Writing a Reconsideration Request For Manual Google Penalties

Oct 30, 2013


min read

Last week, I wrote a guide for Moz on Google Penalty Removal, it was very heavily focused towards manual penalties and covered each of the steps we go through when a new client comes to us requesting help.

One of the most important sections of having an unnatural links penalty revoked by Google is the reconsideration request. It's important that these are well written, contain all the relevant information and help to show the Google employee exactly what work you've carried out since the penalty has been handed out.

At this point, I should point out that you only need to submit a reinclusion request for manual penalties. Algorithmic penalties will automatically be removed by Google when you've fixed the issues with your website and they've refreshed their algorithm. Unfortunately, there isn't a way to request a manual review of an algorithmic penalty.

If you have received a manual penalty, you'll be sent a message by Google Webmaster Tools which states what the penalty is for. Google recently launched their 'Manual Spam Actions' tab in GWT, which has been a big help for webmasters.

Manual penalty actions viewer

Unfortunately, as Google become more transparent about the types of penalties people have received and giving us more information, they have also become stricter in terms of how much you have to rectify before they let you back in the search engines.

This guide is intended to go a little bit more in depth with regards to the reconsideration request process, how to submit it and some tips on what you should do and what you should avoid. We do a lot of penalty removal for companies all over the world now and have improved our process hugely over the past year.

Writing a Reconsideration Request

Ok, so there's a lot to do before you even get to the point of requesting reinclusion in the search engines. That's not being covered in this guide, but if you want to find an in-depth guide on penalty, check out the link above for Moz. I'm going to assume you've already done the following:

  • Carried out a link removal campaign and successfully removed all the spam / unnatural links pointing to your website.

  • Documented all of your link removal work in a Google Docs spreadsheet (We've got a Google Penalty Removal Template available free of charge on our blog along with a guide of how to use it properly).

  • Submitted a disavow file to Google (where applicable) containing any links you were unable to remove.

  • Read over Googles webmaster guidelines and made sure you are now compliant with them (This is important)

If you haven't completed any of the above, I'd definitely recommend doing them before reading any further.

Next open up a text document and write your reconsideration request offline. Google doesn't allow you to access a reconsideration request after you've sent it, so it's good to keep a personal copy of what you've sent to them.

In our personal experience, these are the steps we would recommend adding into your reconsideration request:

  1. Introduction - Start off by telling Google what your penalty was for and a brief summary of what you have done to fix it. If you've filled reconsideration request in the past, explain why you believe you were unsuccessful previously and what you have done to correct things. Keep this short, I would suggest no longer than 1 paragraph.

  2. Show the work carried out - At this point, we would add a link to your Google Docs spreadsheet. This should contain all the links pointing to your website (both removed and active). It should be completed fully completed, show a list of all the links you've successfully removed, disavowed, not needed to removed etc.Add in a paragraph to explain what the file contains, where you've collected the link data from (for example, GWT, MajesticSEO etc) and point the Google employee to any specific areas you think would be helpful (screenshots, email examples and so on).

  3. Explain a few link examples you've removed - I think it always helps to explain a little bit of the work you've carried out in one or two paragraphs. We usually mention things such as sitewide links that we've removed, forum / comment spam (where applicable) and if you have disavowed a particular type of site. We had one client who was listed in literally hundreds of DMOZ clone websites. Unfortunately, we couldn't get these removed, so we disavowed each and every domain and explained to Google that we had added them to the disavow file.

  4. Be honest, explain if you've done something wrong - More often than not, a client has usually participated in some sort of poor quality or spammy link building technique. Sometimes, this is without knowing, but this could be as simple as signing up for websites or forums and entering in their domain name for a link back to their website. If you've done something wrong in the past, let the Google employee know and tell them that you've corrected it and you won't be doing it again. If you hired an SEO company who got you the penalty, explain who the company was. Be careful with this though if you've worked with multiple companies as it may have been a company years ago who's work has only just got you the penalty. If you're honest, you've got a much better chance of having the penalty revoked.

  5. Let them know what you'll be doing in the future - If work is still continuing on the link removal, let Google know. On the same note, if you've been unsuccessful on reconsideration requests in the past and aren't 100% sure if you've completed everything Google wants you too, ask them to consider partial reinclusion. That way, you can explain that you're still working to remove links, but if they can consider lowering the penalty, you'd really appreciate it.

  6. Apologise and wrap things up - Tell Google that you now are confident you are within their guidelines (obviously make sure you are confident of this!). In addition to this, apologise for the inconvenience. After all, these employees will most likely be seeing hundreds of reconsideration requests each week, they're probably sick of reading them so it's only polite to say thank you for their time. Wrap things up and sign the email off personally.

Remember to copy your request into a text document and save it for future reading. This will become useful if you have to request a review more than once.

A few tips of things to avoid:

I'll keep this section fairly short, but here are a few things that I would recommend avoiding when submitting a reinclusion request:

  • Don't talk about anything unrelated - At the end of the day, the employees at Google are most likely reviewing a lot of sites each week. The last thing they want to do is hear about something completely unrelated. Stick to the facts and explain how you've rectified them.

  • Don't mention your Adwords spend - We've tried this in the past and it hasn't really worked. In hindsight, it's probably an obvious thing to avoid as it almost looks like a bribe. That being said, learn from our mistakes from the past year!

  • Don't make out like it's Googles problem - Always be polite. You're probably in this mess due to work you've carried out personally (even if you were unaware) or through the fault of an SEO company who's been working on some bad SEO techniques. Don't abuse Google or say anything you might regret. Google employees can see all of your previous reconsideration requests and whilst they may not look at them in detail, it may be held against you.

  • Only submit a reinclusion request when you're confident you've cleaned things up properly - Unfortunately, this is a painstakingly long process. Don't try to submit a reconsideration request straight after receiving the penalty. Do your analysis, figure out what's been done wrong and how you can fix it. Document absolutely everything and do a good job. Once you are confident you've fixed the issues, you can then request reconsideration.

  • If unsuccessful, leave a delay between reconsideration requests - You might not always be fortunate enough to get your penalty lifted on your first attempt. If you are successful, leave some time before resubmitting a reconsideration request. Take your time.

  • Don't mess up again - If you manage to get your penalty lifted, don't mess up again. If you're fortunate enough to get the penalty lifted, the last thing you want to do is get penalised again for carrying out the same technique. You're probably not going to be as lucky filing for reconsideration second time round.

You can find a written example of a reconsideration request in my Ultimate guide to Google penalty removal. However, each penalty should be written on a case by case basis, so a generic template isn't going to do the job.

How do you submit a reconsideration request?

To submit a reconsideration request, head over to your Google Webmaster Tools account and click on the site you're working on. Once in here, go to the 'Search Traffic' heading down the left hand side and click on 'Manual Actions'. In here, you'll see a list of any manual actions taken against your website, where you'll be able to click on 'Request a review'.

Need Additional Help?

There are many tools that can help you identify links which are the root of your penalty with Google. We are working on a tool at the moment called Peel App. Peel will be built to help users remove both algorithmic and manual penalties pointing to their website.

Our system cover every step of the way from importing links from a large number of link sources, analyzing which links are good and bad quality, pulling in relevant contact information and handling the outreach to make it as simple as possible.

Once we've identified that you're ready, we'll suggest you make a reconsideration request, where our system will aid you in writing your request to Google. We don't have a launch date for Peel at the moment, but you can sign up to the newsletter for updates and tips.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Article by

Lewis Sellers

Lewis Sellers is the founder of Pinpoint Designs, a UK based Digital Agency that specialises in website design, development and online marketing . He has been working with clients worldwide to help improve their search engine traffic, along with helping new clients recover from both algorithmic and manual penalties given by Google.

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