Being highly ranked on Google is obviously valuable for any website. This is a very lucrative business, both for the websites reaching the front page of Google as well as the companies that claim to be able to get you there. The problem is that many of these companies use tactics that violate Google’s terms, which can hurt your business big time.
Matt Cutts, the leader of the web spam team for Google, says that over 400,000 websites are penalized by Google every month for terms violations. If you find yourself being one of these websites that has been penalized it may seem like a waste of time trying to recover, but it really isn’t. While it’s not guaranteed you’ll be able to recover, there are certain things you can do to make sure you’ve got the best shot.
The first step in recovery is finding out exactly why you were penalized. The most common penalty is a manual action which you will be able to see in Google Webmaster Tools. If your website has had a manual action you will receive a message giving you specifics on what caused it.
The most common type of manual action is “Unnatural links to your site” which means you have poor, low quality backlinks pointing to your page. This is how SEO companies used to get websites to the front page. In short, Google used to put a high impact on the number of backlinks you had coming to your website. This caused SEO companies to spam backlinks by any means necessary. These backlinks could come from anywhere. Google eventually caught on and changed this. Now it’s about the quality of a backlink, not the quantity.
So, how do you get rid of these backlinks? The first step you’ll want to take is gather all of the bad backlinks you have and find out where they’re coming from. Then, you’ll want to try and contact the owner of the website and ask them (politely, of course) to remove the link. More often than not they’ll be happy to oblige, as long as you ask nicely.
If you are unable to get a response from the website owner your next step would be to disavow the incoming links. This can be done through Google Webmaster Tools. You will have to gather up all of the URLs that have the bad backlinks and submit them through GWT. This will essentially ask Google to not take into account any backlinks you put on that list.
The key thing to remember when trying to recover from a Google penalty is by understanding why you were penalized in the first place. This will put you on the right track toward getting it fixed.