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Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site"

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Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/7/13 6:47 AM
I've read the FAQs and searched the help center. 

This is a new one for me.  I am working on helping this site owner remove an unnatural links penalty.  He asked me why the following link was not on my list of links to be removed because it was given to him as an example from Google of an unnatural link:


Here is the email that he got:

Hello,

Thank you for your email.

We're always working to improve the freshness of your verified sites' data. Much of this data depends on the content of your site, and is a close approximation of the status of your site. Our internal systems are always changing, and the web itself is an ever-shifting ecosystem. In addition, there may be a lag between when the numbers are calculated and when they are visible to webmasters. Although data gets published in intervals, we are continually collecting it. If your content doesn't change very often, or if you're not getting new links to your site, you may not see updates to your data every time you sign in to Webmaster Tools.

There are still many inorganic links pointing to your site. Here is an additional example of an inorganic link pointing to your site:

http://360tretho.blogspot.com/2012/04/learn-to-dance-online-benefits.html (anchor text: Online dance lessons)

We know that perhaps not every link can be cleaned up, but in order to deem a reconsideration request as successful, we need to see a substantial good-faith effort to remove the links, and this effort should result in a decrease in the number of bad links that we see. You might consider reaching out to the webmasters of the sites with the inorganic links on them. For advice on how to go about contacting them, readhttp://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=9109.

Once you are confident that you have done everything you can to remove these links, please reply to this email with the details of your clean-up effort.

Sincerely, 

The Google Search Quality Team

That link is not listed in the list of links that I have downloaded by going to Links to your site-->More-->Download latest links.  Just to be sure, I downloaded them again and it is not there.  I also downloaded "More sample links" and it is not in there.

Google has said several times that the links in WMT are all you need (in most cases) to use to remove an unnatural links penalty. 

Does anyone have any ideas as to what is going on?

Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/7/13 7:00 AM
Why they'd use this, I don't know, because it does muddy the waters of whether you should step outside of WMT data for a cleanup or not.

Having said that;

Here is an additional example of an inorganic link pointing to your site:

Maybe they accept that there's a delta between 'internal data' and WMT data, related to the frequency of content change or link acquisition, and so they have the tolerances in 'substantial good-faith effort [..] result[ing] in a decrease in the number of bad links that we see.'

IE that link will show up sooner or later in WMT.

I'd also say that if I were asked to perform a "good faith" cleanup I'd use my own internal link purchasing data to do it, because just tidying the links Google says it can see whilst leaving others I (should) know exist doesn't meet my definition of good faith. Luckily I'll never have to find out, unless in your position one day.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/7/13 11:18 AM
Thanks Ben,

I have found that most of the small businesses that I work with do not have access to the low quality links that their SEOs made.  Where I do have a list, it is easy to determine which links need to go!

I suppose for now I will try to remove that link and I will mention in the reconsideration request that that link did not appear on my WMT list and that perhaps there are others.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/7/13 11:23 AM
Yeah, I can imagine most SEO agencies would have to be pushed to produce a specific list of work done at billing time, let alone years later for a former client who they've essentially sold snake oil to ;)
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" northofthecity 8/7/13 11:48 AM
Hmmm...

This is interesting. 

Should google really show all the BAD links or suspect links) in the WMT report of links pointing to a site, or would it just help out those who are trying to diagnose their link spam efforts???

I would imagine from a devious point of view a spammer could try and correlate and drop in rankings with an appearance of that link in WMT in an attempt to reverse engineer what google considers an unnatural link.

On the other hand, I don't know how effective that would be since I am guessing that penalties / filters are based more on an accumulation of a large number of links.

But man, that sure is going to make it a lot harder for your average webmaster to remove unnatural links if some / many of them are not being shown in WMT.

It would be very nice of google if, once a manual penalty were applied to a site, the gates would be opened and EVERY link google sees was listed in WMT.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ashley 8/7/13 12:19 PM
WMT has always been a sample of links. That's been my understanding anyway.

When I've audited links I've used WMT, ahrefs.com, majesticseo.com & opensiteexplorer.org and cross-referenced, scrubbed dupes, etc. even then - I'd consider that to STILL be a sample of potential links that are out ther.e 
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/7/13 12:30 PM
This would seem to be the acid test, and it doesn't say what data they use (ie they might just do what we do and fire up a 3rd party tool). It says they need to see the good-faith effort, not all the links in WMT dealt with. That's my take anyway - the question of whether they think you've tried/done enough is what matters, not a scientific WMT measurement.

We know that perhaps not every link can be cleaned up, but in order to deem a reconsideration request as successful, we need to see a substantial good-faith effort to remove the links, and this effort should result in a decrease in the number of bad links that we see.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/7/13 1:02 PM
Thanks Ashley.  I used to do a combo of ahrefs and WMT until Google employee Aeesh?  (Not sure if that is how his name is spelled) emailed me in response to a question asked here and told me that for the vast majority of sites the WMT links were enough.  

If I owned a site that had unnatural link issues I'd probably use WMT to clean up but then keep watching my new links coming in to see if Google is picking up new ones.

However, with this new information that Google is giving an example link that is not listed in the WMT list of links I'm considering going back to using multiple sources.

Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ashley 8/7/13 1:13 PM
well, if you heard it from a Google source that's more reliable than me. But whenever I look at ANY data, I like to have multiple sources where possible. Especially if it's easy to get.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/7/13 1:20 PM
Here's what Barry Schwartz wrote about what I tweeted:


And here is what Aaseesh wrote to me:

"Hi Marie,

We recommend focusing on Webmaster Tools Links. Sometimes the third party tools are helpful, but you can work with the WMT links.

Regards,
Aaseesh"
Ben Griffiths 8/7/13 1:22 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" ets 8/7/13 1:43 PM
I think Ashley is spot on, as always. The key word is "sample": Wmt is a sample. Could be a good sample, could be a not-so-good sample, but it's not sampled on the basis of link naturalness. The only way you can tell if it's a good or a bad sample in that respect is to compare with another sample - i.e. a third party tool sample or a manual search you devise yourself. How long does it take to run a double-check through ahrefs, majestic Seo, or whatever? Therefore, why even think twice?
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/7/13 2:01 PM
|How long does it take to run a double-check through ahrefs, majestic Seo, or whatever? Therefore, why even think twice?

If you're dealing with a large site it certainly can make a difference.  One site I am working with right now with an unnatural links penalty has about 30,000 links listed in WMT.  The same site has 55,000 listed in ahrefs and 75,000 in majestic.  As it is, the spreadsheet keeps freezing on me trying to deal with 30,000 lines.  If I was to combine the three of them and remove duplicates I think it might exceed the limits of the spreadsheet.

It also GREATLY increases the time needed to audit.  But, now, seeing that WMT doesn't include some of the links that the webspam team can see as examples, I'm thinking I'm going to start combining where possible.  I may possibly just extract the links with exact match anchor text from ahrefs if I'm dealing with a large file.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" StevieD_Web 8/7/13 2:16 PM
John Mu said somewhere (I can't remember the where) that WMT was sufficient for link evaluation for most sites.....

BUT, as Ashley pointed out, WMT has always been considered a sample of the links and not a complete list.  There is also a time delay between link acquisition, Google finding   AND Google reporting.  

Also .... I think it was attributed to John Mu..... that if you find a bad link in another source (ie majestic, ahrefs etc) that you should consider the link for removal as well.



Rather than focusing on the specific link reported in the RR denial, I would focus on the TYPE of links mentioned and make sure that all of the same-type are removed.


Another point.    Somewhere, again I think it was with a John Mu discussion, it was mentioned that Google during the RR will sample the known bad links (pull a sample of known bad links from their data base)  and determine removal rates.  If they sample 10 links and hand-check the 10 to find 8/9/10 are gone then your RR is approved,   6/7 are gone might be approved or maybe they pull another sample of 10 to check them.   Sine their sample is not the same as your WMT sample, it is possible that they check links you don't know about.  ..... and just another reason why you gotta be aggressive with links from bad classes of links and your own link building notes.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" StevieD_Web 8/7/13 2:23 PM
 >If I was to combine the three of them and remove duplicates I think it might exceed the limits of the spreadsheet.


I suspect a good amount of those links are from fungus sites (MrAskIt, AskIves, Updowner, DMOZ and Yellowpage clones).  Remove the fungus before you combine the files.   I routinely handle spread sheets with 250K rows and the 'puter whines but doesn't fail.  Of course 16GB of RAM does help.

PS:  The limits of Excel are 1 million rows and 16000 columns.


Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/7/13 4:23 PM
Oh, if those were the only limitations Excel had... :)
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" StevieD_Web 8/7/13 8:21 PM
now, now, this is not the proper forum to pick on Microsoft.


cough, cough, Bill you owe me another payment for positive trolling for your company.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Grandmaster Flash 8/7/13 8:55 PM
This isn't the first time I have heard of this happening.  The last time I heard of it the page containing the unnatural link provided by Google was deindexed making it even tougher to find.

If a size has links in the hundreds, WMT is probably fine but there are countless cases where the links run into the tens of thousands.  I one had a competitor add over 100k links in a three month period (via Site Explorer RIP).
In such cases, highly unlikely WMT will provide enough data but then again, not too much sympathy goes out to folks who spammed that much.
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" ets 8/7/13 11:20 PM
This was an insightful answer by StevieD on another thread yesterday:

"Therein lies the problem.... most people tackle the low hanging fruit and avoid the depth of removal that is really necessary.
Think of it this way.... you got 1000 hypothetical links.   500 of them are Fungus that we all have in our backlinks.  Sure, go ahead and remove the fungus, but the fungus don't hurt you.    250 of the links are neutral.  No harm / No benefit.... Think Yellowpage listings and the such.  100 are bad, but not causative to the current issue but should be removed never less.  100 are super bad and must be removed.  And 50 are acceptable.  In this hypothetical example, unless the super bad 100 are addressed, nothing is going to be resolved."

 you could tackle ONLY the super bad 100 and resolve the problem without much effort.
Might explain why some claim to be effective with recovery while only addressing a small %.... they hit the right small % and didn't get lost in chasing harmless links. 
 

So if the WMT sampling bucket had dipped down into the water and not pulled up enough of the "super bad".......

I don't think anyone's saying you must remove all bad links shown by all tools - just that a quick check in the third-party tools is a helpful indication of whether WMT is indeed enough to go by.

[Edited to add last sentence]
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Paul Macnamara 8/8/13 6:29 AM
Yeah, that adds a real layer of uncertainty if they reference a link outside of WMT. I think your point that most small site owners don't have access or knowledge of third party link auditing tools is an important one and makes me believe that the data from WMT is sufficient when dealing with cleaning up a manual link penalty. The fact that the most popular tools also report wildly differing results just adds to the confusion that a site owner might face when trying to do a cleanup.

Not sure if you would get a reply, but maybe respond to that email asking for clarification on if the link data in WMT was sufficient.


Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/8/13 6:31 AM
I think Google doesn't care, it just wants to see you clean up the mess you made, no matter how you track it down.

The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate good faith, not on them to provide a list of links they're aware of. And we know WMT data and internal/algo data is a million miles apart already.

Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/8/13 7:34 AM
So here's my concern.  I am positive that I can remove this penalty even if I am missing the odd link that doesn't appear in WMT.  As mentioned earlier, Google wants to see good faith effort and a significant reduction in the number of unnatural links and we have done that.  If we miss a few we will still get our manual penalty removed.

But my concern is for sites that have been affected by Penguin.  Perhaps this is why we see so few recoveries?  We've gone through and addressed every link that Google gives us but there are obviously still other ones out there.  

Now here's the scary thing.  This link does not appear in ahrefs, majestic or OSE, so even if I had used all sources combined I would not have found it.  How many others are like this?  

I feel like I may be missing something like perhaps the site is deindexed (but it's not) or there is some other reason for it not to appear on backlink checkers.  
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Ben Griffiths 8/8/13 7:36 AM
Have you looked at the robots.txt for the linker?

I've seen several with rogerbot in there...
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/8/13 7:41 AM
Was actually just checking that as you were posting.  The only thing blocked is /search.  It's a blogspot domain so that's standard.


Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" ets 8/8/13 8:51 AM
Now here's the scary thing.  This link does not appear in ahrefs, majestic or OSE, so even if I had used all sources combined I would not have found it.  How many others are like this?  

But you would have found it doing this keyword search: http://goo.gl/jWZlyq

So there's another 44 I just spotted for you. Shall I send your client an invoice? :D (joke)

I am assuming that is your client and his spammy (sorry, but it is!) self-promotion? Presumably he knows/knew about these articles and could have told you about them? They didn't just appear by magic! "By the way, Marie, I [or my duff SEO company] kinda did a little bit of article spamming you might want to check out. Here's an example of some of the dodgy backlinks I built... could you please remove them?"

Do these people give you no clues? Or do they just leave you to clean up their mess? 

Well you have my sympathy. I'm sure you're doing a terrific job with what you're given :)
Re: Example link given by Google for UNL penalty site is not in the WMT "links to your site" Marie Haynes 8/8/13 9:02 AM
That was a brilliant idea ets.  I'll add those to the list.

These links were built because the client purchased fiverr gigs.  It's rare that I get a list of the bad links given.  A good number of my clients are small business owners who read things online and tried to build links on their own.  Others have paid for SEO companies (often well known ones) and blindly trusted that they were following the Google guidelines and don't have a clue how they have been building links.

I've always just taken the full list of links from WMT and individually looked at each one, but now that I see that some could be missed from the list, doing a search like you suggested (where there is obvious boilerplate text) is a great idea.
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