Google’s manual penalties are one of the “punishments” that can most negatively affect your search engine rankings. What do they consist of? How to prepare a request for reconsideration in order to come out well?
Chen talking about Google penalties, most people automatically think of Panda and Penguin, or some other Google algorithm update. But sometimes the algorithmic mechanisms for inflicting pain and suffering on blackhaters, SEOs and webmasters fail, or are not as fast as Mountain View would like. Therefore, there is another type of penalties, less known to the general public, but very familiar to any SEO professional: manual penalties.
This type of sanctions are carried out by a Google employee, with malice aforethought and premeditation 🙂 Those in charge of applying them are called Quality Raters, and in principle, they would belong to Matt Cutts’ anti-spam team.
Well, the truth is that Google is only looking for webmasters to stick to their quality criteria in the SERP’s, even though their decisions can cost companies a lot of money.
Today we are going to see what a manual penalty consists of, how to make a reconsideration request to solve the problem and, in case we are denied, what alternatives we have left.
Índice de contenidos
- 1 When can a manual penalty be applied to me?
- 2 How can the “manual jobs” of Google employees affect me?
- 3 Steps prior to the reconsideration request
- 4 How do I make a reconsideration request to Google?
- 5 What to do if my request for reconsideration is denied?
When can a manual penalty be applied to me?
If a Google employee goes to the trouble of applying a penalty, it is because he has seen something. And that you have seen may be:
- Artificial external link profile
- Purchase/sale of links
- Poor content
- Plagiarized or spined content
- Hidden text
- Structured marking with misleading content
- Spam (in a broad sense)
- Malware on the site
- Keyword over-optimization
To see the full list of what Google considers “bad practices”, you can visit the Webmaster Guidelines page. The most controversial thing about manual penalties is that they can also affect you if you have received spam links from your competitors, or from blackhaters who want to screw up your project. User-generated spam also counts, so keep an eye on what’s happening on your website!
How can the “manual jobs” of Google employees affect me?
Manual penalties are based on the severity of the infractions. “And that, how do you measure…?”, you may ask. Well… nobody knows for sure, apart from the person who applies the sanction. The only certainty is that, as a result of a manual penalty, the positioning of your site may fall in the SERP’s, to varying degrees, or disappear from Google, if it is judged that you have violated the search engine’s quality standards too much. In fact, one of the first things you should do is to check if your website still appears in the search results, using the command “site:”, followed by your domain (without a space in between). If you have been deindexed… start worrying!
The good thing is that, unlike automatic penalties resulting from an algorithm update, if it is an employee acting, you receive a notification through Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
To view penalties:
Control panel > Search traffic > Manual actions
In general, two different types of actions can be applied to you:
- Partial matches: are those that only affect a part of your web page, one or several specific URLs, or certain links.
- Site matches: those that affect the entire domain.
In each of these tabs you will find two sections with the Reasons, and the parties Affected by the sanction.
For details on the actions that have been taken, you should search GWT for the relevant sections.
Steps prior to the reconsideration request
Once you have detected the problem, and with the information that Google provides you in the Partial Matches and Site Matches sections , you must take action! But don’t be hasty. As if it were a request for a pardon to the judge, you must send a request for reconsideration to Mr. J. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. K. Google to have the sanction removed, but first you must take some actions. If you send the application without having everything tied up and well tied up, you may be denied.
Adjust your site to quality standards
If you have poor content, enrich it. If you have done keyword stuffing, try to lower the keyword density. If you have sold links, put a nofollow… Solve all the problems that are in your hand. When I say ALL, I mean “all” 🙂 Don’t make the mistake of prioritizing, solve only the most serious ones and leave the ones you consider less important without optimizing. It is better to do it right, step by step. Even if it takes time.
Use the Disavow tool, from Google Webmaster Tools
The good thing is that, if you have been manually penalized for artificial links, a good part of them are probably under your control. For those who are not, GWT’s Disavow tool is a must-have. It will allow you to disavow toxic links. Google likes you to first try to contact the webmasters who have placed those backlinks to request their removal. When the e-mail address is not found on the linking site, you can use Who.is, which offers hosting data, contact information, etc.
