Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

John Mueller’s responses to my questions about Disavows.

Below is Part I
Part 2 is here, The lost transcripts, Part 2 to John Mueller and Jim talk about Disavows.

Part 1

This morning I attended the live Google Hangout with John Mueller. I’ve been watching the recording of these for several months now, and I decided that I wanted a chance to ask some questions myself so this morning I was able to join in.

There were several of us in the Hangout, but I’m going to post just the parts where I asked a question, or where I had a comment about something John said.

Jim:  Hey John, the first question asked, I just wanted to follow up with that…If someone was turned down for a reconsideration request and they got some example links and some of those example links were not in Google Webmaster Tools, are you still saying that we should pretty much just focus our efforts on studying the links from Google Webmaster Tools, or are now you saying that maybe we should be looking at other sources to analyze the backlinks?

John:  I primarily focus on Webmaster Tools and specifically look for patterns that you find there and if you see patterns that kind of point to a bigger issue, then I try to follow up on that.

For instance, if you see some forum links that someone was promoting a site in the forum using kind of spammy techniques and you see that in Webmaster Tools and you know, okay maybe my previous SEO did this and he charged me for 10,000 forum links and I see maybe 20…

Jim:  What if I don’t know?  What if the only thing I know is in Webmaster Tools?  And if I see that there is forum spam and I go through and I delete them all… alright here is all the forum spam that I know of… but if you show things that I don’t know of… you know what I mean?

John:  Yeah.  I mean, we have technical limits in Webmaster Tools of what we show there which is, I think, 1,000 links from 1,000 domains, something around that.  So depending on how the website has links it’s possible that we can’t show all of them in Webmaster Tools.  And usually what happens there is that the patterns for these problematic links are still in Webmaster Tools and that’s something that you can use to try to kind of follow up on that.

[Jim’s note:  when you download the links from Google Webmaster tools, there seems to be a limit of up to 100,000 links. When you brake those down by domains, you can get thousands of domains]

Jim:  So if I identify the pattern, delete everything that is in that bad pattern, what are the odds that I’m still going to be turned down and then shown links that I didn’t know about?

John:  I think in most cases you’ll be able to make it through.  So, it’s something where the Web Spam  team will take a manual look and try to see on the one hand, were they able to clean up the issues that were visible in Webmaster tools, on the other hand were there like significant issues that are still…

Jim:  Well if it’s forum spam it’s going to be really hard to get that removed.

John:  Yeah.

Jim:  And the other thing are like DMOZ scrapers.  How come you show so many DMOZ scrapers in the Webmaster Tools?  Do I have to disavow the DMOZ scrapers?  Don’t you realize they’re just DMOZ scrapers?

John:  Yeah, so I guess one difference there is also that in Webmaster Tools we show these links regardless of what we think of them from a quality point of view, so these are things that might be out there where you could be getting traffic…

[Jim’s note: I don’t get any traffic from DMOZ scrapers…zero traffic]

Jim:  So we have to go and disavow the DMOZ scrapers because you’re showing them?

John:  If those are like unnatural links from DMOZ..

Jim:  They’re DMOZ scrapers!  Well, unless it’s a Google directory scraper because that’s okay.  Like Google can grab it’s DMOZ directory scrapings.  But besides Google and DMOZ anything else is scraper stuff that we now have to identify and disavow.

John:  Usually the DMOZ scraper stuff are things that we know about so that’s not really something that I’d focus much energy on.

Jim:  Okay, and if there’s links that are no-followed, do we have to look at those as well because Google in their Webmaster Tools show a whole bunch of no-followed links?

John:  No.

Jim:  So you don’t have to worry about those or 404s or 302s?

John:  If they’re 404 – no-follow – that’s fine.

Jim:  Or the link’s not up there anymore?

John:  I mean if they’re 404, they drop out of Webmaster Tools over time, if they’re no-followed they’d still be listed in Webmaster Tools, so from that point of view that’s not something that you need to follow up on.

