homepage Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.211.138.180
register, free tools, login, search, subscribe, help, library, announcements, recent posts, open posts,
Subscribe to WebmasterWorld
Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: Robert Charlton & aakk9999 & brotherhood of lan & goodroi

Google SEO News and Discussion Forum

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >     
Trying to fix unnatural links penalty
teokolo




msg:4575255
 2:08 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider domain.com for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

We’ve reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

[...]

Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team


My main website has been hit by a manual penalty at the beginning of March and I still don't find any way to fix it.

A brief history:
- 20 February: notice of hacked wordpress for subdomain1.domain.com (low traffic blog)
- 22 February: notice of hacked wordpress for subdomain2.domain.com (low traffic blog)
- 25 February: notice of suspected hacking of www.domain.com (high traffic website, 5.000+ pages )
- 26 February: notice of suspected hacking of forum.domain.com (high traffic forum)
- 30 February: reconsideration request sent for both subdomains (moved to a clean install), for the forum and for the main domain (which wasn't affected by any hack)
- 7 March: answer to reconsideration request: "site violate quality guidelines."
- 11 March: 20% traffic drop, ranking drop for www.domain.com

After 11 March traffic and rankings continued dropping for www.domain.com (forum wasn't affected), right now I am still trying to solve this issue, the website has 50% - 60% traffic drop and I haven't find yet what triggered this warning and a penalty.
I lost all the traffic for single word and 2-word keywords, I still get long tail traffic (3+ words) but the most important sections have gone out of top 100.

What I find "interesting" is that in subdomain1.domain.com I removed ALL outgoing links (I kept some to www.domain.com with rel="nofollow"), I used the disavow tool to disavow EVERY domain linking to subdomain1.domain.com (according to links I see in GWT and OpenSiteExplorer). It seems disavow tool is not working, since after the reconsideration request I still get this message in reply.

What I don't understand is: why subdomain1.domain.com still violates google guidelines about unnatural links and/or link schemes? What should I do to fix it?!?! Maybe disavow tool is effective after X weeks?

 

tedster




msg:4575274
 3:07 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sorry that we can't assess how your site lines up with or violate Google's quality guidelines here, because we don't do public site reviews.
I used the disavow tool to disavow EVERY domain linking to subdomain1.domain.com

That sounds very problematic to me. You have removed ALL traces of PageRank flowing to that subdomain, and without some level of PR it is very difficult to get and significant search traffic.

teokolo




msg:4575279
 3:25 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

subdomain1.domain.com is a very low traffic blog, which had no relevant backlinks before the hack. After being hacked, googlebot found about 50.000 articles (viagra and pharma) and about 1 million backlinks from other hacked domains.

What I'm trying to do first is cleaning up the backlinks for subdomain1.domain.com , but I don't understand how can it violate google guidelines about links/link schemes, since I removed all outgoing links and I put everything inside disavow file...

tedster




msg:4575287
 4:54 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, now I get it - thanks. That's the problem with hacked sites when the hack is done not for malware purposes but for parasite hosting. The spammer/hacker builds a pile of bad backlinks.

You're not the first to notice that processing the disavow tool can be a gradual and not immediate process. How long has it been for you?

Another question, in your reconsideration request, did you call attention the the hack and what you did to fix that situation?

teokolo




msg:4575289
 5:07 pm on May 18, 2013 (gmt 0)

I uploaded my disavow file on April 25 and it seems it's not being considered yet.
I explained the situation and what I did very deeply.
What I'm trying to do now (before filling the 7th consideration request) is completely removing references to those pages inserted by the hack. GWT showed about 50.000 404 pages, I found a way to tell googlebot those pages are gone (http status code 410 - gone) and google is deindexing and removing those pages from GWT errors.

teokolo




msg:4578904
 7:19 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

A quick update.

After 2 more reconsideration requests (very well documented), and after having put EVERY DOMAIN inside disavow tool (according to links showed by GWT and OSE), Google is still answering: "we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines."

I have also made nofollow EVERY outgoing link...

No incoming links, no outgoing links => Google still see link problems. Very frustrating.

chms




msg:4578911
 7:37 am on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

That is because nobody is reviewing your site, how long do you wait between reconsiderations?

Wait more time and then send again new one.

Good luck

tedster




msg:4578995
 12:53 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

What I'm trying to do now (before filling the 7th consideration request) is completely removing references to those pages inserted by the hack.

That sounds like a very important and very savvy step to me.

2 more reconsideration requests (very well documented)

Did you document your "remove my link" requests?

