That’s how many results are served for the query ‘reconsideration request’. This is the query I searched for after being tapped to write a piece outlining the DragonSearch reconsideration request process. After a good head scratch, I wondered…what do I have to say that will provide value to the SEO community and our clients? Sure, we have our own, hard-earned black box of tips and tricks, but I don’t give those away without at least two Old Fashioneds. The core concepts shared in many of the articles found in a standard SERP can be considered best practices at this point. Instead of analyzing how ol’Cutts is feeling based on the shirt he’s wearing and trying to glean some revolutionary advice out of his latest rant, I decided to give a digital hat tip to the folks who have shaped our best practices (and my views) when it comes to Penguin penalties, disavow files and reconsideration requests.
It all starts with the steely gaze of Ross Hudgens’ and his How WPMU.org recovered from the Penguin update blog post on Moz which was one of the first, if not THE first, detailed accounting on a recovery. Sure, there are some things that they were able to control that many others cannot, but the methodology and the foundation that Ross provides lead to some pretty rad advancements from others including Cyrus Shepard’s killer case study about using the disavow tool and how he used it to earn recovery.
Instead of stopping at recovery, Cyrus set out to do a number of ‘what if’ tests to further size up the opponent. Who hasn’t wondered what would happen if you disavowed every last link that pointed to your site? 35,000 links and sweet, sweet visitor traffic, both gone like dust in the wind, that’s what happens. Worry not, this cautionary tail hasn’t concluded as Cyrus continues to update, often warning: use the disavow tool with caution!
I could wax poetically regarding Jenny’s supreme level of awesome but I think this exchange between her and the main Dude speaks volumes:
@jennyhalasz sorry that http://t.co/SXwwijAYT3 isn't getting the attention it deserves today..
— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) January 20, 2014
As a person who began in-house and moved to the shiny skyscrapers of an agency gig, I’ve been fascinated at how complex relationships are when you’re managing client expectations, agency expectations and a powerhouse account team while taking the website from zero to hero. The importance of relationships are something I’ve written about in the past and Rae Hoffman wrote a great post examining the hard realities. Kicking off a project with a frank, open-kimono discussion similar to what she discusses is a must do for building trust early in the roller coaster ride that is Penguin recovery.
The evolution of Penguin news reporting displays the full spectrum of content quality: HBR to TMZ. I bucket the copious amount of content created every time a big brand gets caught being naughty as tabloid reporting, but in-between all of the hysteria, I do find some nuggets of wisdom. I would start with the day The New York Times outed J.C. Penny, followed by Overstock stocking up on linkjuice, then review Interflora’s pre-Mothers Day mishaps, then put on a tin hat to read about conspiracy theories & Rap Genius and finally, wrap things up with the most recent tabloid ‘OMGZ!’, Expedia. Your brand might not get the preferred treatment of the big kids but understanding their stories (and reading between the lines) can help reinforce the best practices.
Blog comments and tweets are where I find the most value. While there are many examples of misinformed folks expressing opinions over facts, there are also just as many examples of quality SEO’s sharing solid facts. Even when misinformed, the comments help me answer those burning questions: what exactly are the other SEO’s doing that I’m not? What are we missing that could improve the DragonSearch link removal process? Some call them stupid questions, I prefer to probe those I respect to learn what they do.
@Sonray true. I don't negotiate with terrorists
— Ian Lurie (@portentint) November 5, 2012
Ross has the steely gaze, Ian is a real O.G. but Marie is the ruthless hunter
Even on the twitters, there is a lot of hype and it can be difficult to separate the hard facts from the personal opinions. If you’re going to follow one person who doesn’t buy into anything other than the straight scoop, Marie Haynes is that person. Everywhere I’ve seen a comment from Marie, it’s been pure gold. Her Tweets range from what John Mueller said in the latest Webmaster Central, to conversations with Cyrus Shepard. Her Twitter stream is full of replies to the many questions she fields during her long days. Her blog offers even more insights and random observations made with unnatural link recoveries which is reinforced by the book she wrote. Her latest Search Engine Watch post further highlights – you’re not fighting the right fight if you aren’t checking out what Marie is working on.
So what do #usDragons do, aside from digesting as much as we can from the aforementioned, to hone our request writing skills? We hold a reconsideration request hackathon. Rather than writing the standard, best practices request, we decided to challenge ourselves to write the letters we would truly like to write, to use it as an opportunity to think creatively and to let it all out. We have decided to share these posts over the next few weeks. Keep in mind, they are simply meant to be entertaining, although, you never know, good ol’Cutts might just find one of these landing in his inbox.