Moderator: @thompsonpaul with renown penalty removal specialist @Marie_Haynes
How many of us have had to handle penalty removal tasks in the past year? What type?
@Marie_Haynes I’ve had a few penalties to deal with. Probably a couple of hundred if you include all consultations. We do mostly link related issues. Penguin is a TOUGH one to deal with mostly bc it’s been so long bw refreshes.
@thompsonpaul I’ve had several penalty situations for clients this year – but more algorithmic “pressure” than manual penalties.
@moonlightmktgco Recently a client had some penalties due to spammy links in the backlink profile. Working on cleaning that + some other issues.
@lancemoore22 I’ve not had to, but hope to learn how to deal with them today.
@AlanBleiweiss I’ve dealt with thin content, on site spam links, doorway penalties, inbound links and more. Many on site issues can now result in manual penalties if big enough an issue.
@NatePlaunt I have worked on several link related issues and manual penalties this year.
@JohnStockTrader How do we know if a penalty is on our posts or pages? Is there a way to find out?
@AlanBleiweiss Only if G provides samples.
How do you like to go about identifying bad links? Tools?
@Marie_Haynes I’m not a huge fan of most tools. I’ve seen too many sites fail reconsideration bc they relied too much on them. I think you *can* use link auditing tools provided you do a very thorough manual audit alongside. I’ve also seen automated tools suggest disavow on awesome links from news outlets. I do have a tool that structures my link audit sheet for me. (Spent the summer programming it.) But that’s about all I use. Of course, if you count OSE, ahrefs, majestic as tools I would say they’re essential, alongside of GWT. For large sites, we break gather 1 link from every linking domain, remove the nofollows, apply our disavow blacklist and then we manually assess every single remaining domain. It can take a long time. But we are quite good at getting penalties removed on the first try with this method. One tool I do use a lot is Scrapebox. (Shock!) I use it for finding links not on GWT, ahrefs, etc. And…I’m becoming a fan of @spamflag. A nifty Chrome extension to flag where your link is on the page.
@BrettASnyder Always risks in automation.
@CallMeLouzander Couldn’t agree more. Tools only help sort the links; a lot of the work gets done manually.
@TurbanSEO Manual link audit for me it means going through lists and lists of backlinks reports 4 comparision.
@joehall Do partial match link penalties pose the same risk level as other penalties?
@Marie_Haynes Controversial topic and the answer is NO ONE KNOWS. Will be writing an article soon (w group opinions) on this. I recommend cleaning up partial match issues. Every site I’ve seen who got it ended up dropping rankings.
@joehall Yeah I agree, the impact of those are so blurry.
@joshbachynski I have of course disagreed w/ this -G has already selected your “suspect” links – no need to burn more.
@Marie_Haynes Yeah, Josh and I disagree. May be contacting you to give your opinion in my article about this.
@joshbachynski Penalty removal tools can’t remove any penalties – google didnt write them.
@thompsonpaul I like CognitiveSEO’s tool because it does a good job of allowing manual review of what it finds right in its tool.
@BruceClayInc No tool is perfect — manual link checking is a critical component in identifying bad links.
@lancemoore22 Do you just evaluate each link one-by-one?
@BruceClayInc We start with tools, but looking granularly is also essential.
@MUmar_Khan @Marie_Haynes when you’re executing a link removal strategy, do you only take care of do follows or no follows also your concern?
@Marie_Haynes Almost always just followed links.
@MUmar_Khan Ok! and how do you tackle those webmasters that straightaway asked you to pay?
@Marie_Haynes I rarely pay for link removal.
@MUmar_Khan Then Disavow is the only option left for those links.
@MarketingMeisha Anyone have any insight on how long it takes to bounce back after doing link audit / cleanup?
@thompsonpaul Huge variations in how long it takes to clear. Many are still waiting after nearly a year.
@AlanBleiweiss Recovery after penalty removal ranges from overnight to hopeless depending on circumstance. Remove bad links, the artificial signals are gone. Need to replace them with real signals.
@CallMeLouzander You don’t bounce back right where you were b/c u have fewer links. You need to slowly build genuine authority.
@BrettASnyder Penalty Removal by @Marie_Haynes: ID 1 link/domain, remove nofollows, cross-ref against known blacklist & manually review remaining.
@moonlightmktgco For large link graphs, look @ domain level. Pivot tables in excel can group links by domain, making it easy to consolidate.
@BrettASnyder Manual component still the #1 most important “tool” in any SEO strategy, period.
@adamkoontz Are you maintaining your own disavow blacklist or is it public?
@Marie_Haynes It’s currently a part of my own in house tool. But I may open that to the public soon.
@CallMeLouzander My 2 cents: after 2 or 3 recovery projects you start to develop a 6th sense about some sites, certain domains.
@adamkoontz Ahh the sixth sense. SEO has always been a little art and science. Even moreso today it seems.
I know Marie’s recently been asked by Google for feedback on penalty notifications – do you find them helpful or confusing?
