How to Write a Google Reconsideration Request
Over the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few Google algorithm updates which have put many a site to the sword through the act of a manual Google penalty. This is due to a website not adhering to the quality guidelines set by Google, with the affected website tending to have an awful set of backlinks.
If you’re sticking with the site for the long term, it’ll be in your best interests to get back in Google’s good graces and get this penalty (bear in mind that only manual penalties require reconsideration requests) revoked.
The final stage of this process, and one of the most important of is submitting a reconsideration request to Google. This will document all of the work that you’ve carried out thus far in order to get the penalty removed, as well as saying what you’ll be doing in the future, all to be reviewed by a Google employee.
Throughout this post, we’ll look at the particular areas to pay attention to when writing a reconsideration request – what you should speak about, which documents you should refer to, as well a look at a previously accepted reconsideration request.
If you have found something which works for you which hasn’t been included, feel free to mention it in the comments!
What You’ll Need
Before you write and send off this document to Google, there are several salient areas which have to be attended to beforehand, which will be mentioned throughout the request itself:
Conduct a proper link analysis of your website and remove any links which could be/are proving to be detrimental to your site. Check out this post over on TechTage which covers how you can gather and analyse your link profile, and how you can remove any unnatural links.
A spreadsheet which contains all of the link removal based work which you’ve undertaken throughout the campaign. I like to include the backlink analysis, the current status with that link/domain (when they were contacted & whether the link has been removed or not), how webmasters were contacted, etc. This has to be sent in the form of a link to a Google document, considering that your assigned reviewer will be wary of clicking on any external links.
Whilst not always a complete prerequisite, the link removal process usually requires you to prepare and submit a disavow file. This is a list of domains which you want to disassociate from your site, usually done if the webmasters won’t respond/co-operate. If you have submitted a disavow file, you’ll definitely need to mention it in your reconsideration request.
Also, in order to submit a request, you’ll need to go to your Webmaster Tools account and find the website in question. Once there, go to Search Traffic and then Manual Actions – you’ll see something similar to the screen below:
Intro – History
A reconsideration request can be broken down into three areas – what led to your site getting a penalty, what you’ve done to remove the penalty, and what you’ll do to avoid a future penalty, remaining within Google’s quality guidelines and thus helping to convince Google to accept the request.
Let’s cover the first of these, the intro. It’s good to lay some foundations in the first few paragraphs of your reconsideration request. Your intro should cover areas such as the date which you received the notification of your manual penalty, referencing any past reconsideration requests if applicable (if so, speak about why it wasn’t accepted, touch upon how it was rectified later on), whether the problem came from an in-house SEO or an agency – this’ll be referenced later on.
Work So Far
Now, this is the key area of the document, letting Google know about all the work which you’ve done in order to analyse and remove any poor links. This is where you’ll want to include a link to your link removal spreadsheet (within Google Docs, of course), with you giving any necessary background in regards to what the spreadsheet contains, and what it means.
There are two areas which can be spoken about in-depth regarding the provided spreadsheet – the link analysis/removal process and the webmaster outreach process. You can mention to the types of links which have been built in order to create such a mess of a link profile, such as low quality directories, blog networks, article directories, web 2.0s, fake wikis, et al. Honesty is definitely the best policy here.
With it’s inclusion in the spreadsheet, the outreach process can also be covered. It’s good to include how many times the webmasters have been contacted and when they were contacted, showing a level of persistence and dedication.
It’s also very helpful to mention any tools which you’ve used during the process, too. Not just for the sake of name dropping, but to show Google that you’re investing both time and money into improving the quality of your site by using various resources.
One thing to note during the creation of this document is to maintain a pleasant demeanor. Whilst it’s easy to be annoyed about your website being penalised, ranting about it to the reviewer won’t help a great deal.
When it comes to wrapping up this document, it’s good to speak about what you’ll be doing with the website in the future, letting Google know that you’ll be adhering to their quality guidelines and building links organically (bit of an oxymoron, I know). In this Webmaster Tools video, Matt Cutts speaks about how you’ll need to convince them that whatever dodgy shenanigans were happening before won’t happen again. Cutts has also recently said that repeat offenders are to receive a more severe punishment:
Google tends to look at buying and selling links that pass PageRank as a violation of our guidelines and if we see that happening multiple times, repeated times, then the actions that we take get more and more severe,” Cutts said. “So we’re more willing to take stronger action whenever we see repeated violations. – Source
If any changes have been made, make sure to mention it here. For example, if any of the poor link building came from somebody in-house, they can be trained in order to improve the quality of their work. Or, if the poor link profile was caused by a dodgy agency, it’s likely that you would have binned them by now, which is definitely something which needs to be mentioned.
Here is a reconsideration request which has been used in the past for one of our clients, which proved to be successful:
This is the third reconsideration request that we have put through in the past two months. We received our manual penalty on 7/23/12 after working with an SEO ‘agency’ in East Asia.
We paid a really low price for the ‘SEO’ package and, to be honest, we probably got what we paid for!None of the team in-house had much knowledge of SEO so all we were interested in was ranking high in the search engines.
After the Google penalty was applied to our site, the traffic levels dropped dramatically. It was quite a shock and we didn’t really know what to do. Luckily, the website wasn’t our primary source of income, so we decided to park the project.
Now that other areas of our business have started to fall behind, we decided to start looking into reviving our website. After working with an agency specialising in link analysis, we found that our site’s backlink profile was pretty much exclusively made up of low quality links that violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.
The links came from low quality directories, blog networks, article directories, web 2.0s, fake wikis and even a load of fake blogspot blogs.
The past three months have been spent working with our new agency to get as many of the links manually removed as possible. All of the removed links and contact information of webmasters has been stored within this Google Spreadsheet -
(Insert link here)
We have actually managed to get a lot of links manually removed, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. We’ve spent a lot of time, money and resource on trying to get the links removed and we’ve been working constantly for the past few months to get our website back in order.
Even with all of the work done to remove the links manually, there were still thousands that we’ve been unable to have removed. This is due to the fact that most of the sites do not respond to our several requests (we’ve sent a minimum of three to each webmaster we have details for). We’ve actually hired someone temporarily with one single job role – to go through all of our linking websites and find their contact information. We’ve also invested in some tools to use for our outreach including BuzzStream and the Link Detox tool.
Any of the links that we haven’t been able to remove have been submitted into our disavow file. These have been done on a domain level because the domains are such low quality (just spammy websites) and often link to use from hundreds of pages.
Moving forward, we have a full website redesign planned and we’re looking to completely rebrand. We’ve brought in a team of fashion bloggers that are going to be focused around writing some awesome content on our blog to build a big community. Whilst we want to start bringing in traffic from the search engines, this experience has told us that we shouldn’t just rely on it – also, we know how it feels to be bitten by using cheap SEO tactics, so you can rest assured that we will be changing our strategy!
As well as the team of bloggers, we’ve just started bringing in full video equipment in order to start producing some video content that we aim to use to build a captive social media following across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.
Overall, we’re changing a lot. We now want to be able to move forward in the knowledge that all the low quality links have been removed and we can start implementing our organic strategy.
Look forward to hearing from you!
- Make sure to properly analyse and clean your link profile before submitting a reconsideration request
- List the reasons for your penalty, show where you went wrong
- Make sure to showcase everything that you’ve done to rectify things – changes made, links removed, future plans, etc.
- Convince Google that you’ll remain within their guidelines from now on
If you feel that anything has been missed out, feel free to mention it in the comments section. I certainly hope that you’ve found this useful, and that if you ever end up dealing with a manual penalty, you’ll be greeted with this screen before long: