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Marcela De

Five Steps to Getting Out of the Google Penalty Box

Marcela De

Has your website received a manual action in Google?  Have you tried to submit a reconsideration request and failed?

In this infographic created as a collaboration between Marcela De Vivo and Brian Dean, the process of going through the reconsideration process is outlined so you can understand how to get the manual action lifted with a successful reconsideration request.

Here are the Five Steps to Follow:

  • Download all your backlinks using a backlink audit tool;
  • Evaluate your links;
  • Link Removal Outreach;
  • Create and upload your Disavow File; and
  • File the Reconsideration Request.

gryffin-reconsideration (1)

Download all your backlinks using a backlink audit tool

Whether you use Majestic, Ahrefs, LinkDetox or Google Webmaster Tools, the key is to get as many of your links downloaded and evaluated as possible.  I personally find that using LinkDetox, which pulls in over 20 backlink sources, is enough.  What’s also great about LinkDetox is that it immediately gives you a large number of metrics that you can use when evaluating your backlinks, including site age, Pagerank of the page and of the home page, Backlinks to the page and domain, and much more.

Evaluate your backlinks

Now that you have all of your link, with metrics to help you evaluate them, it’s time to go through your entire backlink profile.  This is the most difficult and tedious part of the process.

You have to visit each and every one of the sites in your backlink profile, and label it as Healthy, Toxic or Suspicious.  Toxic links are links from pages that are not indexed in Google or have malware or viruses.  I categorize the suspicious links into levels.  Is it an obvious paid link? Is it an article directory link? Or maybe a link exchange on a links page?  I will label them with their link type, level of suspiciousness, and whether or not it should be removed.  I do my link removals in tiers, starting with the toxic links, then the worst of the suspicious, and so on and so forth.

Link Removal Outreach

By this point you should have a fully labeled backlink profile.  Now it’s time to start emailing.  Here are the steps we take:

  • Find email address or contact form URLs for as many of the sites as possible in the backlink profile.
  • Send out the emails.  I copy the source code for the emails, give them a name, and paste them on a Google doc.
  • Send out the contact forms.  I take a screenshot of each contact form and paste each one on a Google doc.
  • Reference each of the email source code and contact form screenshots in your audit file.
  • Wait a week, then run Screaming Frog Spider on your backlinks to see how many were taken down.

Create your Disavow File

Take the remaining toxic links that weren’t removed and add them to your disavow file.  Google says it’s better to use a machete when disavowing links, and instead of disavowing them page by page, disavow entire domains.  Here’s how to create a disavow file.

File the Reconsideration Request

The point of a reconsideration request is to prove to Google that you are a recovered link abuser.  You are literally on probation, and your letter will help Google decide if you’ve paid enough penance and are ready to be let out of jail.  They need to be convinced you worked hard enough to get out of jail and that you really won’t go back to being a link abuser.

In the letter, it’s important to show them all of the effort you spent as part of your backlink profile cleanup.  This is where you link to your Google Docs documents so they can see everything you’ve done.  The key is to explain how you got into this mess, that you’ve done your best to clean it up, and that you’ll never do it again.

Go Forth and ATTRACT Links with Great Content!

There’s really no way around this step.  If you want your site’s rankings to remain healthy, you have to have a content marketing campaign in place.  Create amazing content assets, do outreach to tell others about your content, and get them to link to you editorially.  Some high-level guest posting and infographic marketing is definitely helpful, combined with a strong content marketing campaign.  This will keep your rankings high and your website out of Google Jail.

Marcela De Vivo has been an SEO since 1999, and is the President of Gryffin Media. Her last article for SEMrush was "5 Ways Digital Marketers Can Rock their Strategy with SEMrush."

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