Losing $5000/month 🤯 MANUAL PENALTY, Negative SEO, & the Disavow Tool with Dave Fox
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Losing $5000/month 🤯 MANUAL PENALTY, Negative SEO, & the Disavow Tool with Dave Fox

in this video I talked the Dave Fox
about negative SEO unfortunately one of Dave’s sites was hit really hard with
negative SEO and it had sort of a cascading impact on his portfolio of
sites so we talked about how to deal with negative SEO we talked about the
google disavow tool and we talked about you know what you should be doing on a
regular basis to hopefully prevent negative SEO from impacting you so let’s
get over to the discussion now what’s up it’s Doug here I’m sitting with my
friend Dave how you doing in this video we’re gonna talk about what to do when
your site gets hit with negative SEO and sort of like the process to take and
also a little bit about what happens when your site gets hit with the manual
penalty so right Dave this is a dramatic topic and I’ve sort of been you know
mentioning negative SEO on the YouTube channel for a while and you know I used
to not really pay much attention but in recent times I’ve been paying a lot more
attention so can you just give us a little intro on how and why you have
experience in this area well last Christmas or this past Christmas I got a
manual penalty from Google that basically took down three of my sites
like in one day and so it was just like hi we noticed your sites have kind of
bad linking profile and we’re gonna have to penalize you for that and I was just
like at first when I saw it I was like oh maybe that’s not too bad like they
you know I get messages in webmaster tools or search console often enough so
I didn’t think that it was like the end of the world but it turns out it
actually was the end of the world okay I was like it took like a few hours I’m
like hey wait a second and then this shit hit the fan kind of thing right and
by the way most of your traffic it came from like organic search traffic right
so yeah all of it all right so like 90 percent or higher right oh
yeah like 90 98 percent all right so bad deal and basically your earnings went
from like pretty good to like almost nothing yeah well Christmas luckily I
guess I just got my Christmas sales in and then this happened
on Christmas so it was like end of the month I’m like yeah December was pretty
good I made like good money like I normally do on in December and then got
the penalty and then things just like plummeted terrible all right well
luckily we can say you’ve recovered your earnings are back the traffic is
basically back and what we’re going to talk about today is sort of a few
definitions and then we’re gonna talk about like how you recovered so we have
about twelve steps to go through and we’re gonna try and be pretty concise
with this and avoid our normal rambling discussions yeah hopefully everyone will
appreciate that so first off the bat can you just quickly define like you know
grey hat black hat white hat yeah I mean white hat is where you do everything
basically like on the level you don’t screw around you do it like you don’t
like do anything potentially hazardous with your sights you just are doing
everything pure as driven snow that’s the white kind of like tag and as
compared with black hat which is where you start doing things that Google might
have a problem with and if it does have a problem and it does notice those black
hat things you’ve done that for a temporary amount of time can benefit you
a lot but if it sees those things it can just like destroy you within like a day
oh and then gray hats in the middle right and all I’m gonna do a quick tweak
and clarification there’s obviously a lot of like different opinions on white
hat and gray hat and you know what some people even say don’t build backlinks
like it doesn’t even matter like if they naturally come great but don’t worry
about it so quick clarification at least you know my opinion
white hat is it follows the google webmaster guidelines and essentially
that says you know you’re not doing anything where you’re trying to build
links for SEO that’s sort of their guideline in my opinion black hat is
actually like illegal stuff so that is like hacking someone’s site you know
inserting code like doing something where you could like go to jail and
that’s black hat in my opinion and grey hat is you know somewhere like you know
violating the terms of service from like Google but it’s not illegal you’re just
build ranks and you can’t go to jail or any of those activities gray hat
activities so that’s my definition but everyone honestly I mean there’s a lot
of debate out there so well I think also it’s worth mentioning that there’s like
the idea of black hat being something you can use as like a webmaster to like
get ahead quickly or whatever so just kind of like illegal stuff then there’s
black hat where it’s like it’s being done to you hence the negative SEO thing
got it got it okay so and as far as like backlinks for niche sites I mean do you
think they’re necessary for niche sites I mean we’ve had this debate ongoing
about this where you’ve always been encouraging me to try to get them and
I’ve been I kind of being Who I am and not being like extremely social with
people and wanting to reach out to them I kind of just ignore that for a while
