How to Tell Google You’re Sorry: Surviving Penalties and Reconsideration Requests
August 24, 2013
As my colleague James discussed last week, Google has recently added a feature in Google Webmaster Tools called “Manual Actions” that alerts you if your site has received a manual penalty from Google. What this is, how it should be address and what it means for the future of your site are all questions that are sure to pop into your head when you see message that seems less than positive from Google. So let this little seo company walk you through what you need to know.
To start, differences between “manual” penalties and “algorithmic penalties” should be noted. Manual penalties should be looked at Google’s written warning that they are not happy with your site. Similar to that of a teacher, boss or any other authoritative power, manual penalties are Google’s simple way of saying “shape up or shut down”. The keyword here is “warning” as you get none with algorithmic penalties. When they hit you, they most likely hit you hard and you are left to figure out how to clean up and recover without much guidance from Google on what to address. Manual penalties could be consider the nicer of the two evils as you are given specific details on what to fix and how to fix it but with that can come more work as try to prove yourself worthy of getting it removed.
There are different manual penalties and each requires a specific course of action that should be taken before you ask for forgiveness. For hacked sites, you should try to follow these steps to ensure you’ve done everything possible to clean up your site. For link penalties, you should make (and document) every effort to clean up any low quality links associated with your site. This means contacting webmasters, disavowing if necessary, and forgive me if this sounds obvious, but stopping any unnatural link building you may have been taking part of.
Once you feel you’ve done all you can do, it’s now time to write a reconsideration request. You’re “Dear Google, I’m sorry” letter. It can be a little intimidating to start, what do you say to Google to really prove your wrongs are now right? In this case, honesty is your best policy. In fact, as Matt Cutts discusses in the video below, the more honest the better. You first need to tell Google that you’ve stopped your offending behavior and then let them know it won’t happen again. While it seems like being concise might be better both for you and the person (or robot?) that’s reading this request in this instance, details are your friends. You don’t want to look like you are hiding anything. The fact of the matter is, Google caught you cheating, and they need to know you won’t do it again. So go ahead, tell them everything, because honestly, they already know everything anyways. Items mentioned that would be beneficial to include are details and dates of sites contacted and past work with SEO firms. While you may feel like you’re begging for forgiveness, you kind of are, so just let it all out. Once you submit request, Google will remove the penalty if they feel like you have met their standards so be until that message it gone, you’re still under watch.
Elisa Houghtelin is one of the Account Managers at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!