Disavow for the SEO Mind



I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Fear, combined with a lack of self-awareness has caused most of them.  As a boy I was driven by the desire to be, act and achieve perfection. Like many kids, I had goals in mind. Most were centered on sports, and gaining approval. The desire for perfection got worse as I gained success within its illusiveness. I skipped proms, I drank chocolate milk at parties, I refrained from girls, and I buried my nose in books, as I held that same nose up in the air around peers. I did everything humanely possible to present the image of perfection. There was never a hair out of place, or a move unplanned. I maintained this approach throughout the majority of my career as a college athlete. I didn’t take any chances. I played it safe.  Instead of letting the game winning shot fly, I hesitated, and when I began to doubt myself, the game was over. When all the air was let out of the ball, it confused me. All of that work to not make a mistake, and still, there was an end, and I had discovered it.

There are a lot of allowances that come

After College, corporate America, and California called. The show must go on, and I wanted out of the Midwest. I desired beach babes, Hollywood hills, and fancy things to flaunt. I wanted to make it. First stop San Francisco. I fell in love with the city almost immediately. The money came fast as it seemed my drive towards perfection translated into the business world. There are a lot of allowances that come with success, and we’re not always prepared for them. The more I engulfed myself in my new urban environment, I realized that life was out there, and it breathed, moved, yelled, and danced. It was beautiful in it’s seediness, and seductive with its mischievous charm. My surrounding’s influenced me. I traded in the basketball shoes for Italian dress shoes by day, and pink vans by night, the straight edge for the life in the fast lane, and the books for the prose of the beat nicks. I started expressing myself differently. I wanted to strip away that uniform I had worn my whole life.  I decided to no longer care about the opinions of others, or approval. Mistakes piled up. I loved every minute of it, yet something was always missing.

Knowing what you want, and who you are,

Today, I search for balance between the boy who wanted to be a man, and the man who wants to remain a boy. The boy’s dreaming nature is alive, yet the man is conscious of the many paths that present themselves in pursuit. Knowing what you want, and who you are, will save you a lot of precious time, and your opinion of self is far greater than any approval you can gain externally. When you have earned that moment, you will know it.  Living life without fear of consequence isn’t the answer, nor is playing it so safe you don’t know what to do when free will presents itself.

I think about this nearly every day as an SEO Manager, especially when interpreting the messages from the ultimate judge of what is good and bad, Google. I have had many discussions with colleagues who prefer to play it safe. They take everything Google says literally and tweak there tactics accordingly. They stand on their desks and scream things like “Content is King,” and Quality over Quantity. Google says thin content is bad, and they automatically stop contacting all relevant publications that will syndicate their content. 

Your job

Your job as an SEO mind is to use common sense, and knowledge to interpret Google’s message without over reacting out of fear. You know when you are doing things that are good for your brand and what makes business sense in a partnership don’t you? In my mentor’s Patrick’s blog on the Penguin Update he discusses many of the mistakes that can get you out of favor with Google. Some of them are mistakes that you have made, and some of them are out of your control, this is life, this is online marketing. Learn from your mistakes and learn how to protect yourself while dealing with them. The best part of it is, Google is willing to help with the Disavow tool. However, don’t take advantage of Google’s kindness. This isn’t a get out of jail for free card, and the tool should be handled with extreme care and used as a last resort. Here are the steps you need to take in order to use it properly.

  • Evaluation
    • My first step for any new client is to review their external backlinks. A quick scan should be pretty telling. I typically pull links from three sources.  Ahrefs, OSE, and WMT, and look for these obvious problem areas:
  • Over-optimized anchor text
    • Hint: Listing twelve keywords in a blog and linking back to your home page is not a good thing. 
  • Domain Name
    • Hint: Sites that have the words, SEO, FREE, LINK, POKER, Directory, will lead you on a path to nowhere and fast.
  • Relevancy
    • Hint: If you have to ask yourself, is this site relevant? It is more than likely not.
  • Additional Hints
    • Remove all links that are questionable, despite no follow or follow tag.
    • Remove all questionable broken links
    • Use Citation flow of .7 or above and a DA of 50 or above as your judgment of any additional questionable links.
    • If you are seeing any of these sites in your quick scan. It is time to get up close and personal. At DEP we believe strongly in the machete approach when reviewing the links. We trim with precise aggression.   

For the entire disavow process, I use Remoovem. It scan’s several sources for you automatically, and allows you one free upload of an excel file for any additional links you want to evaluate. In addition, it makes the overall disavow process much simpler due to the fact that it provides contacts to the sites you want to disavow, template messages, and tracks numbers of outreach emails automatically. When your outreach is complete, it will also create the disavow list needed for submission. In all honesty, I can’t imagine doing a Disavow without it. 

Contacting Sites

Google recommends contacting sites a min. of 3 times. They want to make you work for fixing your mistakes.  We send these over a 10 day period, with 2 days between each email. Here are some rules to live by

  • Emails should be professional, friendly, and contain all necessary information for the webmaster to easily identify the link you want removed.  The easier you make the task on them, the more likely they are to accommodate.  Each email you send of the three, should get progressively more urgent, but never threatening.  
  • Emails should be sent from a client’s server for continuity.
  • Make sure you remove websites from your outreach list as they respond or remove the requested link. 
  • If someone request you pay for link removal, kindly tell them that you will just proceed to the use of the disavow tool.  If anyone would like to see my templates for this send me a tweet @corey_hahn.  It will be worth your time.

File Creation

If you are not going to use software like Remoovem you need to follow the following steps to provide the correct disavow file for submission:

  • The Disavow File should start with a statement of your removal requests with a “#” for each statement. 
    • #We have manually contacted each of the these sites 3 times between 0ctober 10th 2014 – October 20th, 2014, but were un able to have them removed by their webmasters.  We have records of all our requests.
  • It should be a text file (txt), and encoded in UTF-8.
  • Each line should only contain one domain
    • Format for submission is “domain: xyzabc.com”
    • www., or http:// is not required
  •  When you choose to update your file with additional requests, bear in mind that this will replace your old request.  It will remain visible in the tool regardless if the file has been accepted or not.

File Submission

When you’re ready to submit your disavow the process is simple.

  • Log in to your Google account
  • Go to the Disavow Tool
  • Select your site
  • Click “Disavow Links”
  • Choose the file you created
  • Click “Submit”

Penguin 3.0 Finally Drops…What to look for?


The little bird that can’t fly finally drops for the white hat SEO community to reap 12 months of hard work cleaning up negligent work of other HACK SEO companies.

After 12 long months of waiting for the next Penguin update, it finally arrived on October 20th. A full list of Penguin updates can be found here

Here are dates of all Penguin releases:

  • Penguin 1.0 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
  • Penguin 1.1 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
  • Penguin 1.2 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.0 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
  • Penguin 2.1 on Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
  • Penguin 3.0 on October 17, 2014 (impacting around 1% of queries)

**Source : Search Engine Land

If you’ve been affected by this penalty, you are likely in one of two camps:

1. A business that previously employed a SEO firm who used ill advised practices of building backlinks through any number of ways: link wheels, blog networks, heavy usage of keyword rich anchors, mass directory submissions, etc.

2. A business that has been hacked or attacked by a negative SEO campaigns. 

At Downtown eCommerce we’ve been helping clients in both camps. Over the last 18 months we’ve brought on 3 different clients in camp one that were hammered by Pengiun 2.0 and 2.1 as result of a previous SEO firms efforts. 

Recently, we brought on another client who’s rankings, and thus traffic, were decimated by their WordPress site getting hacked. How exactly did we identify the issue? Combing through their back link profile we found a laundry list of backlinks that had absolutely no correlation to their business. A complete list is below: 

# of Domains

Anchor Text


wholesale nfl jerseys


louis vuitton handbags


ugg boots on sale


wholesale jerseys


ugg boots sale


louis vuitton wallets


louis vuitton outlet


cheap ugg boots


cheap jerseys

It’s safe to say our client wasn’t in the multi facet business of selling NFL jerseys, Uggs boots, and Louie Vuitton bags. 

