Trying to recover from a Google penalty is rarely easy, but if your website has suffered due to its questionable marketing tactics, or even as a result of a negative SEO campaign that is beyond your control, you must do something about it as soon as possible. It will take time and effort, but without receiving a decent percentage of your traffic from the world’s largest search engine, your website will literally disappear from the scene, spelling disaster for your business. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important tips and tactics to take into consideration when sending a reconsideration request to Google.



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What Is a Reconsideration Request?

In the event that your website has received a manual penalty from Google, you will need to first determine the reasons why this happened before sending a reconsideration request. A successful request will allow Google’s crawlers to review your website once again and recover, at least partially, your search engine rankings. You can find out if Google has taken any actions against your website by visiting the Manual Action viewer in your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you have received a penalty, it is essential that you address any issues while documenting your request. The request will either be rejected or approved, typically within a few days.

1 – Provide Sufficient Link Data

Perhaps the most common reason for reconsideration requests failing is that many webmasters provide insufficient link data to back up their requests for reconsideration. If your request is rejected, Google will provide you with a list of examples of problematic URLs that could be reflecting poorly on your website. Google also states that using the Webmaster Tools alone to audit the external link profile of your website is not enough. Instead, be sure to collect as much of your backlink data as possible by using a range of tools including Bing Webmaster Tools, Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer and/or Screaming Frog. Ensure that any tool you use allows you to upload your findings, without any limitations, into Google Webmaster Tools itself. Finally, if you have a larger website, you’ll likely need to pay for a premium package to get a list of almost all of its external links. You may also want to use Google’s Disavow Tool to tell the search engine to disregard problematic links that you cannot get rid of when analysing your website.

2 – Provide Honest Information

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Google has heard just about every excuse you can imagine, so it stands to reason that you should be completely honest when filling out your reconsideration request. If, for example, you have purchased links in the past (which is against Google’s terms of use), then admit your failings, and use the Disavow Tool to try to recover from the situation. Be sure to thoroughly familiarise yourself with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines as well, and if you find that any of your past marketing tactics have gone against them, be sure to admit your mistakes in your request having dealt with them as best you can. On the other hand, if your Google penalty is a result of a negative SEO attack from an unscrupulous competitor, don’t be afraid of telling them.

3 – Conduct a Thorough Audit of Your Website’s Content

A manual penalty against your website is not always the result of an unhealthily large number of inorganic backlinks. In many cases, the problem may lie with your website itself. Among the various manual actions that may be listed, your website may be flagged for things like thin content, questionable on-site SEO techniques or even pure spam. Again, be sure to review Google’s webmaster quality guidelines to determine whether or not your website and its content meets them. If you have made use of any on-site, black-hat SEO tactics, be sure to reverse them before submitting a reconsideration request while coming clean with Google. Some common issues that may cause your website to receive a manual penalty include hidden text, keyword stuffing, cloaking, sneaky redirects, thin or plagiarised content or user-generated spam.

4 – Provide a List of Changes that You’ve Made

It’s no good sending a reconsideration request with a mere promise that you’ll try to do something about the issues hurting your website. You’ll first need to address the reasons given for the manual penalty, and only then once you have made the necessary changes to your website and its external link profile, should you even consider sending a request. Take every step that you can to clean up your website and online marketing strategy, including the following:

. Immediately remove any irrelevant links or links on poor quality websites that you have control over.
. For external links that you have no control over, contact the webmasters hosting them and ask them to be removed. If you receive no response, use the Disavow Tool to tell Google to disregard them.
. Remove any user-generated spam from your website, including things like spam comments containing links.
. Be sure that your website does not make use of cloaking, hidden text or excessive use of keywords.

The more you know about your website’s history and the changes that have been made to it over the years, the better. Provide this information along with your reconsideration request.

5 – Don’t Misjudge Your Current Situation

If your website has been penalised due to a large number of inorganic backlinks, the manual penalty, as listed in Google’s Webmaster Tools, will be accompanied by a few examples of the problematic links. However, as Google states on the page, you must remove or disavow all of such links, the vast majority of which will not be listed here. You’ll instead need to garner a thorough understanding of what constitutes a bad link and have them all removed or disavowed as required. On the other hand, you should not blindly rely on tools either, not least because most of the inorganic link-detection tools out there are actually quite ineffective anyway. The only way to successfully audit your website’s link profile is by using a powerful and respected backlink crawler, such as those mentioned previously, before manually going through the list to find the links that could be causing problems for your website. Finally, don’t rely too heavily on the Disavow Tool either. After all, Google states that they also need to see that you have made efforts to have as many problem links removed as possible.

Conclusion

Recovering from a Google penalty won’t be easy, and it will take time and a lot of work to have any chance of having the penalty reversed. What matters most is that you have a good understanding of the reasons behind the penalty, and that you are prepared to make the necessary changes to your website. On a final note, given the time, effort and considerable expertise involved, you may find that hiring an experienced consultant to help you deal with the problem to be the only practical solution, even if they don’t come cheap.

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