Google Penalty: A Step By Step Process for Removal

Google - Penalty - RemovalChecking for a possible Google Penalty at the outset of any SEO Campaign is the first step for a successful campaign going forward.  To achieve this, you must look back into the past…the link past of your website.  The other efforts that your company or your SEO Company will be implementing, including content marketing and citation management, will be hampered significantly if this is not taken care of first.

The reason this is so important is because the Google Penalty has hit so many websites because SEO has changed substantially, especially in the last 3 years or so.  Some SEO firms have adapted.  However, many more still perform the same techniques that Google now regards as glorified parlor tricks.  Having said that, some websites that used to be held in high esteem by lots of search engine marketing companies have now been penalized by Google.  If your SEO company does not review this with you at the very outset, it should let you know something about the experience and professionalism.

The first step in removing bad or spammy back links is to do the research to actually discover where they are.  Every time that Tomorrows Online Marketing has researched this for our Google Penalty clients, we have surprised our clients at how many back links they have in their link history.  They are also shocked  at how many need to be removed.  How can you find this out?

There are several tools.  Google has its’ Webmaster Tools.  Others include Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO.  However, we believe the one that is the most thorough and has reports that are the easiest to read is Link Research Tools.  You can download the report into Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.  They rate the back links in the categories of “High”, “Medium” & “Low.”  You, or your SEO Company, will need to review the High and Medium Categories to see which ones will be removed.  Hint:  High usually just needs to be removed.  Google Webmaster Tools are important, but not usually adequate to get you all of the information.

While you are in the research process, do the following to stop any further damage or deepening the Google Penalty:

  • Stop any back linking service you may be using.  Whatever you have done with these services in the past, most all of them do not work any more and will cause more long term harm than good.
  • Ask they back linking service to remove any they have done for you already.  This will shorten the work needed to be done later.
  • Have them send you a report of not only all of the back links they have done in the past, but all of the ones that they were able to remove.

Once the research is done, you can start the long process of either protecting yourself from the Google Penalty or getting yourself removed from it.

Start with creating a Google Doc. Spreadsheet.  This will allow Google to see the amount of work that you have done to attempt to fix the problem.  Here are the fields (columns) that you should put into your Google Doc. (or Excel Spreadsheet):

  1. Contact Name
  2. Contact Email Address
  3. Website Contact Form
  4. Link Status
  5. Notes

If you don’t use a tool such as Link Research Tools, or a professional SEO Company, you can still pull your link history.  Here are some of the following conditions that can track a Google Penalty:

  • The website your URL is on is not indexed by Google.  This indicates the site is already penalized by the Google Penalty.
  • The website your URL is on accepts any back links without any review.
  • The website your URL has lots of backlinks that are spam that are pointing to it.  You can type the URL into Open Site Explorer to find out this info.
  • The website your URL is on is part of a network of similarly named websites/networks.
  • Any  website that contains “Best”, “SEO”, “Links”, etc. in the Name
  • Look in the Footer.  If the website your URL is on has the name “powered by phpLD” or “PHP Link Directory” in the footer, it’s going to, more than likely, be a Spammy Directory.

Another set of Google Penalty Links to eliminate are the following:

  • Forum/Profile Links, unless they are real posts or content
  • Blog Comments, unless it is a blog comment you created in your niche
  • Social Bookmarks, unless it is one you actually created.  This used to be a powerful and popular form of SEO that are now heavily killed by the Google Penalty.

Yet another category of Google Penalty links to remove:

  • Paid Links, unless it’s a niche, professional website in your field of business
  • Link Networks
  • Link Exchanges

Once you have all of these different websites with your URL on it on the Google Doc or Excel Spreadsheet, you need to contact the webmaster in an email or website contact form requesting that that they remove your website link from their website.  Identify yourself, your company name and that you are the webmaster of the website.

You need to request each of these websites to remove your link twice, usually 1-2 weeks apart.  Some will reach out and let you know they’ve removed it.  Others will let you know that they will remove it for a fee (yes, you will need to pay it).  The majority of them will not contact you for various reasons.  There is good news for those as well.

When you have done requested each of the websites twice, you can use the Google Disavow Tool.   Don’t disavow the URL sub domain.  Do it at the domain level.  Comment your file that you’ve requested removal twice.  Here is a Google Webmaster article that can further answer your questions on how to proceed:  Google Disavow Tool For the Google Penalty.

With using the disavowal tool, you need to submit your reconsideration request through your Google Webmaster Tools.  In this request letter, you need to beg and grovel.  Tell them you will go and sin no more.  The letter should be at least 3 paragraphs in length.  It in, you should reflect on all the work you did to fix and remove the back links.  You should let them know of any past SEO you did (or hired someone to do) and let them know that you will not be using this type of SEO in future marketing.  Reference your Google Spreadsheet, Excel Spreadsheet or Microsoft Work Doc. you used to document your work.

After all that work, you just have to sit back and wait.  Google is one of the world’s largest companies and they received hundreds of these requests every day.  In a few weeks, you will receive a notification from Google in your Webmaster Tools letting you know if the actions you took is sufficient or not to remove any penalty they have applied to your website.

Some businesses choose to try to remove the back links to alleviate the Google Penalty themselves.  Others choose to have professional digital marketing companies take care of this for them.  The short term pain “in the butt” that this is will be worth it in the long run with the long term benefits and revenue that can result from fixing this problem once and for all.