5 Steps to Get Out of a Google Penalty

You note with dismay that your site has experienced a severe loss of organic traffic. Your first instinct? You connect to your Google Webmaster Tools and you have been sentenced without even leaving time to plead not guilty: “Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action[...] “

1. Get organized

It is useless to make hasty decisions that will only worsen your situation. Prepare a plan of actions that will allow you to effectively target the problem and at the same time, do a complete cleaning of your portfolio links.

In these difficult times, believe it or not, Excel will be an ally. Here is a small document that will help you complete your mission rapidly. It will be your control center and will help you target the abnormalities that might call into question your honesty with Google. Thereafter, you will have a “disavow” file used to exclude toxic ties responsible for this penalty.

2. Structure your reasoning

The first tab (Checklist) of this document is a memo. If you split the work over several days, it will be impossible to forget where you left off.

It is also a very good way to structure your document in case you need to circulate internally. It will help your employees understand the process of decriminalization of the site. Feel free to add additional columns if needed.

3. List the penalized keywords

To determine the causes of the decline in traffic on your site, you need to establish a list of keywords that have lost the most positions in the search results. (This implies, of course, to have followed up on your rankings before penalty).

The concept of positioning is exclusively dedicated to the recovery of a penalty by Google. It is natural to say that the positions in the search engines are not performance indicators on their own. Here you are just trying to isolate precisely the “leak”.

Advanced Web Ranking although it is software you are required to purchase, it is the one we recommend due to Its reliability and ease of use.

On the other hand, Myposeo offers a much less expensive version and is ideal for smaller businesses.

Once the scan is complete, export the CSV containing the results and delete keywords losing less than 8 positions, then copy / paste the rest into your control center. This step will help you target keywords that have undergone a manual penalty.

4. Extract the links

Visit your Google Webmaster Tools to extract the list of the most recent links in your portfolio account. It is also a good way to learn more about the quality of the sites that  refer to your website.

Under “Search Traffic”, click on “Links to your site” and then “Download latest links” to retrieve a list of the most recent links. In case you need to complete it, please use Ahrefs or MajesticSEO. Transfer the contents of the file into your GWT control center.

5. Analyze the results

If you follow these steps carefully, your document should be complete and ready for a full analysis. This step requires a lot of discipline and patience as the volume of links extracted beforehand can sometimes be very extensive. Here are some tips that could save a lot of time:

  • Do not hesitate to look for keywords penalized in the list of URLs extracted from Google Webmaster Tools. Penalties can often come from anchors that have not been diluted properly.
  • Remove the inbound links directly related to the penalty, they can have a negative impact on your SEO.
  • Take the time to check the links several times before submitting your list of links to disavow with Google.

It is likely to be asked to resubmit the file with the links to disavow repeatedly. Google will share only in very few cases your views on the naturalness of the links contained in your portfolio. You’ll understand that organization is the key to successfully get out of a Google penalty. By structuring this process, it will be easier to target harmful inbound links to add to  your file of links to disallow.

This article was originally written by Alexandre Delierre.