• Gridlock

    ‘Hi there, can I speak to your links department?’

    ‘Certainly Sir, are you looking to build or remove them?’

  • Grant Simmons

    Nice Jenny… proves the point that forensic SEO isn’t easy, consistent or liable to always have a positive outcome, in a reasonable amount of time.

    In this case your “Sherlocking” and gut won out… proves how much of a “smart bastard” you are :-)


  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Haha Grant, thanks! It was truly a weird instance and a hard fought victory! I’m just grateful the client stuck with me through it all so I could share the outcome! :)

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz


  • http://www.otprj.com Ofer Tal

    Thanks Jenny for the article. I found the 404 insights very helpful, it’ll help solving an issue a customer of mine has.
    – Ofer Tal

  • monitorbacklinks

    Great article Jenny. Dealing with penalties it’s not easy.

    We recently wrote an article about identifying the links that are hurting search engine rankings here: http://monitorbacklinks.com/blog/seo/recover-from-penguin-panda-and-other-penalties/

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    You’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it. Be very cautious about using this strategy, and make sure it’s warranted. Best of luck to you.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Good article about using your tool. My readers may find this post more useful though: http://searchengineland.com/five-steps-to-clean-up-your-links-like-a-techie-166888
    (Pro tip: SEL comment links are masked, next time post with your name – the exact anchor text does you no good.)

  • http://www.fathermoments.com Matt Gardner

    Jenny, I loved you article. Two questions, please? 1) After getting links manually removed, should you wait some time to submit a RR? How long? 2) Is there a “Time Game” that we have to play? For, example will RRs get automatically rejected if sufficient time hasn’t passed between the penalty and the RR, or between a RR rejection message and a new RR? I am not getting any new bad links. Mine are all from the past, and I can’t seem to get a penalty removed even though we have manually removed 35% and disavowed 100% of the domains where bad link are (or were). I am baffled. Thanks again for the great article.

  • Kyle Risley

    Hey Matt,

    The discrepancy between submitting links to be disavowed and seeing success with manual penalty revocation likely has to do with Google needing to recrawl the links prior to understanding that they have been disavowed. If the links are of particularly poor quality, it is likely that Google may need quite a bit of time to recrawl them (no PR, PR=0, etc.).

    A way to hack through this is to upload the links ~200 at a time to a page that you are the webmaster of. A blank page with just the links that you’ve disavowed will work fine. Then submit that URL to Google via WMT to have it fetched. This will force Google to recrawl those links and see that you’ve disavowed those links. I suspect that this is the methodology behind Link Research Tool’s “Link Detox Boost” feature. The number of links Google actually crawls from your “dummy page” will likely depend upon the PR of the domain, but 100-200 should be a pretty safe range.

    Good luck!

  • Kyle Risley

    How did the custom 404 affect the conversion rate of the affiliate traffic?

    Great article. Always love to see creative solutions like this within SEO. It’s what keeps it so interesting.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    The only problem with tracking rankings is that people usually track too few of them.

    Although you don’t share precise data, your case study looks like a classic “black hole chase” where you have to infer from available data what is actually going on. Google doesn’t share keyword referral data any more so you will never be able to show directly that the rankings you tracked were related to the penalty; but the fact that the surge in traffic coincided with the restored rankings (being tracked) is a strong (though not definitive) argument for the impact of those rankings on a site’s traffic.

    I don’t see any reason to debate what you have presented or the methodology you use to track down the problem. Success justifies the methodology, does it not?

  • https://plus.google.com/+JohnBritsios/about John Britsios

    Just wanted to clarify, that using the meta robots “noindex” directive does NOT stop PageRank from accruing.

  • Chris Koszo

    I agree.

  • http://zwinks.org/ Dwight Cocran

    Thanks for this insightful share Jenny. This has to be the best article I have read this year regarding reconsideration requests, not to mention your genius solution to the problem your client had.

  • Ullrich Bemmann

    Great article with a lot of hints! Thank you.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Exactly why I mentioned it, but I don’t think we can say it too often!

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Well put as always, Michael. I was mostly trying to not lose the “rankings are dead” crowd. Like so many other things with SEO metrics these days, we did have to look in the black hole. We did see some solid correlations with traffic to pages that used to rank and then didn’t again. I find reviewing traffic by landing page to be more instructive than keywords most of the time.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Excellent question! We monitored it very closely at the behest of the affiliates themselves and found that it actually didn’t have a significant impact on conversion. Although we did get a lot of affiliates wondering why their links were “broken” because they hadn’t read the emails we sent out about the change.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    To echo what the others said, it’s fine to submit RR and disavow/removal at the same time. If you haven’t heard back they just haven’t gotten to you yet. There’s no “time game” that I’m aware of.

  • Kyle Risley

    Wow, that’s great. Nothing beats a win/win.

  • https://plus.google.com/+JohnBritsios/about John Britsios

    I also need to add here that in some cases Googlebot may treat 302s as 301s. So do not rely on an assumption that 302s will never pass PageRank.

  • http://www.searchmarketing.com/ tobryant

    Brilliantly written Jenny! Excellent planning, gathering, analysis and execution.

  • http://www.jlh-marketing.com/ Jenny Halasz

    Also mentioned in the article. Actually, 302s always pass PR, it’s one of the biggest errors in the industry. Sometimes other 3xx statuses do too. And in the case of the spamming outlined above, even “nofollow” didn’t keep the damage from being passed through.

  • Kyle Risley

    Hey John,

    Can you elaborate on this please? Are you referring to URLs that 302 still appearing in SERPs or something else?

  • https://plus.google.com/+JohnBritsios/about John Britsios

    I am solely referring to 302 redirects. Redirecting page A to page B with a 302.

  • http://optilocal.org Nevyana Karakasheva

    Very interesting case Jenny,

    404 pages is a great last
    resort solution for treating internal pages with bad link profile. It was really
    interesting to read that your clients “top spammer” was their top affiliate quite
    an irony. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  • Anna Steeve

    How can i know that my site is hit by Penguin 2.1??