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Digital Marketing

How to Remove Your Google Penalty

by Kelsey Cadogan
It seems like every day another website is being penalized by Google for black hat SEO strategies including numerous strategies to increase backlinks. Finding yourself in this situation is not fun. Suddenly traffic has plummeted along with all your sales… what are you going to do?
First, you need to understand that you (or your SEO team or your agency) have probably spent a lot of time (knowingly or unknowingly) cheating the system to try and appear more relevant to Google than you actually are. You created spam and unnatural linking. Google has figured it out and is making you change your ways. So now it’s time to stop all the black hat tactics, clean up the spam you created and move forward with a white-hat-only policy.

You’ll have to put in the time and effort to prove to Google that you will change your ways. Clean up the mess you made and prevent it from happening again in the future. Link hygiene can be a long and tedious process for most companies but if you take the time to do it right the first time, you can get the penalty removed much faster. Trying to be quick and dirty with the process will not get your penalty lifted which means your site will be banned from search results for an even longer time period, and you will continue to lose traffic and revenue until it’s removed.
A few things to keep in mind about this process:

  1. Google wants you to CHANGE. Own up to your wrongdoings and explain in your removal request that you understand what it was that you did wrong and that it won’t continue.
  2. Google wants to see that you put in real effort to clean up the spammy links and make things right. Document everything you do in a Google doc that you can share with the Google team to prove the actions you took.
  3. Do NOT just disavow all bad links and submit a removal request. If you don’t show any effort to clean up your bad links, Google won’t show you any mercy.

Types of Penalties
Site-wide penalty– Google has deemed your SEO tactics so spammy that it will not rank anything on your site until you’ve put in some serious effort to clean up. Even if someone specifically searches for your brand or website name, you still will not show up.
Partial penalty – Only some of your pages are effected and prevented from ranking. Usually the pages with the worst link profiles are the ones targeted.
What is a bad link?
Many sites are getting penalties because their link profile contains too many “bad links.” These are links that have been placed solely for the purpose of cheating the Google algorithm into giving a site more relevancy credit than it deserves.
The worst types of links are those that are obtained as part of a link scheme, which is a broad effort to obtain a mass quantity of unnatural links. According to Google Webmaster Tools support, the following are common link schemes that are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank
  • Excessive link exchanges (Link to me and I’ll link to you)
  • Large-scale article marketing or guest posting with keyword-rich anchor text links
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site

Aside from links obtained from obvious link schemes, these are some general guidelines for determining sites that you also don’t want linking to you anymore:

  • Article directories
  • Foreign sites-  especially if you don’t target/market/sell to that country-  sites based in Asia or Africa that link to your American site are almost always spam
  • Misleading anchor text
  • Footer links (when they don’t seem to have a real purpose)
  • Lists of unrelated links along a side navigation
  • Extremely low quality or low authority sites

The basic strategy here is determining whether the link was created naturally or unnaturally. Was it placed solely for the purpose of SEO or is it providing value to users? Think about the likelihood of someone clicking on that link. Does it serve any purpose? Does it have any relevant to the rest of the page? If not, you don’t want it linking back to you.
Help with Google Penalty

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Kelsey Cadogan

Kelsey has been in the digital marketing industry since 2010 with experience working both in-house and agency-side. Her specialty is in paid search marketing although her experience also includes search engine optimization, content marketing and social media marketing. When not in the office or relaxing at home, she can be found at the nearest volleyball court.

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