Removing a Google suppression penalty

It’s the news every webmaster and SEO fears, your site has received a Google penalty. This article discusses Google penalties and suggests steps you can take to remove one.

There is a lot of discussion on the web about whether or not a Google suppression penalty exists and if so what is it applied for. Like the sandbox effect there are those that deny its existence. Ignore these people, some are deliberately misleading you, others are simply wrong. Google suppression penalties do exist.

Firstly what is a Google suppression penalty? Well you may have heard of people talking about a “30 place penalty” or a “900 place penalty”. This is a suppression penalty. Your site is unable to rise above a certain ranking. In the case of a site I was dealing with earlier in the year it wouldn’t rise above 40th place on any keyword having previously ranking top 5 on dozens. A suppression penalty is obvious to the SEO who has previously worked on the site or to an SEO coming in who takes a moment to study the site’s previous rankings. In the case of the site I mentioned it sat 40th or lower for 3 months then returned to the top 5 on the keywords it was previously ranking on – all of them. It was clear something had been put in place to lower its rankings.

So now we’ve established this penalty exists, what should we do to remove it? Sadly there is no simply, quick and easy solution. We are likely to face a few months in the Google dog-house before the site returns to its previous glory. What we must do however is use this time to clean up the site and get it ready to submit a reconsideration request.

The easiest thing is to go back to what you’ve done in the last few weeks and undo it. Any changes to the site, any links you’ve bought ask the webmaster you bought them from to remove them. With any luck this will be your solution. If not we’re going to have to look at a complete clean up of the site, with both internal and external factors being considered.

Firstly have a look at the site. Have you been a little over-eager with the keywords in the title and the meta description, or on the page? Clean them out. Anything that looks questionable on the page HAS to go. Forget SEO, your work now is about showing Google you’ve cleaned up your act and seen the error of your ways. If you’re losing thousands every day you are no doubt already feeling very repentant!

Now you need to go back over backlinks bought from webmasters. My theory is that site wide links trigger an alarm which is then investigated and the site punished if it’s believed it is artificially inflating rankings. So the next step is to go into webmaster tools, view all external links, and start contacting webmasters of all the sites you’ve bought site-wide links from and ask them to remove them. Contact all of them and give them 3-4 days to do this. To hurry them up mention your site has been punished – no webmaster wants to link to a penalised site, chances are they’ll be more than happy to remove your link for you!

Now wait a week. If the site has not come back by itself it may be necessary to submit a reconsideration request. There is some dispute about whether or not a reconsideration request is necessary. It may well be that the whole process of suppression penalties is fully automated. However it doesn’t hurt to send one, so that’s exactly what we will do. Be completely honest, admit everything (maybe blaming the “previous” webmaster if you you’re shy!) and throw any webmasters who have not removed your site-wide links into the fire. All that matters is showing Google you are truly sorry and have learned your lesson.

Once you’ve done this all you can do is sit back and hope for the best. If nothing changes after a couple of weeks it may be worth going over everything again and submitting another request. It can be soul destroying watching a site knocking around in the lower reaches of the SERPs, but don’t give up. Every change is getting you closer to recovery.

Finally once your site has recovered – which can be up to 6 months after the penalty was first applied – learn your lessons. Be conservative with your keywords, don’t buy thousands of links and always err on the side of caution. It’s better to rank #5 for the whole year, than #1 for 9 months and nowhere for 3.

Create Web Space have experience of rescuing blacklisted sites and can provide consultancy and assistance. If you’d like our help please get in touch to discuss.Create Web Space have experience of rescuing blacklisted sites and can provide consultancy and assistance. If you’d like our help please get in touch to discuss.

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