Insights

How To Lift Google Manual Links Penalty

June 16, 2015

Earlier I wrote an article about, What Is A Google Penalty And How To Fix It, where I touched upon two main issues – Google Algorithm updates and onsite spammy techniques. Now I am going to march on a different drum and address the topic of deceitful link schemas:

  • What is a link schema
  • How to avoid link schemas
  • How to lift Google manual unnatural links penalty on your site

What is a links schema

A link schema is the presence of external or internal (outgoing) links that intend to unnaturally manipulate site’s rankings in SERPs. There are two ways to be trapped in a link schema: by generating out of the ordinary external links and/or sell internal (outgoing) links. Let’s take a look at some common examples of such bad practices:

  • Buying huge amounts of low-quality links that have been generated in a short period of time;
  • Excessive link exchange or cross-linking among partner pages;
  • Guest blog posting exclusively for the sake of link exchange;
  • Use of automated programs that submit your site to low-quality directories and bookmark websites;
  • Hidden links embedded in widgets;
  • Widely distributed links in footers;
  • Excessive amount of forum comments consisting of optimized anchor signatures;

No motive could be an excuse for such actions of any professional SEO. These spammy techniques for increased ranking are nothing more but a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Yes, your website will increase its rankings enormously but only for a while. Afterwards, in consequence of such behaviour, you risk to be clinched in a Manual Links Penalty and be de-ranked from SEPRs. Does it worth its salt?

How to avoid link schemas

The first thing you have to understand is that the SEO process takes time. My experience as a SEO expert has utterly convinced me in that. So I better settle it right now.

  • Don’t buy links under any circumstances! It’s unnatural. A rapid increase in external links pointing to your website, will only signalize to Google Webspam Team, that you might be doing something inappropriate.
  • Don’t generate links from websites with duplicate or low-quality content. As we are all familiar with Google Panda Update, the last of which was announced and rolled out on the 20th of May 2014, links from such sites might seriously harm your performance and backlink authority.
  • Don’t link to spammy websites. Nobody likes to be redirected to deceptive or low-quality content. Google either!
  • Don’t create enormous number of forum comments consisting of one and the same exact match anchor keyword, phrase or longtail. At least avoid it in a short time span.
  • Don’t use satellites for the sake of ranking for particular keyword and redirect the traffic to your “money site”. If it worked in the past, it’s not working today.
  • Don’t use spammy software to build links. It’s quite likely to experience a rapid increase for a few weeks but afterwards a dramatic drop in SEPRs.

Off the top of my head, I think everyone of us have been seduced by Black Hat SEO link techniques but don’t do them in future. Or you’ll certainly hear the sound of traffic silence some day. Unfortunately, sometimes we could become a victim of bad SEO advice or turn up in the middle of a link building cross-fire. So how do you know, if your website is under surveillance or even suspension by the Webspam Team?

How to find and lift manual unnatural links penalty from Google

The first thing you have to do, after you notice a rapid decrease in Organic Traffic and rankings, is to open your Google Webmaster Tool and go to sections Site Messages and Search Traffic -> Manual Actions. Normally, if you’re under any Manual Action by Google, you’ll have a notification with brief explanation why your site has been suspended.

In case you suspect a Manual Penalty, because of rapid decrease of Organic Traffic and lack of recent search engine’s update, better take a look at you backlink profile. To do so you could use tools such as aHref or Moz. Another way is to open your Google Webmaster Tool, go to Search Traffic -> Links to Your Site. You have to download the list and filter them by the most recent date. What you have to do is to check for a big number of external links in the last 30 days or more. Are there any links from websites you’re not familiar with? Better go and check them. May be you’ve become a victim of a competitor’s spam attack or cross-link battle.

Recently I’ve read an article by Marie Haynes in Search Engine Watch on the matter. She reminds us that manual link penalties have their expiration date. In her article she writes how “in a 2011 video, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts explained that penalties expire and that the length of the penalty usually correlates to the severity of the problem that Google is seeing.”

Since we don’t have any grounded rule stating the length of expiration period (because of the particular nature of any different case), we’d better take action and get rid of the spammy backlinks. Usually I recommend two ways of doing that: manually or semi-automated. For the semi-automated approach you need some extra budget for tools. My choice is Link Detox. But if your budget is too tight then you need to undertake the following steps:

  1. Download all external and internal (outgoing) links for Google Webmaster Tool;
  2. Find all unnatural or spammy external links (you might find Excel very helpful here);

Tip: check your 301 redirects also. The Disavow Tool may not work through a 301 redirect.

  1. Try to contact their website’s owners and ask them to remove the links to your website (I recommend to do it twice for a period of five working days);
  2. If there are still unnatural external links left you should put them in a document and submit them by using Google Disavow Tool (here are the complete instructions for using Google Disavow Tool);
  3. Upload all above mentioned letters, tables and screenshots in Google docs;
  4. Send a Reconsideration Request to the Google Webspam team and submit the letter here;
  1. Voilà!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me :)