For the better part of last year our team spent endless hours cleaning up the backlink profiles for these clients. A detailed explanation of that process, and our results, will be the next blog post from our resident link building manager Corey

In the interim, if you feel you’ve been hit by this recent update. We’d recommend you do the following:

1. Check your keyword rankings and look for the following:

>>Have a large number of keywords dropped off page 1 of Google?

>>Are those same keywords still ranking in Bing but not in Google?

2. Check your organic search traffic in Google Analytics and do the following comparisons:

>>Month over month comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October vs. September

>>YTD year over year comparison…is there a major dip in traffic for October 2014 vs. October 2013

3. Check out your backlink profile in Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer and look for the following:

>>Look for unusual anchor text in your top links. I.E. The glaring example above should help illustrate what we’re talking about.

>>Look at the types of referring domains linking to your site. Are there a large amount of domains linking to your site that are completely irrelevant to your business?

If you can answer yes to a few of these items, it’s likely you have a big problem. We can help, please give us a call or drop us an email for a free consultation. 


Taking Flight

CoreyKristinaNatureAirI am 34.  I am a single father; I have big dreams, and have always prided myself on doing things my way, without conforming to a system.  Ten years ago, I was happy, but wanted more.  I desired freedom and flexibility, I wanted to be different, I wanted to combine my love for being an entrepreneur and artist, and I wanted to make my family, friends and most of all my son proud of who I was and the work that I was doing.  I wanted to be all I could be without the Corporate Army.

After a few miscues, staying steadfast with my vision, a bit of luck, and a lot of hard work, I have become the SEO manager of Downtown eCommerce Partners, and I couldn’t be more proud.  I feel I have painted myself into a picture that I was always supposed to be framed within, and I did it without even realizing at the time there was a canvas.  I am excited to have the opportunity to achieve all the goals I set for myself nearly a decade ago when I shed the Corporate Lifestyle I was living for the road less traveled.  I’m ready to create in my own way, and to utilize all the skill assets I have learned throughout the journey to get here. 

It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll. 

NatureAirFlightLast week, I had the privilege to take my first business meeting flight in almost 8 years to consult a client. I have to admit, something that I once dreaded had become exciting for me again.  It was a 15 passenger plan, a 45 minute flight, and true to the name of the company, Nature Air Vacations, the views through the Costa Rican country side were disturbingly beautiful.  I was literally alone to my thoughts, with my head in the clouds. No seriously, it was only me, a lady from India, my colleague Kristina, and the two pilots on the plan. It was the Captain’s first flight.  I wasn’t nervous.  I looked off into the clouds through my vintage shades, and reflected.  It was time to start blogging.  It’s time to share my story.  

With this blog I hope to mix a little bit of business, a little bit of culture, a little bit of art, and a whole lot of my experience in answering the question that I get almost every time I meet a new person at a cocktail party, or I’m skype chatting with a friend or family member I haven’t seen for a while.  What is SEO?   I might not have all the answers, no one does, but it will be fun sharing what I do know and engaging others in the conversation.  The first 3 blogs will cover the following no brainer topics with the general idea of How to take flight in the relationships you want to build.

The Dandelion dis·a·vow

This is non-officially called the break up tool, by Will Reynolds at SEER Interactive.  In this blog I will discuss how to recognize if you are in unhealthy relationships, and how to correctly distance yourself from them by properly using the Google Disavow tool.  The only way to find the partner of your dreams is to first rid yourself from the past.  I love them, I love them not! 

Partners for Life – Linkbuilding in the 21st Century

We’ve all had a desire to get a date with someone that was either A) a bit out of our league, or B) didn’t know we existed.  As an SEO consultant it is your job to make this league disappear, and put your client on the radar with the partner of their dreams.  This blog will discuss how to get that first date, build a mutually beneficial partnership, and all the little things you can teach your client to do in order stay together with their partners for life.

The only way, is to be CONTENT?

People love to be around smart, educated, attractive and charming people that bring value to their lives. The life partners you seek through link building are no different. In this blog we will discuss several content building and syndication techniques that will allow your small firm to sit at the table with the big boys and get the winks you deserve.   

Are you excited? I sure am.  We have a date, we’re going Dutch, and I can’t wait to see you here on November 1st all dressed up and ready to take flight!

Corey Hahn brings eight years of managing, marketing and consulting experience working for Fortune 200 Companies within the corporate benefits sector. Joining Downtown E-commerce in 2010 he has leveraged these experiences to design, implement and manage SEO campaigns for a diverse portfolio of clients. He continues to find innovative tactics to develop mutually beneficial partnerships centered on quality content creation, and social media marketing.

What Facebook’s Atlas Means for Whatsapp and Instagram

Apparently nobody likes cookies. Well, there’s this one guy…

Users generally don’t like the idea of what cookies are, operating systems don’t seem to like managing all that code, and advertisers find the overall cookie return to be… unsatisfying. Some users wouldn’t mind the all the tracking if it added up to a better user experience. As in, “could we stop seeing ads three months after doing initial research on a product, or service, long after we’ve stopped shopping?” This guy even offered to hand over the keys to his house of data in exchange for a better user experience: A Challenge To Facebook: Here’s All My Data, Now Give Me Ads I Like.

Facebook may just have an answer for him. [Cue the trumpets.]

Introducing… People Based Marketing.

Atlas is, or was, Microsoft’s advertising platform, which was sold to Facebook for $6.3-billion in 2007. Originally Atlas served principally as an alternative to Google‘s DART tracking system. The platform has been retooled from the ground up, and given the Facebook treatment. Unlike the current title holder, Google Adwords, Atlas builds on the old style of using cookies to track users, and couples it with Facebook’s database. This massive and intimate source of data makes cross platform advertising possible for the first time ever since most users are logged into Facebook on multiple devices.

So, when you go from your laptop, to your phone, or to your tablet, ads generated through Atlas will know. Using this information, Atlas will be able to create a more seamless user experience, and ultimately drive better advertising to users. Advertisers won’t mind the specificity of advertising and user tracking either.

It’s so good in fact, as long as you are logged into Facebook, Atlas will even work within apps that don’t require a Facebook login.

The concern expected to come up is further violation of user’s privacy, but Facebook no way intends to hand over the keys to the mansion. The users names and data will be all coded so that user’s information on Facebook will continue to stay in the hands of Facebook. This way Facebook stays in the driver’s seat. 

Facebook asserts that their goal with Atlas is simply to create better data for advertisers. By creating a service that crosses platforms, they will be able to more accurately track user’s behavior and purchasing behavior, which they can then hand over to advertisers to analyze.

The future for Instagram and Whatsapp

The question on most people’s minds is “what does Atlas mean for Facebook’s other ventures?” With 1-billion sunk into Instagram, and roughly 19 22-billion in Whatsapp, what to become of these platforms? Instagram signed on as one of the first agents for Atlas, so we anticipate the same for Whatsapp, especially considering the price Facebook paid for it.

Atlas is, afterall, as much about dominating mobile as it is about crossing platforms. Integration is only important if people stay in the world of desktops, and in case you haven’t noticed, the world is moving away from wires. In fact, January 2014 was the first time internet users exceeded desktop usage with mobile. It stands to reason the new world order of advertizing is going to have to live in that world. So maybe this isn’t the end of cookies, but it sure is looking grim for the future of cookies. Sorry cookie fans.

In the long run it’s likely others will do something similar, with data from say, I dunno, Google+ or something like that. Anyone’s guess. For now, it seems, Facebook’s Atlas is out in front. It also looks like we won’t be seeing the absolute end of cookies just yet, but perhaps users should be careful what they wish for. Removing one only opens the gates for a new one to take it’s place. Maybe someone should copy write the name “donuts” before Facebook does.

Fix These 5 Social Media Blunders

The landscape of social media is not going to get any thinner. Ello, anybody? No, SEO and PPC are not going away. They are being folded into the layers of Social Media. You still have to be good at creating SEO campaigns, and if your copy doesn’t solicit clicks in the Googlesphere, it won’t in Social Media either.  But the time for ignoring social media as kid’s play is well over. If you don’t get it, someone faster than you is going to take your opportunities, and your clients.


Here’s what’s all wrong with your current social media profile.

 Your business isn’t represented in every corner.

So you think Facebook is just for teenage flirting and Instagram is some kind of cracker? Look beyond B2B platforms like LinkedIn to create grassroots brand awareness. Facebook towers above its peers, and Instagram is the fastest growing platform of the bunch. If you aren’t there, your competitors are.

You don’t personally have a page.

Channels like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn require someone to administrate business pages, but you can weasel around that if you have someone else manage your pages. Don’t overlook that leadership comes from the front, and people will want to see your presence on their favorite channel as well. Represent yourself. Represent your brand. Get involved.

Your pages are branded differently in each channel.

From Facebook to LinkedIn, the pages that are set up with your brand should present the same profile pictures and backgrounds. Many people, upon finding your brand, will want to follow you on more than one channel. Don’t confuse them by presenting different brand looks.

You’re not posting enough content.

Once a week? Once a day? What’s acceptable? It’s different for different channels. Generally the speed of the feed will dictate your posting schedule. Twitter is the fastest, so anywhere from 5-7posts per day is good. LinkedIn is the most conservative; so once per day should be enough. Facebook and Google+ can handle about 2-3 per day.

You’re trying to sell when you post.

There will come a time to sell. It’s not today. Not on social media. With social media think “almost never.” The goal is to create a vehicle to your website or brick and mortar. You will do this by being the number one voice for information in your field. Posts can be fun, and posts can be informative, but they don’t even kind of sell. 

Of course there’s a lot more that may need a attention with your social media profiles but these five are the easiest opportunities to address right now. You’ve probably already figured out you can do a lot to drive your business through these channels. Just make sure before you start buying up promoted posts that you’ve at least covered the basics listed here.

Downtown Ecommerce Partners is a full service SEO, PPC, and social media team of marketers. If you have questions on how to drive leads, build your brand, or just increase engagement please let us help. We can also create unique content or copy for your website if you need. We want to be your marketing partners for e-commerce. Please contact us today. 

Have you ever wondered how Quality Score (QS) is determined?

Have you ever wondered how Quality Score (QS) is determined? Did you know there are nine variables that Google reviews when they calculate your QS?
Check out DEP’s newest infographic on everything you need to know. We illustrate how QS is determined, how it affects your account, and even include tips on how to improve your score.

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<a href="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Quality-Score-Infographic.jpg"><img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-540" title="Quality Score Infographic" src="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Quality-Score-Infographic.jpg" alt="Quality Score Infographic" width="600" height="1965" /></a><br /><br />Infographic by <a href="http://www.downtownecommerce.com">Downtown Ecommerce Partners</a>

Paid Search Ad Copy Testing Infographic

Following our last infographic on the basics of Google Adwords we have created our top techniques on building the optimal messaging for your ad copy. This infographic will explain 5 steps of testing ad copy to discover the perfect ad copy variationfor your account.

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<a href="http://downtownecommerce.com/blog/search-engine-marketing/paid-search-ad-copy-testing-infographic/attachment/ad-copy-testing-infographic/" rel="attachment wp-att-522"><img class="size-full wp-image-522" title="Ad Copy Testing infographic" src="http://downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Ad-Copy-Testing-infographic.png" alt="" width="600" height="2745" /></a><br /><br /> Infographic by <a href="http://www.downtownecommerce.com">Downtown Ecommerce Partners</a>

Google Adwords Infographic

In the last couple of weeks, a number of our clients have asked important questions about how Google structures a paid search account within their paid search platform, Adwords, as well as requested more information on acronyms that are commonly used when talking about an Adwords account. This infographic is our answer to these questions.  Please feel free to share this information by copying the code at the bottom of the image and pasting it on your site.


