No business owner wants to find out that they have a penalty from Google. When it does happen, however, it’s important to fix the underlying problem right away and ask Google to reconsider. Unfortunately, that’s not easy.
Google is trying to make it a little bit easier, however. While their standards haven’t changed, they recently announced an update to their support materials that offers “step-by-step information on how to submit a reconsideration request and the process behind reconsiderations.” But that’s not all. Tucked into the new Help Center page is a pretty comprehensive list of tips and potential pitfalls.
The tips are aimed at making life easier for webmasters, but will probably also cut down on the number of bad requests Google has to deal with. Many highlight common mistakes that can get a reconsideration request refused.
A few of the tips include:
- Don’t just use Disavow. The disavow tool allows you to essentially disown links that you don’t want pointing at your site. It’s a last ditch method to deal with incoming links from spammy or disreputable domains. But last ditch is the key phrase here. Apparently, a lot of webmasters simply disavow all their problem links en masse, which won’t get a Google penalty lifted. Instead, Google wants you to try to get the links removed—typically by asking the owners of the offending sites—and to document the whole process.
- No empty sites. It looks like a lot of webmasters deal with a Google penalty by just taking everything down and starting over. That’s fine (though unnecessary) if you really do start over, but Google says just taking a site down isn’t enough. In other words, blank websites, pages with little or no content, and parked domains don’t qualify as “clean.” They want to see new, acceptable content added.
- Proper documentation. A lot of Google’s tips focus on explaining what kind of documentation is needed for each kind of penalty. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people didn’t understand the level of detail that a reconsideration request requires. For example, in dealing with bad backlinks you’ll need a log of every link, all the attempts to get them taken down, and the response each time, as well as disavow results. Thin content penalties require multiple examples of places where you’ve not only eliminated the offending content but added new, good content. All of this is a headache but it’s how Google knows the problem is really solved. (It’s also why most businesses don’t handle their own reconsideration requests.)
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