Most savvy webmasters know that submitting a proper reconsideration request to Google is no walk in the park. Google’s manual penalties are an area fraught with misinformation and veiled with secrecy, and SEO experts have a rainbow of opinions about the best way to get the job done.
Luckily, we can now put many of the myths to bed once and for all. Matt Cutts just released another of his infamous Webmaster Help videos on YouTube, and this time, he focused squarely on the ingredients necessary to craft a winning reconsideration request. Now, webmasters can submit their requests with greater confidence that they’ll win approval, and possibly see their sites restored to their former glory in the SERPs. Let’s dive right into what Matt covered in the video and get down to the nuts and bolts of how you can best make his advice work for you.
Submitting a Proper Reconsideration Request
Cutts says that the primary focus of a good reconsideration request should be making the case to Google that you’ve stopped engaging in the activity that triggered the initial penalty. For example, you could document the fact that you’ve stopped buying or selling paid links if that was the original issue. Of course, you’ll need to submit documentation that you’ve successfully taken down the offending links in order to back up your claim.
If you were caught cloaking links, scraping content, or creating doorway pages, be prepared to prove you’ve cut those no-nos out as well. In Cutts’ own words, “You need to make a clear and compelling case that the behavior has stopped.”
The second aspect of a successful reconsideration request, says Cutts, is sincerity. Don’t proclaim you’ll never violate Google’s quality guidelines again only to immediately return to your spammy ways once your site has been reinstated.
Bottom line: the more info you can provide Google in your initial reconsideration request, the better your chances are of successfully reinstating your website. Don’t be afraid to get crazy lengthy with it, either – Cutts urges webmasters to include as much info as possible – he says it will boost your chances of reinstatement immensely. Make sure not to drop raw links directly into your request. Your reviewer won’t follow them, so don’t bother. Google reps are every bit as leery of malware as the rest of us, so Cutts suggests that webmasters build a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet and include the link to the document in their request instead. This allows reviewers to evaluate the info without assuming any unnecessary risk.
What Happens Next?
After you submit your request, what happens next? Do you wait? Follow up? What’s the protocol, and how long will all this business take, anyway?
Countless anxious webmasters have asked themselves these kinds of questions after submission. Fortunately, Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Roundtable has some answers for the weary. First, he points to another Webmaster Help video in which Cutts assured viewers that it usually doesn’t take more than a couple of weeks to receive your response to a pending reconsideration request. He adds that those who experience wait times any longer than two weeks should try posting about their situation in the Google Webmaster Forum.
You’ll receive one of four canned responses when your request is finally processed. They’re listed as follows:
1. You do not have a manual action against your web site.
2. You did have a manual action but Google removed it after reviewing your reconsideration request.
3. You do have a manual action against your site and still do because there are still issues with your site.
4. Google processed your reconsideration request, which means, you are between numbers two and three. Google needs to look deeper and maybe you resolved some things but not all things. Maybe Google found something interesting they want to look deeper into.
If you receive the first response, obviously, you’re in the clear. It basically means you’re silly and Google never took any action against your site in the first place. Pack it up.
The second reply is what you’ll want to see if you have a legitimate manual slap against your website. It means you’ve submitted the right documentation, included all the most relevant info, and successfully convinced Google that you’re not planning on messing up again and you’re ready to leave time-out.
If you receive the third response, then you, my friend, have a serious problem on your hands. It means either you did not submit a convincing reconsideration request or you’ve failed to clean up the problem successfully. Either way, it’s back to the drawing board for you. Start from scratch and retrace your steps. Make sure you’ve hunted down everything that could have caused the slap and eliminated the threat. Then, submit a new reconsideration request, sit on your hands, and wait.
Number four was eloquently explained by Barry above, no further elucidation necessary.
It is possible to make a complete recovery after Google takes manual action against your site. If you’re dealing with a mess of issues, such as hunting down a knot of spammy links, the hardest part will be doing the legwork to eradicate the problem. Once you do, however, you’ll have all the proof you need to re-approach Google with your appeal.
Have you submitted a reconsideration request and had your site reinstated? Share your experience and tips with others in the comments below!
Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.