Is There An Easy Way Out?
When Google hits you with a manual penalty, you can expect lost organic search rankings. Your website traffic naturally becomes impacted by the lack of SEO visibility. Then, the dominoes start to fall… web conversions drop, new sales leads dry up, and revenue suffers. In my experience, there are no shortcuts in the Google penalty recovery process. It’s a time-intensive and laborious project. However, there are ways to boost your efficiency as you travel on your road to getting out of Google’s penalty box. In this post I’ll share some tools and reality-based advice.
Only Tools, No Shortcuts
I’m sorry to say that there are no silver bullets in the Google Penalty recovery process. Here’s the cold reality. While there are many tools and resources that can guide you through the steps, be prepared to roll up your sleeves for some hard work. In fact, taking shortcuts is what most likely got your website in trouble with Google in the first place.
That said, if you organize your Google Penalty recovery project well, you can avoid spinning your wheels. Here are a few basic things you need to start:
- a dedicated email to organize penalty-related correspondence
- administrative access to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics
- a spreadsheet to track progress
Next, let’s about where to find information related to a manual penalty.
Where to Look
Always begin at the source. First, check Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). This is the only way to confirm you indeed have a manual penalty applied to your website (versus getting hit by an algorithm update). I know this sounds like Google Penalty Recovery 101, but you’d be surprised at how many Webmasters skip this step. In GWT you’ll find the details for the penalty itself as well as recommendations for recovery. This is imperative, as there are many types of penalties that can be issued for various kinds of spam activity.
The most common penalty issued by Google is related to Unnatural Links. While Google will inform you that you have been penalized for spammy links, they will not always provide you with the specific links that are harming your website. Instead, they provide a sample list of links, most popular domains linking to your website, and newest links. It’s important to note that each of these categories within GWT can include different domains and links. You will need to capture all the data to build and analyze your backlink profile.
Boost Google Penalty Recovery Efficiency
There are many resources for Google penalty recovery. On the one hand, that’s good news. On the flip side, it’s a sad commentary. There are 400,000 websites hit with a penalty every month, evidence that an alarming number of Webmasters aren’t following Google’s quality guidelines.
Here are a few of the tools I have used:
- DTox by Link Research Tools. This tool allows you to analyze links by sorting them by toxicity and priority. This is a particularly handy tool if you have thousands of links to sift through and categorize by linking domain.
- Moz’s Open Site Explorer. It includes a large Link Intelligence database and provides detailed information about specific linking domains.
- Ahrefs provides another index of links. This tool is especially helpful to identify when links were associated with your website.
- Screaming Frog. Disclosure: I haven’t used this one but it is highly rated by Search Engine Watch. This tool helps once recovery has occurred, providing status of removed links.
- Google Docs – to organize documentation needed to show efforts of link removal to Google’s Webspam team. Docs is an easy way to organize link removal correspondence, screenshots and contact forms.
For various reasons, each tool reports different information… all pieces of the puzzle in the Google penalty recovery process. I’ve found that you need several tools in order to efficiently identify, classify and address toxic links. By using a combination of these tools, I’ve been able to amass a more complete link profile. Once you have a complete link profile, then you can begin sifting through which ones are hurting your website.
Have you used other tools in a Google penalty recovery project… one to help analyze your backlink profile?
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