How I disavowed 11825 spam backlinks to my website using Google disavow tool

Update: We’ve built a tool through which you can easily check the credibility of the domains which you need to disavow. The tool automatically goes through your domain list and plot the result in a table .
The plotted domains will be sorted into different categories based on their authenticity. Have a look at our Free Domain Credibility Checker Tool.

Recently I disavowed 11825 spam links pointing to my website using Google Disavow tool. If you have have used disavow tool before, you will understand the time I had spent to filter these 11825 links as spam and non spam.  If you are hearing about this tool for first time, read my article on Disavow Tool – Explained. Disavow tool is a new introduction in Google Webmaster Tools pack, which is used to reduce negative effects caused to a website through bad and spam external linking. There are many ways in which a website can get affected by bad external links; one possible way is links created by competitors to thrash a website, where another possibility is bad links created by content scraping websites etc. Bad external links will affect the ranking of a website negatively. So to get rid of negative effects by bad external links you can rely on Disavow tool. All you need to do is download the full list of external links pointing to your website from Google webmaster tools and then filter them as spam and non spam (Webmaster tools provides you a list of all links to your websites which is mix of quality links and bad links). You have to be very careful while you filter links because you should only disavow bad links. If you disavow a quality backlink to your website, you will drop in rankings further .

 

How my website got  11825 spammy backlinks?

My website(niche: Php coding tips) was attacked using spam comments, the spammers used to bombard my website with tons of spam comments.

spam comments

 

 

That was the count of my spam comments at a time. Anyhow I did stop these spam comment flow. Read my previous article about blocking spam comments in wordpress via htaccess.

What were the after effects of these incoming spam comments?

  1. Drop of search engine traffic  – These spam bots were sending tons of requests to my server( I was receiving more than 100000 spam comments per day). And obviously, the load on the server increased and the website started to load slowly. This not only affected this particular website but also on the other ones hosted in the server and as a result the traffic of these websites began to drop dramatically .
  2. New Spam backlinks to my website  – After placing the spam comment , spam bot linked to my website along with the comment ID from poor low quality websites(hacked ones,spammy forums, websites etc) . For instance if the comment id was  1401133, the bot linked to my website  as http://www.mywebsite.com/#comment-1401133 linking to the spam comment.

 

Discovering the 11,940 external links

 

I was not closely monitoring this particular website until I saw this traffic drop.  I logged into the webmaster tools and found 11,940 external  links to my websites which was very much unnatural. Downloaded the sample links and found that more than 1000 domains were linking to my website in which one particular post was linked the most.  Have  a look at the screenshot.

spam links

 

 

You can also see that the very first domain (fugar) linked 710 times to my website . Over a glance I was sure that this was some kind of spam/robots activity.

 

Why should you disavow spam links

Google never supports black hat seo. Now things have changed little more . From the recent restrictions on the guest blogging( video by Matt Cutts), it is clear that Google doesn’t encourage any kind of link building . Many websites have got penalized for building back links(reciprocating links, or bad neighborhood links, linking from article directories etc). I will come with such  a story in my upcoming post.

unnatural links google

 

That is  the screenshot of Google’s  manual penalty action blocking a website from participating in link schemes. Here is were disavowing links  gets really important. In my case disavowing was more  like a precaution based on the old saying.

[blockquote source=””]Prevention is better than cure[/blockquote]

 

How I disavowed 11825 spam links?.

 

# Step -1: Finding the genuine backlinks.

 

As the spam backlinks were much more than my genuine backlinks; I used a strategy to find the genuine backlinks ,remove them from the spreadsheet and disavow the remaining links.>/p>

#1.1:   Checking the anchor texts of the backlinks

The hard part was to pick those genuine links to my website from the sea of spam backlinks. I used backlinkwatch  and ahrefs to check the backlinks to my website. It showed the links to my website with the OBL(of the linking website) and the anchor text. By checking the anchor texts  I was able to differentiate  the good and spam links. Being more specific, my website was about PHP and Coding tips and I am not supposed to get a backlink with anchor text (Nike Shoes). I considered  such irrelevant anchor text as a spam link and links with anchor text related to my niche as genuine links.

