Writing a Reinclusion Request (20th April 2012)
I’ve written many re-inclusion requests over the last 3 years, usually for website owners who have come to us (us being Bronco) with a penalised website. Although I am also honest enough to say there have been a few instances that some of my more aggressive clients have also got a penalty for being just that. We have also directly contacted Google Engineers in the past to have problems fixed. They do make mistakes, they do admit it (vaguely as possible!) and fix them, but these are very much in the minority. Below is a basic guide as to what I would do, if I had an Unnatural Link Warning or Penalty from Google.
Identify the Problem(s)
The first and probably the most important part of this is identifying the problem with your inbound links or website. As Google is becoming more and more transparent this is now pretty easy to do, but there are still plenty of instances of websites disappearing without any real explanation as to why.
If you don’t know the problem
When your in this boat, life is probably the hardest, I would start by taking a long hard look at your own website. Ask yourself some simple questions:
- Do I have plenty of unique content and a functional, clearly laid out website? If the answer is no, then you need to clean this up. With millions of websites on the internet, in a single sector – why is Google going to rank a confusing website? It isn’t.
- Am I cloaking users? Whether intentional or not, I’ve seen it done unintentionally many times before. This can be hard even for someone internal to detect, but Google has fortunately provided a simple tool for you to begin. Go into webmaster tools and request your website (both homepage and internals) as Google Bot. If the sources are different, you have a big problem.
- Do I have lots of Content (good or bad) detached, or difficult to Navigate to from the rest of your site? The chances are these pages are there for Google’s benefit only. These are called doorway pages, remove them.
- Why did I drop for Key Phrase [x]? Assuming you haven’t done any radical on-site changes, I think that pretty much means you’ve been filtered for buying/sourcing too many links either on the wrong types of websites or with very similar anchor text over and over again.
- But I got a great big slap? I didn’t just lose one or a couple key phrases, I lost everything, brand included – well I’ve seen this a couple of times and its usually because your a link buying machine with an impressively big budget. This is usually a big clean up moment, or time to change domain. Oh as well as time to look at how your link buying. Quality, not quantity, if your going to buy at all.
So assuming you’ve figured out what your doing wrong (you can skip the next heading).
I’ve had a message in Webmaster Tools..
So you’ve identified the problem, in most cases you won’t have much to prepare – if its on-site, you just need to fully document what you identified as the problem and how its been fixed. If however your reinclusion request relates to the Unnatural Link Warning, please read on..
Square one, don’t panic. Your probably going to lose most if not all of your non-brand rankings in the very near future, if you haven’t already. A reinclsuion request takes up to 3 weeks, so it might be worth going and telling the boss the bad news. Now, lets get these links tidied up.
Step two, depending on who you are:
- Time to call your SEO Agency, and ask them what they’ve been doing? (Although your probably already aware). Get them to send you a list of all the links they’ve ever placed and begin reviewing them. Begin formulating a plan with them.
- Alternatively, if you are the SEO Agency and you have no idea whats happened, time to login to Majestic SEO or Google Webmaster Tools and get the full list of back links from either.
Put the data you’ve collected into a spreadsheet, in particular we’re just interested in the URL’s, so filter it down to just that, and then create a comments and status columns.
Examples of Messages
If you’ve got Doorway style pages, poor site architecture and a lack of quality content would cause one of these:
The Unnatural Links Detected Message will look a lot like this:
Identifying the Bad Links
This is the first painful bit your going to have to endure. Its time to view every page thats linking to you. Obviously don’t view every page if you have a sitewide link though ;)
So, if your fortunate to have two screens at work, you want your spreadsheet open on one side and your web browser on the other, this is the questions I’d be asking myself as I viewed each website linking to me:
- Did I pay for this?
- Is it a HTML Widget/Banner?
- Does the website look like its only there to push links out to other websites? There are some pretty obvious things to look for..
- - If its a Blog, does every or most link look like a commercial kind of link? With strange anchor text?
- - Again, if its a blog, check out the about page – if its the wordpress default, this probably isn’t someone you want a link from
- - Does it have clear Contact Details?
- - Does it have affiliate or Adsense as well? If not what monetisation is it using..
- Why would a website talking about Fishing, be linking to a Cruise Company? Or more seriously Is this website not about the same thing as my website is about? Exclusions: Someone talking about there Holiday, a News outlet, a sensible forum conversation, etc.
- If you answered, well because they can both happen in the same place, your definitely an SEO.
- Is this link a comment? And is the Commenters name your target Key Phrase? NB: Its ok to link in comments, note I said ‘in’ comments, as part of a sensible conversation. Using your name as a Key Phrase is in Matt Cutts words SCSI.
- Is this forum user, who lists my website as his own not a member of my organisation?
- Is the content labelled as Advertorial?
- Should this site really be giving me a sitewide link? Is it on-topic? Do I have a relationship with the site?
A little common sense throughout this task will go along way, but those are some pointers to get you underway. Go through and evaluate all the links, mark comments against each. Anything deemed ok, should be filtered out. You now have a hit list. Timeto get your SEO pulling them down.
Googles Engineers talk about Writing a Reinclusion Request
This will help, watch it:
Depending on Circumstance one of three things could happen at this point, we’ve only ever seen two through the Webmaster Console, you could get a prewritten “no” or “welcome back”. There are a few variations of each. If your really lucky, or a really big brand, you might get a special message back from someone properly.
Its never very easy to get back from a Penalty, but it is possible, it does require a genuine effort from the SEO Agency and Webmasters alike. I’m not going to sell myself as I really have no interest in spending my personal time getting your website reincluded, it is a hard job. However my employers and I do have a lot of experience. So if you have tried and tried and do need some help, feel free to talk to Bronco. We will be able to offer a one-off consultancy call (we usually review the sites before calls) or a full reinclusion service*. Click here to get in touch with them..
* = No Guaranteed Reinclusion, but we do our best!