A Guide on Manual Google Penalty Recovery
One of the most frustrating messages that a webmaster may receive is alert from Google Search Console notifying the website owner about manual actions taken towards his website. And such alerts are quite common, according to the former head of the web spam team at Google Matt Cutts, 400,000 manual penalties are applied to different websites daily and this is equal to 0.22% domains. Officially Google lists 12 common manual penalties, which may affect a website, and Mobilunity Marketing Team successfully dealt with 3 of them on clients websites:
- Hacked site
- Unnatural links to your site
- Thin content with little or no added value
Our post will explain in detail how to deal with the last manual action in the list – “Thin content with little or no added value” based on one of our samples.
Identifying Manual Actions Taken by Google
Maybe the only positive thing in manual actions taken by Google team is presence of email notifications. So we highly recommend all our clients add websites to Google Search Console not only to improve website indexing, but also stay alarmed about issues on your website. In case of content issues, webmaster will receive such an email, this notification will be also present in Google Search Console:
Screenshot of Google Search Console notification about thin content on website
In some cases we receive requests from clients, who suspect their website is under manual penalty due to the low traffic they receive from Google, but don’t have any proofs, since they don’t use Google Search Console. In this case we promptly create account for the client and add website there. Email about manual actions won’t come, but website owner would be able to check manual actions taken towards his website in console: Search Traffic – Manual Actions.
How to Remove Content Google Penalty
Google penalty removal is not a quick process and will require work on every page on the website. Our manual ban recovery checklist is as follows:
- review website navigation and sidebars, edit those to ensure those don’t show the same info and are useful to readers.
- remove all screaming ads and pop-ups at once (especially AdSense, if there are several blocks of it on website).
- scan website with siteliner.com (as it’s described in our content case study) and rewrite all duplicated and similar content.
- check how title of every post/page corresponds the information provided in the content. If content is irrelevant – fully rewrite it to ensure it provides proper value to the users.
- extend pages, which are short, with useful content. We recommend to have minimum 400 words per page.
- edit every page by adding relevant statistical data and quotes from industry experts, all should be properly referenced.
- add media to your content: images and video, which will educate users on the topic and don’t forget to add references.
- hide pages without content from indexing (it can be done by adding this page to robots.txt).
- scan website for broken links and fix those at once.
- thoroughly proofread every page for grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc mistakes.
Once all points from the checklist are done, your website is ready to be submitted for reconsideration. In this case you click on “Reconsideration Request” button in the email from Google, then click on red “Request a Review” button and submit a simple form. You will need to provide a detailed comment on what exactly was done on the website and choose “I acknowledge that my site does not violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” checkbox. Upon request submission, webmaster receives an email notifying that Google spam team received it:
Screenshot of confirmation in Google Search Console on uploading reconsideration request
Now you should only wait for the review. As it’s mentioned in the email, it may take several weeks, we used to receive positive or negative replies within the period of 2 weeks. Here is an email our team received in 13 days after the reconsideration request submission:
Screenshot of approved reconsideration request in Google Search Console
Never Give up With Reconsideration Requests
Of course it’s not a golden rule that every reconsideration request ends with positive reply. In some cases Google may send “your request was rejected” email, but it’s not the reason to give up and close the website. It’s just the indicator that you weren’t too thorough in your content review – so go over the website again and fix every piece, which you may consider suspicious. The main thing, which Google takes into account, is usefulness of content, so always ask yourself whether your page answers users question in full and whether it includes just unnecessary information, which could be removed.