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A Step by Step Guide to Fixing Any Google Penalty

If your website is receiving reduced web traffic or the present strategy in place is not working as efficiently as it once did then you probably have been penalized by Google. We faced a similar situation when at one point the number of users started to decline and then became stagnant and whatever we tried was not having any sort of impact to boost the traffic on the web portal.

Every web portal has to abide by Google’s webmaster guidelines to reach amongst the top ranking in search engine results. Initially, a complex process to get a knack of but it surely makes for a skilled professional when you have spent a considerate amount of time understanding all the necessities of the task at hand.

Why did we get the Penalty?

Two of the most common Google penalties are Google Panda and Google Penguin and few others which de-index your web portal and in some cases removes the website from the search engine results. The content of a website and back links generated are monitored by search engines to determine the authenticity of the service provider.

Although it does not sound as a grave issue which can affect the productivity of an organization but when you get on the wrong side of Google it is not a recommended sphere to venture into. There are several reasons for which a web portal can be penalized. The penalty affects the rankings of a web portal and reduces the influx of online traffic. The concerned people need to effectively look for indications that can help you sort the issue effectively.

The reason we got penalized was because of Spammy links generated by dubious sources. Our team got in contact with the concerned websites to remove these redundant back links. Fortunately, the team of experts resolved the issue efficiently without any conflict.

While this is an essential procedure to provide a fair chance to every website to rank high in search engine results it might hamper a company’s growth if not handled by proficient professionals. Our teams of expert professionals who over the years of hard work have examined all the minute details help an organization rank among the top in search engine results without getting penalized.

What should we do to Improve?

To improve our services for providing better results to the clients our experts have been time and again formulating new strategies to get in touch with webmasters efficiently. If you are also facing a similar problem of spammy links you can refer to the instruction provided below to help you with the whole process.

The first plan of action would be to check the type of penalty imposed. For that Google Webmaster Tools act as a perfect guide. Use the Manual actions tab to determine the type of penalty levied on your web portal. The warning for unnatural link is accompanied by a yellow warning symbol alongside the description of spammy links.

Once you have determined the penalty that has been imposed, you can accordingly opt to work towards resolving the issue. Below is the list of various steps you need to follow in order to remove these spammy links to avoid any sort of Google penalty:

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1. Gather details of previously generated Back links:
If you have kept a tab on the several back links generated then probably half of the task is done. In case you do not have the details of previously generated back links, by following the procedure mentioned here, you can acquire the desired information:

When you log in webmaster tool select the website hosting back links to your web portal. Click on the “search traffic” tab which will guide you to the option of “Links to Your Site”, followed by ‘more’ link under the ‘Who links the most’ tab. Click on the “Download more sample links from top to check for the required information.

Several online portals help the clients by providing the information, some of which are:

  • Open Site Explorer: You can visit the official website and after filling in the correct domain name you can acquire the details of websites who back link to your web portal by clicking on the ‘Advanced Reports’ tab followed by ‘Links that come from: External linking page’ and then click export.
  • Ahrefs: Once you are on the official portal click the ‘CSV’ tab and export the list of ‘Backlinks/Ref pages’. With an option to narrow down quickly site wide links, followed / no followed links and more, Ahrefs serves as an effective tool whose previous work is testimony of quality of services rendered.
  • Majestic SEO: This website significantly reduces the efforts as it will show all your previous links instead of just the most recent ones. Once you enter the domain name select ‘Historic Index’ followed by backlinks tab, scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘download data’.

2. Archive the work:
When you apply for your reconsideration application with Google it is beneficial to maintain the record of precious work or activities with link removal process for efficient reference. Google does not trust third party links so it is better to use Google spreadsheet to avoid any dispute later on.

Google spreadsheet is an effective tool wherein you can create tabs and also include links to the document. The advantage of this process is that you can quickly refer to desired information at any point of time as it involves in depth analysis of the work done. Although there is a word limit of 50,000 characters at a time, surprisingly this limit tends to fill up quickly.

For every separate spreadsheet the client must fill up the required information which consists of:

  • Contact name
  • Contact e-mail address
  • Website contact form
  • Social networking website URL if any
  • Date of previous contact and link status

However, it might get bit tedious to update this information after every sheet for that the client can make a separate Master Sheet after combining all the data into one sheet. The advantages of this process can be stated as:

  • It doubles up as research work which can be used for future reference.
  • Helps to remove the back links faster as Google takes note of the links you have generated in the spread sheet.
  • By documenting data you need not refer to various social networking websites every time you need an URL.
  • An addition in Google spread sheet is of “contact examples” wherein the user can upload images of email examples set out to webmasters you are associated with.

