To submit a reconsideration request, go into your Google Webmaster Tools account.
In the text box, you need to write your cover letter (do it in Word and then paste it in) as well as links to evidence of the work you have done. The best approach to take when you start contacting webmasters and asking for links to be removed is to keep a spreadsheet – use Google Docs as they won’t open anything else through fear of malware and viruses – with the URL’s and the action you have taken, from identifying the links to contacting webmasters to using the Google disavow tool.
Writing to Google
The cover letter should include the following points
Why were you penalised in the first place? You should be honest here, if you participated in a link scheme, used a link network, or used automated SEO services to build low quality links, then tell Google. If you have just bought the domain, explain the situation. Refer to some links in your spreadsheet and explain that you have removed them.
Detail everything you have done to get the links removed. Do not over-exaggerate; if it took you two weeks to go through all your links, say it took two weeks; don’t say you’ve been doing it for months just to try and look good. Explain the different ways you have tried to get links removed, and ideally the percentage of links that have been nofollowed, removed, and how many were left that you had no choice but to disavow.
Explain to Google what you now understand about link building, steps you will take to prevent you being penalized again, and your commitment to earning high quality links rather than building low quality ones. Tell them you will not try to manipulate search rankings again using links.
Think about the tone you take in the email, considering that a human member of Google’s webspam team will be the one reading it. An honest, professional message, like one you would send to your boss or to the CEO of your company, is the best approach to take. Avoid sucking up to Google by telling them you love what they do or that you spend a fortune on Google AdWords, it won’t make a difference and if anything will make it look like you are trying to shortcut your way out of your penalty.
The following is an excellent example of a reconsideration request, featured on Search Engine Watch. You can use this exact template, adding and removing aspects where appropriate and necessary:
“Dear Google Webspam team member,
Thank you for taking the time to read our request. Our site was recently given a penalty for unnatural links that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. The examples used in the message were ‘buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes’.
We have always prided ourselves on ethical link building by creating unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community.
In reviewing our backlinks, we now see that on occasions we have tried to manipulate the search results by using links containing anchor text from (advertorial, blog networks, link exchanging, building partner pages, automated programs, text advertisements, low quality directories, bookmarks, links embedded in widgets, footers or forum comments, etc.).
Although these actions were taken by a (previous SEO Agency, previous employee, competitor), we have taken full responsibility for their actions. We no longer employ this company.”
It can take up to six weeks (Google will quote an average of two) for your reconsideration request to be read and processed. If you have followed the instructions in this guide, you should be confident that any manual penalty will be lifted, and that your site is in good shape for when an algorithm update next rolls out.
Once the request has been processed, you will receive a message in Google Webmaster Tools, containing either good news or bad.
If the manual penalty has been lifted, you might see your ranking restored immediately, although if not then it would appear your site was hit by an algorithm update, and you’ll need to wait for the next one.
In the event Google declines your reconsideration request, you will need to look at your remaining links and consider what further action you can take. Google are often helpful and they will provide further guidance around what you can do, although it is often just a case of homing in on the links doing your site the most damage. Keep working at it, and eventually the penalty will be lifted.
Bough Digital can help you deal with a manual penalty and advise you of the best ways to avoid being hit by one again. If you need help with this or any aspect of your SEO, contact us now.