14 years in search
Columnist for Search Engine Land
Instructor for ASPE
Speaker – SMX, SES, Internet Summit…
Agency, in-house, consultant
Have removed over 100Google penalties
Case Study: So you’ll listen to what’s
This was our message:
So Where’s the Penalty?
Deeper inspection showed:
Brand term traffic improved
Non-brand term traffic dropped
Non-brand positioning dropped
Remove directory submissions
Remove article submissions
Remove paid links
Beg for nofollows
Beg for removals
Send a gazillion emails with no response
Submit disavow files
Submit reconsideration requests
Clearly, this wasn’t working!
1,000 to 2,000 new links a month
Traffic unaffected, but brand losing share
Competitors taking over top spots
Industry growing significantly
Plan of Attack
Review links for patterns:
Many pointing to /index2
Very unrelated sites:
Non local fire stations
Most of these were nofollow
Affiliates Out of Control
We learned 3 key things:
302 redirects don’t stop PageRank
When calculating penalties, sometimes nofollows
Black hat is a dirty business
Updated affiliate program to:
Not allow the brand name to be used as a paid
Allow the client to kick affiliates out for black hat
Contacted top affiliates
Had heart to heart
Got many links removed
Set all links to /index2
The Custom 404
Set /index2 as a copy of the home page
Had it return a 404 response
301’d all other links to it
Reconsideration and REVOKED
31.8% increase in
traffic post penalty
Other Great Results
2,000 extra daily visits
50%+ new visitors
Rankings for key terms up 20+ positions
Approximately $10K more in daily revenue
(avg conversion rate of 8%, avg order value $65)
Step 1: Download all Links
As many as you can!
Google Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools
Open Site Explorer (Moz)
Step 2: Gather Data
Look for Patterns:
Site wide links
Find out what’s been done:
Reports from other SEOs
Paid links (check credit card/paypal
Step 3: Consolidate,
Dump it all in Excel
Download the free template:
Make your first two columns:
Copy (don’t cut) the URL into the first
column, find/replace for:
www. (don’t forget the dot)
/* (this will remove everything after the only remaining
Step 4: Eliminate
Use Screaming Frog, put this in the custom
configuration as “includes”:
Collect info on server response, eliminate:
4xx (except 403)
Step 5: Review
Sorry, there’s no trick to this. You have to do it.
Step 6: Contact
Find email addresses:
On whois.net or other registrar website
Use contact forms
Don’t use an email you want to keep
“Google penalized us”
“No reflection on your website”
“Appreciate your time”
Step 7: Recontact and Record
Allow at least 1 week between contacts
Record it all – every email you send, every
response you receive. Google’s watching you.
Contact 3 times unless email bounces or reply
DO NOT PAY ANYONE ANYTHING!
Step 8: Update Spreadsheet
Use a Google Drive spreadsheet
Make sure it all pastes in (warning)
Share it: “anyone who has the link can view”
Step 9: Update Disavow File
Full domains, not individual pages
Format as “domain:site.com” – no spaces, no
Upload and make sure there are no errors
Re-upload until it’s right (no penalty for wrong
Step 10: Reconsideration
BE HONEST: What did you do wrong?
History of the situation:
When did you receive your manual action?
What was it for?
What are you doing to address it?
Link to your Google spreadsheet
How can we be sure you won’t do it again?
Tell Google you know you broke the rules
You won’t do it again
Specific measures you’ve put in place
Ask to be reconsidered. Thank the reviewer.
You may be rejected.
Try, try again.
Eventually, you will succeed.
But be honest. If you’re not really
trying, Google knows.
May You Live to Rule Another
That link was: