initial Disavow. One major keyword for their site brought just ungodly amounts of traffic. They had gone down to eighth place in the search results for that keyword. They were always hanging around third or fourth. They could never crack into the top three for that keyword. We did a Disavow and after that Disavow, they jumped to number one because we had cleaned up a lot of bad links. We did the reinclusion request, they still had that penalty where Google came back and said, you still, even though you’ve cleaned up all your links and everything’s looking good, you’ve still at this point, still have the penalty.
So we’ve identified actually, specifically what that penalty was and we’re almost just about ready to do another reinclusion request but we need to get certain links removed and that’s taking a little bit longer than we had thought. Related to some blog posts and guest blog posts and so forth, we want to get those removed.
So I think if there’s one point that people need to come across and really understand, is that doing a Disavow is really kind of completely different or you need to handle it differently than cleaning something up in response to an unnatural link warning or some kind of situation where you got a notice from Google. If Google has not notified you at all, then you would handle the Disavow probably a little bit differently you may not have to go through all of the steps to prove that you have made this huge effort to Disavow these links and so forth.
Arnie: Super. Hey Doc, I think we’re going left to right then. Why don’t we give you a chance and then we’ll move on to Jim?
Doc: Okay. Well first off, I’m Doc Sheldon, co-founder of Top Shelf Copy and founder of Docsheldon.com. We have seen, to point to Bill’s comment, I agree completely but I would add a third category in there. When we have seen a manual warning, absolutely we have seen that you had better go through the motions. You had better do your homework before you bother them with the Disavow tool or you’re going to get nothing out of it.
Where we have seen what appears to be an algorithmic dampening, as opposed to the using the term “penalty”, we have seen that they seem to be accepting some effort but they’re not asking you to get drastic. We are seeing some relief by just maybe we go after 20 or 25% of the bad links with emails, and then we go ahead and submit everything on a disavow and we’re seeing some relief there.
But the third aspect is just on a proactive housecleaning, when we’ve got a site that doesn’t appear to have taken a hit yet, but suddenly we find they’ve got an extra 60,000 links that are showing up that are all going to Japanese porn sites and pill sites and whatnot, real quick, we Disavow them. We don’t go through any effort to get the links removed whatsoever. We put them on a Disavow list and I have seen those actually jump rank, which would make me feel at least there’s some correlation there that they may have been getting dampened somewhat, but a lot of them, getting them Disavowed, it did jump three, four, five places in the rank.
I think really, you definitely have to handle them differently. I think that there’s really three categories. If you’re just doing some proactive housecleaning, it doesn’t seem to make any necessity to go through any extensive effort to get links removed before you do the Disavow.
Arnie: Super. And Jim, I know you and I corresponded a little bit and I think you said you’ve done at least 20 of these, and I teased you because I thought, don’t you have a business to run? So you may have done more than all of us, I don’t really know, but I’ll hand it off to you and let you tell a little bit of the story that you’re running into.
Jim: Sure. I’ve probably done about 45 Disavows over the past few months, a lot after Penguin 2.0 you and I’ve been speaking about it a lot. A lot of it is developing the tools to analyze the backend, which ones are good and which ones should go. In a perfect world, the client would just say like, “Hey we bought these links from this person. Here’s the spreadsheet. This is all that we ever did and this is bad,” and I don’t know, for some reason, getting that never happens. It’s like, here’s all the back links or whatever, so a lot of it is there’s a lot of public tools to analyze the back links. We have one as well.
I guess there’s a lot of it where, there were sometimes when I do the Disavow and people have tons of unnatural back links. So how do I say, I feel that the chances for recovery or where they’re going to recover at is a lot better but there are sometimes where I do the Disavow and none of their links are natural. It’s like, oh my God, like, you played a game of buying a bunch of links, you moved up in traffic, you linked for a long time, you made a lot of money, but now there’s a penalty and none of your links are natural. Like where do I even start to Disavow? Oh my God, you’re starting from a blank website. You have to rethink your whole business and your marketing.
We’ve seen some recovery. Of course, it’s not as many as I think anyone would like to see. We all want to see everything, here you submit this and boom, the following day it’s back and everything has been indexed. I think that a lot of it comes into which things to Disavow. What are your chances for recovery and where will you be when you reach that?
Arnie: Yep. And I don’t know about everybody else, I’m a little bit of a hard time hearing your audio, I don’t know if that’s the same as everybody else or not.
Doc: Same here. It was kind of garbled.
Arnie: It was a little bit garbled, but we’ll try to clean it up when we do the transcript. One question I do have, kind of a follow-up to that with everybody, do you feel like when you actually have seen the successes from submitting the Disavow, we’re just talking about the Disavow, not necessarily a reinclusion, but the Disavow, that it’s actually taking it until there’s another Penguin update to see the results, or has anybody seen anything, in the next several business days kind of a thing or does it appear that you have to wait until there’s another Penguin update?
Bill: There definitely is some lag in time. I’m not seeing in a few days, I’m seeing more in about a couple weeks or so, about a month or so. That’s what I’m typically seeing.
Doc: Yeah, and I have seen as briefly as two weeks and as long as two months. But not waiting for another Penguin update though.
Jody: I absolutely agree, I have seen it much faster and no correlation to a Penguin update at all and I would echo the same time period. You know, two weeks to six weeks or eight weeks is not uncommon based on my experience.
Arnie: Yeah, and we’ve pretty much seen the same thing and we were trying to figure out if it was at all correlated to a refresh or an update or whatever but, Jim, I don’t know if you want to test your sound? And I don’t know if you heard the question, we’re asking how long it’s been taking after submitting a disavow before we’ve actually seen positive results from those that you’re actually seeing some positive results.
Jim: For those that have had the recovery, it’s been over, gosh, I think most of those were all from the initial, initial Penguins, before the 2.0 and those were three to four months, and the other part to that was adding in new pages and new content and seeing it move up as well. So I’d say three to four months.
Doc: Can I throw something else in, Arnie?
Arnie: Yeah sure, Doc, yep.
Doc: You know, one of the things that I see a lot of people, SEOs, they seem to lose sight of the fact that once you’ve taken some sort of a hit, whether it be algorithmic or not, the odds are that a lot of those bad links are already devalued. So if they expect that they’re going to recover their ranking, I’m sorry, there’s nothing there. You’ve got a filter on you, you’ve got the dampening effect, removing the bad boy is not going to suddenly shoot you back up to where you were. That’s one of the things that I’m seeing as a common problem.
So it’s very difficult, really, to determine if you’ve seen an improvement because typically we’re also doing a lot of other things. We’re not just taking care of some bad links, we’re trying to take care of thin copy, we’re going after architectural and technical issues, a number of optimization efforts that are going to improve the entire site’s overall ranking ability. So at what point can you say, this was because of the Disavow tool? I think it’s hazy at best.
Arnie: Yeah, no, Doc, that’s an excellent point. I’m really, really glad you are bringing it up. You probably saw all of us nodding. You’re absolutely right. Everything that you just said as far as making multiple changes at the same time and Google probably has already discounted those links.
Bill: Well, it depends. I mean, it really depends on what types of links you’re disavowing because certainly, the really low quality type of link, disavowing that, you run into that situation. But clearly, I have a client that was hit by some negative SEO. So basically, what was happening was that their site is on one particular topic and there are these 750,000 links that were built are actually on really good sites.
So the links are whatever tool you throw in, you’re throwing in a link that is on where someone hacked into the koreanembassy.org site and put a text link in the footer that says, Aleve, Viagra, Cialis, and pointing it to your site. That’s actually a very good, page rank seven, good link, a link I’d love to have, but the fact of the matter is, that there’s 500,000 pills links, anchor texts, that’s pointing to the client that appeared over the matter of the past two to three years. So those are links that ultimately really I think are hurting rankings and that’s the stuff that I’m getting rid of.
So in this case, getting rid of those types of the negative SEO stuff and getting rid of those types of links, that can be a little bit different than what we’re seeing whether or not there’s a link from some e-zine articles, article that you had 500 e-zine articles and with the same exact anchor text. So, we’re talking a Disavow, and timing and so forth, and there’s so many different variables like this that it can really depend on what’s going on.
Jim: It basically depends upon the intent of how that link got on the page, you know? And, A, anything in bulk, of course, you have to assume anything in bulk has patterns and is being filtered, but part of the problem is some people think that some things are good. Like article syndication where it’s like, gee, I have this article and I submitted it to a thousand article syndication sites and the purpose was to get a thousand back links.
Anything done in bulk, especially, that are in patterns where the intent of the website is to give out links, things like the blog reviews where there’s so many of the blog reviews that are sites set up only for one purpose, which is to do the blog reviews. There’s no real author on the website that’s really producing anything of quality, but the thing is a lot of people think that this is good marketing. “Gee, I want to get blog reviews,” and the clients, they look at the page and they’re like, oh, it’s relevant, it’s a good page. But they’re not looking at the site as a whole as part of this big network of things, things like the article syndication and the directories and stuff, and that’s where I think some people may be getting into trouble, is all that stuff in bulk and what is the intent of the page or why your link is there, but sometimes people think things are safe that they’re really not.
Jody: If I could real quick, I just wanted to add one thing that I hear from a lot of our clients and some people that have come to us is, they’re trying to determine what is a bad link and what isn’t a bad link. That’s something that we’ve helped our clients out with. In the one instance, I mentioned, these guys had really great, original content, but it was the way that their content author had linked in the bio these keywords. So some of the articles were on very high domain authority and page authority sites, even on page rank fours, but it’s like the way that the links were embedded and very non-relevant to the subject matter, it took some convincing to these guys that, hey, these are actually really hurting you, where they thought that, hey, look, these are credible websites, those aren’t really bad links. I kind of had to show them that, no, certainly they are hurting them. So I think it’s a lot of times kind of educating our clients as well to really help them understand why all these links need to be removed. I’m not sure if you guys have run into that.
Arnie: Well, yeah, I think it speaks to what Jim just said about intent. If the intent looks like you wrote that article, no matter how good it is, to get a sleek anchor text link down at the author bio, then Google, they frown upon that.
Yeah, I have another question I want to throw out to you guys. We have got some clients where every 90 days they’re in a back link analysis and doing Disavow and all of that, so we’re just setting it up on a routine basis. Are you guys doing anything similar to that, where you’re just constantly working with this same client to constantly monitor their back links and also refreshing the Disavow process?
Jim: I haven’t been, because I figure if someone was hit by Penguin, I want to look at the back links prior to then, like basically they should stop whatever they were doing. Stop all stuff and then let’s analyze this. But what’s interesting is, do you need to continually monitor it? Ideally, if someone does stop at one point because of Penguin and they realize, “Hey, I’ve got to stop.” I’m not going to — how do I say it — I wouldn’t continue to monitor it, unless you’re looking at doing a preemptive Disavow, which is a whole other topic. Do you do preemptive disavows for people, do you monitor people’s back links and look at stuff that’s bad?
Arnie: Well one of the reasons, the logic we have, is like what Bill was talking about earlier, is not every tool is going to find every link and we just keep finding that we’re using a variety of different tools, and we’ve only been doing this for maybe the last six months on a routine basis, maybe gone through three cycles with a single client, but we keep finding new stuff that is old. So that’s one of the reasons that we’re kind of doing it.
