Written By: Adam Dince
On Wednesday, 1/21, I had the pleasure of guest hosting of SEMRush’s Twitter Chat #SEMRushchat. The topic was “Google Penalty Survival Guide” which is an incredibly challenging theme to cover on Twitter. I put this resource together to help aid in a Google link penalty recovery. This piece is clinical in nature, so if you’re not a SEO geek, it may read a little foreign.
Is it a manual penalty or Penguin hit?
If you’ve been hit by a link penalty, hopefully it’s a manual one. Manual penalties are a bit easier to recover from, simply because you:
- Know for sure what the problem is
- Google’s given you examples of offending links
- There’s a way to directly ask Google for forgiveness
How to identify if a link penalty is manual or Penguin:
- If you don’t already have a Google Webmaster Tools account created for your Website, create one today
- Make sure to create a Webmaster Tools account for the following domain conventions (as applicable):
- You’ll also need Webmaster Tools accounts configured for subdomains on your Website (e.g., subdomain.website.com)
- Once you’ve got the Webmaster Tools accounts verified, scroll down to the “Site Messages” section and see if Google’s notified you of a link penalty. If you do, it should look like this.
If there are no messages present, but still believe you’re suffering from a link penalty, it would have to be Penguin.
How to recover from a manual penalty
- Within Google Webmaster Tools, navigate down to “Search Traffic”, then “Links To Your Site”
- Click on the “More” link under the “Who links the most” section of this page
- Then, click on the “Download more sample links” and “Download latest links” buttons and save the files
- In addition to using Google Webmaster Tools data, download your link profiles from SEMRush, MOZ, aHrefs and other tools in your SEO arsenal
- After you’ve got the various lists downloaded, consolidate your lists in to one file and de-duplicate so you only have one instance of each link
- Once you have your final list of links, I highly recommend uploading it to Link Detox to speed up the link auditing process
- Follow all of their instructions to the T!
- When Link Detox is done scanning your links, you’ll need to go through and classify your anchor text appropriately to get a better read on potential issues
- Once you’ve classified your links, reprocess the LinkDetox report.
- After the Link Detox report is finished, you should go through and review each page/domain that Link Detox returns as either toxic or suspicious and disavow as appropriate
- Once you’ve completed that process, you can export a disavow file and upload it to Google Webmaster Tools
- Here’s the URL for Google Webmaster Tools disavow file upload
- After you’ve uploaded the disavow file, now the HARD and time consuming work begins
- For each link or domain you’ve disavowed in Google Webmaster Tools, you must send a link removal request to its WebmasterNote: It’s not enough to simply disavow. That’s a big mistake many SEOs/Webmasters make. You’ve got to show Google you’ve done some serious leg-work to get the links removed
Note: Obviously, you can only reach out to Webmasters who have contact information readily available on Site
Note: I put together a sample email that you can use as a reference for your outreach
- In a Google Doc, consolidate all link request emails sent to Webmasters.
- In a Google Spreadsheet, include a list of all the Sites you’ve sent link requests to, along with the dates of submission
- After a week or two, double check the status of the links. If they have not been removed, send another request and repeat steps (14-16)
- Once you feel like you’ve done your due diligence in remediating offending links, you can submit a reconsideration request in Google Webmaster Tools
- Here’s the URL for submitting reconsideration requests
- Here’s a Google-Link-Reconsideration-Request I drafted for your use
Once you’ve completed the above steps, keep checking back with your Google Webmaster Tools accounts for any additional messages. Google will notify you when they look at the reconsideration request and when they render a decision.
If Webmaster Tools notifies you that your sins have been forgiven–you’re in great shape. Keep in mind, you may also have an algorithmic penalty levied against your site.
If you’re notified that you still have bad links, rinse and repeat all of the steps above.
Note: If you have to update your disavow file for another reconsideration request, make sure that you add to and not overwrite the current disavow.
How to recover from an algorithmic Panda link penalty
The good news about recovering from a Panda link penalty is that it’s not mandatory to go through the link removal request process (though I highly recommend doing so). The bad news is, Google doesn’t notify you your penalized. Even worse, you can’t submit a reconsideration request to Google through Google Webmaster Tools.
To recover from Panda, follow steps 1-12 in the above recovering from a manual penalty section.
Keep in mind, Google will not notify you through Webmaster Tools that a Penguin penalty has been removed. Additionally, sometimes Google assesses a certain amount of time your Site will remain in penalty, regardless of how quickly you remediate your bad links.
Hope this helps!