[Jim’s note, many of the backinks you show in webmaster tools have been dead for years, but you still show them, in fact, for most sites that I’ve seen, about ½ of the backlinks you show are either dead pages, no followed, or the link is no longer there, these are not updated very well in Webmaster Tools]

John:  …We notice that there are specific problems with some of the backlinks to your site, and we think we can solve that partly on our side by our analyzing those links that are problematic….this is one of those situations where we manually find some problem that kinda associated with your website,  and we think that maybe we can solve this on our side by just ignoring the links for example.

Jim:  So, then how come we have a disavow, if you can just tell the bad links and just not count them?  If there’s bad links that are an issue, why do we have to do the disavow?  Why don’t you just not count them?

John:  Well, if we could recognize all of them I guess that might be a possibility.  But I guess this is one

of those situations where if you’re aware of the problematic links and can fix those yourself, then you can disavow them.  You can do the reconsideration request to kind of have this partial/manual action removed and that gives you the ability to keep, essentially, the rest of the links that are also associated there and have them act normally again.

Jim:  So, if it’s not manual and it’s algorithmic, why don’t you just not count those links because you’ve algorithmically found that they’re bad?

John:  When we can do that we do try to do that as much as possible.  That’s not always possible so…

Jim:  But if you know the answer to get out of a disavow, like if you know that…

If all this set of bad links are removed, then you can get out of the disavow, then why don’t you just take that set and say, “We’re not gonna count them.”

John:  We do try to do that as much as possible, but again it’s not something that we can always do on a 100% basis.  So this is something where it’s worth kind of working together to make sure that we can kind of clean up this issue in a way that you can continue working on your website without having to worry about this potential anchor kind of pulling you back.

John:  If you’re a webmaster, and your focusing on Toolbar Pagerank, then you’re probably using the wrong metric to analyze how you’re doing.

Jim:  Well why don’t you make it something that is more accurate of your trust in the website, instead of for entertainment purposes only?  It used to be accurate.

John:  Yeah I don’t know how accurate it used to be.  But I agree it would be nice to have some kind of metric like that where you could look at… to kind of, like see an over-all view. I’m not sure what the plans are to kind of move on with that.

Jim:  Hey John, when doing a disavow I noticed that some of the links that were in there – they’re not cached by Google.  And so waiting for the re-crawl can kind of be a pain if it’s not even indexed.

I’m kind of wondering, is it possible to just go into your Webmaster Tools and submit URLs so that Google will index those a little bit faster, the links that you’re looking to disavow?

John:  Yeah, so if it’s for your own site then you can definitely do that.

Jim:  No, it’s for other sites.  Actually in Webmaster Tools I just went in and submitted like a URL.  It says you can put in any URLs, kind of like the old Submit a Website.

So I’m thinking, like for a bunch of these ones that I’m disavowing, instead of waiting for Google to crawl, especially pages that aren’t even cached, can I just submit them in there and be like, “Go and get ’em.”

Or there’s one guy I know that pinged the links as well to try and get Google to go there a little bit sooner.

John:  Um, I’m not sure which one you mean exactly.  So is that the normal Submit URL feature?

Jim:  Uh, yes.  I actually ran a search for “submit URL to Google” and I think it was like the second result on there.  But it’s inside of my Webaster Tools… I can actually submit any URL in it.

John:  As far as I know, we only use that to discover new URLs so it probably wouldn’t change anything or anything that we already have indexed or that we have indexed links from.  But I can check up on that.

[Jim’s note: the Google Suggest URL page is here. ]

Jim:  Yeah I’m gonna try and send you the URL for that as well.

John:  Okay.

Jim:  Thank you.

The complete Google Hangout video with John Mueller on 8-26-13 can be found here.


Update: I found 2 other areas worth noting that weren’t in my original transcripts.

The Part 2 to the post, “The Lost Jim and John Transcripts about Disavows” is here.

PS. If you want help with analyzing your backlinks, or help with your disavow tool analysis, or with your reconsideration / reinclusion request, let us know, I’d love to help you.




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