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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.
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.
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;
Spam links covers quite a lot of bad links, for example;
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.
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.
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:
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. 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.
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.