Alright, so they’re not “easy steps”, but this post will get you on the right track if you have received one of those notices from Google that says your website has some unnatural links. As a result, your ranking on search results will go way down, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or is there?
Your site can recover from a Google manual penalty, but you really have your work cut out for you. There’s a good chance you didn’t even know your site contained unnatural links to begin with. Maybe you hosted a guest blogger who requested dofollow links in exchange for original content. Also likely, you paid for links to pass PageRank back when link schemes helped your chances with search engines. You might even be the victim of negative SEO! Whatever the reason, you have a bit of a fight on your hands, but all is not lost.
You can remove Google manual penalties by following the steps outlined below. We can’t promise you’ll see recovery immediately, but it if you keep at it, its very likely it will happen. Every journey starts with one step.
1. Examine Your Link Profile
Using tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, ahrefs and Google’s Webmaster Tools you can take a look at the links that just might be causing the problems. You’ll need to examine every link for anchor text variants to make sure you’re not overdoing it, link quality, and look for issues where you’ve got “unnatural” looking links coming into your site. Examples of unnatural links would be free for all web directories, links from low quality article marketing sites, or links from sites where the context is totally irrelevant.
2. Organize All Links
Start a spreadsheet with all the links associated with your website. This includes any you’ve altered, links to your site, the anchor text, and the contact info of the webmaster of the sites where the offending links reside. If you’ve requested removal or nofollow designation from other website owners, list the dates for any correspondence.
Keep track of any changes on your spreadsheet, such as requests honored by other site owners, links deleted or changed, or guest blogs removed from article farms. Once you’ve done all you can do, move on to step three.
3. Say “Sorry” to Google
You can submit your site for re-evaluation. Make sure you include a detailed explanation about why you think your site was penalized, the work you’ve done to clear up the problem, and any links that haven’t yet been dealt with. Unless you’ve managed to eliminate all issues, there’s a good chance you’ll be denied. Most aren’t successful until their second or third resubmission.
4. Last Resort
You really do want to go through all the proper channels to restore your site, but sometimes you’ll hit roadblocks you can’t overcome. As a last resort, you can use the disavow tool through Google. This is a pretty advanced tool and can actually harm you more if you use it incorrectly. That’s why Google suggests that it only be used as a last-ditch, no-way-out option.
If you work with Google and show you’re trying hard to restore your site’s reputation, you’ll receive the help you need. They may not lift the penalty right away, but they should work with you to make sure you understand the problem.
Has your site received a manual penalty lately? What steps are you taking to remove the penalty? Tell us about your journey in the comments.
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