basically I’ve been not doing them for a while but eventually finally like I’m
sort of doing them because it just it does have like a an effective it does
benefit to do them if you do them right cool in this is a little teaser for the
next video where we’re actually going to talk about the white hat outreach that
you have been doing and it sounds like you’ve you know doubled your traffic
doubled your revenue on that particular project so super interesting in an
upcoming video but back you are our issue of the day which is figuring out
what to do with this manual penalty so when you first got the penalty like I
guess what did you do how did you figure out that it maybe was due to negative
SEO or something else well the penalty does have a link well when I got the
penalty I held a link to a video that I guess is pretty old it was from like
Matt Cutts from my 2012 saying like hey welcome to this video if you’re if
you’re watching this video it’s because there’s some issues with your site and
it has something to do with you being involved in some link schemes and you
probably shouldn’t have done that but you have to fix it and depth at a time
like what the hell like seriously what the hell is this and then that was like
the first indication that it was like more serious and I was just starting to
get a bad feeling right yeah gotcha and since you weren’t big on link building I
mean you probably had a hunch that you didn’t build those links that was the
problem was something else right but yeah like I went into occasionally I
would like check out my links to my site search console but not being a big
backlink person I’m just like and whatever it’s like those things come and
go or whatever they’re just there and I hadn’t really closely looked at them but
then when I looked at them closer like because you can download the whole you
know like spreadsheet of them or whatever and I was like oh oh like
there’s a lot of them and they’re bad and that’s just the tip of the iceberg
so that was where I was like shit like this is like not good
got it so how do you tell like the good ones from the bad ones well it’s pretty
I mean people have asked me that lately cuz you know I’ve been complaining about
this lately and it’s like you can pretty much tell because I mean there’s a
couple rules to go by where you know if you didn’t intentionally make them and
you’re not aware of them then they’re probably not good because why are they
even there you know like if you didn’t go out of your way to get them then
chances are they’re being there they’re not there for a good reason and the
other thing is you can just look at the kind of indole like wait a second like
that domain name looks a little bit off I’ve been like manually checking all
them now so like I can see what which ones are bad and usually if something
has some kind of garbling sounding domain name that’s a pretty good
indication of it being bad like so for instance it’d be called like you know
monster truck jam X dot X Y Z dot ninja kind of thing it’s just like some weird
thing like that right I was going to say I’ve had this happen to a few of my site
and yet there’s a lot of XYZ sites a lot of dot biz sites a lot of info sites
just yeah not typical URLs that you would see it may just be like a jumble
of letters that doesn’t spell anything with a bunch of numbers on the end or
yeah international a lot of international you are ELLs too so they
just they look weird now I mean you mentioned if you didn’t build the link
and you see a link it’s probably not a great one to have and I will say you
know if your site’s pretty good you you probably will get a couple links here
and they’re just people linking to your site because it’s a good resource
hopefully and those will look like actual websites and when you go look at
the link you’ll see like a norm website when you look at these links
right usually it’s like a weird site with like a bunch of weird links on that
page yeah like I mean that’s where that that’s where the negative SEO comes into
play because I think not all of them have those odd sounding domain names
like some of them are like be like that the tree conservatory of like Daytona or
something you know like dot org and then you go to it and it’s just like pictures
and weird links like all the way down and it’s nothing like the name would
imply so those are kind of ones where I’m like hey wait a second someone’s
purchased that domain use it as spam like domain and then spamming me with
that domain so I’m like that seems a little more intentional than just like
your average robot doing something shine of randomly okay so and you alluded to
like a spam attack so can you kind of describe like why someone would do that
like what it looks like from your perspective yeah I mean I guess the
thing that I can include into as I’m sorting through all these like thousands
there’s literally because if you don’t keep track of these links they add up
pretty quickly and I think they’re proportionate to like if you’re making
money then people can see you out there and then a certain percentage of people
are bad and they will spam you and so yeah as you’re going through the links
you’re you’re realizing that you know like these links are you know I’ve been
put there by someone to like spam you and then you think why is someone
spamming me what’s the point of this and point of it obviously is once you get
