The last thing you want as an SEO or a webmaster is to receive a message from Google’s webmasters telling you a manual action has been placed on your site on account of the presence of unnatural links pointing to your site.
Many honest businesses, who never participated in any link parties, paid for links or even placed ads on their sites, are left surprised when they are informed that their site is due for a manual action. So, what do you make of such an email? How do you figure out why you received this email, what it actually means and what needs to be done next? Well, if you happen to find yourself in such a situation, where you’re running short of ideas then here are a few things you could do to see yourself through.
What businesses can do
For starters, you need to know that through manual action Google can only demote or remove certain web pages or the entire website linked to unnatural links. Don’t link it to a change in Google’s algorithms such as Panda, Penguin, Phantom, Hummingbird, etc. This is simply Google’s way of manually punishing a site for using spamming tactics online.
Let’s come to the point. The email that you received is nothing but a manual penalty owing to the presence of outbound unnatural links pointing to your site. This simply means that after reviewing your site, Google found some links that “may” be paying you or compensating you in lieu of links.
Also, their main purpose of serving you with a notice is that they want you to do something about those links which violate the webmaster’s guidelines. On a positive note, you don’t need to worry about a drop in your site’s search ranking, because Google doesn’t really count those outbound unnatural links pointing to your site.
Now, you may not have received any payment for such linking activities, but can you think of an exchange of certain goods or services?
Here’s a section from Google’s webmaster guidelines that deals with manual action penalty.
“Buying or selling links that pass PageRank: This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link.”
Google recently came out with best practices for bloggers in its official blog. It clearly states that if site owners are found to be indulging in the practice of exchanging free products for reviews with links then they stand a chance of getting penalized.
So, if you happen to receive a correspondence related to a manual action penalty from Google then check the free products reviews guidelines that are listed as below.
- On the top and at the bottom of the post, place a disclosure stating that the blog post is sponsored or that it is an advertorial.
- Ensure that you nofollow all the links pointing to your sponsors, their app, their products or even their social media pages.
- You also need to review your post to make sure that it adds value to the user in terms of quality and uniqueness.
To get rid of the penalty action, closely monitor your site for the presence of any advertorial, affiliate links and sponsored content. Ensure that you nofollow any of those links pointing to your site. After doing a complete audit of your site, which includes identifying and nofollowing the links in question, you can request Google to reconsider it’s impending manual action against your site as it now fully adheres to Google’s quality guidelines.
In case, you need any professional advice on how to submit a reconsideration request to Google and get a successful end result, you can follow the below mentioned best practices.
- You can be nice. Control your emotions and remain calm. It can be difficult to do that in such circumstances, but avoid being confrontational when replying to Google’s notice so that it doesn’t hurt you later.
- Get rid of the links and then nofollow them from your end. These steps are necessary, since what Google wants to see is a serious effort being made to remove these links from your site.
- Be accurate with your details. Let Google know that you made some serious efforts a part of your corrective measures. If possible you may also attach supporting docs.
- Take responsibility for your action. To err is human. If you admit that you’ve made some mistakes and will not commit the same in future, you’ll help your cause immensely.
Last but not the least, let Google know that you’ve now gone through the webmaster’s guidelines and you’ll be careful in your future dealings with advertisers or sponsors and their websites.
If you’re still short of ideas then you could take some tips from how to successfully submit reconsideration request to Google.
Finally, it will do you good to not take advice from not so credible sources, like online suggestions that recommend you nofollow every outbound link pointing to your site as a measure to escape Google’s punishment. This tactic may do more harm in return.
Edward Kundahl, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Ed can be reached at (or visit his websites)