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How to Remove a Penalty for Unnatural Outbound Links

Chris Dyson
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Following Google's recent manual action against MyBlogGuest and their members, a lot of people have been asking for help with removing manual actions for unnatural links – especially for unnatural outbound links.

It can be quite distressing when you see a notification of a manual action from Google in your Google Webmaster Tools account, but by taking prompt action and working hard to resolve the issue that may be causing the penalty you will soon find traffic will return quite quickly.

Unnatural Outbound Link Warning

Which Links are the Problem?

Unfortunately Google doesn't provide any insight as to which particular links or pages they believe to be causing the problem. This is the same if you're having to clean up unnatural links to your site too.

The most obvious place to start is by looking at any links that you have sold. If anyone has paid you for a sponsored article, advertorial or a bought link from your site in the past you should make those links nofollow. It is not necessary to nofollow internal links.

Have you been using a lot of reciprocal links as part of your link building campaign? Have you set up a links page on your website and allowed it to become a hoard of cluttered random links rather than a curated list of useful resources?

Google has also become very strict on websites that contain large numbers of guest posts. If you have allowed unsolicited guest posters in the past it is worth reviewing those articles to look for links particularly with keyword rich anchor text to commercial pages or the home page of other websites.

If you have a blog and allow comments, check to see if you have allowed commenters to leave followed links with keyword rich anchor text. If you have a comment spam problem, then look at implementing a different commenting platform with better spam detection.

Keep a clear record in a shared Google Doc of the links that you have changed to nofollow or deleted. Google have stated numerous times in the past that they don't trust external file types as Microsoft Excel as they can contain malware.

File a Reconsideration Request

After you've checked your website for any links that might be breaking Google's link schemes and made the necessary changes, it's now time to submit your reconsideration request.

Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools and ensure that you have added and verified the website that you want to be reconsidered. Now go to the reconsiderationpage and select the penalized site from the drop down menu.

Keep your reconsideration message to the pointand include a link to the shared Google Doc you created with the links you have cleaned up.

Dear Google Webspam Team Member

On [date] we received a notification of a manual action for unnatural links from our website. We have reviewed all the links on our site where we believe they are violating your guidance on link schemes and either deleted the link or made the link nofollow.

Here is a Google Doc highlighting the work carried out:

[Google Doc Url]

We are committed to following your guidelines on link schemes in the future

Thank you for your consideration

[Your Name]

Google Says No

Sometimes it can take a few attempts to pass the reconsideration request phase. Don't be disheartened. It just means that Google feels you haven't spent enough time fixing the problems.

Reconsideration Request Cartoon

Occasionally you will receive some examples of links back in your reply, which Google believe are still violating their rules. This can make it much easier to understand the types of links you have on your site which Google is unhappy about.

Once you have spent some more time fixing the problem you should submit another reconsideration request.

When Will Your Traffic Return?

Once the manual action has been lifted you will notice improvements in your traffic and rankings fairly quickly for your less competitive keywords and brand terms. It can take a few weeks in some instances for your traffic to return to normal but you will notice significant improvements fairly quickly.


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