How to Overcome a Manual Link Penalty
Suffering penalties is an unfortunate nightmare that some website owners and businesses face due to a lack of insight into practices employed by SEOs externally (and some cases internally) for a business.
If you have received a notification through Webmaster Tools saying that a manual link penalty has been applied causing your website to lose rankings, traffic and revenue, all may NOT be lost.
The whole point of Webmaster Tools is to give website owners the ability to communicate with Google, and vice versa. In this fashion, if you have received a notification then measures can be taken so that you can ask for a review:
1. Determine the reasons for the Google link penalty.
Most likely this will be unethical back links in which case you will need to do some digging around as to the cause for Google penalising your website. Use tools such as open site explorer to conduct an audit of your back links, looking for anything that would be detrimental to the authority / profile of your website. Google hates site wide links, purchased links or links from sites associated with gambling, Viagra, or porn, so this is a good place to start.
2. Setup an efficient system to track and monitor your progress as you conduct a cleansing exercise.
Getting back links removed that are harmful to your website rankings can be both labour intensive and of little reward if a good system isn't setup. Setup a new email address using Gmail specifically for the purpose of requesting links to be taken down. From the same email address, use Google Drive to setup a spreadsheet log containing all back links, categorising them based on reasons for removal. Although only a theory, using Google's own tools will allow you to give access to Google when requesting a review, making the data easily accessible as it's all on the Google platform.
3. Understand that bad links are not anyone's fault!
There are hundreds of guides on how to write a link request email, but how do you write an email to get a link taken down? Keep it short, sweet and straight to the point. Bear in mind that the website owner is probably not at fault for a link to your website amongst a thousand other Viagra links on the same page. Someone at some point would have requested the link, and most likely paid for it, so just like you, they were doing their job.
Instead, make your link removal email reasonable, with an attempt at working with them. Your first objective should be to get a response, as this alone is difficult. Try different subject titles ('link request' can work well) and keep sending emails every few days. Once you have a response, then think about how to get the link removed and what's involved for the site owner.
4. Have a link removal budget in place
If your at your wits end because you've lost revenue as a result of the manual link penalty, be prepared to pay for links to be removed, as it may be the only way you can incentivise some website owners for their time. If you work with an SEO agency in london (like us), they will help manage this process for you.
5. Be realistic about turn around times
It can take months to remove links, so be prepared for a long ride. Also think about how you can continue your business if you can't achieve your objective and get the penalty lifted, as you have to be prepared for all scenarios.
In some cases, migrating good links over to a different domain can be a more effective strategy, depending on the volume of bad links you are dealing with. Working with an ethical SEO agency can help you to analyse the options so that your SEO budget is best placed to get you back on top and generating revenue.
If you have suffered a manual link penalty from Google, give us a shout. Our dedicated SEO experts are on hand to deal with all enquiries regarding SEO services in Kent, London and Essex.