Why Google Won't Respond to the 5,000 Reconsideration Requests They Get Every Week

Matt Cutts

The latest Google webmaster help video deals with the possibility of Google providing true support to webmasters, where if a webmaster has a specific issue such as with ranking, they can talk to someone at Google to get it resolved.

Now this is something that webmasters have long wanted. Personalized handholding assistance from Google on what to do to rank better, get themselves back in the index after being banned, eat competitors, and essentially rank number one for any competitive search term.

Seasoned webmasters and marketers know that the chances of this ever happening is probably about zilch. However, Google does offer many avenues for webmasters to get support.

The first and foremost way to get help is by posting on the Google Webmaster Central forums. Some Google employees answer questions there, but there are also plenty of very knowledgeable webmasters to answer questions and provide assistance.

In the video, Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts said that the biggest issue regarding providing individual support to webmasters is simply scaling. He says there are 250 million domain names, and Google took manual action on (i.e., penalized) 400,000 websites in January 2013. They also receive about 5,000 reconsideration requests every week.

Cutts said:

Our primary goal has to be returning the highest quality set of search results, so that's what we really need to work on. And then our secondary goal is to talk to webmasters about actions that were taken on sites.

So the problem primarily is that there so many webmasters on the web and our index is really big and we get over 2 billion queries a day and so we don't really have a great way to talk one-on-one with individual webmasters. So we try to come up with scalable ways like webmaster videos like these, which can get several thousand views, but it's really tricky to have a conversation, especially a prolonged detailed conversation about a particular site.

We'll keep looking for ways to do better, we'll keep looking for ways to communicate scalably, but that's a fundamental dilemma, so the reconsideration request process you will typically get back "yes, you're doing OK" or "no, you still have work to do" or in some cases "we've processed your request", which might mean you have multiple issues and only one has been resolved, but there are still more issues that need to be resolved.

Cutts noted that the reconsideration request response form doesn't have a field where Googlers can comment back with advice or suggestions, so if you get a reconsideration request response, it will always be a typical form letter response.

"We have experimented with doing some communication above and beyond for people who are doing reconsideration requests but it is tricky because every bit a time we're taking away to spend on that, we're taking away from spam fighting right now sort trying to find the right balance and trying to find ways that are scalable," Cutts said. "We are looking at ways to provide more information such as in the messages we send out and so I think we'll keep making progress on that, but it is fundamentally a very hard problem."

For non-Google support, there are plenty of webmaster and SEO forums out there, there is lots of SEO specific discussion on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and don't forget the value of conferences, where you can get a chance to speak with the many Google employees who attend.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.