|Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 6:49 AM|
I've read the FAQs and searched the help center.
My URL is: http://www.vitamart.ca
1. I received a list of all my inbound links through majestic SEO, I then pulled out the real inbound links and submitted the rest through the disavow tool. I requested a reconsideration of our manual action.
2. 10 days later google came back saying I have more unnatural links. I then added the three links they gave me to the disavow list and resubmitted them. I then requested another reconsideration of our manual action.
3. 10 days later google came back saying I have more unnatural links. I then added the three links they gave me to the disavow list.
4. Then I went to GWT and received their list of all the inbound links. I again pulled out the ones that were authentic inbound links and submitted the rest to the disavow tool. I then requested another reconsideration of our manual action.
5. 10 days later google came back saying I have more unnatural links. I then added the three links they gave me to the disavow list and resubmitted for another reconsideration to remove the manual action.
If google comes back with more unnatural links I can keep adding them to the disavow list and resubmitting, but for all I know google could have hundreds of links stored that are unnatural for our site and if I am only given 3 at a time and it takes around 10 days to receive each one the manual action on our site will take years to be lifted.
I really made some bad mistakes when it comes to link wheels, article directories, article spinning....etc. I am working really hard to clean all the links up, have emailing tons of webmasters trying to get links removed and it seems like there is this list of inbound links that is not on the latest update on WMT (as I submitted my website directly after I received the list of inbound links from WMT) nor on other inbound link searches such as majesticSEO.
I realize google updates the inbound links list, but I added the links to the disavow list almost immediately after receiving the list from WMT and put my site up for reconsideration right away. On top of that to go through thousands of links and pull out the few that are real inbound links is very time consuming.
If more unnatural links keep getting added to my WMT inbound links list after I submit my site for reconsideration I am unsure of what I can do to remove the manual action?
Any advice from anyone who has been in this situation would be greatly appreciated. I am extremely mad at myself for making such stupid mistakes with creating these unnatural inbound links and am very sorry. I would really appreciate any guidance on what I can do?
Thank you very much in advance for your help! :)
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Lysis||11/27/13 7:15 AM|
If you do it like that where you only remove a few at a time, you might be reducing your chances, because it looks like you're trying to figure out the system. Better to just do it right the first time and hack away at links.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 10:51 AM|
Thanks for your reply Lysis.
I have disavowed pretty much the entire list of inbound links that I received from MajesticSEO and WMT. Then I submitted our site for a reconsideration.
The issue seems to be that google has links that are unnatural but they are not listed in Majestic SEO or GWT. It is quite challenging as I am not sure where to find these links as all the unnatural link building that I did was over 2 years ago and haven't done any since. I feel as if I am chasing a moving target as besides disavowing the links from majesticseo and gwt I am not sure where to find those "additional" unnatural links that google shows me each type I submit our site for reconsideration?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 11:13 AM|
Are you actually cleaning up (removing/nofollowing) the problem links or just adding them straight to the disavow list (which is what it sounds like from your question)? If only the latter, it's not enough to get your manual action lifted. You have to try to clean up the links before disavowing. You can clean up and disavow in parallel, as JohnMu has said:I received a list of all my inbound links through majestic SEO, I then pulled out the real inbound links and submitted the rest through the disavow tool. I requested a reconsideration of our manual action.
While it's really important for the web-spam team when processing the reconsideration request to see significant effort put into resolving the issue at its roots (on those external sites), it can also be a good practice to at least have those sites listed in your disavow file in the meantime (use them in parallel, don't get bogged down with contact requests before adding them).
The "significant effort" you have to make is spelled out clearly here by our colleague Sasch:
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 12:14 PM|
Thanks for your post. I absolutely have contacted the webmasters. I estimate I have spent around 100 hours contacting them as we initially had around 28,000 sites we can to go through to view the unnatural links. It was an extremely time consuming and expensive process. In our submission to google for the reconsideration we provide a unique response to each website that has an unnatural link and what we did to try to remove it and whether the site has a contact us page or the webmaster got back to us and removed it.
We have been working very hard to remove every single link as I would say to date between our staff and my time have spent close to 200 hours now trying to find this moving target. :)
We went through all the unnatural links and visited each website to see if there was a contact us page, if the website still existed or directly contact the website. Then whatever was left over from the links that the webmasters didn't remove or we could not find a way to contact the webmasters we submitted that to the disavow list. The issue is google keeps finding new unnatural links that weren't there when we received the list of inbound links from GWT and majestic SEO?
I am at a loss as to what to do? lol
I appreciate your reply and suggestion :)
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||black belt||11/27/13 12:44 PM|
While I hear the effort you're putting in, Google has given the impression that they know cleanup will be harder than making the mess. They seem to feel it's commensurate to the pain inflicted on other webmasters who have played by the rules (and resulted in lower rankings for an extended time period) and in thwarting Google's efforts to prevent site owners from defying the rules. Probably best you know that the sympathy level of your audience at Google will probably be low - they seem to be more results oriented.
Regarding the contact info, try the domain WHOIS information and contact the domain owner. If it's a proxy, they still list a contact email address which will relay emails.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 1:04 PM|
Okay, just checking :)
We have a pretty good record on this forum of getting people through reconsideration requests for link penalties, but it does take a lot of work. Clearly, you haven't successfully identified all the unnatural links or possibly you've been "distracted" by what appear to be low-quality links but are in fact what our esteemed colleague StevieD refers to as "fungus" (irrelevant garbage, such as askives). The ballpark figure commonly banded about is 85-90%+ cleanup and as Stevie points out, you can achieve that most easily by tackling the bad links directly... but if you get distracted by the irrelevant links, you can waste all your time on those without actually addressing the real problem. It's a shrewd analysis that he explained well here.
If you want us to pitch in and help with your next RR, let us know. You can also link to a forum discussion like this as part of a RR to demonstrate the lengths you've gone to over and above what you've done before (Googler JohnMu's suggestion from the same forum discussion cited above).
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:12 PM|
Hi Black belt,
Thanks for your post. You are definitely right in that google has no sympathy for the mistakes made when websites are looking to use black hat techniques.
The issue doesn't seem to be that google is not accepting the effort that we have put forth or anything like that as I am confident in our strategy to clean up all the links that we know about as we have followed the suggestions that google and other experts have made in removing unnatural links.
The challenge has been that even though we downloaded the complete list of links from GWT to see all the unnatural links out there and have cleaned up everything possible for those links and then submit a reconsideration request, google seems to have more unnatural links that they have been holding back that were not on the downloaded GWT list.
We keep removing the links that google gives us as examples each time they tell us there are more links, but we aren't sure where they are getting the list of links from as they aren't showing in GWT! lol
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 1:14 PM|
google gives us as examples each time
Ah but you see that is the whole point. They are examples - an indication of what you should remove. That doesn't mean you can remove only the examples and then be OK. You use the examples to find and remove all the other crud along the same lines.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:20 PM|
Thanks for your response. You are correct in that there might be some links that we see as real natural links, but google might not like them.
The thing is whenever we do a RR google comes back with links we have never seen before as they weren't on the GWT/MajesticSEO download of inbound links. They are always new. We have done 5 RR's now and every time the RR comes back as rejected the examples they give are unnatural links that we didn't know existed or we would have removed or disavowed them? We aren't sure there they are getting these links from?
They have yet to reject a RR and provide us with links that was provided to us from the GWT or MajesticSEO that we knew existed, but thought they were natural so we didn't remove/disavow them.
I am definitely open to help! I am so sorry for the errors we have made and have spent a lot of time and money trying to do everything I can to remove/disavow them and submit an exhaustive RR.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:25 PM|
Absolutely. You are totally correct.
Typically the new unnatural links that google gives us are from a URL we have already either 1. Removed links from or 2. Disavowed the individual links from that site (Not disavowing the domain, just unique URL's).
So GWT gives us a list of all these sites with unnatural URL's. Some of the sites have 50-100 links on them. We contact the webmaster and do everything we can to remove the link. Then if we can't we add those 50-100 links to our disavow list.
We send in the RR and google comes back with examples of unnatural links that were from that SAME domain that we disavowed the unnatural links from, but google has a new unnatural links from that same domain that weren't on the GWT upload of the entire list of inbound links.
That is what I feel is the biggest challenge. We are going through each website and doing the exact process Google is asking us, but there are more links from those unnatural domains that we have no record of anywhere?
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 1:28 PM|
Have you tried disavowing entire domains? This was a top tip from Matt Cutts:
"One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks. For example, often it would help to use the “domain:” operator to disavow all bad backlinks from an entire domain rather than trying to use a scalpel to pick out the individual bad links. That’s one reason why we sometimes see it take a while to clean up those old, not-very-good links."
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:30 PM|
Thanks Lysis. I would really like to know all of the links we have that are out there and we will go through every one and remove them. If we can't remove them we will disavow them. We will then submit a RR.
We received our intital list of inbound links from GWT and Majestic SEO. This was our total list of domains. I believe it was around 10,000 or something like that. We then went to each domain on that list and asked the webmaster to remove our links. Some did. Most didn't. The ones that didn't we added it to a disavow list and submitted a RR to google.
When we got a reply back from google they provided us with 3 links that were not on the GWT or MajesticSEO list of links. We tried to remove those links from the site and if we were unable to we added the links to the disavow list and submitted it again. We have done this 4 or 5 times now. We aren't sure what to do at this point and I think I am going a little crazy? lol
Thanks for your help :)
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||black belt||11/27/13 1:36 PM|
I believe the term used was "machete" action. Seconded.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:42 PM|
Thanks for your post. We didn't do it initially as we were scared to write off entire websites with hope that we might some day receive link value from that domain down the road.
Our stance has changed on this as it seems google keeps pulling out new links from existing domains we have already added to our disavow list.
Now whenever google provides us new unnatural links that we haven't seen we disavow the entire domain to ensure we don't have any more issues with that URL.
The issue is our disavow list is really link with all the links and would take some time to change all the individual links to disavowing the entire domain...
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:44 PM|
I haven't heard the term "machete" action before. So you agree that I should change my disavow list to be domain focused and not URL focused?
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 1:46 PM|
Sorry I mean to say more domain focused (machete) and not focused on all the individual domains (scalpel)?
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 2:22 PM|
Broadly speaking, yes. Sasch refers to it as a flamethrower - and check out his extra advice here. He also argues that the Webmaster Tools data is perfectly sufficient for getting a link penalty lifted (though there has been some debate about that - which is what the thread I've referenced there covers in detail).
If you'd like really in-depth help, you might like to upload your spreadsheet of link removals (if you have one) and disavow list (use "attach a file") so some of our link experts can weigh in and give you more informed help on what's missing, what extra you need to do. That's how these threads normally proceed. I'm not a link expert but I'll pitch in if I can.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Mark Vegas||11/27/13 3:05 PM|
Thanks for your reply. That Sasch post was really helpful. I think the biggest mistake I am making is not disavowing the links at the domain level.
I have a spreadsheet that documents the dates which we contacted each site on the list as well as describes what the website was in instances where we were unable to contact the webmaster.
Where I am missing it is on domains that have unnatural links, but have only tried to remove specific URL's. I need to take the machete/flamethrower approach and disavow on the domain level.
I appreciate your help and if google rejects the RR that I will place early this coming month I will show you what I have submitted and would love your two cents on what you think might be missing.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/27/13 10:59 PM|
Great, well try that - and please do reopen this thread if you need more help.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||StevieD_Web||11/28/13 1:45 AM|
A few StevieD tips
1) Domain level is a must. If the site has a bad link of any kind, the site can't ever be trusted to have a good link. It really is that simple. So disavow at the domain level. Besides, a lot of the systems (Google WMT, Majestic, Ahrefs etc) will report the 1st link they find or the "best" link they find. There could be dozens or hundreds, especially with pagination and tag issues. So hit at the domain level.
2) If a site is reported by Majestic (or Ahrefs) and is NOT reported by Google WMT, you can just about pretty much say categorically say the site is crap. It really is that simple. A good chunk of those sites are going to be foreign sites... see #3..
3) Foreign sites. Majestic is real good about identifying foreign owned sites on their domain level spreadsheet. Just disavow the suckers and move on. There is less than a snowballs chance in a hot spot that you are going to convince a site from China with auto-generated links to remove your link. It can happen. I have been successful ONCE. But when you are faced with a list of 1000's of domains, chasing foreign owned sites isn't the best use of your time unless the site is written in your language. PS: you need to be 100% certain the site is foreign owned before you dismiss any attempt to remove the links.
4) Fungus. Fungus is auto generated crap that nobody can control and for most sites the amount of Fungus will out number all other links. Fortunately a good % of all fungus is nofollow tagged. Even so, the rest of it is going to be ignored by Google for the commonality that it is. Start with Merchant Circle. MC bought 20 Million USA listings to pre-populate their site. Yellowpages (the real YP) sells your data to hundreds or thousands of other yellowpage listings. Dmoz provides a data stream for use by others. Acxiom shares your data with several hundred sites. And the list goes on and on. And then there is the search engine scrappers. One quick trick, check to see if your site is listed with the major player in your industry (Apple, Adobe, Amazon etc). If the site is listing the big boys and your site, side-by-side or on adjoining pages then there can't be much harm to the site. Don't get lost chasing the fungus. Disavow the auto-generated crap of the worst kind (askives, yellowbot, mrwhatis etc) if you like and move on to greener pastures. PS: Removing fungus is next to impossible. Updowner is one exception and John Mu publicly said Google is ignoring Updowner.
