Good morning everyone! Jim just gave a great overview of everything that can get you in trouble post penguin. I’m going to be talking about ‘pre-emptive’ measures you should consider taking if you have engaged in these methods, but haven’t been penalized yet, or if you have received some form of penalty, the best way to approach recovery.
So.. If you think you have a problem, the first thing you need to do is some diagnosis - there are 3 major questions you need to ask yourself.
Did you engage in the things Jim just said could get you in trouble? If you did, and you probably did, then you definitely have some work to do. You have either received some form of penalty already, or there is a chance you will at some point in the future, in which case you may need to do some ‘pre-emptive’ clean up.
2) Have you been hit by Penguin? Just like Panda, this would have been an ‘algorithmic’ penalty and you would have seen ranking and/or traffic drops on (around) the dates of Penguin. Penguin first hit the web on April 24th 2012 and we have seen two updates since. You can check the Penguin dates on the Algorithm Change History guide by SEOmoz.http://www.seomoz.org/google-algorithm-change If you were hit, you are going to need to clean-up your links, submit a disavow file for anything you can’t manually remove and then wait for the next Penguin update.
Did you receive the dreaded GWT message about ‘unnatural links’ pointing towards your site?Around the time that Penguin was unleashed, Google also sent a ton of messages through GWT, telling webmasters they had a manual penalty against their site for use of ‘unnatural links’. The email requested clean-up and then the submission of a re-inclusion request. If you received this message, you are going to need to Clean up, submit a disavow file and submit a re-inclusion request.
So first off, we need to clean up all those links you spent time and money building.
Gather as much information on your links as possible.
Use tools!Google’s ‘insert name’ recently said you shouldn’t need anything more that the links shown in GWT to make a decision on which links need to be cleaned up. So if you have no money or access to the tools listed above, this may be you best bet. However I would recommend using as many of if not ALL these tools if possible. Some of the links shown by GWT today, may not be shown tomorrow, so if we are going to clean-up lets do it right.Run as many of these tools as you can, export the data into one large excel document
-Be sure to add in any and all link URLs you know you have built through your own link building methods. Go back as far as possible..Next up, remove all duplicatesBOOM, you got a comprehensive list of links pointing towards your site.
Determining which links are bad is not always easy, but you need to try and simplify it down to two buckets, Good and Bad – keep it that simple.If you are looking at a link and find that you’re negotiating with yourself, saying, ‘I think’ this is good, I paid good money for it and it ‘might’ get by the spam team, then in all likelihood you are going to want to put it in the bad column.
I know it can be painful and time consuming, but you need to do this properly, removing bad links and making sure good links stay in place – IT’S NOT EASY.First up, take your list of links and check they are still live and online and actually contributing to your problem.Sites that no longer host your link, mark off on your spreadsheet as you will not need to contact them.Next, lets try and do some classification to speed up the process: Hopefully much of your own link building efforts are the main culprit. Look back on on-house link building records going back as far as possible.This will probably make things easier as you will (hopefully) already have these links classified into the types Jim mentioned (directory submissions, social bookmarks etc) plus you will have the anchor text used. This is going to make decision making far quicker, as you will be able to look at these ‘groups’ of links and make a pretty quick decision about them.. For example, from Jan – March 2012 you paid someone to submit 100 non relevant, free directories a month, each time using only 2 variations of money anchor text. – You’re going to want to lose that in one big swoop.Once this is done, you are going to look through your links more individually, some you maybe able to make a decision on just by looking at the domain name, but this is the manual part.
There are tools that can help you find your bad links, these methods probably won’t be as comprehensive or as accurate as doing it manually.Some of these tools will also help with the actual link removal process which I am moving on to talk about now >
Yes, it can be painful…
Start by making a template email which sounds as natural as possible, but leave room for personalization in it. Being polite and being a real person will help you get responses.MAKE A TEMPLATE > SOUND NATURAL > LEAVE ROOM FOR PERSONALIZATIONBEING POLITE AND HONEST WILL HELP YOU GET RESPONSES.
BE SURE TO EMAIL EVERYONE ON YOUR BAD LIST, STARTING WITH THE MOST HIGH RISK FIRST
FOLLOW UP EMAILS GET A GOOD RESPONSE RATE SO DON’T BE LAZYSOME WM’S WILL WANT MONEY – BE PREPARED TO PAY
(Change to ‘Keep a record of all emails, conversations, successes and failures’)This is important as you will probably need this information later on in process.
Google launched the Disavow tool on October 16th 2012 – giving Webmasters the opportunity to tell Google not to take certain links into account when assessing their website.
Since the tool was released Google have said it’s not for everyone, it’s an advancedtoolwhichcanharmyou if usedincorrectly.The original post on Disavowfrom Google saidyoudon’tgenerallyneed to worry about thistoolunlessyoureceived the ‘unnatural’ links message webmaster tools. Howeveritcanstillbe effective if you have been hit by somealgorithmiclikePenguinwithoutreceiving the GWT message.
Unfortunately I don’t have time to explain how to fill out the file, but you can follow our guide listed here if you need help.
People who used the tool within a week of its launch generally saw pretty quick results, since then things have slowed down.Google say it can take several weeks, I have examples of it taking longer.You also need to remember that the time it takes to work maybe connected to 2 things:If you are suffering from Penguin (the algorithmic penalty) you may need to wait until the next penguin update to see results.Google have said links used within the disavow file need to be re-indexed for it to work on them, so times on that could vary
Just using the disavow file is not enough, Google want to see you have attempted and in some sense succeeded through manual link removals.
We are learning more about the tool and its effects all the time and there are still many unanswered questions on exactly how it works.
Please remember this is not a get out of jail FREE card.Just because you have followed the process, submitted a disavow file and got a positive response does not mean your rankings / traffic will return to how they were pre-penguin.You need to remember many links that were counting for you pre-penguin may not be anymore and this could result in weaker rankings and traffic than you had prior. However you will be in a place to do things right and move forward.
If you received that message in GWT then you WILL need to submit a reconsideration request after performing all the actions we’ve just been through.
- Tell Google what you found, how it happened and that you know it’s not good.
Reference the disavow file you submitted and stress again, how much of your link removal attempts were successful, but some you just couldn’t get down.
It’s now in the hands of the big G… I have seen and heard of requests being acted upon very quickly and some taking forever.