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To embed this infographic in your website, simply copy and paste the code below into your webpage. If you have any problems doing so, please let us know.

<a href="http://downtownecommerce.com"><img alt="Adwords Infographic" src="http://www.downtownecommerce.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/adwords-info.jpg" width="646" /></a><br /><br /> Infographic by <a href="http://www.downtownecommerce.com">Downtown Ecommerce Partners</a>

DEP Has Got Your Back! Is Your Workspace Ergonomic?

Work related injuries are often times due to the physical stress from sitting in the same position for long periods of time. This can leave you with strain on your muscles, joints and your spine. This damage can lead to long-term health problems. If your 9-5 requires long sessions grinding it out at your desk, it’s important to know that these injuries can be prevented.

We have worked closely with Dr. Brisson, spine specialist NYC on the ‘Stop the Back Pain’ campaign. Dr. Brisson has comprehensive experience treating a wide range of spinal disorders. He has been acknowledged as the best spine surgeon in New York City and has performed countless scoliosis treatments across the globe. Are you ready to create a comfortable environment at your desk while giving your workplace a makeover? The visual guide below details the importance of ergonomics in the workplace and preventative measures. DEP has got your back.


If you would like us to help you design an infographic for your business, please get in touch.

Tracking PayPal Transactions with Adwords & Analytics for Dynamic Thank You Pages

Ok folks this is going to be a brief blog post on something that took us entirely too long to get answered. There are a number of extremely informative blogs on how to setup conversion tracking for BOTH Google Adwords and Google Analytics for PayPal transactions. Two in particular we’d recommend you check out are:

SEER Interactivehttp://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/track-paypal-purchases-with-google-adwords-in-5-easy-steps

Analytics Resultshttp://www.analyticsresults.com/2010/02/tracking-paypal-with-google-analytics.html

Both have clear and precise steps on how to setup conversion tracking for transactions that use static confirmation thank you page URLs. Example scenario and subsequent static URLs below:

1. Shoppers goes to client site.

2. Shopper adds item to cart and heads to check out.

3. Shopper selects PayPal as purchase option. Shopper hits PayPal button and heads to PayPal

4. On PayPal shopper fills out their info and hits purchase. At this point the confirmation thank you page (return URL is fired) and sends the shopper back to the webstore. That static URL would look something like


To configure steps 1 – 4 above is super easy. Again check out the blogs above for specific directions. The point of this post is to clarify the part of those blogs where they advise you on how to SET the return URL that is fired once the shopper hits purchase on PayPal.

We’ve repurposed the image from the Analytics Results below.


In the above picture you will see the PayPal section where you set the return URL. The return URL in the picture is a STATIC URL. Meaning it will always be the same no matter what type of transaction is being performed.

Here was our problem….we had a client that had a dynamic URL that changed on every transaction by adding the order id to the end of the URL. Example


IMPORTANT: If your client’s URL does this the steps (outlined in the above blogs) for setting the return URL are irrelevant. They are irrelevant because that URL will change on every transaction.

SOLUTION: As the SEER blog pointed out you will need to work with a consultant who has experience working with PayPal’s API.

The simple explanation is this…..using PayPal’s API you set the DYNAMIC return URL via the PayPal button that is clicked on via the webstore site and ultimately sends the user to PayPal to complete the purchase. In that same button CALL you would also make sure to add BOTH Google Adwords and Google Analytics tracking scripts. When the user hits the purchase button on PayPal the DYNAMIC URL is fired with BOTH the Google Adwords and Google Analytics Scripts. SHAZAAM you’ve got tracking configured.

If you need additional help with this please contact us.