Google is cracking down on spammers, and this includes penalties applied on websites that are caught creating links using software or methods that are outside of the quality guidelines. Some webmasters do not know the difference between black-hat and white-hat link building. For this reason, the webmasters are surprised when they receive a penalty for unnatural links in their Google Webmaster Tools account. Here is the reason for the penalty and what you can do to reverse it.
Although spam has always been against Google’s quality guidelines, it seems like Google has been cracking down on spammers since the first of the year. Several site owners have reported receiving the penalty alert in Webmaster Tools. The penalty occurs when you hire an SEO or use link-building efforts that are considered spam. These efforts include directory submissions, article submissions, and blog and forum comment spam. Experts in the SEO field have commented that the sites receiving the penalty have a higher ratio of low-quality links compared to high-quality links. The balance of low-quality links versus high-quality links alerts the bot that you may be spamming. However, Google has not commented on what algorithm it uses to determine the penalty threshold.
The only way to fix the issue is to contact webmasters and ask them to remove the links. Google does not provide you with a list of targeted spam links, but you can start with the low-quality websites. To get a list of links to your site, use tools such as SEOMoz Site Explorer or SEO Majestic’s backlink tool. The tools give you a free look at your backlink history, but you can pay for a full backlink assessment after looking at the site from the free view. Additionally, a good SEO company provides you with a list of links the company created for you, so you can go through each link and contact the website owner.
The whois.net website tells you who owns a specific domain, so you can find the email address for a domain’s owner. Use this tool to contact the domain owner and request a link removal. You must do this for each backlink that is found on low-quality sites such as link farms or article directories.
After you make an effort to remove the links, file a reconsideration request with Google through your Webmaster Tools dashboard. Within a few days, Google responds with whether or not the penalty is lifted. If you cannot make a successful effort to have all of the links removed, the penalty expires eventually. Unofficial reports estimate that the penalty lasts for about 90 days.
To avoid the penalty in the future, always keep link building efforts natural. Do not use software to post backlinks, and avoid SEOs who spam backlinks on forums, article directories or forums. The best backlinks are from your readers who find your content compelling, and the readers create a backlink on their site without any request from you.
I am a professional .NET and PHP software developer. I has been designing and developing websites professionally since 1994. Currently working as SEO consultant at UK SEO Company.