@Marie_Haynes I recently spoke w the search quality team to give feedback on clarifying the responses to reconsideration requests. For example…when Google says, “We’ve processed your request” that usually means sitewide–>partial. But it’s not clear. We talked about an hour. Lots of feedback. Urged them to refresh Penguin.
@thompsonpaul I find the vague and even contradictory wording confuses clients – and then they need more hand-holding.
@SeashellMan Could penguin penalize a site algorithmically between known updates?
@joshbachynski Only if Google is releasing penguin and not telling us… or payday loans also has penguin inside it. etc.
@Marie_Haynes I think a Penguin drop happens w Penguin refresh. BUT, there are other algos using links.
@BruceClayInc It’s always helpful to know if there is a problem with the web site. We can always determine what the problem is and fix it.
How many of you have actually encountered mistakes made by Google in applying penalties?
@Marie_Haynes I have seen SOOO many Google mistakes. Had 3 cases this wk where Google reapplied a penalty w/ no new notification. In all 3 cases we immediately applied for recon and within 24 hours had another “manual spam action revoked”. Here’s a case where G reapplied a penalty and there was no “request a review button”: qub.me I believe all recons are read by a human…but whether that is a knowledgable Google employee is debatable.
@Ozaemotion Do you think Google is taking reconsideration request manually?
@Marie_Haynes Yes, every recon request is read by a human. I believe Google when they say this.
@AlanBleiweiss Some Manual reviewers have claimed on-site violations that turned out to be inbound. Some manual reviewers have ignored removed link spreadsheet.
@Marie_Haynes They don’t always have to look at the sheet if it is obvious enough/not enough work is done.
@AlanBleiweiss I’ve seen recon rejected that gave removed links as example for penalty staying.
@Marie_Haynes John Mueller admits that sometimes they make mistakes with the examples they give. But often what we think is a mistake is not. For example, take this case where a disavowed link was given. Their disavow file was improperly formatted. The link wasn’t disavowed after all. Also, if you disavow on the url level, you might think you’ve disavowed a link but you’re likely missing some. Always do domain: .
@AlanBleiweiss Some manual reviewers are downright lazy, reckless in response to recon requests. It’s a mass scale program so inevitable recon requests won’t all be properly handled
@Marie_Haynes I would not doubt it if some “first pass” reviewers are outsourced cheap labourers. Could be wrong about that tho.
@thompsonpaul What about the idea that the example links provided are meant to show a pattern, rather then specifics?
@Marie_Haynes Yes! if you get an example link you’ve already removed, it’s likely indicative of an overall pattern to fix.
@Syed_R_ How many reconsideration requests are too many? Does the law of diminishing returns apply?
@Marie_Haynes According to John Mueller you can file as many recons as you want, w no negative effects. But,if you file too many too quick you’ll start getting Loooooong wait times for responses.
@joshbachynski Wait. You can file after 2 or 3 penalties, doesn’t mean they will lift it. Likely not.
@GoGetterVette What website about penalty can you recommend for a project manager who’s in-charge of #SEO to better guide an SEO team?
@TurbanSEO This book is good guide.
How possible is it to recover from Penguin algorithmic pressure without a Penguin refresh?
@Marie_Haynes IMO, recovery from Penguin between refreshes is virtually impossible. You can possibly do it with tricky redirects and starting new sites. But really you need to clean up and WAIT for that refresh. And of course you need to have good links and a good site too. This is why I want to set my answering machine to say, “I’m not in…and you need to wait for a Penguin refresh.”
@paulaspeak Interesting poll on this.
@joshbachynski Start a new site that is totally different or they will auto-301 your penguin to you.
@adamkoontz Meh, really? Site would have to be WAY different according to @CyrusShepard.
@joshbachynski yup. Although there are very “tricky” ways to get out of penguin in the meantime…
@Marie_Haynes Hello Mr. Blackhat.
@thompsonpaul Have you had to just give up on getting out from under a penalty and recommend starting over w/ new site?
@Marie_Haynes I have recommended starting over to many sites. BUT, you need to start w new content and new url.
@ramirez_robert Very hard, but not impossible. @glenngabe has some good articles about #penguin recoveries during #panda refreshes.
@AlanBleiweiss Too many site owners only focus on link cleanup, ignore critical site flaws. Some penguin refresh waiters can get org traffic just fixing site issues.
@Marie_Haynes I’ve seen many sites do a thorough link cleanup when really their problem was Panda (which is not about links). I had 3 sites come to me for “recovery” help where they actually had problems with their analytics code. Traffic was actually ok.
@BruceClayInc Earlier this week, Bruce Clay, Inc. experts did a HOA on planning for the next Penguin update.
How do you go about deciding whether the problem you’re dealing with is Penguin of Panda?
@Marie_Haynes Look at your organic traffic in Analytics. Look closely at the date of drops to see if they coincide with algo changes. In GA, look at Acquisition – Keywords – Organic and set the date to go back a couple of years. If you don’t have Google Analytics, often Semrush can show the drops as well. If your drop happened right after a redesign, don’t assume it’s an algo that got you. So many potential other issues! I see so many sites that have Panda, AND Penguin issues AND other problems ie. keyword stuffing, above the fold, etc.