like for me that the threshold was like 8,000 links so once you get to about
8,000 crappy links the penalty is like triggered and then it just that’s when
you get you know you get screwed up so that’s sort of like why people are just
kind of like sending more links to you and like they’re they want you out of
the way so that if you’re ranking for like best fridge magnet suddenly you
just disappear and then they can pop up into that spot it’s like an unethical
way of like gaining like ranking this or whatever so right got it so and again I
have seen this on several of my sites and what what happens right like because
it usually will maybe have a look at our backlink profile like once a quarter or
something like that hopefully like you just out of curiosity
you have a look you know and on a chaffs for exam
that’s kind of the one I used to check out backlinks you’ll just be going along
maybe some growth rate and then all of a sudden you’ll see like a big spike with
like several hundred links and in one of the cases that I observed was you know
basically someone redirected like 301 redirected about 800 different sites to
my site and then it just you know all of a sudden I was like why do I have like
all these new links that are 301 redirects this is really very strange
and I just you know I disavowed them which brings me to the disavow tool so
can you sort of like tell us about the disavowed tool and like your experience
with it’s sort of like how you took the list of like bad links and then what do
you do with it well once you’ve compiled your list
there’s a certain format that you need to adhere to in order to like submit it
to the disavow which I guess I’m not sure if it’s common knowledge but then
again I don’t even think that this about tool is common knowledge so it’s like
first of all you have to know about the tool the fact that it’s there then you
have to upload a file in a specific format and if you don’t then the file is
kind of invalid so I think Google probably has these these instructions
somewhere I think I watch the YouTube video or something about it but it
probably wasn’t Google like Google kind of like spreads out information in weird
places so it’s kind of hard to like get all the information you need to like
find out what to do but once you have the list then you have to upload it to
the disavow tool it’s theoretically really easy it’s just like make the list
upload it you’re done yeah it’s a text file yep and I was gonna say I have I
think like in the thread of emails that Google may send you they have links to
like the video that you watch with Matt Cutts and then they have links from
there to the disavow tool the format and like I said I’ve read through the
documentation so yeah the format is quite simple like you list the URL on
one line text file I’ll put links for all this stuff by the way and then you
could actually disavow like every link from a specific domain so you would just
type in yeah domain colon and then whatever the domain is and then any
layer from that domain is not recognized so it’s a quick write to just like you
know narrow down your backlinks so so you submitted though
and then what happens after that how long does it take for that file to be
like evaluated or whatever okay well here’s the thing so like for one thing I
did I did all like domain level disavow so like I didn’t even but I think the
first few times I did it I had like every link in there it’s so there’s like
8,000 links in this file and I went through them all manually so it took me
like days and stuff to do that and then eventually I’m like you know what this
whole like domain level thing makes a lot of sense because a lot of times
these domains would link like dozens or hundreds of times to me so I’m like this
guy needs to be disavowed at the domain level for sure cuz like why would I not
disavow this guy at the domain level I don’t want anything this guy does to
come come and get me so like I did that and that’s shortened the list a lot to
like you know maybe like a 100 or 200 domains but in that it would contain you
know the 8,000 actual permalinks to all that all the links so basically you
consolidated the huge list down to the domain level yeah to make it more
manageable you knew right whole domain was bad yeah right oh yeah okay then
basically like you submit it and the the fun part is that you don’t know when
Google actually like takes a look at it there’s no like we’ve seen this there’s
none of that so it’s like it’s just in there like in the in the disavow tool
like waiting to be gone over and the thing the other thing that makes it
additionally kind of confusing it’s like in search console you expect those links
maybe to disappear because they’ve been disavowed but I don’t think they
necessarily do they just still sit there and they kind of like swirl around but
I’m not sure if they disappear they don’t all the links are still listed
there right so interesting now how often did you disavow or how often should you
disavow if you’re seeing like these negative SEO links : yeah I do it every
like I’m trying to do it every two months now because yeah if you go to a
traps and you look at the new links to your site and you start seeing like hey
there’s 10 links a day being added to my site that’s probably not good because
for me I only get like one or two backlinks a month that are really good
so getting 10 links a day from somebody is not good
I’ve to look at that and I see that a lot actually like with my sites is just
like you know you lose links to so like there’ll be like 10 new ones and like
you lost you but if you start seeing that trend
and you you’re like looking at that I think that’s bad that’s a sign that you
should be like disavowing obviously more often because that’s gonna pile up
pretty quickly yeah it’s like it’s crazy because you know like that this is sort
of like if anyone’s watching this and they want it to be like a asshole they
could just they could go over to Fiverr and like you know that’s how you do it
you just like go to fiber you buy like a million backlinks package for $10 and
then just like launch them at your opponent and then the guy on Fiverr is
just like well I don’t care I don’t know I’m not gonna ask like I don’t know I
could ask too many questions so he’s just gonna do what you pay him to do and
with his shit backlinks and just toss them at whoever so once you get those
million backlinks like coming your way then it’s like I don’t know if there’s
literally a million but if there is it’s like that’s bad news too that would be
bad yeah but like I don’t that’s the whole like I think industry of like the
negative SEO where it’s like there’s there’s a bunch of like people on Fiverr
that do that it’s supposedly good for your SEO backlinks but when you’re
getting them but by like the hundreds of thousands it’s obviously gonna cause
problems but I think some people my hunch is that some people go on there
and they just do that to like mess with their competition like if you’re doing
that bad that’s bad and I don’t like you because that’s that’s actually horrible
you’re so the the other thing that I want to point out is you know while
that’s true what you said you know people could go buy those links Google
does a really good job figuring out these bad backlinks and like they just
don’t recognize them so I think like in the last two years or so Google has
gotten like really good at figuring those out so for a long time I mean you
can kind of ignore it but at some point there’s some threshold and that I mean
that’s why we’re talking about this like yeah if you have a site going for and
it’s doing well for a few years like there’s a good chance you’ve accumulated
like some negative SEO overtime maybe you haven’t noticed maybe it’s not even
like pure negative SEO maybe it’s just some people building links to random
site I’m not sure like the motivation for that yeah but there I mean I have
heard of like just links like showing up and it didn’t
to be like pure negative SEO but it’s just like a bag full of links so the
point is people don’t go waste your money like if you’re trying to be a jerk
don’t go waste your money trying to do this on Fiverr because like if someone’s
paying attention they just disavow the links and then they may not even be
recognized by Google anyway however if the person is very persistent they may
be able to like reach the threshold or something like that but anyway I just
wanted to point that out so there’s not a flood of people trying to do negative
well I mean like the whole premise of those links is to do them on yourself so
it improves your site so it’s like that’s the kind of like false premise of
those those packages and either if you’re doing it to yourself or to
someone else it’s like if you’re watching this it’s just like don’t don’t
buy those packages or I used to buy them so I mean like I’m guilty if it’s due in
the beginning when I was like hey what’s Fiverr and oh look he’s like you’re
gonna get these awesome links like I remember that and I was like don’t do it
Dave don’t yeah don’t do that and I did it occasionally just and for
all I know I’m like talking to myself here you know it was me all along right
so I don’t know if that was like some package that I bought like four years
ago that the guy still has the button is still green and there’s still links
shooting out of it but also it’s like there’s a another thing there’s a lot of
porn links well actually I don’t know Google shows you the porn I think it
does show you get porn links actually but there’s if there’s a lot of bad
links a lot of them I find are like porn links now so it’s like it’s not just
weird you know like shifty sites that don’t that don’t really have any purpose
it’s also just like mega porn dot biz is linking to you like a thousand times and
like I can see why Google would if that was happening like regularly and you had
all those links Google’s gonna eventually ban you because they don’t
like it’s just a robot it’s just AI so it’s not if they just think this is bad
like they can’t you know what are they gonna do right so let’s sort of wrap it
up here now you disavowed you figured out how to disavow in you were able to
recover your site so at some point you had to like submit your site for
reconsideration right so how does that work that’s the thing do you like it’s
it’s the whole the whole process is a little bit like mysterious to me I know
someone apparently reviews the the lists at some point and then you get a message
from Google saying you know you’ve been either the penalty’s list
or penalty remains based on their assessment of your links that you’ve
submitted and I’ve been told I’m not sure if this is true because Google
