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Google Spam team replied to site contact form! What do we do now?
miozio




msg:4396831
 1:57 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

We have been struggling with Panda since its first interaction in February with no results. 2 reconsideration requests failed with senseless messages in WMT. After the last Panda update we got the notice "detected unnatural links" in WMT.

We cleaned up some links pointing to the affected site from 3 of our own domains and submitted another (3rd) request.

This time the reply came sooner and straight through our site's contact form:

Hello,

Thank you for your request.

We know that perhaps not every link can be cleaned up, but we need to see a substantial effort to remove the links, and this effort should result in a decrease in the number of bad links that we see. 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

Due to the fact that this domain dates back to 2004, it gained thousands of links and it was difficult to go through each one. We still had to do it and "Bingo", we found a spam attack from more than 150 low quality article directories registered in mid 2010 under one name!

In January 2009 we submitted 10 different articles to Articlesbase and Ezinearticles (these are reliable article directories with editorial staff who review submitted content for quality)

And now we see our articles on those spam directories who took content from Articlesbase and Ezine. Of course nobody responded when we tried emailing them 3 times.

I responded to this message explaining everything ( as seen on those spam sites, articles were submitted Jan 2009 but the domains were created in mid 2010).
Still waiting for the reply from Google.

Possible fix.
Those articles have links to 2 different pages, so I was thinking to change the URLs of these pages without 301 redirect and delete the old ones from index. I know we will drop many many other natural links but to save the whole site we can easily do it.

Has anyone fixed similar issue due to link attack by removing the linked pages?

 

Lenny2




msg:4396836
 2:22 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Thats interesting... but, sounds like if the spam team responded then you have both a Panda on your back... and a manual penalty?

I didn't think that the spam team had much to do with Panda... anybody else with that assumption?

miozio




msg:4396839
 2:33 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I do think that Panda algo counts bad link history and discounts domain age, those links did not hurt us before! I can not say exactly when our articles from Ezine appeared on these directories but looking at Whois record they were all registered in June 2010.

And.. When "unnatural links detected" appeared on WMT, rankings never changed to worse. Well, actually since the first Panda hit, we managed to recover 25%

tedster




msg:4396852
 3:21 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I agree, the spam team and suspicious backlinks are not part of Panda. If a site has a Panda demotion, a reconsideration request tends to get a "no manual penalty" response.

I'm extremely dubious about a reply coming in through the site's contact form - especially because you have a Webmaster Tools account, and one big reason for the very existence of Webmaster Tools is to have an authenticated communication channel.

Why do you feel this contact form submission you receive is an authentic message?

miozio




msg:4396854
 3:30 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Right, but we have the same info@ email set up for contact form and WMT account. This message is not visible on WMT. It's a direct info@Site.com contact with subject ( [#9 figures] Reconsideration Request for mysite.com)! I checked the logs, message came straight to e-mail not contact form, sorry!

Email came as a response to my 3rd reconsideration request, it was a clear reply to my explanation message. Email: I-hid this@google.com I also think that 3 RR is quite many to deserve personal attention! A guess to speed up the communication: "please reply to this email with the details of your clean-up effort."

Whats about changing the URLs without redirect and removing from Index, will this help?

tedster




msg:4396871
 4:17 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've never thought about doing that - do you mean that the suspect backlinks do not point to your home page?

miozio




msg:4396888
 5:10 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

They point to two separate pages, the main ones that brought 70% of traffic since 2006. If I delete those, the links will point to 404. If Google doesn't reconsider, I will ask them as I now see it as the only way to fix this.

tedster




msg:4396892
 5:24 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

It certainly would show you are serious about not wanting to have any influence from those bogus backlinks. However, if those were 70% of your traffic and you return a 404, then you will not exactly have a booming recovery. It still might help the other 30% of your traffic, I suppose.

Keep us posted on how this goes. The 404 "solution" does sound pretty drastic.

miozio




msg:4396893
 5:43 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

It WILL be drastic, also loosing the perfect bing/yahoo positions, this will be dropping traffic to all-times low, but we can't live under this penalty. It took a couple of years for those pages to rank high (one of them for 1 word phrase that held for almost 4 years)

I have not suggested this to Google, waiting...