That is because nobody is reviewing your site

Unfortunately, that does seem to be possible, especially hen you get a very rapid reply.

teokolo




msg:4579108
 5:03 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

@chms
I'm sure I fixed everything I could fix (hacked and 404 pages, incoming and outgoing links). What should I wait for?

@tedster
I was able to tell Google those hacked pages are gone forever, they aren't indexed anymore and I don't see any error inside GWT.
I didn't document link removal requests because there were about 100 hacked blogs linking to my hacked pages and I'm unable to contact them all. Most of them fixed the hack, some of them didn't.

tedster




msg:4579171
 7:43 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Google has specifically asked webmasters to document their link removal efforts in their Reconsideration Request. You can just note the domain or page and say "gone" or "no action", but without that input, a Reconsideration Request has been futile for many webmasters.

If the list is very long, you can put it on a page somewhere and link to it.

chms




msg:4579179
 8:04 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hello teokolo,

You have to send all the information as you can like Tedster says but I saw in a video Matt Cuts saying that if a webmaster sends a reconsideration request in a very short space of time they consider he has a headstrong and they don't consider it.

Be patient and wait some time, I don't know how much, may be one month and a half or two, right now I'm waiting for sending one for me.

Sorry for my english.

teokolo




msg:4593183
 10:27 am on Jul 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

First I'd like to say thanks and goodbye to Tedster, always very kind and professional with every user in the forum.

I was still unable to get out the manual penalty for the main website, probably because the "pharma hack" on my wordpress blogs (on subdomains) is still not completely fixed.

I'm facing 2 problems:
1) Reconsideration requests fail for the blogs even if I update my disavow file every week. Every 2-3 days GWT shows dozens of 410 errors because new hacked domains are shown and are still linking to those old pages. I don't know if these domains are NEW hacked domains or Google is showing an old data set.

2) I cleaned the link profile for my main website and Reconsideration Requests still fail. Is it possible Google is not removing the panalty because subdomains are considered part of the main website?

aakk9999




msg:4593186
 10:45 am on Jul 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Since the blogs were low traffic, have you considered deleting subdomains and creating a new ones, then moving your blog there?

teokolo




msg:4593208
 12:03 pm on Jul 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Actually one blog still keeps decent traffic.

I'm scared of moving this blog to a new DOMAIN because google could see an important section of the domain disappearing and, using 301 redirects, I'll still bring with me bad links coming from the pharma hack.

Moving both to new domains will probably help with the manual penalty problem.

I think the main question now is: is google considering subdomains as part of the main website? Do subdomains affect (positively or negatively) the main website?

Planet13




msg:4594625
 4:17 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

"I was still unable to get out the manual penalty for the main website, probably because the "pharma hack" on my wordpress blogs (on subdomains) is still not completely fixed."

If I understand that there are still hacked pages appearing ON YOUR SITE then you should deal with this first.

" Every 2-3 days GWT shows dozens of 410 errors because new hacked domains are shown and are still linking to those old pages."

Those don't matter. You won't be punished AFAIK for 404 / 410 errors, and if there are a bunch of spammy sites pointing at those 404 pages it SHOULD be ok.

