Disavow Tool Beta Test Recovery Laid Bare!

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency

Following a series of questions surrounding the successful recovery of a site that we tested with the newly released Google Disavow tool, I thought that we should look to offer more information about what we did, how we did it and the results that we witnessed, so here we go.

The test site that we used to Beta test the Disavow tool had received a number of warnings via Google Webmaster Tools which began with an ‘Unnatural Link Warning' which was sent 21st March 2012, which sparked a link removal process undertaken by us to see whether we would be able to have the site reinstated, however as you can see from the image below, there were two failed attempts to satisfy the powers that be at Google and we were told that they were still seeing links pointing into the site that they believed to be ‘unnatural'.

In July the site received further notification that Google considered links into the site were still ‘unnatural':

Fast forward a number of months of trying to contact website owners to have some of the links that had been pointed into the site, we were offered the chance to be able to Beta test the ‘secret' Disavow tool which was in development at Google, a tool that would allow us to inform Google of links that had been pointed into the site but ones that we would prefer for them not to count.

Following the guidelines that we were given, we began to undertake even more backlink profile analysis, gathering data that we could then make into a list that we could provide to Google through their tool, which was meant to give Google link data of sites that were linking into the test site that we would like them to overlook.

Following the uploading of the text file which was set out in the format that they required, we began to create a re-consideration request, one that would lay the whole process that we had taken with the site since the receipt of the ‘Unnatural Links Warning' that the site received back in March this year.

Within that request we documented everything that we could, including:

  • Informing Google that we were Beta testing the Disavow tool and had submitted a list of links we would like to have discounted from their findings.
  • Proof of emails that we had sent to a string of websites owners asking for them to remove the links that their site may have pointing towards the domain.
  • A complete list of all the backlinks that we were able to remove from the backlink profile between March and the day of the request.

Feeling that we had offered as much information that we could possibly give to Google, we submitted the request and awaited their response.

Having received a response, as you can see in the image above (dated 25th Sept 2012), we opened the message to find the following:

So clearly Google had seen and "processed" the request but as you can see from the message, we were not given too much indication to what that meant for the site, was it going to recover? Was it going to return another message days later? We simply didn't know.

Following the receipt of the message, we decided that we needed to keep a close eye on the rankings that the site held, checking long range to see if it was even able to rank within the top 10 pages of the search engine, let alone page one, after all seeing a positive movement would be the signal that we had done enough surely?

Well days turned into weeks and still we hadn't seen anything about to jump back into life, until one morning we arrived to the news that Google had rolled out a Penguin update, refreshing their data and giving us something to think about right across the board.

Just like many of you reading this, the first thing that we did was check over sites that we knew, did any get caught up in the new roll out? Any big names disappeared into the darkness of the Google search results?

While making those checks, we realised something… The test site had climbed for a number of rankings, increasing it's search engine visibility for the first time since it received the penalty for ‘Unnatural Links'!

Want to see the proof?

So as you can see from the search engine visibility graph which we have taken from SearchMetrics today, the site is still increasing and ranking well for a number of keywords, it looks like the bad links have now been ‘disavowed’ and the natural linkage is steering it in the right direction, upwards!

Got any questions? Feel free to ask them below and I will look to get back to you as soon as possible.

Meanwhile why not follow me on Twitter (@alexgravesseo) to make sure that you don’t miss out on any of my future posts?

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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