Google Makes Manual Penalty Recovery Slightly Easier
Also: Do webmasters need to worry less about some manual penalties than others?
Today Google announced that website owners will now be able to see if there are manual penalties against their sites – right through the Webmaster Tools dashboard.
While we suspect this initiative is in no small part designed to stop site owners moaning to Google about manual penalties when none have been applied, for those sites that are suffering from manual webspam actions it is a fairly significant step towards making recovery easier.
From this screenshot you’ll see there are 2 sections underneath the new Manual Actions section underneath the Search Traffic heading.
Site-wide matches are manual penalties against an entire site. For example: your site is pure spam, every page is auto-generated gibberish.
These are matches against one or more pages on your site, rather than the whole site. Examples of Partial matches might be you have a forum which has been hijacked by spammers posting viagra links, or your blog comments run to 100 pages of insightful responses from New Jersey Real Estate specialists and fans of Cheap Nike Air Jordans.
Unnatural links to your site – impacts links
Another category of partial matches seems to be the ones we’re seeing most of: Unnatural patterns of inbound links. Google doesn’t seem to be 100% confident that these links have been created by the site owner, and seems to be suggesting that the site isn’t being punished for these links’ existence. This message is quite interesting and, as always with Google, it’s very tempting to read between the lines.
“Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative links pointing to pages on this site. Some links may be outside of the webmaster’s control, so for this incident we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead of on the site’s ranking as a whole”
To me, this says that the site itself isn’t necessarily suffering from a manual penalty. Instead, the links have been manually devalued so will be effectively useless, passing no link juice. This, of course, will lead to a loss in ranking if the sites were passing Pagerank in the past and now aren’t, but the message seems to suggest that the site itself isn’t directly penalised.
Google gives us some example links! Finally!
Another very exciting development with the manual actions dashboard is that Google is finally showing examples of the sort of links that are being targeted. This is very good news and a BIG STEP for frustrated penalised website owners who have long been complaining that they’re being sent to jail for an unknown crime which no one will tell them about.
Reconsideration Requests Simplified
Of course, the first thing to do when you have any manual action against your site is to try and fix the cause of the problem. That usually means you need to remove the offending links, or as many of them as possible. That hasn’t changed, and today’s changes haven’t given webmasters a short cut to getting penalised sites back to good ranking. Google LOVES it when site owners show that they know they’ve sinned. So clean up (or have us clean up) as many of those bad links as possible.
Once you’ve done that though, it is now marginally easier to submit your reconsideration request.
By clicking Request a Review, you can submit your explanation of what you’ve done to rectify your site’s issues, tick a box confirming that your site doesn’t violate Webmaster guidelines, and request a ‘review’.
Google Manual Penalty Recovery
Overall, the rules haven’t changed. If your site has been hit by a manual penalty, here’s what you need to do:
- Identify the cause of the penalty (usually it’s spammy inbound links)
- Fix the cause (i.e. remove the links)
- Keep track of everything you do, every webmaster you contact requesting link removal
- Submit a detailed reconsideration request (now called a ‘Review’ on your manual action)
If you’ve been hit by a manual penalty and you want some help, we have a team of dedicated back link removal ninjas who help sites just like yours to recover from manual as well as algorithmic penalties (like Penguin & Penguin 2.0).
Get in touch through the form and we’ll gladly take a look at your site and give an honest opinion of what can be done.
The most important things to bear in mind when you’ve been hit by a penalty:
You are NOT alone
You CAN get through this
Been hit by a manual penalty and want help?
When it really matters, contact our link removal specialists to help clean up the causes of any penalties and submission of the reconsideration requests.