#1.2 :  Searching the link sheet with possible keywords

I made a list of the entire possible keywords in my website like (php, jquery,html,css etc).  Opened the spreadsheet containing entire links to my website and starting searching with these keywords. BTW, you can export all the external backlinks to CSV(Thanks to google webmaster tools).   Have a look at the screenshot given below with some of the sample links.

disavow links

 

Well, most of the websites use seo friendly urls now, this made my job easier. My website is about php coding tips and how am I supposed to get a backlink from a url like jimmy-howard-usa-jersey-damage-through-climate-problems ?

Likewise I searched the entire list with these possible keywords and I found many urls with keywords of my website (many of these urls contained php,html,css,jquery,wordpress etc) . Manually verified these urls, checked the source and found genuine backlinks to my website FYI, the success percent was around 99 percent! 48 out  the 50 links found by keywords matching my website(php,jquery etc ) was genuine backlinks. I removed all these genuine backlinks from the spreadsheet.

#1.3 :  Searching for links from common websites

There were some websites from which I was sure I would be linked .

  1. Stackoverflow – Being a coding community website(basically Q & A), I was very much likely to be linked from stackoverflow . Searched for links from stackoverflow and found a bunch of links. Removed them from the link list.
  2. Yahoo Answers
  3. Google domains (google plus, etc) – Found some links from google plus and other google related communities.

Likewise you might have linked from popular community websites in your niche.

# Step -2 : Identifying the spammy domains.

 

# 2.1 :  Identification through unnatural link counts from one single domain

How much times would a genuine domain link to your website? 4? 5? ok lets say 10 . What do you feel if some one links 710 times to your website? As you saw in the screenshot above, that fugar website linked 710 times to me . I took 1-2 sample link page from fugar , went on to that page and checked for the link. I literally found the links as spammy ones pointing to those spam comments (http://www.mywebsite.com/#comment-1401133 ). Initially I thought of disavowing the entire domain like,

[blockquote source=””]domain:fugar.de[/blockquote]

later I changed my mind. What if that domain gets renovated and someone gives me a valid backlink from the very same domain?. According to the latest google strategies it is real hard to build backlinks(After the guestblog penalization updates) . I don’t want to loose any kind of link juice my website is gonna get, so I dropped that plan and decided to disavow the links pointing to my website.

# 2.1 :  Many of Spam domains didn’t have SEO Friendly urls

This was another common factor I observed with spammy websites. Most of these websites were either hacked ones or low quality forums. Many of these spam websites didnt have seo friendly urls or even  domain names! They were just using the ip address .

spam links non seo friendly urls

# 2.2:  Checked the alexa traffic rank and page rank of the domain

Not with every domains , but checked the alexa rank and page rank of some domains and if both were NA(or  very much low) I could easily assume that it would be spam link.

#Step-3 : The disavow strategy.

# 3.1 – One final round look up. 

That’s how I was able to sort the genuine links and spam links pointing to my website, as a final round I went over all the 11k +links in the spreadsheet(just a quick glance, took 1 hour in total) checked  for genuine urls following the above criteria. Removed the genuine backlinks found.

# 3.2 Disavowing links through google webmaster tools

You can disavow links to your website through this link . Have a detailed read about disavowing links from Google. The general format of disavowing  links to your website is given below.

[blockquote source=”Google Disavow Format”]

# example.com removed most links, but missed these
http://spam.example.com/stuff/comments.html
http://spam.example.com/stuff/paid-links.html
# Contacted owner of shadyseo.com on 7/1/2012 to
# ask for link removal but got no response
domain:shadyseo.com

[/blockquote]

Putting a  # in the beginning of a line makes the  line a comment (Google doesn’t consider that line, it is your notes about the disavowed links).