really doesn’t have a lot of information on this but like the people that do that
aspect like the like in my I have a whole rant about this but essentially
like when you try to contact Google through like different channels search
console is like the hardest people to a contact like I’ll tell a quick anecdote
if I may about what Google Suites I don’t even heard of that that’s like
the set of tools is alright yeah there’s like a new business Google business
account and I got it because I was panicking and trying to get a hold of
Google to ask them questions about the disavowing and stuff like that and
Google Suites gives you your own like 24/7 like helpline so I remember calling
that helpline after I paid for dual suite so I didn’t want I just paid for
it so I get the helpline and then I was talking with people in the helpline I
was like yeah so my sites got hit by this penalty and they’re like oh no that
sucks like what happened I’m like you guys did this this was you and and
they’re like what what are you talking about I’m like yeah like search console
blah blah blah penalty disavow and and the guy and the guy was just like had no
clue what I was talking about he’s just like we’ve never heard of this we’ll
talk to our team like so it’s within the Google Suites thing they have like no
knowledge of search console and to the record everyone that I’ve talked to has
no knowledge of search console except for like a very few select people like
that dude who’s on YouTube that does the webmaster chats I forget what his name
is but I think he’s like the one guy on the planet who like seems to know
anything and that’s why people go on the webmaster chat and like just like beg
him to help him look at the one guy that knows anything but uh yeah seriously
like what the search console world is very like like under staffed I guess you
could say as far as I’m concerned and I’ve been told that it’s just like
they’re out on an island somewhere anyway so you submit it and then at some
point you get the you know Google tells you the result of your submission and it
took me like months to get them sites back because they rejected me a bunch of
times like my once I got back immediately within like a week so that’s
I had like a maybe a two-week like low in that like a drop or two weeks the
other sites were like a month and then like a month and a half but they kept
rejecting me and I was just like trying to that was my
I couldn’t figure out why they were rejecting me because I was working on
this like constantly and you know like losing money by the day and so I was
freaking out and there is nobody really to like you know like help me so I just
got lucky eventually there’s people to do penalty like removal things and you
know those are the people I was turning to you at that time to like possibly pay
them like a shitload of money to like help me remove the counting so I was
just like well maybe that’s what I have to do in order to get the penalty lifted
cuz nobody can help me but eventually I just spent like 20
hours doing it myself and then got the penalty lifted so okay so in you submit
it for reconsideration and then you hear something back in some indeterminate
amount of time carries and then if you get rejected was your action to disavow
more links basically yeah I have to reassess this list and like figure out
what I missed on here yeah just like basically pile on more links because
there’s it wasn’t enough or something like that alright and then once your
sites were accepted you read they were reconsidered and then Google said yes
they look fine now how long did it take for the traffic and rankings to return
I’d say like within a few days they’re back to where they were it’s just
hilarious right because it’s just like you’re going along and then just like
you hit the bottom and you alive you have like two users a day from like
thousands of users a day just like top 2002 – it’s just like – for like a month
they’re basically just like stepping on your like they just holding underwater
you know like you’re nobody can see you in that but you’re there but nobody can
see you right and then when you get you know reconsidered and you’re back the
penalties removed it’s just like Oh everything’s fine like you just like
cruise back up to the same level and you’re just like haha that’s funny like
that’s crazy it’s really weird because now it’s like you’re just back in that
you’re back in the SERPs your people can see you again whereas you were invisible
for like all that time it’s just like it’s just crazy because you’re trying to
think of like you know how that whole process works like I’m just invisible
now like I’m still there you can do it you can type me in I’m there but like
nobody can see me right so and then then all the sudden they’re just like a buddy
you’re the best go back to where you were and you’re like thanks right right
and by the way this sort of like it does a couple things and we’ll we’ll
wrap up here but you know number one there was another big I mean a lot of
people were penalized in that timeframe you know from time to time it looks like
maybe a year every two years Google has like a big set of manual penalties and
they sort of make an example of a certain like group of sites or a certain
group that does link-building a certain way I got caught up in like 2013 and
