1. Link Removal and Disavowing
  2. Manual Action Removals
  3. Algorithmic Penalties
  4. Understanding TAGS in Link Audit spreadsheets

Link Removal and Disavowing

Q. Is disavowing a link as good as getting a link removed?
A. To get around Google Penalties and Manual Actions we believe it is. Google would rather you got the link taken down, but this is not always possible. Also disavowing a link in Google will obviously not effect anything in other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, Yandex and Duck Duck Go.

Q. Why don’t you suggest webmaster outreach to get links taken down?
A. From experience we have found this to be a huge waste of effort for two reasons:
Firstly most webmasters do not reply.
Secondly those that do reply usually demand a large fee for link removal. In some circumstances we have known a friendly link removal request to result in massive extortion with threats of a Negative SEO war. Not nice.

Q. I don’t like the size of the disavow file, do I have any other option?
A. Not really, we can pussyfoot around with gentle disavows and go thru endless cycles of rejection, but we don’t recommend it.

Q. Is it really necessary to get rid of the outreach links that I have paid good money for? A. Unfortunately to get past a Google reviewer, probably yes. The fact that you said you paid for them, means Google Webmaster Guidelines were violated, which is what they don’t like. Don’t worry – we may be able to get them back after the penalty is revoked.

Q. Do you typically see a huge ranking drop across the board after deleting/disavowing this many links?
A. TBH in the majority of cases, no, it’s really weird like that. Most people have many links that they believe are helping them, which actually may have no effect whatsoever or even a negative effect.

Q. I’m really nervous about seeing a major ranking drop (maybe it already happened?)
A. You can probably see a loss of traffic in Google Search Console already. With an ‘affects all pages’ penalty this will certainly be the case. What seems to happen with ‘affects some pages’ manual actions is that certain penalized sections/pages on your site lose their power due to decreased engagement and UX. This, in turn, will decrease the effectiveness of your internal linking. Without fixing the penalty, the traffic erodes over a few months. In our opinion, the traffic lost due to losing links is insignificant compared to the traffic that is lost by having a manual action.

Manual Action Removals

Q. My Manual Action has been revoked but it is still showing in Google Search Console, why?
A. It takes about 48hrs for the manual action to disappear from Google Search Console. Please be patient, we have never known this to not happen.

Q. You only sent a Reconsideration request to the http://domain.com version of my site, should I send it to all versions – www and https for example?
A. No this is not necessary and should be avoided. When the Manual Action is revoked, it will disappear from all variations in Google Search Console.

Q. My manual action has been revoked, most of the keywords are in their previous positions, some are slightly down. How long will they they sustain their positions?
A. This is very hard to say as we cannot predict what Google does and how it will value or devalue links in the future. To keep your rankings we suggest that you still try and acquire links, but keep them looking as natural as possible. Please also see the next question.

Q. To remove my Manual Action most of my inbound links have been disavowed, can I get them back now?
A. Yes, but you need to be very careful not to get yourself another Manual Action. Our suggested steps are:

  • Wait for 1 – 2 weeks after the Manual Action has been removed – this is a very sensitive time and you really want to make sure that Google reviewer is not going to come back!
  • Contact us and ask for a Disavow File Audit, in many cases this will be included in the original fee you paid
  • After analysing your best and safest links we can then undisavow them – the goal is to get your good links back, whilst staying ‘under the radar’ as far as Google is concerned

Q. Do you think previously penalised sites are flagged for review more often than other sites?
A. We have known sites get a second penalty within days of their penalty being revoked, by webmasters doing foolish things such as deleting the disavow file or building tons of low-quality links. We have no hard evidence that previously penalised sites are more susceptible to penalties, but we do suggest being very careful in the first few weeks after a penalty has been revoked.

Q. We have a ton of .info domains linking to our sites. Should we be pro-actively disavowing these and other scraper sites or is this low risk?
A. We think that Google probably ignores all these scraper sites, so yes they are most likely low-risk links. However, we do recommend regular link audits and keeping your link profile clean by pro-actively disavowing undesirable links.

Algorithmic Penalties

Q. Will disavowing bad links improve my rankings?
A. Sometimes it will, but it really depends on what the rest of your links are like and other factors such as your content, site speed, on page SEO etc. etc.

Understanding TAGS in Link Audit spreadsheets

If you order a Link Audit you will receive an Excel Spreadsheet with a lot of data about your links. This includes a column called ‘TAGS’ where we will have added TAGs to explain why a link was disavowed, undisavowed etc. Here are some commonly used TAGs:

DF0: This link was already in your Disavow File.

HTTPERR: The page that the link is reported as being on is returning an error code, such as 500, 503, 404 etc.

IMGAGG: This is an autogenerated page that scrapes images from all over the internet and hotlinks to them

NEG: This is a link that is intended to harm your rankings using Negative SEO. These kind of links are often built by competitors using automated software.

FORUM: Spam forum entry or spammy looking forum profile.

COMMENT: Comment Spam.

SUSP1: This means your link is on a very weak page.

SUSP4: This means that the homepage of the domain where the link is placed does not rank for its own title. The assumption here is that the domain may be penalized.

SUSP17: This means that your link is on a page with a massive number of outgoing links. Usually this is a ton of comment or pingback spam.

NEG: This is a link that is intended to harm your rankings using Negative SEO. These kind of links are often built by competitors using automated software.

SUSP31: This means that your link placement is very unnatural. Links like this often cause Google Manual Actions for Unnatural Inbound Links and/or Google Penguin Penalties.

SUSP32: These are links that are strong but drastically lack trust. These links are ones often found in the gambling industry.

SUSP34: The link is on a domain that has a TLD that is often used by spammers. Typical examples are .xyz and .us

TOX1: This means that your link is on a page that is not in Google’s index.

TOX2: This means that the domain may contain malicious scripts, virus or malware.

TOX3: This is a known risky domain.

TOX3PTD0: This is a known risky domain that is super weak.

TOX10: The domain has a very negative Link Velocity.

MOSTLINKED: The link is one of an unusual amount linking to one particular page. This is often the case when removing partial match penalties i.e. “Affects Some Pages”.

GSPAMPLE: This is a problematic link which has been given by Google in a failed Reconsideration Request.

CLIENTNAMEOK: This is a link that the client knows to be legitimate.

UDYYYYMMDD: This indicates that we have decided to undisavow a link that was previously disavowed. The date is also included. Please note that the date is always written YYYYMMDD. This is to avoid confusion when working with, for example, US and UK clients.