How to Fix Your Blog if Google Penalized You
It’s tough being a webmaster. A lot of successful web entrepreneurs have been there: Years devoted to building up a website, using the very best SEO tools and algorithms and PageRank strategies, and then one day, here comes a strongly-worded email from Google saying that it all backfired.
There’s nothing worse than finding out that all of your hard work has ended in being penalized by Google, and sometimes the wording can be downright insulting.
Hearing that your project has been removed from the search results do to quality violations is frustrating, but this is just one of those times that you have to deal with the disappointment, figure out why you were banned, and fix the problem. Fortunately, we’re here to help you discover just how to do that.
What Can Trigger Google Penalization?
The primary cause of Google penalties are artificial or unnatural links. Officially, that means any link that is intended specifically to manipulate your site’s PageRank. Examples of unnatural links include:
- Backlinks from sketchy content-free sites or abandoned forums
- Excessive use of “you link me, I link you” arrangements
- Partner pages that exist only to cross-link
- Links embedded in widgets, footers, or forum signatures
- Any link that appears to have been purchased
So how did you get all these unnatural links? The primary cause is simple misunderstanding. Many beginning webmasters get overly excited about building their PageRank before reading all of Google’s guidelines, and sometimes that leads to bad links. Other times the problem is just old links.
Links that were valid and useful several years ago can be considered bad under newly-revised guidelines, leading to a huge backlog of damaging links.
Occasionally, the links are even set up without your knowledge or consent. While keeping an eye on your competitors is just sensible business strategy (see our article here for more information), some people take it too far.
Business competitors have been known from time to time to set up a variety of unnatural links in hopes of discrediting other entrepreneurs’ websites.
Identify the Problem
Choosing Links to Your Site will give you a short list of the top links leading to you. Click More to see a longer list, then Download More Sample Links.
That will give you the option of downloading an Excel file or just putting the data on your Google Drive. Either way, it should result in a very long file with hundreds of links that you’ll need to sort through to find the bad guys.
Once you’ve got that big list of links in hands, it’s time for the boring part. You’ll need to go through them one at a time and compare each one to Google’s guidelines for links. Mark down the ones that need to be removed, and get ready to move on to the next step.
Get Rid of the Bad Guys
Now it’s time for a little demolition work: You’re going to have to have all of those links removed. Start with the ones that you can control first, which means anything you might have posted yourself back in the olden days in article directories, link exchanges, and defunct forums.
Go through and simply delete the ones you can. If you find some you can’t delete, you’ll need to “nofollow” them to let Google know not to let them influence your PageRank.
If you’re a little rusty on your HTML, check out this handy infographic for full instructions on the nofollow attribute.
Links that you don’t control are a little more difficult. You’ll need to contact the owners of the sites for link removal. Most sites have contact forms or social media information to allow for easy access, but if you can’t find the owner that way, try WhoIs.net for listings.
As a last result, Google’s Disavow tool will allow you to remove links from consideration if the owners are unavailable or uncooperative.
Taking these steps should be enough to get you back in Google’s good graces, but if you keep getting form emails or rejections, use Google’s Webmaster Help Forum to manually request reconsideration.
Even if they refuse to put you back in the search results the first time, the refusal will come with more links that you can fix. Keep at it, and eventually you’ll get them all.
Now that you’ve fixed your penalization problem, it’s time to make plans and rebuild. But how do you do that?
“It’s great content strategy combined with outreach to people in your industry.” – Max Minzer of ReEngage Consulting
That’s great advice. The best way to keep your PageRank high without succumbing to bad links is to concentrate on great content and use Google-friendly traffic-building tactics like the ones in our article here to get real followers and organic links.
Most importantly, keep checking your backlinks regularly to remove the bad ones before they become a problem again. Sure, it takes time, but a little prevention is a whole lot faster than than the weeks or months it can take to cure a Google penalty.
Don’t worry, though! Armed with the information in this article, you can be sure that this problem will never happen to you again.
Have you ever been penalized by Google? Share your tactics in the comments to help other readers!