I will post as soon as they reply about my find (article publishing dates are 2009 while domain registrations 2010)!

mememax




msg:4396970
 10:11 am on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think that the spam team is thinking that you've make an unnatural link building strategy. I won't focus so much on spam sites linking to you, because I don't think this will be the "whole" issue. Imagine that a direct competitor creates a group of spammy sites, scrapes yours, builds a lot of duplicate content and then links to you with spammy pages. This could be done quite easily. I think that Google only discounts those bad links and doesn't consider them in ranking your site.
What I would like to know is if you bought links from sites renowned to sell links, if some of those sites were caught selling links, those sites may affect your rankings.
In my opinion you have to watch your whole backlinks profile. Spammy sites linking to you cannot affect your rankings, if so I will have to start doing this with my competitors....

networkliquidators




msg:4397053
 2:29 pm on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

If they didn't respond through webmaster tools, this can not be real. My 2 cents.

netmeg




msg:4397082
 4:12 pm on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I would myself be very suspicious if that message didn't appear in my webmaster tools account as well. I have at times received messages that were forwarded to me (like when I verify another user on a site) but always always always there is a message in my GWT as well as the forwarded one.

potentialgeek




msg:4397217
 9:19 pm on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

1. Contact Google some other way to confirm the email is authentic.

2. You can delete articles from EzineArticles's control panel.

3. Matt Cutts in a video suggested Google will be taking action (algo edit) to discount socalled editorial articles links. He says they aren't really valid. Some people already think Google has devalued article links. The question is whether they would not only devalue but also add a penalty.

crobb305




msg:4397240
 10:19 pm on Dec 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be suspicious of a message coming through your contact form.

miozio




msg:4397669
 4:56 am on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

One more came just now!

Hello "MY NAME"

Thank you for your request.

There are still many inorganic links pointing to your site, and at this
point, we have determined that no further actions are required on our end
regarding how those links are evaluated. However, please understand that
we try to be granular in our actions as we focus on reducing the trust of
the inorganic links, and not organic recommendations.

Regardless of who created the links, in order to protect the quality of
our search results, we have taken action to reduce the trust of inorganic
links to your site. Webspam techniques such as link schemes attempt to
trick our systems into ranking sites higher than they should, which can
affect our ability to provide high-quality search results to our users. We
take these webspam violations seriously.

We know that perhaps not every link can be cleaned up, but 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. It
might take a while, but if you can demonstrate that you're working hard to
get the links taken down, and we can see the results of this work, at some
point your status passes over the threshold to where we may be able to
revoke actions that were taken in the past. 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

[edited by: miozio at 5:10 am (utc) on Dec 14, 2011]

miozio




msg:4397676
 5:09 am on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

This was a response to my explanation, see below.

Dear Sir / Madam

We finally found where the link attacks came from!
We have researched ALL of the links and see what really happened. Even though we used < a third party contractor > in January 2009 to submit articles to a few respected article directories, the majority of links now come from strange directories with content stolen from top article sites such as articlesbase.com, ezinearticles.com etc

To show you the clear evidence, please check the following links and you will see that the actual domains (as seen from WHois record)
were created in 2010 while articles submitted my Author name date back to January 2009.

What really worries me is that we emailed all of these as well as the ones "Author name" submitted to - 3 times during the period of 5 weeks and have not received a single reply! Many of these sit on the same IP 176.9.62.9 We have no control over these links and not at all responsible for this mess, please see below!

We researched ALL of these links by domain with articles stolen from Articlesbase.com where we actually did submit. But Articlesbase and Ezinearticles are authority sites where editors review each and every submitted article for quality.

Bad domains:
Long list of article sites

[edited by: tedster at 4:54 pm (utc) on Feb 8, 2012]

Savanadry




msg:4397678
 5:19 am on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's very strange that this hasn't come through WMT, are you sure? That would make me suspicious. I would expect an email from a company specialising in removing bad backlinks very soon.

miozio




msg:4397679
 5:23 am on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I tracked their visit, It's GOOOOOOGLE!

Please help me understand this

"we try to be granular in our actions as we focus on reducing the trust of the inorganic links, and not organic recommendations."

Does this mean that these article sites were not flagged as they were kind of "organic recommendations" ?

martinacastro




msg:4397963
 8:25 pm on Dec 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

miozio, did you post your problem in Google webmaster forum?

I see that your problem is very similar than other in that forum...

miozio




msg:4398077
 1:52 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am in direct contact with God and you are talking about going to a priest :)

I did post there for other problems but those keep talking about Code validation that's all! It's always more helpful here at webmasterworld.

I understand one thing, there is nothing I can do but remove those links from 150 spam directories or change URLs. Explanations don't work!

Here is Google spam team bottom line:

"Regardless of who created the links, in order to protect the quality of our search results, we have taken action to reduce the trust of inorganic links to your site."

aakk9999




msg:4398087
 2:44 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Regardless of who created the links, in order to protect the quality of our search results, we have taken action to reduce the trust of inorganic links to your site.


Wouldn't this be the same as if you do not have "inorganic links" in the first place? The way I am reading this, G. is not saying it is penalising you, it is saying that you will not get benefits of links they consider inorganic. So if you manage to remove these links maybe you would be in the same place you are now with these links existing, but not being trusted by Google (i.e. their value = 0, that is, the same as if you do not have them).

So unless I am misunderstanding G. response, then if you drop the page and not redirect, you will not just lose these links G. is not currently trusting anyway, but you would lose the "good links" too, which could make your position even worse than it is now (unless you could get the good links linking domains to change link to point directly to the new page).

miozio




msg:4398088
 3:00 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

This could make a good point if not for this:

"We know that perhaps not every link can be cleaned up, but 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. It might take a while, but if you can demonstrate that you're working hard to get the links taken down, and we can see the results of this work, at some point your status passes over the threshold to where we may be able to revoke actions that were taken in the past. 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."

buckworks




msg:4398089
 3:12 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

So much for "There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking."

g1smd




msg:4398094
 3:28 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is it usual for Google to refer to some links as "inorganic"?

tedster




msg:4398105
 4:35 am on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Good question. That is new language to me, too.

martinacastro




msg:4398210
 2:04 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

Is not clear for me and perhaps for others if they penalized your site or they devaluate some "inorganic links"

Your site is Penalized? or is PANDAlized?

Yes is clear that Google will revoke something that affects your site (links value or Panda) if you removed more links passing a threshold...

pageoneresults




msg:4398222
 2:25 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'd be suspicious of a message coming through your contact form.


I've never heard of Google communicating in this manner - ever.

Article Directories? Kiss of death for your content.

Is it usual for Google to refer to some links as "inorganic"?


I've not seen them use the term "inorganic" either.

bwnbwn




msg:4398231
 2:52 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder if some guys there at Google are having some fun making this poor chap chase his tail. This whole deal smells fishy.
I also think that 3 RR is quite many to deserve personal attention!
Come on dude do you know how many PR3's there are out there. I am thinking here couple Google Guys see this and say WOW WEE a pr 3 and are jerking this guy around.
miozio




msg:4398361
 7:34 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

The site is not penalized but it is PANDALlized! As I confirmed earlier the messages come directly to my email registered at WMT. I tracked their visit: referral URL: trax-beta. corp.google. com/html/trax.html
IP: Google corporate IT starting with 216

bwnbwn




msg:4398384
 8:35 pm on Dec 15, 2011 (gmt 0)

The nature of the problem the wording in the email the way it was sent makes me feel this is a game to a couple google guys. I nor anybody here has ever heard contact this way not the method of contact. They won't contact you over a PANDALlized not going to happen. If they do contact you it is through proper methods that were set up long ago. You sent in a request through webmaster tools reconsideration requests with the replies we are use to. The last one brought the above discussion in a way that just not right and as I said I for 1 don't believe it to be a real email but some not so funny google guys having some fun because they are bored.

You said in your OP is was from the spam team so why would the spam team contact you over a PANDALlized site?

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