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Google 2.1 Penguin Update affected all our ranking keywords. Disavow link?

12:55 pm on Oct 5, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I've just seen on Twitter that Matt Cutt's announced the launch of Google 2.1 Penguin,. and we've now lost all first and second page rankings for all our keywords, now on page 4 for our main keyword where as before we were page 1 rank 4.

This is a massive blow to a business me and my brother run which has been selling <widgets> online since 2001 and we both feel very upset and have made ourselves ill with worry that our income has just gone over night.

Now the only thing that we have done is submit a disavow file containing around 200 domains which were of (what we presumed) were very low quality links on sites jammed full of adverts, virus warnings with scraped and duplicate content.

I manually emailed lots and lots of sites asking for removal of backlinks on low quality sites, those who didn't respond ended up in the disavow submission. We submitted this disavow file on September 28th because our traffic is down around 50% compared to last year since the Google algorithm updates so we thought we would try to clean up the inevitable backlinks that built up over the last 12 years.

In a blind panic this morning after checking analytics and our google search rankings i immediately deleted the disavow file as there is nothing (in my opinion) that could of affected our ranks that much and that fast.

We're currently working on building up high quality backlinks to our website via authoritative websites in our niche and <niche> related to try and help.

Do you think our website is doomed now after we submitted this Disavow? Or can we recover after deleting the Disavow file?

We have no manual web spam actions against our domain according to Google Webmaster Tools.

Any help is greatly appreciated as this is a family run business and i have employees who count on the business for wages not to mention my brother who is having a breakdown today :(. A lot of pressure on my shoulders as my brother is not technically minded, where as im a web designer with more experience in this kind of thing.

Thanks guys.

Nick Preston

[edited by: aakk9999 at 2:07 pm (utc) on Oct 5, 2013]
[edit reason] Exemplified product and niche [/edit]

3:46 am on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Did you have any trouble with the other Penguins?
10:04 am on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Things had been steady this year but around 50% reduction in search engine hits from last year.

Yesterday was a disaster, huge nove dive in google analytics, must be linked to the disavow we submitted on the 28th september.

I deleted the disavow list, im just praying things recover as me and my brother are very ill because of the stress, a business we started together in 2001 and this has been our worst period of sales since around 2003.

Any advice is appreciated, no manual spam action reported on our domain, site is clean with no duplicate content.

My life depends on this business and a lot of people rely on me including employees and my brother who isn't technically minded to help with this sort of thing as ive done all the work on the website.


11:15 am on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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must be linked to the disavow we submitted on the 28th september.

I think it unlikely that the two are related. As I understand it penguin is resource intensive and will have been run over a period of days or weeks based on data from a significantly earlier date.

As to whether a disavow file is a good idea at all, I have seen no evidence of it ever helping anyone escape penguin, but might have missed it...
12:45 pm on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm sorry you are ill, but you do need to manage your expectations. Nobody recovers overnight, and usually it takes weeks or months. So your first conversation might be - what else can we do for traffic/sales to keep us going while we're working on the site?

Ideas to consider include:

- Email
- Social Media (Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn
- Print advertising
- Direct mail (flyers and catalogs)

Seriously. Deleting the disavow file was probably not useful; there's no way it caused your drop. Google just doesn't move that fast.
6:14 pm on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I highly doubt it was your disavow list especially with just 200 carefully chosen domains. Google reports it takes anywhere from a couple of weeks to months before you may see any changes (if you see any at all).
7:49 pm on Oct 6, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies <snip>

At present our online business is ruined, 10+ years of online trading and this is the most stressful time of my life, even more than starting the business with nothing and having to get help from parents to launch to buy stock and our first industrial sized Epson printer.

Thank you for anyone who takes the time to read this, its a very emotional time for me and my brother.


[edited by: aakk9999 at 9:05 pm (utc) on Oct 6, 2013]
[edit reason] Charter [/edit]

8:41 am on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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@NickP - Firstly, sorry to hear the stress you're under. But believe me, you're one on many 100's of thousands likely affected in the changes over the last couple of years. Best of luck in getting through.

Folks I've seen who got by did the things that Netmeg suggests. If you have the margin to successfully advertise profitably through PPC I'd suggest you take the plunge. Not everyone has that luxury though.

My thoughts are that your disavow file preceded a problem that you recognized was going to happen anyway. Is that correct?

As folks here say, disavow files take a long tome to work their way through Google's system. If indeed you did enough. Also disavowing links may cause a further future drop before you turn the corner with new links.

Something else is in play - why don't you get some inputs by having your site reviewed here : [webmasterworld.com...]
9:44 am on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Here's the situation, ive spoken to my brother and the two lads we had working for us are under threat of losing their jobs as we can't sustain their wages with our search traffic at 1/3 of what it used to be.

Our problems lie with the age of our website and the fact we've picked up many bad backlinks along the way. I now have to try and remove these one by one via direct email, contact forms and ill be contact their ISP directly as a final resort.

Now i don't want to make any more mistakes, removing bad backlinks is priority, but what about the sites i can't get backlinks removed from, do i disavow? or will Google ignore them anyway?

This is the dilemma im facing aswell as the fact that if things don't turn around in the next few months we may be closing our doors for good which is a shame after 11 years of trading which has been wiped out by a single google update where as all the other updates didn't really affect us.

Thanks for the replies i really really appreciate it, its not easy seeing something you love and work hard for get destroyed over night.

9:55 am on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Nick, I know how you feel as I'm there now. I've been in tears trying to figure out what to do. Thankfully I have repeat customers which are at least keeping the lights on while I figure out what to do. I can't see it being the Disavow tool in your case. I have read elsewhere Google has wiped out some big link networks, could it be that? Personally I'm not worried about Google, I've updated everypage, removed loads of others & have concentrated on customers. It's hard as in the UK Google IS the Internet but thus far I've seen no change, positive or negative. I figured I had nothing to lose, Google pushed me into this corner so I either go down or at least go down fighting. At least with the latter I know I did eveything I could have done. When did you fisrt notice the traffic hit? Are you ecom?
10:06 am on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We have repeat customers, email marketing, social media but Google has always been our main driver of business since 2003.

We are an eCommerce website trading in the UK.

10:54 am on Oct 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I'm a bit concerned that you are pinning all the blame on those links. There are hundreds of other factors that can cause drops too.

If it isn't too late I recommend biting the bullet and launching a whole stack of new websites using one of the article writing companies out there to create fresh unique content. It means hard work, investment and a wait of, probably, many months before you reap a dividend but then so do nearly all other types of business.

In the meanwhile, personally, I would do nothing about your present site. It may well bounce back, and messing with it may cause it to sink even further, who knows. Google employees spend a lot of time dreaming up ways to keep us baffled about that and a lot of the 'advice' they give (such as disavowing links) should be looked at sceptically.

Finally: you should never have all your eggs in one website IMO. Spread the load.

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