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How to Recover from a Google Penalty

Have you been slapped with a penalty from Google lately? If you have, you know that it’s no laughing matter. That’s because the second your sites slip from Google’s view, or first couple pages, your revenue will take a serious hit.

So how can you get past a Google penalty and get on with your life? It’s no easy, but it’s definitely possible. Here’s a few tips for getting past one of the Web’s biggest pitfalls.

How to Tell if You’ve Been Penalized?

The first step in getting past a penalty is figuring out if you’ve been penalized (or banned) at all.

Though you may receive a notice from Google – Unnatural Links Notices are the most common – that’s not always the case. That said, if your ranking is tanking and there hasn’t been a recent update or refresh, you might have been hit.

If you don’t come up on searches at at all, you’ve likely caught a ban. Run your URL through a ban checker like this one to find out for certain.

Why Was I Penalized?

Even with a unnatural link notice, figuring out exactly why you’ve been penalized is going to be a major project. The first step towards getting back on track is to do either a full site audit or an in-depth link profile.

Site audits can be pricey but, if done correctly, they’ll provide a treasure trove of information that could put you on track to a solution. Finding reliable auditors is likely going to involve some in-depth research and a few postings to SEO forums for recommendations.

Do-it-yourself SEO audits aren’t all that difficult if you’re comfortable tinkering around in the guts of your site.

Peter Handley, Peter Handley, SEO Director at theMediaFlow  suggests starting out with a crawling tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider that mimics Google’s own spiders. He also suggests taking a close look at robot .txt files; titles; and duplicate descriptions.

(Handley’s advice for conducting daily, weekly and monthly SEO audits is worth a read even if you’re in the Google penalty box.)

Link Profiles

In the wake of the first Penguin update link profiles become the bane of many a casino affiliate’s life. From the limited impact of Penguin 2.0 on the industry it seems like all that hard work cleaning up links paid off – but that still might not be enough to ward of a penalty.

Before proceeding to the next steps, go over that link profile with a fine toothed comb and make certain you’ve steered clear of those bad neighborhoods that scare Google so much.

Disavow Links Tools

If you’ve identified links to  your sites from questionable sites and you just can’t seem to get rid of them, you may want to give Google’s Disavow Links Tool a try.

Just be warned, this is a last resort to use when you’ve exhausted all other options. Under no circumstances should this be viewed as a link removal tool.

Reconsideration Request

Once you’ve done everything you can to clean up your site, you’re ready to approach Google (hat in hand) and submit a Reconsideration Request.

When submitting your request, you’ll have to include a detailed description of why you think your sites are worthy of renewed Google love. We strongly urge you to stick to the facts as you know them in this description.

The time for sharing your opinion about Google’s monopolistic practices and Matt Cutts’ hair; all that other stuff is when you’re posting in the CAP Forum.

This is the time to politely state your case by describing exactly what you’ve done to right the wrongs you’ve committed through your links and general SEO practices.

(If you’re thinking that the whole process sounds like something you’d be subjected to in Stalin’s Russia, we have to agree.)

Once your request has been submitted it’s time to play the waiting game. You could get an answer in few as a couple days or it could be weeks.

What are your tips for getting past a Google penalty? Share them in the comments section below.