@ShahMenz Not to mention good, old fashioned crawl issues, site speed problems and anything else you can think of!
@joshbachynski this tool checks for panda and penguin in your traffic. I also use Barry’s site to see algo drops that go unreported – this really helps for panda monthly refreshes, etc.
@AlanBleiweiss Panguin Tool is a start I always go to in my audits, as well as GWT, GA
@CallMeLouzander Panguin tool helps by overlaying your analytics over known updates.
@navneetkaushal We usually do a full audit via analytics, semrush, sistrix and copyscape to determine the issue.
@AlanBleiweiss Sometimes i see drop across all referrers, not just G. Dont assume its just a G penalty.
@thompsonpaul Huge! Must segment to G organic only!
@ramirez_robert If the drop in visibility happened within the last 3 months, looking at GWT impression data can be really helpful.
@BruceClayInc We recommend looking at the Google organic search traffic, checking for a traffic dips, and comparing them to Google’s updates. Site owners should be pruning links regularly, whether they have a penalty or not. That’s how you avoid a penalty to begin with.
@KristiKellogg And remember, Penguin and Panda are not mutually exclusive — you can be suffering from both, potentially.
@Syed_R_ Seems like Google open to enhancing their system for lifting penalties? Is this good or bad and why?
@Marie_Haynes I really do believe they are trying to make the process of removing penalties more clear.
@navneetkaushal For us recent issues has been poor design, low quality cookie clutter content. We are now seeing more and more of these.
@buzzflymedia Sometimes manual penalties die off. Is the risk of algo penalty still looming?
Is it worth using disavow tool even no manual penalty? Any chance that could hurt rather than help?
@Marie_Haynes I think every site that has ever engaged in manipulative SEO needs to use the disavow tool. Can the disavow tool hurt you? Yes, if you are disavowing good links. But if you’ve got bad links they MUST go. Disavowing could save you from the next Penguin hit. So even if you’re not affected now, you could be!
@ramirez_robert Disavow tool can help in recovering from algo penalty, but not until there’s a Penguin refresh. Disavow tool is no substitute for manually removing links. Only disavow what you can’t remove.
@Marie_Haynes Good point @ramirez_robert. Should you always remove? I remove what is easy to remove and disavow the rest (for Penguin).
@ShahMenz If I want it disavowed, I want it GONE.
@Marie_Haynes But if you’re only able to do it via email outreach, the success rate is usually low. My point is that I don’t do outreach campaigns for algo issues.
@TypeAccord You should definitely be disavowing potential unnatural links even without a penalty, if you have the resources to audit. Need to remember a site can acquire dodgy links even without past SEO.
@Marie_Haynes Good point @TypeAccord – Even “clean” sites should keep an eye on their backlinks from time to time. Don’t be afraid to disavow.
@TypeAccord From what we’ve seen there is no such thing, in Google anyway, as a ‘clean’ site.
@ShahMenz First step after submitting a reconsideration request should always be “Fix everything that’s broken!” to maximize recovery.
@BruceClayInc Distancing yourself from known spam should never hurt you.
@joshbachynski Have to disagree – in trying to remove the spam we will take out good links too – wait until you get a penalty.
@Marie_Haynes But if the next Penguin gets you then you’re stuck till the next refresh.
@CallMeLouzander Don’t wait for a penalty to clean your site and backlink profile. The time to recover may be disastrous.
@KristiKellogg Sites should be contacted for a rel=”nofollow” to be added to the links, followed by link removal. No response? then disavow.
@Syed_R_ If one disavows a good link is there a way to ‘re-avow’? does it take long to recover?
@Marie_Haynes You can reavow by uploading a new file without that link in it. However reavowing takes much longer than disavowing.
@joshbachynski Disavow is like robots txt – just remove it from list and it will be “re-avowed” – i dont think it actually does anything.
@TypeAccord You take out of disavow and wait for Google to recrawl the linking site, although suspect there may be a loss in equity.
When’s the next Penguin refresh rolling out. And why so long?
@Marie_Haynes I have inside information. PENGUIN IS REFRESHING TONIGHT AT 5 EST. Nah, j/k I kept wanting to tweet that though. John Mueller said in a recent hangout they know ppl are waiting for a Penguin refresh. They’re working on it.
@buzzflymedia If 15k of 23k backlinks are from a PR7 directory (http://martindale.com for lawyers’ profiles), can I ignore?
@Marie_Haynes Were they self made for SEO reasons? Do they offer any value outside of SEO? Those are the ?’s to ask.
@buzzflymedia I worry Google’s algo won’t see that they’re legit, just see numbers. Or maybe they’ll safely ignore them. Tough one.
@Marie_Haynes The algo is created to catch people who are overtly cheating. Any site I’ve seen get hit was FULL of a LOT of spam.