11 Aug 2014

What to Do If You Face an Unnatural Links Penalty

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Manual actions by Google are quite common these days. According to official figures, the search engine leader levies over 400,000 manual penalties every month against those websites or blogs that violate its quality guidelines. ‘Unnatural links penalty’ is the most common among these manual actions. If you haven’t restructured or modified your SEO strategies yet, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to escape from such penalties by Google.

Even though prevention is better than cure, the reality of the matter is that many webmasters are already facing the heat while struggling to recover from an unnaturalUnnatural Links links penalty.

What an ‘Unnatural Link’ Means
Whether you’re a webmaster or a web property owner, it’s important to keep yourself up-to-date with the actual meaning of ‘unnatural links’ so that you can steer clear of them easily. According to Google itself, any link that you build with the intention of tricking its algorithm and blasting a site’s way to the top of its search results is termed as unnatural. Unnatural links include both – links pointing to your site and outgoing links from your site.

More specifically, you shouldn’t indulge in practices like buying links from high PR third-party websites, selling links, exchanging links to an excessive limit, linking to sites that are not related to your own site’s niche, creating a network of sites or pages just for the sake of building links from them and using any kind of techniques to automate the process of link building.

If you’re practicing any of these underhand techniques for improving a site’s search engine rankings, brace yourself!

If You Receive an Unnatural Links Penalty
Let’s come to main point. It’s good that you now understand what an unnatural link really means. But if you’ve been penalized already, you should be able to take the appropriate steps so that you can recover from this penalty and get your online business back on track once again.

Before you even create any hue and cry, what’s crucial is to confirm whether the manual penalty you’ve been imposed is actually an unnatural links penalty. Not being fully aware of the circumstances will only lead you to taking the wrong remedial steps which may further aggravate the issue. If your site has been penalized with an unnatural links penalty, you’ll most likely receive a similar message in your site’s Webmaster Tools account (if you’ve it set up). If you have an unnatural links penalty message in your account, you’re ready to act.

Here are the key steps you’ll need to follow –

  • Identify all the unnatural links
  • Get them removed
  • File a reconsideration request

Though the entire process consists of these three main steps, the actual process of locating the unnatural links and removing them is not going to be easier. You should possess extensive SEO experience and skills to complete each step effectively so that you can successfully have Google lift the manual penalty. When it comes to identifying which links are unnatural or deciding whether you should remove them, it’s easy to make mistakes.

If you’re too desperate or overzealous, you could even ruin your site’s search rankings by removing those links that instead of being poor quality were earned naturally or unsolicited. When you’re sure about all the links that might have caused the trouble, you can remove the links that are under your control. For those links that aren’t under your control (i.e. third-party pages linking to you), you can first request the webmaster to remove the same. In case your effort fails, another option left with you is to get rid of the linked page altogether. Additionally, you can also use Google’s Disavow links tool to tell Google to ignore those harmful links that aren’t under your control. However, this step should be taken only when you’ve made all the possible efforts and tried your level best to remove all the unnatural links your site has.

Finally (when you’re fully satisfied that your site has no more unnatural inbound or outbound links), you should file a reconsideration request with Google. If all goes well, you can expect to receive a reply from Google saying that the manual spam action against your site has been revoked.

Have you received an unnatural links penalty ever? Please feel free to leave a comment or share your experiences.

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