Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Google Disavow – Looks Like it Could Work

I received the first notification 4 months ago in Google Webmaster Tools regarding a clients website and it’s unnatural inbound links:



Now, I was pretty well up-to-speed with these notifications because there was a lot a talk at the time of Google sending them out, so I wasn't too worried. But being diligent I checked the site's Google WMT account and yes there was a site sending a vast amount of poor quality links to it, in fact there were a couple of other sites in the same vein.


How did they these links come about - I didn't know; it could have been the site owners previous SEO company carrying out the same ol' link-building strategies which stopped working - how long ago?, or it could have been a competitor, didn't matter really as they were there listed under links to your site.

So I firstly contacted these websites asking them politely if they would remove the links from their website - you guessed it not a peep in return.

My next course of action was to submit a reconsideration request with Google, informing them that I was aware of such links, had contacted the site owners and so on and so forth.

3 days later they sent me the same message, in my naivety I thought someone might have read my previous reconsideration request, so I sent them a new request with even more info and 12 days later they sent me a site violates Google's quality guidelines:


This was the start of a continuous dialogue between my self and Google which went on for 4 months, including 6 of the above violation messages, I kept sending requests to the nefarious sites asking them to remove the offending links using more and more sugary language - no luck, and also no luck with Google.

The site was suffering, there's no doubt about that, and if it wasn't that they  an incredibly strong Google Places/Plus listing, then it could have gone into free-fall - by the way this sort of shows that Organic Search & Places/Google+ are totally separate.

So back to the title of the the post Google's Disavow, same name as Bing's - this must be a first, the day the disavow came out I was in like a flash with my request, I requested that all 3 domains should be disavowed - the very next afternoon I received a manual spam action revoked notification:

manual spam action revoked

This was naturally good news, but the proof will be in the pudding and I will keep a constant eye to see if there is a marked improvement in the site's organic search rankings.

This is a hot topic and was discussed at this years (2012) London Search Love by Will Critchlow & Richard Baxter. I personally think, if it's used properly, this could be a great tool, because many a SEO practitioners inherit poor quality site's - hey that's why we get them, and there are devious competitors out there too.

Update to Post

I've carried out '2' sets of keyword ranking reports (didn't want to jump the gun) for this client since I used the disavow tool, the first set - one month ago, were phenomenal with every key-phrase that I checked leaping back and better to the site's ranking previous to the initial unnatural inbound links message from Google.

This month's reports were so good they not only reiterated last month's reports but also confirmed to me that the tool works; don't get me wrong I didn't go crazy with the disavow tool, I only disavowed the links which were definitely the culprits. So the talk in the SEO world about using with care are correct, but from this example and therefore my experience - if you think you've rubbish links (no matter how many) and Google have pointed this out to you - get them disavowed now.