As Google monitors these activities one should refrain from bad mouthing and should sincerely try to resolve the issue without adopting any arm twisting tactics.

3. How to stop low quality links?
Spammy links should not be confused with natural links. As it takes a lot of energy and effort to generate good quality back links, make sure an expert who knows the difference is at the helm of process.

The only way to distinguish between a spammy and natural link is to review each and every link manually.Spreadsheet comes in the picture at this point as every natural link can be updated in the list to keep the authentic links in loop. As Google monitors all the work being done, adding a note or highlighting the safe link with a color is a great option to let Google know about the work being done.

So, how to differentiate between spammy and natural links?

Natural links are those which have been generated on reliable web portals with information related to the web portal. This method removes any misconception about the link being tagged as spam.

For example, if you are updating an article about a particular sport on some sports web portal it will attract the targeted audience and will not spam the web portal.

Many a times you must have seen unnecessary back links flooding a website these are the spam links which Google monitors in order to regulate the search engines.

There are some links that are hard to differentiate from quality links. To identify the low quality links you can refer to these sets of instructions listed below:

  • As mentioned before search engines monitor the dubious practices and hands over penalty accordingly. There are many websites not indexed with the search engines and to check for that search Google for ‘site:yourdomain.com’.
  • Page and domain authority can give a comprehensive idea about the authenticity of a web portal. However, this is not a definitive parameter rather just a reference module.
  • Site wide links should be carefully monitored. Site wide links are the links generated on the web portals affiliated to your website. Avoid posting links on random or affiliated websites rather nofollow the link or remove them. Web portals do a commendable work in spotting site wide links.
  • On one hand Link directories are an effective solution for generating quality back links but postings on insignificant directories is considered spam and should be removed at the earliest.

To detect a spammy directory check in the footer if it is powered by phpLD or PHP Link Directory then it is a spammy directory.

Some of the other common sources of spammy links are Forum Profiles, Blog comments, Social bookmarks and paid links.

Participating in various forums irrespective of the topic should be avoided. Commenting on some random blog post or forum just to create links is not an advisable practice. If you want to generate back links from an insignificant forum not only it gets termed as spam but also the participant gets the undue tag of a spammer.

Search engines prohibit indulging in such activities which can get you penalized accordingly.

Blog post can be reviewed by cross examining the website content. A low quality post can be detected by cross examining the post and cross checking various parameters such as:

  • How authentic the content is? – You can use any of the online websites such as http://www.copyscape.com to check for plagiarism if any.
  • Is the website appealing? – Does the website provide necessary information and project an authentic image of the portal developed?
  • Quality of article – While there is no set parameter to determine the quality of an article you can most certainly determine the significance of the article to your website. If a post is irrelevant to your business with the help of Webmasters tool assign a no follow attribute to it,

Also, keep in mind to:

  • Avoid the sites which regularly post irrelevant posts filled with anchor text.
  • Many of low quality blog post owners refrain from posting their contact details. Check if you can contact the blog owner, in case you cannot remove the links.
  • If the article consists of a lot of keywords then it probably has been written to appease the search engine and the link should be removed.

Link Networks:

Link networks can get you in the bad books of a search engine. Google and various other search engines have laid down strict guidelines to avoid Link network tactics.

You can detect if you are a part of any link network if you share the same IP address on multiple domains. Similar IP address on different domains means that you are a part of a link network and to check for the owner you can run a whois search on various domains.

By running a Whois search on domain name you can easily look for the registered owner.

The format for search code of a website and the Google Analytic code is UA-XXXXXXXX-X (where X is the code number). The similar UA code on multiple websites means that you are a part of link network.

Over Optimized Anchor Text:

Many use anchor text to generate back links. While once it was a decent trick to boost the rankings but with time the search engines can easily track these activities.

Undue use of anchor text in random articles so as to boost the search engine rankings by pointing to keywords you want to appear on Google, should be avoided and removed.

Link Exchanges:

Link exchanges is probably a thing of past but even if you are adopting this practice it is beneficial that you refrain from indulging in it. Do not make a separate tab or page for links to swap with other web portals.

Press Release:

In my opinion a good quality press release which caters to the demands of readers is an efficient method to garner the necessary attention towards a web portal.

Write about your present or past accomplishments and involve readers who are interested to know about your portal and then only add a link to your website.