To use Disavow, you must upload a txt file to GWT with the links you want to disavow. If there are many, there are tools that can help you, such as Link Detox (we talked about its functions here), Majestic SEO, Ahrefs, etc., but you can also simply download your link profile from GWT, at:
Search traffic > Links to your site > Download recent links
Perfect! All that remains is to file a request for reconsideration.
How do I make a reconsideration request to Google?
I would like to tell you, it’s very simple! But, unfortunately, you’re going to have to work at it. It also depends on the type of manual penalty applied to you. But, in any case, it is not difficult; it is, expensive.
Where do you have to apply? It’s very simple, and you will have already seen the “Request a review” button while exploring the Manual Actions section.
What you should send them is:
1. An explanation of what you think the problem is.
Google is a bit self-righteous, and they want you to confess your sins. I don’t say so myself, but they themselves in their guidance document for submitting the application, where they talk about “good faith”, “effort”, etc. 🙂 Although, in some cases, spam is not the webmaster’s fault. Still, don’t overuse excuses, don’t tell them about your life, how bad the competition is, your business problems or how this is affecting the situation with your partner. Get to the point, providing details. Just think, these guys get over 5,000 reconsideration requests every week.
If you have purchased a domain that did not comply with Google’s guidelines, let them know. You don’t have to carry that guilt. To each his own cross 🙂
2. Detailed information on the measures you have taken to solve the problem.
Once you have gone to confession, it is now time to pray the Hail Mary of good practices. Explain in detail and provide documents, the measures you have taken:
Links in which you have removed or disallowed. This is where, among other things, you have to attach the Excel file with the disallowed links. They have to see that you have worked hard, that you have done penance! Thus, you should send them copies of the emails you have sent to the webmasters who have placed bad quality links (even if they have agreed to remove them).
Links to which you have applied nofollow. If you have been selling links, you should fix this with the nofollow attribute. In case you have been specified that the penalty is due to the sale of links, list the backlinks to which you have applied the attribute.
Keyword density. If you have over-optimized your site with keywords, explain the measures you have used to reduce keyword density and give examples.
Quality of content. If the problem was the absence of content, its poverty, or its dubious origin, send examples of the new content with which you have replaced the old content.
User-generated spam. The most common case is that of comments and forums full of links. Document how you have eliminated it, providing concrete cases.
Anyway… we could go on, but I think we have already covered the most common causes of a penalty, when it is due to SEO practices.
3. Document the results
Well, explain how your site, or the parts of it, that had contravened the wishes of the almighty Google. In fact, we have already explained this in the previous section. All that remains to be said is to make sure that you are conveying to the Quality Rater the idea that your site is now useful to users and provides value to them.
You know, be a good boy! 🙂
What to do if my request for reconsideration is denied?
If you do things right, and your case was not extremely serious, it doesn’t have to happen. But you never know. If Google denies you its forgiveness, and your site has been deindexed, or the blow received in terms of positioning has been very hard, you can let the site die and set up another one doing, this time, things in a different way.
Of course, you can also do a triple 301 redirect, something very common to get rid of manual penalties. We talked about it recently in a Quondos post about alternatives to get rid of negative SEO actions in which I participated as a guest blogger.
In a triple redirect, your old domain is transferred to a new domain, interspersed with two other domains in between, so that the penalty is not transferred to the new project. It sounds like a mess, but the logic is very simple:
Old domain > Redirect 301> Intermediate domain 1 >Redirect 301 > Intermediate domain 2 > Redirect 301 >New domain
The triple redirect is very difficult (if not impossible) to detect, and offers you the possibility to keep much of the strength and link juice you had, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
So far this is the small guide to deal with a manual penalty from Google. If you liked it, share it on social networks! And if you have any interesting experience to tell about the reviews, tell us, tell us! 🙂
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