Reconsideration Requests needn’t be Stressful – Just Follow the Rules

Something that comes up a lot in SEO nowadays is the issue of reconsideration requests. With manual penalties being a concern for many, some sites have had the unfortunate experience of being removed from the results altogether and for a business in particular, this can be stressful. Your livelihood and possibly your main marketing channel has been effectively shut off from the rest of the online World. Perhaps you have had some dubious work carried out unknowingly by a third party “SEO” company that has automated their link building or used article spinning to get fast link results. Unfortunately, these companies are still out there and we have had experience in trying to undo damage to a profile, which has given us some great insight into how best to use the reconsideration request and more importantly, what to do with the profile after the hit.

Time is not a great healer…unless you get on with it!

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If one thing is for sure, it’s that if you just leave your website after a manual penalty hit, just hoping that it will appear back in the results sometime in the near future, it’s not going to work. We like to think of a penalised site as something that needs care and attention and undoubtedly, with a manual update it’s down to that site to fix the problems in order to get back into Google’s good graces. This isn’t as difficult as some would think and it’s a matter of planning ahead and actioning effective points to get the ball rolling again and get the site out of the sandbox. Remember, if your site is missing from the results this doesn’t mean you have had a manual penalty, as Google will notify you in Webmaster Tools in the new Manual Webspam Action tool. You will receive a message here if your site has been hit with a Webspam penalty. Google claim that less than 2% of domains are hit with this manual penalty and so if your site has disappeared or dropped in the SERPS and you have had no warning from Google, then it could be that you have simply suffered due to an algorithm update and you will have to fix any potential problems and wait for the next rollout of an Algorithm update.

Manual Penalty

Ok. So you have been served with a manual penalty informing you that your site has breached Google’s guidelines and that your site contains elements of spam (poor spam-like content, unnatural links etc.). The first thing to do is to look at your site content and check for hidden text or examples of keyword-stuffing (overpopulating your content with the same keywords over and over again). Then review each page and ensure the content on those pages is useful and of a high quality and not thin, cookie-cutter content (repeated paragraphs used across the site).

The next stage is to perform a backlink profile review. This can be time-consuming but by using some effective tools you can make it a little easier identifying which links could be causing the problem. Site Explorer, Majestic or A href link audit tools are all ideal for viewing what links are pointing into your site.

Key actions should include:

•Export the data to a spreadsheet (Excel)
•Categorize the links (manually or through Ctrl+find) Brand, Anchor Text
•Check each link domain and assess the quality of the linking site (if you are not 90% sure of their quality, mark it as red and aim for removal)
•Once the list is complete, start drafting an outreach email for removal of links. This can be templated with specific areas edited out for each one.
•Take screenshots of your outreach emails and contact forms if possible to use in your reconsideration request. This shows Google you have worked hard at removals.
•Create a Disavow list of all the “toxic” links that you were unable to manually remove. Don’t waste time putting comments in it as Googlebot is the first thing to read the list, not a human.
•File the Reconsideration Request to Google, with screenshots of your outreach emails, explain in detail what you have done, with examples and show them you will not make the same mistakes again.
•Most people would consider this the last point of key actions to perform but far from it. Whilst waiting for the reconsideration request to reach Google, you should already have begun looking for valuable link opportunities and building your profile back up with quality associations.

We can become too obsessive with reconsideration requests and waiting on Google to get back to us. The fact is that in some cases if Google feels your profile is still underachieving and violating their guidelines, they may just ignore your request. You may file it 3 or 4 times until you get a response but the best bet is to make absolutely sure that your profile is clean and that you have done everything in your power to adhere to the rules. Use multiple link audit checkers just to make sure no links are left out and this will give you complete visibility over your profile now and moving forward.