In a bid to outrun the competition to be the highest ranked company in search engines, chances are that you might resort to incorrect SEO tactics or use texts or links that violate Google’s guidelines and this is when your company gets hit by Google penalty. If your company has been a victim of this, you not only see a significant drop in web traffic, rankings, and revenue but you are also anxious to get the penalty removed and regain some of the lost glory. Well then, here are some tested techniques to get you out of this phase.
While there are typically two types of penalties manual actions and algorithmic penalties, we will concern ourselves with manual penalties as these are given to website who do not adhere to Google’s Quality Guidelines and are awarded manually be human reviewers with an intimation from Google stating that you have been charged with a penalty. In case you are wondering how you assess the type of manual action, fret not, it will be explicitly mentioned in the Manual Actions Report. For the uninitiated, there are 10 types of manual actions-
- Hacked site
- User-generated spam
- Spammy free hosts
- Spammy structured markup
- Unnatural links to your site
- Thin content with little or no added value
- Cloaking and/or sneaky redirects
- Unnatural links from your site
- Pure spam
Once you ascertain which type of manual action penalty you have received, you will also understand whether it impacts your entire site or part of your site. Typically, there are two primary sources of manual actions: link – based penalties and content-based penalties.
Link-based penalty – If you are marked down with a link – based penalty, then you will have to perform a full link audit to identify these spurious links. With the help of the Google Search Console, you will be able to track this. To find and download links to your site, go to Search Traffic and then hit the Links to Your Site, and to find and download links within your site, go to Search Traffic and look under Internal Links. You will want to look out for:
- Sites that contain links to your site
- Links that Google identified in the Manual Action Reports as the cause
- Links from sites that are unrelated to your area or industry
- Links from low grade or spammy sites.
Make sure to visit and analyze the quality of any sites you don’t recognize and remove any questionable links to your site. Also ensure that if these links are a part of a forum comment or a blog, then remove the objectionable comment and level u the security of your website. Next, you will need to connect with the owners of these sites and ask them to have the links removed.
While this may be time – consuming, ensure that you track them down and request them, typically your request will be honoured, but if you notice no action from their end, your next communication can mention that if the link isn’t removed, you will be disavowing it, which is sure to way to alert them as disavowing can damage their website reputation with Google.
Next, you proceed to Google’s Disavow Tool, where you submit the URL’s which don’t want to be used in your rankings. At this point, Google would want to know that you have expended your time to remove all the untoward URL’s manually, before contacting Google.
Content-based penalty – Google also has the privilege to slap you down with a penalty if the there are issues regarding content, layout or ads on your website. Now typically this issue arises if your website contains pages that are attempting to rank for a particular keyword or phrase but are not relevant to the topic, contains automated or scraped content, duplicate content which Google can recognize instantly.
Also, if your web pages are filled with too many adverts, you are likely to get penalized. This could potentially happen if you do not have a structured PPC campaign. Take care of all these content-related issues, fix up your content for a better user experience. Once you have sorted the issue you are facing, you will write and submit your request to Google. This essentially details all the steps you have taken to ensure the problem is fixed and request Google to reconsider your site. Google expects that you base the reconsideration request along these three lines:
- List the issues on your site and assure Google that you haven’t indulged in any malpractices. Your reasoning should be in line with the exact Google quality guidelines that were discounted.
- Explain the steps you have followed to fix the problem such as requested removal of bad links, submitted a disavow request, etc)
- Outline how things stand as of now if there were bad links that couldn’t be removed expressly mention this.
Upon submission of your request, expect to hear back in a couple of weeks, though you should instantly receive a message from Google confirming that they have received your request for penalty removal. Google will evaluate your website, and once it is assured that you have taken the necessary steps to clean up your site, your penalty will be removed, and your traffic and ranking should start improving soon!
It is important to building quality content and your website reputation once your penalty has been removed. Also, make sure that you adhere to Google’s Quality Guidelines such as ensuring that your advertisers are adhering to the pay per click norms laid by Google AdWords. While it does take time and efforts to bounce back from a penalty, it is important that you follow the guidelines stated above and successfully get your penalty removed and restore your affected rankings.