2014 with private blog networks and you know my sites went down a lot of my
peers their sites went down is you know a big deal so like I said every few
years there seems to be like some other set that is identified and then Google
will take a big action and I mean it scares a lot of people from doing
certain things right so it’s it’s effective in that sort of fear aspect
there’s another site called ten beast that saw like a similar fate and they
were able to disavow some set of their links and then recover their site too so
this stuff does happen negative SEO is real the other part is and I don’t know
that ten beasts added a negative SEO problem by the way but they disavowed
links and the point is if you have like links going to your site and it’s
penalized you can recover it like through your persistence right I mean
it’s basically it was your livelihood your your full-time income like you
needed to recover these sites and you work through the list and submitted it a
few times and then you were able to recover your sites so I mean you can
recover a site if it gets penalized whether it’s you know whether you’re
doing gray hat or or not I will mention I wasn’t able to recover my sites
because basically all of the links that I had back in the day were private blog
network links and like right if I disavowed all of those links there would
be none left yes so there was I mean I just I moved
on basically so right anything else to add
about disavows or negative SEO or anything Dave I would just like in
conclusion and say like if your if this happens to you like you’re gonna want to
jump out a window probably
if it’s you know if it was anything like my situation I was like going literally
going crazy but you just have to stay calm and like you know just just react
in a strategic way where you’re like you know there’s a way to react to this
situation and it’s not like by giving up or by like calling Google and yelling at
them or something like you just have to do something proactive and just take
those steps and you’ll get things will things will come back it’s a it’s a
learner it was a learning experience for me because if you haven’t even look
looked at your links like your backlinks maybe it’s time you check check looked
into that right like take a look good look at that list gonna get a coffee
and sit down and look at those links and be like what are these who are these
people you know what I mean right yep yeah for sure yep it is really just I
mean it’s a problem to solve it’s not a fun problem to have or a fireman to
solve but like once you get through it I mean you’re probably a lot more
confident now like if you got a like a negative SEO attack or a penalty for
some reason like your problem all right I could do it now I mean like the good
thing is I have like a nice spreadsheet where it’s like the good guys the bad
guys and then if there’s a good guy like good guy good guy goes on the good list
bad guy goes on the bad list and then it’s fine cuz you just like know how to
deal with these people it’s like you know what I mean
yep awesome yeah well thanks for sharing your story quick plug for your YouTube
channel you just want to tell us a little bit about it right now
yeah I have records which is my record label it is my dream to you know like
how people check out the music on that channel because that’s what I do with
the money that I make from SEO I like go to the studio and record stuff so I mean
like everyone has their little like dream and stuff and that’s what I’d like
to do so I that’s my that’s what I want to plug essentially cool yeah everybody
check it out and uh you know subscribe to Dave’s channel yeah sent me a nice
comment on that channel alright thanks Dave we’ll talk to you later
okay cool yeah thanks a lot Dave for sharing your story in your approach to
negative SEO and I hope it doesn’t impact anybody out there but if it does
take some of Dave’s tips and you should be in better shape don’t forget to check
out Dave’s channel he’s a musician and there’s cool music
there so go have a look over at Dave’s Channel and let him know you came from a
niche site project you


  • White Hat Legend

    I'm still nervous about using the disavow tool – what if I disavow something that's inadvertently passing authority? Another thing I was hoping you guys would discuss is Penguin 4.0 and how some SEOs are on the fence about whether the disavow tool is still necessary or not.

  • Young Coconut

    Hey guys, just me Dave here from the video. If y'all have any questions for me, you can ask me, I'm around.

  • Kelly Bullock

    Hi, should you actively look and check your links and use that tool BEFORE you get the penalty? I have had no penalty, but looking through my links i do have some strange looking links on there. Should i disavow them now??

    I was steadily getting 210 users a day, then past 3-4 weeks im only getting 90-110 – could this be why?

  • Thane's Business

    can you tell me if bad links will show in the manual webspam section of the search console and if there is nothing there i don't need to act

  • thetuningroom

    Hey Doug, love your page. Coming from an SEO background, when buying those backlinks in the past, they might have added him to a few spammy aggregators – which other spam sites pull info from and add it to their site automatically.

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