Get your blogs and forum software clean and secure first. You might be able to help speed up by sending a 410 header instead of a 404 header for pages that are gone. Also, you can tell google to remove those pages from the index using GWT (but I don't know how any you can tell them to remove - maybe there is a limit?)

~~~~~~~

"I didn't document link removal requests because there were about 100 hacked blogs linking to my hacked pages and I'm unable to contact them all. Most of them fixed the hack, some of them didn't."

Did you tell the blog owner that they had been hacked and that they need to update their blog and make it secure? That would be a great way to get those links removed.

Dymero




msg:4594636
 5:00 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

I think the main question now is: is google considering subdomains as part of the main website? Do subdomains affect (positively or negatively) the main website?


Yes, they do, but this wasn't always the case. They used to count subdomains as separate entities, at least for the case of counting links. But almost two years ago they changed that to include subdomains links as internal links, like any other page.

There's a good explanation at the Google Webmaster blog: [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com...]

And Matt Cutts did a video last year about how subdomains no longer have a SERP advantage as they once did.
[youtube.com...]

Subdomains affect the site because they're considered part of the site as a whole and not a separate entity. Until you fix the hacking issues, and take care of any extant hacked links (or at least document that you can't get the removed), Google probably won't lift the penalty.

bwnbwn




msg:4594640
 5:12 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

1st the Title is WRONG it should be from a hack not a manual link penalty. This is very misleading and the mod should fix this title thread. The hack added content and then linked back probably, but the main culprit to the penalty is your site was hacked not links.

teokolo




msg:4594641
 5:13 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@Planet13
At the end of february I moved both blogs to a clean install of wordpress, so I consider the hack fixed since then.
In may I made a list of 404 pages (old hacked pages) and I used 410 redirection for them. Hacked pages are not indexed since the beginning of May thanks to 410 redirection.

Both blogs have 0 incoming links, 0 outgoing links. The only links I see (under crawl errors) are from hacked blogs, pointing to pages with http status code 410. But blogs still violate google's guidelines for unnatural links.
I also contacted most of the hacked blogs with 0 replies. Some of them fixed the hack anyway.

I'm waiting for a reply to the last reconsideration request: if it will fail, I'll delete one blog (no traffic) and I'll move the other one to a new domain, because I think this situation is damaging the main website, which is the source of income for me, my family and people working on it.

[edited by: teokolo at 5:19 pm (utc) on Jul 19, 2013]

teokolo




msg:4594642
 5:15 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

@bwnbwn the manual penalty is for the main website (www) which wasn't hacked.

@Dymero thank you for your reply!

aakk9999




msg:4594674
 8:15 pm on Jul 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

At the end of february I moved both blogs to a clean install of wordpress, so I consider the hack fixed since then.

When you moved the blog to a clean install of wordpress, have you moved your Wordpress database content "as is" from one install to the another?

I am asking this because hack may also be within your pages' content if hackers gained access to your database. Which could explain why Google is saying that you may still violate the guidelines despite you having a fresh install.

teokolo




msg:4594767
 7:17 am on Jul 20, 2013 (gmt 0)

Articles and pages were not visible in wordpress backend, they were inserted into the database, wp_options table.
I exported articles from the hacked install and imported in a clean install. I checked most of the articles and pages (html code and fetch as googlebot) and I didn't find anything suspicious.

teokolo




msg:4595489
 8:52 pm on Jul 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I made another reconsideration request for all the subdomains + main website: site violate quality guidelines - link schemes.

I'm considering these changes:
- deleting the blog with no traffic
- moving the blog with traffic to a new domain

I hope this will help the main domain to have the manual penalty lifted, my income has dropped close to zero since 4 months and I need to come back into the business as soon as possible or I'll have to fire 5 employees.

I think the best solution would be moving the main website to a new domain, but I cannot for branding reasons.

In your opinion:
1) which is the best way to delete a website? Removing dns entry is enough? Will the root domain keep bad links coming from the hacked network even if the subdomain is deleted?
2) how can I move a website to a new domain without keeping bad links coming from the hacked network?!? 301 redirect will transfer good and bad links.
3) why inside GWT I see links to my site removed more than 1 year ago? Is it normal?

Thank you for your help guys.

Planet13




msg:4595535
 10:54 pm on Jul 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

I hate to say this but I am a little confused as to all the changes that you have done, and I don't think you have a good idea of the specific links that google finds offensive.

also, even if you do figure out exactly what GOOGLE wants you to do, and you remedy it right anyway, it might take a few more months for you to regain much traffic, and you probably won't get the same level of traffic you had before.

So, just to say what I would do (after researching a LOT about manual penalties and Penguin).

1) Go through all your latest links and disavow any that look even remotely suspiscious - whether they are to your subdomains or main domains or whatever. If in doubt, Disavow them.

2) go through that same disavow file and find whatever pages have ONLY spammy links, then move that page so that page returns a 404 / 410 status.

You probably can't to that with your home page, but there are probably some internal pages (whether on the domain or subdomain) that you can either move to a new subdomain, or a new domain, or just rename the file. Either way, if you think it only has a spammy link, then have it return a 404 / 410.

(And yes, you will be disavowing links to certain pages which you will then move as well so they serve a 404/410 error.)

3) Make another effort to remove bad links pointed at your site by contacting webmasters.

4) Check, double-check, and triple-check that there is no more spam on your sites.

5) After all this, resubmit another reconsideration request.

If you are relying on the disavow tool only, IT COULD TAKE SEVERAL MORE MONTHS before you see any positive results! I read one report and they said it took six months.

The fastest way would be disavow (be sure to use the domain: operator where appropriate), and link removals in conjunction with the reconsideration request.

NOTE: I am not an SEO expert. But I have been studying reports on penalties, Penguins, and disavow files for the last month, so I think I have kind of whittled down the useful info from the b.s. here. Hope this helps.

teokolo




msg:4596052
 12:47 pm on Jul 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

@planet13 I appreciate your interest in my situation, maybe I didn't explain the situation very well.

- blog1 and blog2 (subdomains) were hacked in february
- forum and www received suspected hacking warning
- reconsideration request for all the sites: unnatural links which led www and forum to a manual penalty (-70% traffic right now for www)
- link profile for www and forum is very good
- link profile for blog1 and blog2 is very dirty, because every week GWT shows about 50 new hacked domains linking to old hacked pages, already removed and returning 410 status

So I am considering moving those blogs to a new domain, because it seems google is penalizing www and forum for links to those subdomains.

Planet13




msg:4596091
 3:11 pm on Jul 24, 2013 (gmt 0)

Hi there, teokolo:

Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand your situation pretty well.

No one except a google employee can tell you exactly WHAT to do. But can I try to ask some questions and maybe give some suggestions?

When was the last time you filed a reconsideration request? What was the response?

If they DIDN'T say the manual penalty has been revoked, maybe you should try filing another reconsideration request?

Does your subdomain2 blog also have GOOD links as well as spam links pointing at it? Is that why you don't want to move it?

Why do you have a blog on subdomain 1 and subdomain 2 instead of on your main domain? do you have something like keyword1.mydomain.com and keyword2.mydomain.com for the subdomain names?

