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Manually Penalized by Google? Here is How to Submit a Reconsideration Request that Works

26 February on search engine optimization  

I have this site (a weblog) of mine that I think is pretty good in term of layout design and content. It's in finance niche. I have owned it for 4 years, but for some reasons, I am having a difficult time in getting it ranked on Google.

Sure, 99% of the pages I submit via XML Sitemaps are indexed... but getting indexed doesn't mean that you will get search engine traffic; your indexed pages' ranking is detrimental in driving people from Google and the other search engines to your site.

Now, I never really care about SEO and stuff for this site; it's a project that I deemed as not so successful... so I honestly neglect it in term of SEM and SEO. The blog is regularly updated - about 2-3 times a week with unique, quality content. The content comprises of the ones I wrote myself and guest-submitted ones.

The site has been added in a top-quality directory of finance blogs. It has also been awarded top blog by another source. Quality-wise, the finance blog is clearly above average.

An advertiser once approaches me for placing a finance news widget on the blog, and he was actually surprised that the blog only has so-so traffic despite the quality. At first I honestly don't really care, but come to think of it, if an advertiser thinks my site is quality, there's gotta be something wrong with the site's ranking on search engines.

It's not a quality issue, I think. The problem is, the finance blog gets nearly zero search engine traffic! I thought that was due to my lack of effort in promoting the site, causing the blog's pages to rank poorly.

I was wrong.

I just realized when I checked Google Webmaster Tools, that the site has actually been penalized for God-knows-how-long for spamming Google search! It's actually a reminder message from Google Search Quality Team telling me that due to the techniques I use outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines the site was penalized.

At first, I am in denial. No wonder I never see any search traffic! (silly me!) But, what techniques? I barely promote the site, let alone spamming Google for my effort.

But I decide that it's time to revisit the Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and there you go: I think my blog was penalized due to content that is too thin.

It must have been my affiliate selling page (probably violating "Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value".) It must have been my too-short page (probably violating "Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.")

The site has no duplicate content, though - I checked it using Copyscape.

Those are just my guess, but I think I have the big picture now. So here's what I think I should do to fix things up:

  • I remove my affiliate landing pages - they don't make me money, anyway!
  • I nofollow, noindex non-blog post pages I don't want to be indexed by Google - e.g. my "Disclaimer" and "Privacy Policy" pages
  • I nofollow, noindex tags and archives to avoid on-site duplicate content
  • Check for duplicate content on the web

I wasn't sure the above is sufficient, but I'll give it a shot.

I submit a reconsideration request via this Google's guide for reconsideration requests.

What I write in the request is actually a brief of what I think would cause the manual penalty, and detailed the action I take in response to it.

I thought I wouldn't get any replies, or even if I did get one, it must be weeks after I submit it.

Again, I was wrong.

I submit the reconsideration request on Feb 18th. To my surprise, I get the reply on Feb 22nd, letting me know that Manual spam action has been revoked!

Wow - that was quick!

All I need to do is to wait until Google bots do their thing and hopefully will see the results very soon - fingers crossed!

So, how to submit a reconsideration request that works

I read from all over the web that reconsideration requests often don't get the results we desire. I have proven myself that submitting a concise, but well-detailed request does get response!

To get the response you expect, please view this official video guide on how to submit a reconsideration request:

To recap - your request must be:

  • Be as detailed as possible...
  • If you hire someone to SEO your site, ask him/her what he/she has done...
  • If you are not sure which penalties hit you, review the Google Guidelines...
  • If you are still in guessing game, you'd better wait and see before you submit for reconsideration request
  • Before you submit one, make sure the issues were fixed and you have ensured that the site will be as penalty-proof as possible for the future.
  • Don't spam the reconsideration form - just submit one and wait.

Takeaway

When submitting a reconsideration request, please bear in mind that there are real people who actually read every single report they receive. Although the responses are templated, the whole review process is manual.

Use formal tone and respect the readers - just like when you email your clients or colleagues. Don't vent your anger on them - that would be very stupid! Just admit it - you take part in damaging your own site, even if you didn't realize it.

If you have more tips on how to submit a reconsideration request that works, please share them with us in the comment section.

Photo credit: misterjt via photopin cc

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Ivan Widjaya is a web publisher and online business owner working from home (or anywhere I want)

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