Jim: Yeah. We tend to we pull from Moz and Majestic, and kind of pull that and combine it. But to be honest, when I’ve been doing the Disavows, I’ve been just analyzing the back links from Google, which I know is different than what Bill feels. I guess there’s two different ways to do it, you know. We do have another tool, we can take everything that we know, and Google, and merge that, and run that, but I’ve been drinking the Google Kool-Aid about they keep saying that the Webmaster tool back links is the only thing that you need, in theory, to use to analyze your back links.
Bill: Well, it depends. I mean here’s a problem. You’ve got a client that has seven million back links. Google Webmaster tools will show you a random sampling of 100,000. There’s no way you’re going to see all of the back links in that, you know?
Jim: I totally agree, and I definitely agree that analyzing everything is certainly the most thorough. I guess I’m just drinking the Kool-Aid of, your average webmaster isn’t going to be able to do that and I’m going on the theory that there is enough within the links that Google shows to untrip it. But your way is certainly much more thorough.
Bill: Yeah, most sites have less than 100,000 links that I run into. We’ve just been really successful with doing very large link Disavows and doing that.
Jim: Yeah. But I would just say that the average site that may have been hit by this doesn’t have access to all that, so the question is, does Google put the magic solution in those crappy sample of back links that they do give you?
Arnie: Well, actually I wanted to ask a question and then-, well I’m going to ask this question and then we’ll go into wrap up where I’m just going to see if any of you have some tips you’d like to throw out. But speaking of the sample links, one of our staff actually submitted a question to Matt Cutts and it was the topic of his video July 31st, so just a couple days ago, and it was basically asking about, will Google give some samples. And Matt keeps talking about that, but we’ve never seen one yet. Have any of you ever received an email from Google with example bad links?
Bill: No, and in fact the only response that I had actually gotten was that when — that I believe Matt said specifically to go to, if you’re having an issue, go over to the Google product forums and hope that John Mueller or one of the webmaster people are in there and in product forums, ask the question about your particular site and they will supposedly answer it, hopefully in webmaster forums. That’s the only place where that I’ve heard is an option at this point. They had alluded to before that they would be giving you a sample of some bad links in their response in Webmaster tools but I have not seen that.
Arnie: Has anybody?
Doc: Yes, I have. One reinclusion request of multiple with a client, they sent back two samples, “We see you made some progress, however your penalty still stands, here’s a couple of samples of the types of links, blah blah blah.” Then a couple months later, a subsequent reinclusion request, they gave three samples. That was one of those instances where the client was desperately trying to hang on to every link.
He was going through this mental process of, well, this link can be justified because he has the same last name as my sister-in-law. So he was being extremely gentle with his knife and he wasn’t really doing much. Had we been doing it we would have chopped probably 30,000 or 40,000 more links off in the first go. He wanted to go through them himself one by one and we saw on the first occasion, two samples, on the follow-up occasion, three.
Arnie: Real recent?
Doc: No, this was about four months ago.
Arnie: Wow. Jim or Jody, have you gotten any good examples like that?
Jody: I have not received any examples like that at all.
Jim: Yes, I got one about two months ago and it actually really, really surprised me and here’s kind of a tip for everyone too. At first I was much more stricter on stuff within the past two years, and a little bit lenient on the stuff after two years and I was kind of going on that from the theory of on Matt Cutts when he came out with his first video. He said that if you got an email from Google or you were hit by Penguin to look at some of the links that may have led up to that, more of the recent ones rather than before then, so I was going more harder on the past two years, thinking maybe the older stuff they’ve already like are not counted or they’re a little more forgiving or whatever and they’re not counting it. The three links they gave for the example, two of them are from 2009, from January of 2009, and the third one was February of ’11. I’m like, ooh, well, there’s no being more forgiving on older stuff, you’ve got to go right back to the beginning. So lesson learned.
Doc: You know, one of the things there that might play into it, Jim, I think, I have a theory at least or I’ve always believed that you may be, they have thresholds for all these different kind of links whether they’re algorithmic or manual and you may be on the safe side of a given threshold and the safe side of another given threshold, but because you’re in the 90 percentile range on both, it may combine to put you over an overall penalty threshold. So maybe a 2005 link that appears 18,000 times is so decayed that it wouldn’t hurt you by itself, but because you also have thin content, somewhat thin content, you also have very little copy above the fold, perhaps now you’re in a penalty mode and you do need to go back and look at all of them to get you back underneath that overall penalty. That’s a theory. I can’t back that up with any study cases but I see an awful lot of correlation there.
Arnie: Well, hey, guys, we’re heading towards the end here. We’re actually running into a little bit into overtime, but I do want, and I know this is tough, I know a lot of us are hesitant at times to give out any really nice little tip for a find that you’ve had, but I wonder if I could just start with Bill and we’ll go across the bottom, we’ll give Jody a chance to finish his lunch. Anyway, if you just have one tip that relates to the whole Disavow or reinclusion process, something that it was like, maybe a real surprise to you that our viewers might be interested in, really appreciate it. So Bill, do you have anything that comes to mind that you could offer?
Bill: You really need to be as thorough as you can and don’t be afraid to just really spend the time and going through the links. It’s not an easy process and you really just need to spend the time, and if you have the resources, use several people to be reviewing and whatever there are tools out there that specifically say that they will tell you whether a link is bad and are not. That’s great, but it comes down to just manually looking through and spending the time to clean this stuff up. It’s not an easy task, and you can screw things up real easily so it’s really good to hire somebody who has done this before and not just someone who’s just pitching. Hopefully there’s other people who will hear this and realize that you really have got to get somebody who really knows what they’re doing because you can really screw up things real quick.
Doc: Hear, hear.
Arnie: Alright, Doc, how about you? Can you give us a little closing comment from you?
Doc: Well certainly I agree with what Bill said. I think if you’re going to go through a link pruning process, you better bring a sharp knife. My rule of thumb, what I always tell my clients is if you feel like you can justify this link, then get rid of it, because if you need to justify it, you’re out of luck already. It shouldn’t need justification. That’s probably the biggest problem that I run into with my clients. They’re always trying to save every possible link. If you’ve been hit, odds are that link is already worthless to you anyway.
Arnie: Yep. Super. Alright, Jim, how about you?
Jim: You know, you really at times have to bring a machete in there and get rid of all the bulk stuff that either is absolutely worthless or fits patterns, or I think finding patterns is a big part of it, but it’s usually a very large percentage of people’s links. Along with that, you need to be doing changes to the website to send it additional new signals. It kind of brings up the over-optimization of websites as well, working on a site as well, then changing the whole link-building thing in bulk has to change to where people’s thoughts need to change about it’s really not a link-building game anymore; it’s a making connections and community-building and trying to get real citations from real places through all sorts of methods but it’s not like running out and getting bulk links through anything anymore. It’s over.
Arnie: Yep, yep. I totally agree. You bet. Alright, Jody, I’ll let you wrap it up.
Jody: Yeah, thank you. So I would echo the sentiments of everyone else, and you know, sorry, it is a little bit later here. But with that, I would say it’s very important that really you remove the links and do as much manually as possible before going through the Disavow and would also echo the statement of doing some really holistic link-building and getting social media signals to combat the effects and help increase the rankings. We’ve had success specifically in Google+ in trying to get engagement and that seeing that it’s not about the number of +1′s or the number, but of getting really authoritative people to engage with your content. I know specific pages, and doing that in combination of removal and Disavow will really help get the rankings back up and help get the traffic levels back to where they were prior to a penalty or something. So that’s been successful for us.
Arnie: Great, super. Well listen, I want to thank all four of you. I know we ran a little bit long but I think this is really valuable information for everybody who is watching this now or is going to watch it in the future. So again, thanks for your time guys, just hang in there for a couple seconds while we wrap this up and we’ll see you at some conference somewhere.
Source : verticalmeasures.com/search-optimization/googles-disavow-process-and-penguin-2-0-recovery/