Putting a direct link would disavow the particular link.

giving “domain:” prefix and putting the domain after the prefix will disavow entire domain . You need not pick the entire links from the domain and disavow. Also keep in mind that you wont be getting any link juice from this domain in future .

Create a text (.txt) file and put all the links/domains to be disavowed  in the above format , upload the txt file and you are done.

Final Notes( Something really important)

Disavowing links is an advanced feature. Google itself says,

[blockquote source=”Google”]This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.[/blockquote]

If not used properly this will do harm to you than good. After the panda, penguin updates as well the recent barriers on guest blogging, it is pretty sure that Google’s plan is to rely much stronger on the old backlink algorithm itself . What Google focusing currently is in the betterment of  their algorithm to  identify manually built link (through trades,guest blogging, black-white hat techniques) so that the natural backlinks would become  very much countable.  So its really risky to loose one single genuine backlink you already  have. As Google says, their algorithms are smart enough to identify these spam backlinks(and may not penalize you) or you may not have to disavow these unnatural links all the time. Well in my case  I didn’t want to take any chance(I did not want any kind of troubles caused because of these 11000+ links ),  also I am pretty confident that I was able to disavow all spam links without loosing any genuine backlinks. If you have any troubles or questions regarding  disavowal of links feel free to ask me in comments 🙂

How to Start a Website or Blog – The Ultimate Beginners Guide

Let’s come to the point. You want to start a website/blog and you are looking for a guide to learn how to do it. This article is an ultimate beginners guide to start your own website.

To start your own website, you need to know more about the following 3 topics.

1) Domain Names

2) Website Hosting

3) Software to Power Websites

So lets begin!

1) What are Domain Names ?

You just look at the address bar of your browser now. You see www.dollarfry.com right ? Well, that’s the domain name of this website. A domain name is the name by which a website is publicly known. Just like our names (My name is Jojo Joson), every website must have a name to be identified publicly. These names are technically called domain names. They can be coined using English alphabets, numerals and certain allowed special characters. The purpose of a domain name is easy identification of the website by humans. Hence a domain name is usually coined using words in dictionary (by combining them). Hope you got a good basic idea of domain names. Some examples of domain names are Google.com , Yahoo.com , Msn.com , Facebook.com etc.

You might have observed a .com at the end of every name right ? This is called the extension of a domain name. There are different types of extensions for a domain name. The most commonly used extensions are called (gTLD) Generic Top Level Domain Extensions; and they include .COM, .NET, .ORG, etc. There are other extensions too. The next popularly used ones are country specific domain extensions. These are two letter extensions like .US, .IN, .SG, .UK etc. These extensions represent a specific country, say .us represents USA and .in represents India.

So how easy was that learning ? You finished the first part of registering your own website. As next step, you should learn how to come up with a good domain name. I have written detailed article on How to Find a Good Domain Name for Your Website. In this article, I have analysed many excellent domain names and how those names are coined. There is a scientific approach in naming good websites.  Once you have come up with a good domain name, the next step is to register that name. I have written another detailed guide on the registration process of a domain name. Registering a domain name is a step by step procedure which is very easy to understand. So here read – How to Register a Domain Name to learn about the steps involved in registering a domain name.

Okay! Now you perfectly know about  domain names. Find your best one and register it. Let’s move to next topic, website hosting.

2) More on Website Hosting

When you access a certain website, say a news website like Yahoo.com ; have you ever wondered where those images, videos and content (texts) are stored ? Lets come to our website DollarFry and this article you are reading. Do you know where this article content, its images and all other contents in this website are stored ? Here is the importance of website hosting. We need a storage space (a computer obviously) to store our websites files (text content, images and videos etc). These files should be stored in a computer that is always connected to internet. This computer is technically called a web hosting server. I hope you got a basic idea of website hosting.