~~~

There is a chance it would make more sense to move the subdomain blogs into the main domain instead of having them on subdomains. Then you might now have to 301 redirect them (unless they have some good links).

If they have good links (or certain pages have good links), then you will probably want to 301 redirect those pages. But since you used disavow to disavow EVERY link pointing at subdomain1, then I am guessing it doesn't have any good links...

~~~~~

Alternatively, you could move the blogs on to NEW subdomains (subdomain3 and subdomain4 instead of subdomain1 and subdomain2)

But the question to ask really is; what is best for the visitor? Would they expect to find this content on a subdomain of your main site? Would they expect to find it on a part of your MAIN site ( mydomain.com/old_subdomain2_blog/) or would they expect to find it on a different root domain altogether?

~~~

But most importantly, if I understand correctly, I would go over EVERY link pointing at your MAIN domain and your forum, because it sounds like your main domain is the one suffering from all of this. I know you checked. But I would double check and triple check. Use the latest links in GWT, plus the typical other backlink research tools.

You might have a Penguin problem in addition to your manual penalty. The manual penalty (in theory) could be cleared up quicker than the penguin penalty, which Matt Cutts and John Mueller have hinted COULD take MONTHS to clear up.

So I would really suggest from everything I have been reading that you look again at all your links - but especially the ones to your most important site - and try and REMOVE any ones that would be considered unnatural.

How do you know if it is unnatural? If it is a dofollow link that was made by you, it is unnatural.

Hope this helps. But at the end of the day, if you DON'T have bad links pointing at the main domain and forum and they are still penalized, you might have to decide whether to keep those subdomain blogs or not.

And for Pete's sake, keep your blog software up to date and secure so this doesn't happen again in the future.

uphoto




msg:4597975
 10:37 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

It seems that I have met the same question and I got the good advice here.

asusplay




msg:4598245
 10:53 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Moving files which have spammy links pointing to them returning a 404 or preferably a 410 response is something I will do when I finish going through the 9000 links I have to go through to prepare the disavow file and at the same time requesting link removals when I can.

However I am kind of stumped as to what to do with the homepage - that cant be moved! Any ideas?

Planet13




msg:4598262
 11:44 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, in theory, it COULD be moved (I think*) to something like domainname.com/index.html, but it could be suicide depending on how many GOOD links you would lose by doing that.

(*I am no apache guru so I can't swear by it.)

teokolo




msg:4604967
 3:04 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

After 6 months I got the manual penalty lifted.

Cleaning link profile for the main website wasn't enough, I had to completely remove subdomains to succeed.

I'm very happy, now let's wait for improvement in rankings and traffic!

crobb305




msg:4604972
 3:13 pm on Aug 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

After 6 months I got the manual penalty lifted.

Keep us posted. I had a manual penalty removed in late February. Here we are six months later and still no ranking or traffic improvements (I get about 15 visitors from Google each day, but used to be 3,000+). I know others who are still waiting despite having a manual penalty removed 6+ months ago. Hopefully it works out better for you.

This 32 message thread spans 2 pages: 32 ( [1] 2 > >
Global Options:
 top home search open messages active posts  
 

Home / Forums Index / Google / Google SEO News and Discussion
rss feed

All trademarks and copyrights held by respective owners. Member comments are owned by the poster.
Terms of Service ¦ Privacy Policy ¦ Report Problem ¦ About
© Webmaster World 1996-2014 all rights reserved