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I. Don’t. Like. To. Fail. I never have and never will. It probably stems from that one time I forgot the second half of a song during my third grade violin recital and rushed off stage in tears. Ever since, I’ve made sure to cover all my bases and whisper to myself, “Hannah, failing to prepare is planning to fail,” as I go to sleep.
So when I spent hours cleaning up a client’s unnatural link profile and even more time meticulously writing a (seemingly) fool-proof reconsideration request, I was not a happy camper when that request was rejected and Google maintained the manual penalty.
Then I worked some more, and found, removed, and disavowed even more spammy links before submitting another request. Which was then also rejected.
But cheer up, Hannah, the third time is the charm right? Nope. I had compiled a list of removed and disavowed of over 700 domains, but Matt Cutts’ team of web spam warriors decided that yet again, this client’s website was still not following their webmaster quality guidelines.
Does this story sound familiar? Don’t fear—this pattern of failure is actually quite common for webmasters looking to regain rankings and get off Google’s naughty list.
Reasons a Reconsideration Request Is Rejected
If you followed our recent blog post on writing a reconsideration request, you were most likely not rejected because of how you wrote, but rather your explanation of what you did to earn a request for reconsideration. My guess would be that you didn’t do enough to satisfy Google’s belief that you’re ready to follow their quality guidelines.
Not doing enough?!? Trust me, I feel your pain—I removed and disavowed over 3,000 individual links for a client, only to still have Google tell me I had to try harder.
Did I give up—no because that would truly mean failing. I first analyzed and made sure I was doing enough for Google to see a good faith effort being put in. To follow in my (*cough* expert) footprints, ask yourself:
- Do you understand why you received a manual penalty?
- Did you clean up your own website—creating a natural internal linking scheme, removing irrelevant external links, etc.?
- Did you find all the links using multiple sources? One will not do—we recommend creating a killer Excel sheet that pulls inbound links from Google Webmaster Tools, Open Site Explorer, Backlinks Watch, Ahrefs, Google itself, Majestic SEO, and possibly more.
- Did you contact every webmaster, politely asking them to remove the link?
- Did you follow up with webmasters who did not respond or remove the links?
- Did you track that effort and provide Google with a GoogleDoc that includes webmaster email addresses, sample emails, dates of contact and follow up, and action and resolution?
- Was your disavow file successful? Google is picky on formatting so make sure you follow their guidelines so that the disavowing can begin taking effect.
The problem I kept running into with my client with an extremely unnatural link profile was that I couldn’t find all the links that pointed to their site, so I wasn’t satisfying the links Google was testing—despite having disavowed hundreds of domains already. Just because you can’t see those links doesn’t mean they are not harming your website and rankings.
New Efforts for a Second Reconsideration Request
While it can be frustrating, make sure you did a thorough, complete job of that list above. Think you have? Here’s my advice if your reconsideration requests are being continually rejected:
- Find more links – keep checking for more links. This may seem tedious, but it’s required to truly clean up your link profile.
- Follow up with webmasters – I’d cap it at about three email follow ups, but this shows a truly good faith effort to Google that you’re not just mass disavowing all inbound links.
- Expand upon your previous reconsideration request –don’t just resubmit your first version, update all your new efforts in detail.
- Use what Google gives you – sometimes in the Google Webmaster Tools message about the penalty, Google will provide example links that they think are spammy and causing the manual penalty—include these links in your removal and disavow efforts. It’s one of the few things about your penalty that you know Google is actually considering.
- Update your disavow – Google won’t keep a log of your past disavow files, so add new links to disavow to the ongoing list, rather than replacing with just your new links.
Resubmitting Your Reconsideration Request
Let’s quickly review what you should include in your second (or tenth) reconsideration request to better your chances of the penalty being lifted. In your written request, be sure to provide:
- Why and how your site violated the quality guidelines
- Who is responsible for the penalty (your company or a third-party “SEO” company)
- Detailed description of what you did to fix the problem—include example emails, screenshots, a link to your tracking efforts in a GoogleDoc (include URLs, dates of contact, webmaster contact info, etc.)
- Information on your disavowing of links that couldn’t be removed
- Reasoning for Google to trust your website to follow the quality guidelines
- Description of your on-going, and “legal,” SEO work
- An actual request for reconsideration
Still Getting Rejected?
If you’re been trying tirelessly at writing a successful reconsideration request and getting your penalty lifted by Google, contact us at Blue Corona. We have experts skilled in exactly what you need—penalty recovery services. Give us a call today and we can pick up where you left off in your reconsideration request efforts to help your website begin to rank again!
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson