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Submitting a Reconsideration Request with Google
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Home » Reconsideration Requests

What are Google Reconsideration Requests?

They are the only way back from a Google 'Manual' penalty!

Last Updated: January 17, 2014

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I've split this page into three sections so you can navigate using the bookmark links below to go straight to the information you want. Although I recommend reading everything, I have submitted over 500 reconsideration requests for clients over the years and have always managed to get the offending site back performing in the index.

From this experience I have created this page to aid others who are required to go through a similar process. I'm mainly looking at recovering from a Google Penguin penalty here, but much of the process remains the same regardless of the penalty imposed. If you are recovering a manual penalty and you have identified it already, then just jump to sections two and three which cover the writing and submission process.

1. Identifying Potential Penalty 2. Writing a Reconsideration Request 3. Request submitted, now what?

Anyway, I hope you find the page useful. If there is something I have not covered well enough, please let me know and I will try to improve upon it further. I always reply to emails, so thats the best way to contact me.

Identifying Potential Penalty

As soon as you see a significant drop in your traffic and rankings, there is a good chance your website has received some sort of penalty from Google. The severity of the penalty can vary. If your traffic and rankings drop dramatically, then it is worth doing a search for your brand name. If you are not first in the listings then you have received a rather large manual penalty – if you’re not listed at all then your site may well be de-indexed, the worst case scenario.

Determining the level of penalty (a term not used by Google) is vital in determining your actions. Analyse your traffic and find the exact date it started to fall, you can then search Google Webmaster Help Forums to see if there have been any updates to the algorithm that you need to be aware of. For instance, the Penguin update punished a lot of websites with bad link profiles whereas Panda punished sites with thin content. Knowing this sort of information will allow you to solve your site issues quickly.

If you suspect that you have been punished for a bad link profile then the first thing to do, is log into Google Webmaster Tools and download all the links that are pointing to your site into a CSV file. This is not a definitive list by any means; it is a good portion of the links that Google deem valuable to your ranking. Once you download this list you need to go through each and every link and make sure the link is not spam, or worse, a paid for link.

Paid for links are usually easy to spot;

  • Articles with your target keywords in the anchor text of a link pointing back to your site.
  • Getting those articles posted on lots of different article sites.
  • Small blog posts on closed comment blog networks. (i.e. BuildMyRank)
  • Anchored text keyword links on other sites link pages that are from a different industry.

Spam links covers quite a lot of bad links, for example;
  • Links on pages that have calls to action such as Add Link Here, Submit Link, Exchange Link.
  • Links in obvious link exchange directories that are not relevant to your industry.
  • Comment spam on forums and blogs
  • Links generated using link building software.
  • Buying expired domains and doing redirects to pass link authority
  • The list goes on and on.

Spotting the links that were used to game the Google search engine should be easy to spot. Getting them removed is a much more difficult and time consuming task. You will find that a lot of them can be done by sending a polite email to the webmaster of the site requesting it be removed, if they are unforthcoming in their response then you should mention that your site has been penalised and as long as they link to you they are under threat also. This usually does the trick.

Sometimes you will find links on pages that have no contact information, in this case, you will need to use whois.net in order to find out who the domain name is registered to. This information usually contains an administrative contact email address. Always be polite in your first approach, they are going out of their way to remove your link. If a site is at all being updated or maintained, such as directories, then there is a good chance a well-worded email will suffice.

If the page that has your link is also displaying your content, via scrapping or linking to your images, then you are in luck. You can file a DMCA takedown with the ISP that hosts the site. In fact, all it takes is the threat of such a takedown to have immediate effect. Here is an example of a DMCA Takedown Notice letter.

You will find that the response you get via email is very low. It is important to keep at it, mailing them constantly, contacting them on their blog or forum if need be. You must exhaust all options before you can even consider filing for a reconsideration request. I have worked on profiles where it took me almost 3 months to clean out the toxic links. Unfortunately, there is no quick route to success.

Once you are happy that your link profile is clean and all inorganic links have been removed, it is finally time to contact Google by writing a professional reconsideration request.


Writing a Reconsideration Request

The first thing you need to do is admit to yourself that you were wrong. Admit that you tried to game your rankings by creating poor or paid for links. That seems somewhat harsh, but once you admit it to yourself you will find it a lot easier admitting it to Google. This is, after all, an apology letter.

You cannot attach files to your request, but you will need to share your CSV file with them so create a Google Docs account and upload the file there. Make it public and then you can add the direct link to the document to your post. It is important to add this file as it will show Google that you identified the offending links and took appropriate action. It is the evidence of your efforts.

Start your letter with a short explanation of when you realised that there was a problem and explain how you found it out through your analysis of your site. Confess to knowingly creating buying the links if you did. If an SEO company sold you the links as part of their link building campaign, then tell Google that and give them the name of the SEO agency that put you in this position. This shows cooperation and honesty, giving them faith that you have indeed learned from your mistake.

Give a brief description of the work you did to contact and remove the offending links. Explain in detail if there were links you could not remove and detailing the efforts you made. Convince them that you have learned from the experience and will not repeat the mistake. Promise to adhere to their quality guidelines going forward. Tell them you have stopped working with the SEO company and will concentrate your efforts on providing your visitors with quality content and service. Detail the actions you have taken to ensure such tactics are not used again.

Finish off by thanking them for the opportunity to reconsider your site. Be sincere, there is a real live person at the other end reading your request and judging your work. In fact, let me introduce you to two of them:

Tips on requesting reconsideration from Google's Rachel Searles and Brian White of the Google Search Quality Team:

Matt Cutts explains a bit more about the reconsideration process and the fact that if your site has a manual penalty then it will be a real person reviewing your work:


Request submitted, now what?

In my experience, it never takes more than 7 days to hear back from Google as to whether your request has been successful or not. You will receive the response in your Google Webmaster Tools account, if you have email forwarding switched on (which is an option I recommend selecting) then it will go directly to that address also.

When dealing with bad link profiles it is rare to get a successful reconsideration request the first time. Depending on how thorough you were with cleaning your profile, you can almost certainly expect to receive an email stating that they can still identify a significant number of inorganic links pointing to your site. They will list three examples for you and ask you to keep working on your profile and not to contact them again until you are sure all has been done.

This can be quite frustrating, especially if you cleaned all the links in the CSV file that Google provided you. The fact they only provide you with a portion of your links, leaves you in a tricky position finding the remaining inorganic links. To do this I can recommend two additional resources for creating CSV files of your profile. www.opensiteexplorer.com will give you a considerable list containing a lot of your links. www.majesticseo.com provides a similar service. I therefore recommend downloading your link profiles from all three resources, and then create one file by combining the three. Remove any duplicates and you are left with a considerably larger CSV file, containing far more back links than Google alone will provide.

Now it’s time to get back to cleaning that profile based on the information they gave you. Once you are confident you have got rid of all the links, you can simply reply to the email for them to run a second pass on your site. Good luck!


Additional Resources

Here are a list of resources that have been used to create this article but also some that have not, but I feel will further educate you on the subject matter of this page.

Google Webmaster Tools Help Google Webmaster Blog
Brucy Clay 2011 Quick Online Tips


Steven Forsyth
SEO Product Manager
Groupon International

Tallaght, D24, Ireland.
(086) 122-8514 sforsyth@tinet.ie
Steven's home page:

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