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    Advice for fixing a site with a black(hat) past.


    Greetings, folks. I work with a company that does digital marketing and for the last few years (since Penguin at least), their SERP rankings have been very low, with no more than one or two meaningful keywords above page 2 in the rankings. Given that their onsite content is decent enough (certainly competitive with the high rankers in their local area) and given that their domain itself is a decade old, I assumed these aren't the issue.

    In discussing their past backlink development and visibility with the company owner, he explained that they allowed some former employees to do deep dives into black hat backlinking for clients and the company itself. From what I can see in CognitiveSEO and similar services, they have about 19,000 backlinks. I'm going to hazard a guess to say that ~97% of these backlinks are the traditional black hat spam trash that used to help their rank (by sheer volume), but now only hurt as Google's system gets better at detecting and punshing this sort of stuff.

    Right now I can only see and review about 2,500 of their 19k backlinks in Cognitive, thus I am unable to critique about 85% of their backlinks and where they are coming from, which is making a disavow effort difficult at best.

    So my questions are fairly simple for the great minds here:

    1.) What tools would those of you who have helped resuscitate a site like this recommend to help the site get out of the shadow of its past bad behavior?

    2.) Is it better to start with a fresh domain and simply reach out to the decent backlinks that they had to ask them to update their links?

    3.) Given that the content on site is okay as far as I can see, is continuing the process of disavowing spam backlinks the only thing I should be doing right now?

    4.) Assuming that the site can be turned around and achieve results more in line with what they want to see (page 1 in local search results) one day, is there anything that I should keep in mind in terms timeline for recovery/rehabilitation?

    Thanks in advance for any insight. Feel free to PM me if you'd like to have a look at the site in question.
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    What tools, why all of them, Moz, ahref, spyglass, etc.. As you have mentioned, the problem with backlink tools is that no one tools indexes all the links out there.

    Depending on client requested turn-around, how much work you want to do, it could take 6 months to a year getting your disavow working properly, provided you don't miss any links.

    May I suggest Option 2 with a twist.

    Keep the old site so you can keep it up, get a new domain. You did say or implied you knew which links were good ones ...
    Originally Posted by Intersetllar
    Is it better to start with a fresh domain and simply reach out to the decent backlinks that they had to ask them to update their links?
    Now you just redirect all the Good Links to the New Domain, and I mean only the good links. Mind you this all depends on your ability to sort out the links and then get the new site up. Duplicating the site will be the easy part, what all of a couple of hours work at most. The link analysis will be the difficult part.

    edited to add...
    This way you don't have to contact other folks to change the links, you just 301 them, juice and all.

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    • dzine agrees : I was sorta thinking the same: keep the site, lose the domain. Be careful with the backlinks though... There may be lots of icky ones in there...
    Last edited by KnowOneSpecial; Aug 17th, 2017 at 09:04 PM.
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    Originally Posted by KnowOneSpecial
    What tools, why all of them, Moz, ahref, spyglass, etc.. As you have mentioned, the problem with backlink tools is that no one tools indexes all the links out there.

    Depending on client requested turn-around, how much work you want to do, it could take 6 months to a year getting your disavow working properly, provided you don't miss any links.

    May I suggest Option 2 with a twist.

    Keep the old site so you can keep it up, get a new domain. You did say or implied you knew which links were good ones ...

    Now you just redirect all the Good Links to the New Domain, and I mean only the good links. Mind you this all depends on your ability to sort out the links and then get the new site up. Duplicating the site will be the easy part, what all of a couple of hours work at most. The link analysis will be the difficult part.

    edited to add...
    This way you don't have to contact other folks to change the links, you just 301 them, juice and all.
    Thank you for the thoughts here. I really like that idea. I'll wait for maybe one or two more responses and make a recommendation. I really appreciate your time.
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    Originally Posted by Interstellar
    Greetings, folks. I work with a company that does digital marketing...
    Hi Interstellar, Sorry but if you work for a company that does digital marketing why do you need to ask your questions here? Doesn't anyone there have thoughts on disavow vs starting over?

