My Experience With Google Reconsideration Requests and Disavow Lists. Need Your Advice.

Black Friday truly is Thanksgiving’s annual after-party, but this year, for my Black Friday Ads website, it is an organic search nightmare.

Last year, I leveraged the Black Friday fever and made over $20,000 in the month of November by posting leaked Thanksgiving circulars on my site: thanksgivingblackfridayads.com (TBFA).

How did I do that? Recognizing a profitable opportunity, I put Google Adsense on my site and also used a few affiliate programs like CJ,  Linkshare and Amazon Associates to make money from ad clicks and commission on referral sales.

Anyways, traffic usually spikes at my TBFA website every year just after Halloween, when shoppers start thinking about holiday sales. Visitors usually flood to my site hoping to get an early peek at the Black Friday ads.

The year-over-year growth of TBFA had been astounding… that is, until this 2012 Black Friday.  Google penalized my site because of bad links built to my site last year.

I tried removing the bad links and requested a reconsideration on Google Webmaster Tools earlier in the year. Google wrote back and on Oct 19th told me my site still has bad links pointing at it. So, later than night, I uploaded a massive disavow list and then requested another reconsideration. It’s been 20 days and another reconsideration request later (just to make sure they got my first one) and I still haven’t heard back from Google.

I’m afraid that they are so overwhelmed by the excitement around their new disavow tool that perhaps they are getting way behind on processing requests. Or, maybe a Google employee decided they didn’t like my site and perhaps thought I didn’t do a thorough enough job of disavowing bad links? Or.. maybe they just want me to suffer this year and will magically reconsider my site once Black Friday madness is over and its too late for me to make money from organic traffic?

I know I’m probably reading too much into this and taking it way to personally, but it’s hard not to, especially when I know the other Black Friday sites out there. This is where I could really use your advice. I’ve tried everything in my power and I’m losing hope.

Well, anyways, this year, organic traffic is down over 95% from last year due to the Google penalty. It doesn’t help either, I suppose, that Yahoo/Bing decided to globally deindex almost any site that had the words “Black Friday” in its domain name last year too.

For the past three years I had consistently been gaining 500 to 1,000% increase in visitor traffic, each year attracting more visitors than previously projected, as documented here: https://pagodabox.com/case-studies/scale-wordpress-case-study.

Actually, this year, because of streamlining and optimizing placement of Adsense ads, I’m making around 2 cents every time someone visits my website. Last year I was only making around half a cent because I didn’t have large banner ads and they weren’t placed optimally. So, at least I’m still making enough to pay my expenses this year, but I can only imagine how much more traffic and $$$ I could have been making if Google allowed my site to rank again.

Here’s an example of how my site is ranked this week for 10 sample keywords compared to my competitors who employed the same SEO tactics I did last year.

So, that is my dilema.  Any advice before Black Friday 2012 passes in the wind and I remain penalized?

UPDATE, Nov 9, 2012 8:33AM CST: I’m tracking a couple of conversations about this here: http://redd.it/12wfuq and http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4761514. Could you help me get a little lift in visibility for those posts? Perhaps leave a comment or vote on the post on reddit or ycombinator? Thanks.

Update, Nov 15th 7:55PM CST:

I just heard back from Google finally. It was denied again! It was 10/19/12 that I uploaded my first disavow list and sent in a reconsideration request.

Do you think I should upload an even more agressive disavow list?

Here’s a list of all of my links as seen in Google Webmaster Tools today.

Can anyone tell me if there are ANY links in there that I should keep? Because… I’m thinking about disavowing at least 90% of those links. (I’ve already disavowed a good 75% of them already).

Any ideas?

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22 Responses to My Experience With Google Reconsideration Requests and Disavow Lists. Need Your Advice.

  1. Mike Zielonka says:

    I have a idea for you on how to get Google to listen. Run some Adwords and then leverage Adword support. :)

  2. Samer Sultan says:

    Hi Scott, hopefully google offers some feedback on this. I can relate to how it can be pretty frustrating trying to resolve out standing issues online. Please keep us posted with what end up happening, best of luck!

  3. Mark Green says:

    We are very much dependent on google now a days and it is getting worst. Scott, you are completely at the mercy of google . I am very much surprised to see that why google is not taking your request seriously. In normal case, google respond very fast . I think scott, you should start communicate with them again and again .
    Best Luck

  4. John Horne says:

    Scott,

    This is really unfortunate. I don’t think it reasonable to penalize a website for methods that were completely acceptable and not give a legitimate opportunity to regain lost traffic. I hope Google either makes Disavow more effective, or is less harsh on sites just trying to gain new organic traffic.

    • Scott Offord says:

      John, I would hope it’s just a matter that they are very busy this month and not that it is something personal a Googler has against my site :-)

  5. Kyle Faber says:

    Hey Scott,

    What was Googles’ reply initially? What steps did you take to remove the links? how many are still tere and where are they from? id be happy to help look at this with you if youd like…

    Also, to expedite this question to a bigger crowd, have you thought about posting it to the SEOmoz q&a? If you can’t, let me know and I’ll do it on your behalf…

    Cheers,

    Kyle

    • Scott Offord says:

      Hi Kyle, I removed around 2/3 of my links (a few hundred at least) because they were really crappy. Any links that I had control over, like sidebar blogrolls, and links my friend’s in India built, I asked them to take down. I then documented this and let Google know of my efforts. But, the fact that I haven’t heard back from Google since uploading my disavow link is what concerns me.

      Perhaps contacting them too frequently just puts you at the bottom of their list to check up on? Anyways. I have a blog post submitted for publishing on YouMoz, but that might be three week or so until that is published. I will look into posting a Q&A on SEOmoz. Thanks for the idea and offer to help.

      • Kyle Faber says:

        Hey Scott,

        No problem at all. If youre a pro member at seomoz, then you’ll have access to the Q&A stuff.. Also, what was the reason for not being able to get the other 1/3 removed?

        I have seen reports of people having to drop the domain all together and start fresh.. I’m hoping the wont be the result in your case =\

        Cheers

        Kyle

        • Scott Offord says:

          Kyle, I mean, from GWT, I downloaded the entire list of domains linking to my site. And of that whole list, I identified 2/3 as spammy. The other 1/3 were legit links.

  6. Chris says:

    Good luck! You seem pretty smart. I’m sure you’ll make money one way or another.

  7. Adam says:

    That is a tough spot Scott. Moving to a new domain is not a short term solution. I like Oleg’s idea of going to the forum.

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