Google penalties are not only devastating for your business’ reputation and revenue, they are also very difficult to recover from. If you have noticed a considerable decrease in your search engine positions and traffic, then there is a chance that you may have been penalized. While there are two types of Google penalty – Manual & Algorithmic – we are going to talk about manual action penalties and how to recover from them.
How to Identify a Manual Penalty
Before you can fix your website, you need to determine the reason why you were penalized in the first place. Manual penalties occur when your site breaks one of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Someone from Google then manually inspects your website and applies a penalty, if it is found to violate their quality standards. This type of penalty is typically accompanied by a message, which you will see in your Google Search Console (Previously, Webmaster Tools) account. Both algorithmic and manual action unnatural links penalties are typically caused by low-quality and manipulative link building techniques.
Note: Manual penalties are not related to algorithmic changes like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.
Understanding What Causes Manual Actions
Unnatural link building practices such as buying/selling links, or participating in link farms to manipulate rankings violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and this triggers a manual review.
If Google realizes that the unnatural links are out of your control, they usually won’t degrade your overall rankings. They will suggest removing the links you can control, but you will not be punished for the uncontrollable links.
However, if Google believes that you were involved in manipulative or deceptive linking practices and in link schemes, they may give you a manual penalty—and this can cause your overall rankings to plummet. Such a penalty can be extremely challenging to rectify. You must prove to Google that you are making a lot of effort to get rid of as many unnatural links to your site as you can and explain why you may not be able to remove some of the links.
Google does not only penalize websites with unnatural incoming links. A manual action can also be imposed on websites with unnatural outbound links. This can happen if Google thinks that your website is directly selling links to other websites or if it sees that you are offering ‘dofollow’ links for paid and sponsored reviews.
If you get this type of manual action, you need to remove exchange links, paid links, and all the other links you have ever given, that violate Google’s quality guidelines. Alternatively, you can use ‘nofollow’ tag on all such links – though this can be a tedious task if you have a lot of sponsored or paid links. You also need to sweep out the ‘dofollow’ links in the comments section of your forum or blog. Look for links that are irrelevant and unrelated to your website, as Google may have identified them as unnatural.
Recovering From a Manual Action Unnatural Links Penalty
Receiving a Google manual action penalty for having unnatural links—whether they are deliberate or not—is not the end of the world. The road to repairing your website and recovering your rankings and traffic may be long and challenging, but as long as you are honest and are willing to invest enough resources to correct the things that went wrong, then you should be able to survive.
There are certain tools you can use to easily collect backlinks data and identify toxic links. Google Search Console is one of them.
You can also make manual action penalty recovery much easier by seeking the help of a skilled SEO services company. At SEOValley, we offer a reliable and effective backlinks analysis and audit service that can verify the quality of your links and help you recover easily from Google’s manual action unnatural links penalty.