Now let’s see how to get a hosting server for your website. There are thousands of website hosting companies in our world. They all have different plans – say they differ in price, differ in server capacities (like Memory, Hard Disk Space, Processor etc). We have to analyse these different hosting companies and the plans offered by them. Based on our best judgement, we can buy a suitable hosting account from a company of our choice. Once we buy a hosting account, we will get an access to our server computer (using the login details provided by hosting company) residing at the hosting company’s data center.

There are different types of website hosting servers. We can divide them into 3 types – 1) Shared Hosting 2) VPS Hosting and 3) Dedicated Hosting. A beginner is always supposed to start with a shared website hosting account. Now lets see the basic difference between these 3 hosting servers.

Shared Hosting – is a central server (a big single computer) divided into many segments. There will be 1000 such segments on a single computer. When you buy a shared hosting account, you buy 1 segment of these 1000 segments in a single computer. So we buy a share of single server computer and that’s why it’s called shares hosting account. Since you are a beginner, I assume you are here to start a website/blog from scratch. A shared server space is more than enough at this point. From my experience, a blog can be run smoothly on a shared hosting server upto a point it receives around 6000 to 7000 daily unique visits (this will differ from case to case, say it depends on the software you use to run your website; more on that later). Once your website reaches the limit, you can switch  to next hosting plan called VPS hosting.

VPS Hosting – is known as virtual private server hosting. This is an intermediate hosting account, that stands between a shared hosting and dedicated hosting account. Its a little complex to explain this technically. To give you a better idea, this is a single server computer divided into only 100 segments. (You may note that a shared server was divided into 1000 segments). So in a VPS hosting you get much more resources like more memory, more bandwidth, more processing power etc. The major difference between a shared hosting and vps hosting is that, in a vps hosting your resources are guaranteed. You got confused ? I will make it simple. Let’s say you have two hosting plans in hand. One is a shared server with 2 GB RAM and other is a VPS with 2 GB RAM. You see no difference between them right ? Both are 2 GB RAM’s ! Well, in a shared server this 2 GB RAM is shared among the 1000 different segments of a single computer. In a VPS this 2 GB is available to your own single segment. This is what I mean by guaranteed resources in a VPS.  In a shared server you will get full 2 GB RAM access only if the other 999 segments are inactive. You got it ?

Dedicated Hosting – is a single computer to host your website’s software and its files. The resources (RAM, Hard Disk etc) available in a single dedicated computer is used to power your website. A dedicated server can handle very large number of visitors at a single point of time. Very popular websites and blogs are running on dedicated servers. As a beginner, you don’t need to think about buying a dedicated server at this point. So I hope, I don’t need to write about it in detail as well.

 3) Software to Power Websites

In the olden days, a website was created using HTML pages. Each page was written as HTML and then uploaded to server. Now the situation has changed. Most website are now powered by content managing software called CMS (Content Management Systems). The most popular CMS out there is WordPress – which is an easy to use web publishing software. Other popular CMS are Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5 etc. If you are looking to start an e-commerce store, there are specialized e-commerce CMS like Opencart, Magento etc. Based on your requirements you can choose the suitable software to power your website. All these software’s I listed here are open source products and comes with a GPL license. So you can download this software for free. Once you select the software, just download it from the official website and install it in your server computer. Detailed instructions are available with every software (and with your hosting company’s help guide) on installation and setup.

So that’s enough as a beginners guide. Read this article and follow the links  have given in this article. All the best with your websi

How to Make Money Online by Selling E-Books

Introduction

We all know about E-books! E-Books are nothing but the same content in printed books published in the electronic format. It can be a PDF or in another formats suitable for Ipad, Amazon Kindle or other devices. In this article, we are going to see how we can make money by selling E-books. In the process we will meet a couple of people who does this successfully.

Why People are Interested in E-Books?

E-Books are a convenient way for gaining information & knowledge. We all buy books to gain more information & knowledge. For example, we buy a book on PHP to understand more about the programming language. Similarly we buy  books on cookery, fitness & many other areas where we are interested in gaining more information.

In any case, knowledge is distributed only in 2 ways – either as free content via web or as paid content via books, e-books, mobile apps (android, iphone) and other distribution platforms.  E-books are just another way of delivering content, just like printed books, websites, mobile apps.

People buy e-books for the following conveniences:-

  • It costs less than a printed book – customers can save more than 30 to 40% on the same content 
  • Customers can carry it anywhere using their portable devices
  • Customers can transfer it to many devices and access from different locations
  • Customers don’t need to wait the shipping time – they can start reading immediately

Who will buy when there is lot of free information?

We are living in an era where internet & mobile phones have penetrated deeper into the nook & corner of our world. For any one who wants to gain information, lots of authentic free resources are available. Wikipedia is a great first source of information on any topic in this world. Similarly a couple of smart queries in Google can give answer to a lot of our questions.  So with these much free information available online, who will buy your e-book? The answer lies in coming up with e-books that give advanced knowledge & information.

Of 1000 people who search  about a fitness guide, a 100 might be searching for a specific work out plan – say a guide to gain fitness with only 1 hour of exercise every day. This specific information may not be available in the free pool resources. So if you are a fitness teacher who can come up with an e-book – A Guide to Gain Fitness with 1 hour Daily Work Out, you have chance to sell a 100 copies or more.

Real People who make money online selling E-Books

Lets meet some people who makes a lot of money by selling E-books online. These people have done it successfully many times by releasing different e-books.

Darren_Rowse

1) Darren Rowse – The first man among the successful E-book sellers is Darren Rowse. Most people know him as the man behind Problogger – a blog that helps to make money online via blogging. Darren is actually more than just Problogger. He is also the founder of Digital Photography School (his most successful project till date) and handful other business as well.  One of his major share of online income is by selling E-books through his 2 successful blogs – Problogger and DPS.  In DPS, he has released over 10 E-books on various topics of photography.

pat_flynn

2) Patt Flynn – is another young man who makes thousands of Dollars every month by selling E-books online. Patt’s earnings for March 2015 was $153,397 !

Read – Top 10 money making bloggers like Patt Flynn .

Every one knows Patt as the man behind SmartPassiveIncome. But Patt began his online money making through one of his initial ventures named GreenExamAcademy. This is a website which publishes free resources for any one who wishes to pass the LEED exam (an exam necessary for architects to practise in Canada). Patt sells his LEED exam study guides (written as E-Books) to people who visit GreenExamAcademy. If you analyse his monthly income reports, you can see that he consistently makes around 2000+ USD (average value) every month by selling e-books through GreenExamAcademy. The interesting fact is that, GreenExamAcademy is one of Patt’s initial ventures which he started in 2008. He started making money from the website through Adsense initially and later moved to E-book sales. He continues to make money from the same website even in 2014 (that’s 6 years).

Why its not easy ?

When we read stories of successful people, we will become inspired. We instantly feel like jumping into the idea and start doing something. When you read theses successful stories about E-book selling, you will fell like coming up with one immediately. But you have to note one important fact that these successful people like Darren and Patt already had a set of audience in their websites before they released an E-book. Patt Flyn had GreenExamAcademy and Darren had DigitalPhotographySchool and both of these websites were having good umber of visitors and subscribers before they released these e-books.

If you already have a successful blog on a specific subject, then the next idea you should try is to release a good E-book.  From my experience, blogs that revolve around educational content are a good platform to sell e-books. You may see, Patt Flyns GreenExamAcademy is an educational resource for LEED exams. DPS is an educational resource for photography enthusiasts. If you take a closer look, you can see that they both sell advanced knowledge as e-books.

What should you do if you are planning to write and sell an ebook?

