What is the first rule of dealing with Google penalties? Never let your site get to the point it gets one. However, penalties happen, and then, rankings and traffic fall. Very often it all happens without noticing until it gets too late. In either case, these problems leave business owners devastated.
The first thing, which comes to the site owner’s mind is “This is the end”. Hitting the bottom of Google search results means having to start everything anew, which will take more time and money than an average webmaster can afford.Mostly, they are not wrong. Recovering from Google penalties is a long process as you have to raise your rankings and repeat your long way to TOP search results. There is no way to bypass this stage: not if you want to get another Google penalty in the end.
Although recovering from penalties is possible, Semalt, a European SEO agency, warns every user that there is no ultimate strategy or a winning trick, which would quickly bring site positions back to normal. In each case, you have to build an individual strategy focused on removing weak and faulty sides, which brought the site to its downfall, and improving its strongest aspects to pull the web source from the rock bottom of search results.
The experience of Semalt SEO experts working with site owners hit by a penalty mostly revolves around the cases of people who suffered from scammy, black-hat SEO agencies they had worked with before switching to Semalt. Such site owners remained completely unaware of the damage done by Black Hat SEO practitioners until the rankings started falling and ruining all tentative progress that was reached due to the efforts of Semalt.
Despite the situation seems to be truly frustrating, the experts reassure that there is a way back. A long, complicated, yet real way back.
Get to the root of the problem
If the official notification of Google doesn’t clarify much, check Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to learn more about the reason Google banned you. If you didn’t get any notifications, go to Google Algorithm Change History, and see whether any changes have been applied to the algorithm at the time you started experiencing rankings loss: this is one of the most common causes of traffic and rankings drop.
A personal suggestion from Semalt is to check the backlinks leading to your site as soon as using poor quality backlinks is the most common violation of Google guidelines, and many site owners are often completely oblivious to it.
Remove low-quality backlinks
Penguin algorithm is the one, which detects bad backlinks and punishes websites, which distributes them. You can access your backlinks through Google Webmaster Tools. The route to them lies through Search Traffic → Links to your site → Who links the most → Download the latest links. From there, you will be able to see all links which refer to your web source. From here, the monotonous procedure of checking websites begins. This is why many users prefer to leave that task to professional SEO experts or employ the assistance of backlinks tracking tools, which provide more data about each link.
The rotten part of link juice usually consists of:
- Web sources banned from Google;
- Sites not related to the niche of your site;
- Spammy sites;
- Sites with mature or graphic content;
- Doorway pages;
- Site which uses cloaking techniques;
- Websites with duplicated content.
After running the backlinks analysis and defining the flawed ones, you should immediately replace bad backlinks with high-quality backlinks from the authority web sources belonging to the relevant niche. It is better to be done with assistance from a professional link-building expert. However, before you can proceed with the replacement procedure, it is important to get rid of the black sheep. This is how you do it.
Write an email to webmaster
Usually, any webmaster has their contact data in Contact Us or About Us, so sending them a polite email, in which you ask to remove their links and show precisely on which page is link is located, won’t be a problem. Make sure, however, not to send multiple requests as a) if the webmaster doesn’t respond to the first one, all the next ones will be of no use, b) it will land you straight to the spam filter.
If it is your company’s website that got affected, use the email address of your company, and not @gmail.com to give your request more weight. To relieve yourself from the monotony of checking your Income boxes, use email tracking tools and Google plugins to organize your work with email requests and help you save time. The more clearly you can see how many webmasters open your emails and how many of them don’t bother with replying, the sooner you can proceed with Disavow reports.
Note, if the webmaster doesn’t remove the links or offers to do it for payment, ignore them and start the Disavow procedure.
Disavow bad domains
Use your backlink monitoring tool to gather the backlinks into a Disavow report. Tools like Monitor Backlinks allow adding tags to link and then systemizing them into one, single category. The tool also enables exporting all tagged backlinks into a report, which can be uploaded to Disavow Links Tool.
Next, you click Disavow Links.
Keep in mind: Disavow Links tool is your last resort. Use it only when you have exhausted all other measures, and have no other mean of getting rid of poor quality backlinks. Also, this tool doesn’t promise quick results: adding changes to index takes time, and after this, the bot also should approve these changes.
This is another cause of Google ban, and a result of working with poor quality SEO agencies, which simply duplicate the content from other websites, believing that their customers will never bother to do research or to check the uniqueness of the content. In this case, writers of you have to write 100% original content to replace bad copy&paste descriptions, articles, and posts on the site to get it back in Google’s good graces and renew the rankings growth.
Cleaning out the excessive number of keywords from site content, meta tags, image ALT attributes, headers, even site and pages’ URL is a meticulous task followed up by another meticulous task of inserting the correct ratio of key phrases into the text. In many cases, Semalt had to build an entirely new semantic kernel to give the site a fresh start. Sometimes, some keywords can be salvaged from the old semantic kernel (granted there is one), but yet mostly everything has to go.
Removing the leading causes of Google penalty is never enough for full recovery. It is an essential sanitizing stage, after which a stage of in-depth on-site and off-site optimization works must follow:
- Link building. Even when bad backlinks are not the case, the site is still weakened by the rankings lost, so it needs all the support from aged authority sources it can get.
- SMM. Social media activity brings a solid boost of traffic and trust rank of the site, and this is something a penalized site heavily needs. A well-developed campaign for Twitter, Instagram or Facebook will help to uplift the site and supply it with loyal visitors.
- Complete rebuild of the old site. You have to do it, to completely remove technical issues and errors made by black-hat SEO “professionals”. Sometimes the damage is way too extensive, so rebuilding the site becomes the safest option which ensures no errors or issues will be popping up.
- Online marketing campaigns. When Google deems your site non-trustworthy, your direct duty is to win that trust back. You need to spread awareness about the site and its product.
- Not getting your hopes up. All these steps guarantee that your website will get back in shape. However, they do not warrant that they will do it quickly. Don’t expect tangible results in a week or two: you’ll be in for a disappointment.
Getting rid of the consequences of Google ban will take you months and months of hard work, backlinks and niche analysis, maintenance and support before you can proudly say: “We made it!”.
However, it is still possible in the end. Also, all good things are worth the struggle, aren’t they?