In case you are adding money terms to it make sure to add “no follow” attribute to avoid any Google penalty.

Malware:

Well the answer to this one is simple. Have the link removed if the website contains malware.

Hopefully, the points mentioned above will help you separate the quality links from spam links. While there is no precise mechanism to evaluate the authenticity of links generated but by following these guidelines we have been able to substantially reduce the dubious links for our clients.

4. Finding Webmaster contact details:

To complete the link removal process you need to get all the contact details of webmasters which include social networking website details along with website contact form.

You can extract the required information with use of various beneficial tools for e.g. you can get the contact details of the owner of a web portal by carrying out a whois search on the websites domain name. While this is not a time consuming task but in many cases it takes a lot of unnecessary time to get all the details.

Make sure you update the Google spreadsheet on a timely basis and do not forget to highlight or add notes to keep a tab on work done.

5. How to reach out to Webmasters

The important aspect of link removal is to get in touch with webmasters and get the bad links removed quickly. For that different organizations adopt different practices.

You can either update your document with all the spam/safe links along with the contact method or you can update the contact methods as you evaluate the spam/safe links.

Few things to be observant of before contacting webmasters are:

  • A definite list of links to be removed: This is one of the common mistakes and we also unknowingly were guilty of it. Instead of forwarding a list of links which need to be removed from ten different pages with ten different e-mails prefer a precise list of links updated in the Google spread sheet.
  • It is not wise to spam the webmaster: Everyone wants to get rid of unwanted back links without any delay. While one can get in contact through various media it is not wise to use all of them at once. After the initial e-mail, be patient and wait for reply instead of bombarding them with continuous grieving messages.
  • Keep the message to the point and be polite: The message should be to the point and precise. Do not use aggressive or impolite tone for Webmasters are doing you a favor. Try to make the message personal with as precise content as possible.

You are writing to a professional who has probably thousands of same issues to tend to. The content of the message should not divert from the task at hand. A well documented message, comprising of all the necessary details aides an expert to handle your query efficiently.

Google spread sheet is monitored by officials to check how honest a client has been in his work. Updating all the link details along with notes for reference if any and highlighting important parts helps to strengthen your case and creates the right impression on the authority.

While it is natural to rush in to get rid of penalty make sure you do not put off officials by forwarding chain e-mails or poor quality content.

To remove a penalty you need to be sincere in your efforts and put your best foot forward. Do not just fill up your spread sheet with unnecessary details rather provide an effective insight of how hard you have been working.

6. The Disavow Tool

Disavow tool should be only used when all the above mentioned methods are of no help to remove the offending links. For those links you cannot remove on your own disavow tool proves to be a beneficial tool.

Before opting for Disavow tool make sure you have maintained a proficient Google spread sheet which displays your efforts properly and does not undermine the amount of work you have done.

Every data filled in Google spread sheets should be precise without any disconcerting data. Sort the links and domain accordingly and highlight or separate the links you are unable to remove.

People who are looking to disavow full domains, following set of instructions will help you with the process:

  • Try not to include “http://www.” as a prefix for a domain and do not add any post domain extension unless you want to disavow a particular URL.
  • Update Google sheet with necessary comments and notes to let the officials know the reason for disavowing them.

For more information regarding the subject Google has provided very strict guidelines details of which can be referred to on the Internet.

Once you are done, save the file and click the disavow tool page. Do not forget to submit the file.

7. Submitting the Reconsideration Request

This is the last step of the process and the outcome of the efforts that you have put in, is dependent on how the officials at Google perceive your application. The reconsideration request can be broken down into the following segments:

  • The first part should be about the fault. Why did you receive a penalty in first place? An honest forthcoming reason in which you accept your folly will help fasten the entire process.
  • How have you resolved the issue? The Google spread sheet should be filled with details such as links, URL, notes should be provided without any disproportion of any kind.
  • The above segment should be followed up by measures put in to prevent the same mistake from happening again.
  • If necessary do not shy away from putting in few words about the company profile.
  • The request should always end with an apology for the inconvenience caused.

If you were assisted with some SEO company, provide the details on Google spread sheet about the company and why you opted for them and why you probably will not work with them again.

8. Sit back and wait
You have done whatever you could. Now, all you need to do is sit back and patiently relax. The reconsideration request takes few days or sometimes few weeks to be fully processed and in the meantime you can decide you future course of action.

By Govind Agarwal

Govind Agarwal is a Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing Expert at SubmitEdgeSEO, with over 6 years’ experience in the Web Marketing Techniques.