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Preparing for a Google Penalty Reconsideration – Part II

The Real Work Begins

Part I of this series covered collecting all the various information you will need to put together your Recondsideration Request.  Now that you have collected the information to use in your recovery the first thing to understand is that this is not a quick process.  Do not get impatient since doing a complete process is more important that doing a fast one.  Although you may be anxious to recover your search engine ranking as quickly as possible, doing a fast job can actually end up taking you longer.  If you do not clean up enough of the existing mess Google will simply deny your reconsideration and advise you that they still detect violations of Webmaster Guidelines.  Take your time and do a complete job and your chances of having your reconsideration approval are much higher.  This entire process can take from 6 to 8 weeks before you are ready to request reconsideration (depending on the size of your backlink profile).

Step 1:  Create a Master Backlink List:  I create an Excel spreadsheet for this step.  Most of the tools I mentioned allow you to download their list in Excel format so I first take each file and reduce it down to the items needed.  This includes the following items at a minimum:

  • Domain of inbound links
  • URL of the page the inbound links are located on
  • URL of the page or pages the links points to
  • URL of all outbound links and URL of the page they are located on
  • A variety of other information that may be helpful as we begin the tedious work that follows such as date link established, type link (anchor text, image, etc), Link Status (Follow or No Follow), email contact and Remarks

During the collection phase I received files from Open Site Explorer, Link Research Tools, Webmaster Tools, Referring Sites from Google Analytics as well as files for all outbound links from the tools mentioned in Part I.  There are other sources available but these are the ones I use.

Step 2:  Remove all No Follow inbound Links from your Master List:  Google has publicly stated that No Follow links will not result in a penalty for the website they are pointing to, as they are placed to drive traffic to your site and not to influence search engine rankings.  Click the link below to check out Matt Cutts comments on No Follow:

Step 3Manual Penalty for Outbound Links: If your penalty was of the second type (Manual Penalty for Outbound Links) you need to go to your website, blog or forum and remove those links or code them as No Follow.  If you are using a WordPress blog there is an easy to use plugin called Outbound Link Manager which allows you to easily code each link on a blog post.  You also need to ensure that blog comments are moderated and spam comments with links are removed.  You can edit comments to remove those outbound links associated with them.  Once this is all completed for Outbound Links you can proceed to Step 6 to begin your Reconsideration Request.

Step 4:  Prioritize Links:  Identify those links that are considered the most toxic to your backlink profile first.  These are the ones you will want to begin work on removing first.  Link Research Tools provides a report of all links considered Toxic by their own algorithm and categorizes them based on how damaging they can be.  These are a good place to begin as well as those that are site wide links or on blogrolls.  Site wide links are easy to identify and also the easiest for Google to spot.  A single link from a relevant blog should not be a problem however, multiple linking from unrelated blogrolls will certainly result in a penalty.  If you have a large number of blog articles with links you need to ensure that they do not make up a significant portion of your backlink profile.  Blogrolls for the most part are easy to spot; check if they are on a single theme, have a point of contact and do the author profiles actually point to someone.  Links on blogrolls should be either removed or changed to No Follow.   Many times these sites will be those at the top of your Most Linked sites in Webmaster Tools.  Next you will want to categorize the remainder of links based on how damaging they may be to your profile.  Again, Link Research Tools gives you their breakdown on this which you can use as your starting point.

Step 5Collect the Point of Contact:  Find the point of contact for all backlinks that you will be requesting removal or change to the backlink.  You can get this information from an email listing on the website itself, a contact form on the site or by using one of the Whois lookup services such as Network Solutions.  For those links for which there is no point of contact either on the website or in Whois listing of a contact form to use you will be simply disavowing them to Google.

Step 6Set up a Record Spreadsheet:  Your record spreadsheet should be placed on Google Docs and made viewable by the public.  This is where you will enter all information necessary for your reconsideration request.  This should include the following:

  • Domain links are coming from
  • URL of the page the links are located on
  • URL of the page or pages the links point to
  • Point of contact (email or contact form url)
  • Date of first contact
  • Date of second contact
  • Remarks on action taken (removed, changed, disavowed)

Note: If you are working on a manual penalty for outbound links once this step is completed move on to Part III to begin the Reconsideration Request.

Step 7Email Points of Contact:  Begin emailing website points of contact requesting removal or change of links.  This is where the slow and tedious work is found.  Writing a request that will be acted on quickly is key to this step.  Be polite and never threaten or demand that a link be removed.  Provide the point of contact all information necessary to identify where the link is located and where it points.  If you have already received a manual penalty feel free to mention this as webmasters understand the importance of what you are requesting.  If you receive a response that the link has been removed or changed, verify it and then enter the information on your record spreadsheet and save the email response.  Be sure to follow up with a thank you note.  If the website refuses to remove or change the link, follow up with a second email again explaining the importance of their taking action.  If they again refuse simply retain their email and enter this in the Remarks section of your record spreadsheet.  You will include these links in your Disavow List.  Retain all emails received during this process in the event Google requests documentation.

Step 8Create a Disavow List:  The links for which you have received no response to any emails, websites for which there is no Point of Contact listed on the site or in Whois and those that refuse to remove the links will be disavowed.  Check Webmaster Tools on how to draft your Disavow List and submit it to Google.

Continue this series to Part III: The Reconsideration Request.