5) Those links provided by Google are examples of a pattern/type. Watch the examples closely as there really is a pattern. These days it is usually article marketing crap stuff with pure article marketing and press releases. But might also be paid directories, forum signature spam or anything else with a pattern and basically YOUR SITE ONLY on a single page of another site (or your site and just a few others). There is often a pattern of anchor text and content. BTW, it is this stuff that Google wants removed because it shows intentional act.
6) Remember the anchor text and content? Now is the time to use Google search. Yes, searching by hand. And reviewing each site listed in the search results. Search for your pattern. Recently I did a hand search and added 400 domains to the removal list for a client. 400. Not reported by Google WMT because the site had reached the WMT caps. Not found by Majestic or Ahrefs. 400 domains sitting right out in the open when I searched for the pattern. Yes, these are more of the links Google wants removed.
7) WMT is capped at 1000 domains. But the recently added and more sample links are HUGELY beneficial. Hand sorting time again. Excel can sort and filter the subdomains for you if you know what you are doing with the program.
8) Disavow the domain, not the subdomain (exception is blogspot etc). As previously stated, a crap site might have more links than what is getting reported. Disavow the domain if they can't/won't control their subs.
9) #5, #6 and #7 are where you need to spend your efforts removing links. Some are not going to be removed. It really is that simple. But guess what, Google knows which ones can get removed and which ones can't get removed as there is a historical pattern established by other webmasters. If I can get a link removed... you better do the same. If I can't get a linked removed, then you get a free pass and can disavow it. Except I ain't telling which sites are push overs and which ones ain't.
10) Do you own ANY OTHER SITE? Do you own a parked site that is being redirect to another site? Do you control the links on another site? Time for confession. BTW, those links are just as harmful (or more so) and you better take care of them. The issue at hand is that badness flows through redirects. So if you got a parked site and are redirecting visitors to the primary site, you are also redirecting every link to the parked site to the live site as well. Break the redirect and break the links. It is that simple. Even a small number of links to a secondary site (parked or live) can be an issue if there are enough secondary sites to accumulate links. Break any massive site-wide interlinking programs is a must to break the cycle. I doubt Google is mentioning site-wide and redirected links in the reconsideration denials because you are suppose to know about your own sites.
11) Old WMT lists. Combine old lists and new lists. Yes there is a 1000 domain cap. But using 10 consecutive lists (produced each week), I was able to sort and combine and generate a list of 1800 domains for one site just using the historical domain output of WMT. Start keeping records now if you think you might get manual action applied to your site.
12) Removed links still get disavowed. There are a number of technical reasons, but fundamentally you can't trust a crap site to keep the link from coming back. So remove the link and remember to disavow the domain.
13) Disavow lists need to be populated before the RR is performed. John Mu suggested 24 hrs waiting from the time the disavow list is published to the RR is published. A better way would be to disavow everything you are going to possibly disavow and then start contacting sites. When you finish your best effort to remove the links, then file the RR.
14) Don't make excuses or blame others. Be honest and straightforward in the RR. I did bad is the best phrase you could say. Provide dates and who did what. Confession is good for the soul. Remember, blaming the competition isn't going to get you anywhere for a 6 year pattern of buying backlinks.
15) DO NOT pay idiots to remove links they built for you. DO NOT pay sites to remove links. Nobody is suppose to be making $ off of your misery, so don't let them. Document all demands for payment, disavow the link and move on.
16) Have fun. Sorry, had to say it. Everybody that I have worked with has been a nervous wreck. Adult beverages or prescription drugs are needed for many. So somewhere in the process, you need to stop and have some fun.
17) DO NOT hire an SEO firm to evaluate your links. I haven't seen a SEO firm yet who could be objective about the links. Most want to try to keep every possible link they find and will stand on their head and jump through rings of fire trying to convince you of the same. John Mu said 85% to one person on the forum. He might have been joking when he said 99% to another person on the forum. Or maybe he was serious.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||11/28/13 2:09 AM|
Excellent stuff, Mr D.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||JohnMu||11/29/13 2:17 AM|
There's some good advice here - thanks!
I agree with recommending domain:-based disavows where they make sense, some sites have the same content on multiple URLs and it's easier to make sure you have it covered all like that. Stevie mentioned multiple sites -- if you did have multiple sites and are redirecting them to the main one now, I'd also recommend checking out the links to those sites.
Finally, looking at your site's history, it looks like you've done quite a bit for quite some time, and it looks like our algorithms have picked up on that too. So while resolving the manual action is a good way to start, you need to keep in mind that it can possibly take quite some time for our algorithms to regain trust in your site even after that.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Snowman123||12/1/13 4:48 PM|
I recall Matt Cutts saying that for some sites it may be better to start again with a clean site, but not sure of the exact reference and/or context being aimed directly at the disavow / link tidy up process.
One thing that isn't talked about much is to simply 404 pages that have attracted the bad links, and put up new clean pages without redirects from old to new.. It might be quicker and more robust than the lengthy disavow process.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||FrancisTTG||12/2/13 1:39 AM|
We are doing a clean up too. We've just submitted but keep cleaning up and reading threads like this is very useful to learn.
Just wondering was your penalty site-wide or partial?
Thanks very much and good luck keeping up the fight!
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||12/2/13 1:54 AM|
It's a site-by-site decision, clearly. For small guys, that's definitely a viable option. For some of the big brands we've seen here, with massive backlink building resulting in manual penalties and multiple reconsideration requests, it was never an option: they had too much invested in their domains. (Think website addresses painted onto fleets of delivery trucks, printed catalogs, corporate gifts....)I recall Matt Cutts saying that for some sites it may be better to start again with a clean site, but not sure of the exact reference and/or context being aimed directly at the disavow / link tidy up process.
That's an excellent tip. I think it doesn't get mentioned a lot because a lot of backlinking building is very crude and directed at people's home pages, which you obviously can't 404. But if the problem hits a specific inner page, that's a very good approach.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||StevieD_Web||12/2/13 1:03 PM|
Yes Snowman123, great solution that has been mentioned by John Mu (and I am sure others) as a solution for some links..... just got to remember to NOT engage 301 redirects on the missing pages.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Norm DePlume||12/4/13 7:05 AM|
"it can possibly take quite some time for our algorithms to regain trust in your site even after that"
Interesting. Is this a new thing? J.C. Penney, for example, rebounded in 2-3 months.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||Ben Griffiths||12/4/13 7:10 AM|
*bookmarks StevieD post*
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||black belt||12/4/13 9:50 AM|
On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 10:10:26 AM UTC-5, Ben Hof wrote:
Don't bookmark it or others who come here might think you're submitting it to bookmarking sites. :)
I've gold starred this one too as a great reference post.
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||ets||12/4/13 10:07 AM|
There's a forum FAQ, but we could really do with keeping a list of posts like that too - wise, informal, general advice that goes above and beyond what you'd get in the FAQ but serves the same purpose (because it answers many other questions). Perhaps we should start a rolling chit-chat thread where great, universally applicable posts like Stevie's are flagged up for future reference?
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||OBXr||12/4/13 11:29 AM|
Sounds exactly like my battle now. I'm a in house SEO/Int. Marketer now dealing with a manual action from the old tactics they did before my time like you did.
I spent WEEKS and WEEKS cleaning up links, contacting webmasters, etc. and documented it all in a very long reconsideration request. Each time I get these mystery 3 links like you are... of which I can't find using any good tools... it's driving me insane.
My problem is, it's not a site wide manual action, but they slammed my website in the SERPS right after it arrived.... what the heck?
|Re: Unable to find all my unnatural links after using WMT and MajesticSEO?||black belt||12/4/13 11:42 AM|
I hear ya. But if you're getting paid, then it should be the client who is having a problem and should be going insane. ;) From my perspective, the job of an SEO is to continue to do what needs to be done until Google says the job is done. Many seem to imply to a client that they can get results within a time period and are frustrated when it may not happen.
Some sites have been gaming the system for a very long time and reaped benefits at the expense of others. It's difficult to argue that any of this is unfair, especially if it's just WEEKS. And if the site doesn't have a list of the sites it created spammy backlinks, then you're just continuing to be paid to clean up as you're provided the information. If it's more than you've been able to find, then it's just par for this course of recovery.