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    • Test-ok agrees
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    Hi KP, what is wrong if intersteller ask this question here, it's an seochat forum and here are many experts from different countries and have different thoughts on the same topics so I don't think he did some mistake to ask this question here.
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    Originally Posted by sksharma
    Hi KP, what is wrong if intersteller ask this question here, it's an seochat forum and here are many experts from different countries and have different thoughts on the same topics so I don't think he did some mistake to ask this question here.
    Because if he's in the business or getting paid for it he should know, it's " professionals" ha ha like this that gives the industry a bad name.

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    • KernelPanic agrees
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    Additionally he's to lazy to research the information because it easily found. That my friend is not a professional, it's a leach screwing things up for professionals.
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    Now I get the point why KP said like that

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    • Test-ok agrees : Glad you understand.☺
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    Originally Posted by sksharma
    Now I get the point why KP said like that
    This forum has an amazing history of helping people make their own websites successful. We have even taken people in totally unrelated fields and turned them into successful SEO professionals. Always happy to help there.
    What we don't tolerate is people who are getting paid to perform a service that they have no idea how to perform. That's stealing and we don't help people steal.

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    • sksharma agrees
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    Originally Posted by KernelPanic
    Hi Interstellar, Sorry but if you work for a company that does digital marketing why do you need to ask your questions here? Doesn't anyone there have thoughts on disavow vs starting over?
    Greetings. Because second opinions are always good, aren't they? Addressing backlink issues like this isn't something we do and I'm very much volunteering to try to find an answer after doing what were the standard things to resolve it and improve those rankings over the last year.

    Originally Posted by Test-ok
    Additionally he's to lazy to research the information because it easily found. That my friend is not a professional, it's a leach screwing things up for professionals.
    Actually, this was my last stop after reviewing thoughts and suggestions and disavowing as many bad backlinks/domains as I could for the last year. If there's something that I could be doing other than disavowing, it wasn't as easily found as you suggest. If it was, I wouldn't have posed the very long, very specific question, right?

    I didn't realize me asking as question and looking for a second opinion would become KernelPanic's soapbox opportunity to vent about issues that have nothing to do with me or my question, but I apologize. I mistakenly assumed this forum offered help to those asking some basic questions to problems they're having trouble solving. As you can see by my post count, I haven't had many questions to ask over the last few years but when I did people were always helpful. Perhaps more has changed than just the time.

    Best of luck to you all and thank you to those who actually offered a suggestion. Kernel, I do hope whoever kicked your puppy gets jailed so you can stop attacking and insulting other posters who may pose a question that you feel beneath you. It's really not a good look.
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    Originally Posted by Interstellar
    Greetings. Because second opinions are always good, aren't they? Addressing backlink issues like this isn't something we do and I'm very much volunteering to try to find an answer after doing what were the standard things to resolve it and improve those rankings over the last year.


    Actually, this was my last stop after reviewing thoughts and suggestions and disavowing as many bad backlinks/domains as I could for the last year. If there's something that I could be doing other than disavowing, it wasn't as easily found as you suggest. If it was, I wouldn't have posed the very long, very specific question, right?

    I didn't realize me asking as question and looking for a second opinion would become KernelPanic's soapbox opportunity to vent about issues that have nothing to do with me or my question, but I apologize. I mistakenly assumed this forum offered help to those asking some basic questions to problems they're having trouble solving. As you can see by my post count, I haven't had many questions to ask over the last few years but when I did people were always helpful. Perhaps more has changed than just the time.

    Best of luck to you all and thank you to those who actually offered a suggestion. Kernel, I do hope whoever kicked your puppy gets jailed so you can stop attacking and insulting other posters who may pose a question that you feel beneath you. It's really not a good look.
    Sorry you got your feelings hurt, truth hurts don't it? How can you justify your company taking money to rank websites when it can't get it's own website any ranks at all? Further, your company took money from unsuspecting clients to rank their websites and instead you actually hurt their businesses. You want my help? My consultation fee is $175 an hour.
    Last edited by KernelPanic; Aug 21st, 2017 at 06:30 AM.

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