Penalized in Google?
Unwinding Google Penalties
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What Not To Do When Your Site Is Penalized

With the advent of the new enforcement aggressiveness on Google's part with both Panda and Penguin, we're aware that many inexperienced seo agencies are claiming to have solutions and expertise that they clearly do not have in order to exploit the opportunity created by so many penalized sites.  Some of these solutions are actually dangerous and can make the problems suffered by rank loss even worse and more difficult to remediate in the long run.  Given this new environment, here is our somewhat counterintuitive list of what not to do:

Do Not Attempt To SEO Yourself Out Of A Penalty

Most retail seo agencies & professionals know how to chase keywords with content and link building.  These skills may work great on a compliant website, but when a site is penalized, the focus shifts away from optimization and toward compliance.  This is a very important fact - compliance is THE issue when a site is penalized.  A penalized site is non-compliant.  Penalties are imposed based on the type and degree of non-compliance.  Recovery requires discovery of the compliance issues and is dependent on those problems being addressed.  Save optimization efforts for a healthy site.  Attempting to optimize a non-compliant site will fail - either nothing will happen, or you will trigger a bigger event.

Do Not Build Links To A Penalized Site

It's very troubling to see the large numbers of serious sales efforts being made by seo agencies to profit from penalized clients.  Just look at the ads now appearing in the searches for "Google penalty" and other penalty terms.  Many of these ads are for services that are primarily link building, disguised as penalty relief.  Do no fall for that pitch.

The recommendation of the top penalty experts is to stop all link building efforts until the site is performing again.  Do not attempt to correct a link profile by further link building - this only creates more risk.  If an seo agency suggests paying them to build links to a penalized site, walk away.  Adding links is NOT a solution.

If you received the unnatural links warning in Webmaster Tools, you need to remove the links, not add to them.  While it may seem like a good idea to add good links to improve the overall profile, that is something you can do AFTER the penalty is lifted.  Doing any link building while a site is still suppressed in the ranks only obfuscates the real problem, and makes discovery more difficult.

Do Not Burn Bridges - Stay On Good Terms With The SEO Who Got You Penalized

Most penalties are triggered by seos.  If this has happened to you, your first instinct may be to get angry at the responsible party and cut them off.  Getting them to stop work is important.  Alienating them probably is not a good idea.  They may be the source of the best solution.  If link building created the problem, the link builders are the best resource for the link take downs.  But if you are not on good terms with those who did the work, you may have to find (and pay for) another solution.  Also remember this: your link builders were at one time helping your ranks.  It was Google who changed the rules during the game, so they are equal partners in sharing the blame.

Do Not File A Reconsideration Request Without Doing Any Remediation

A reconsideration request is a claim of compliance, so filing just to file is going to waste everyone's time.  Nothing will happen except for the hit to your credibility.  However, once you have made some progress toward compliance, filing is a smart move, even if you have not been able to address all of the compliance issues.  This is because a valid request can motivate a response from Google that might provide you with some insight into the issue, even if it's simply that you still have more work to do.

Do Not Keep Doing What You've Been Doing

This may seem obvious, but clearly, if you've been penalized in Google, you need to change your ways.  The only exception is when your penalty is caused by a 3rd party attack, or issues from within Google.  Of course, finding that new path may not be obvious, but that's where you need to go.  If you were fortunate enough to have received a warning in WMT, focus on that message.  Most penalized sites do not have the advantage of knowing why they were harmed.  Remember, a penalized site needs to get compliant again.  And the sooner you can discover your compliance issues, the sooner you can fix and get back into the game.