If you are new to the concept starting a business online or making money online, I recommend to start a blog or a resourceful website around a subject that you are really good at. Over time (may be in 1 or 2 years, provided you put enough work) you will be successful in setting up a resourceful website with enough audience. Once you reach this level, you can write an E-book (that carries advance knowledge on your subject) and sell it online through your website.

There are thousands of subjects to start a website/blog. You may choose one that you have passion and knowledge. Some example subjects are

  • Programming (PHP, Java, CSS, Python).
  • Cooking (Chinese, Asian, Italian etc) .
  • Investing (Equity markets, Mutual Funds, ETF’s etc) – Lindsay Ostrom from pinchofyum has written an ebook about Food Photography- Tasty Food Photography, through which she earns more than $4,000 a month.
  • Interior Designing and lots more.

 How to Sell E-Books?

Through your blog/website

If you already have a successful blog or a website which seems a good candidate for selling E-books, then I recommend you sell the goods directly through your website. If you run your website/blog on WordPress, then you can use the extension EDD (Easy Digital Downloads) to manage your digital goods and sell them online. EDD is a very popular extension of WordPress which is used to managed digital stores. We use EDD to manage our theme downloads in Layero. In addition there are handful of plugins available to handle payments in EDD, manage affiliate sales etc.  The advantage in using EDD is that you don’t need to give sales commissions to a third party service.

If you are not comfortable with EDD, there are plenty of other options available to manage E-book sales. Darren Rowse uses E-Junkie to manage his E-book sales. E-Junkie is a digital goods distribution platform which can be used to sell your E-books online. E-junkie will manage your digital goods (e-books, audios, software or whatever), will handle your payments and downloads. They will charge a fess per sale for the service offered.

Apart from EDD and E-junkie, there are other popular services available. I will aggregate them in an upcoming review.

Through other platforms

You can also sell your e-book through other platforms where which you can upload your ebook and start selling . Some of the most popular ebook selling platforms are

Conclusion

So thats all with selling and making money online with E-Books. You can either build your own website/blog, build traffic,brand,trust and start selling ebooks or depend on other platforms where you can sell your ebook.

Stop wordpress spam bot comment using htaccess

Dollarfry was attacked by comment spammers recently. I didnt place any captcha for the comments so that robots where trying to bombard Dollarfry with tons of comments.

And if you thought it doesnt matter as you can easily clear the spam folder then possibly you are mistaken. The harmul effects of such spam commentings are,

1. Increased server load.

At a time tons of automated bots are requesting to your server (to  wp-comments-post.php) which will considerably increase the load on your server. This not only increases the loading time of your website , but also on the other websites hosted on the server.

2. Link Spam

After the panda and penguin updates Google has penalized all those websites who did build bad neighborhood links.  After posting the comment, these bots would submit the comment url (say yourwebsite.com/#comment-2323) in the case of WordPress ) to poor quality spam websites (on which they can spam ) porn or not monitored forms. This will seriously affect your serps.

What are the possible spam control solutions (2 methods)?

1. Enable a captcha on the comment form

Enabling a captcha will save your website from spam bots. Bots cannot break the captcha.

2.  Blocking spam bots through htaccess

# Block spam bots WordPress

  RewriteEngine On
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_METHOD} POST
  RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} .wp-comments-post\.php*
  RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !.yourdomain.com.* [OR]
  RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} ^$
  RewriteRule (.*) ^http://%{REMOTE_ADDR}/$ [R=301,L]

Code Explained

If a request to wp-comments-post.php happens, the system will check for the HTTP_REFERER ( The address of the page that referred  the user to wp-comments-post.php). In WordPress the wp-comments-post.php is not accessed directly, it can only be accessed from the posts page or in short the  HTTP_REFERER  should be the website itself. HTACCESS also check for the HTTP_USER_AGENT, and if it doesn’t have one, possibly it would be a  bot and it will not be allowed to comment(the system will redirect the bot to the referred page).