We use cookies. You have options. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but if you’d like to make adjustments, you can visit our Cookie Notice page for more information.
We’d like to use cookies on your device. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but how we use them is entirely up to you. Accept our recommended settings or customise them to your wishes.

Video: How to Get Out of 'Google Jail'

If a manual penalty for unnatural backlink practices lands you in 'Google jail,' it's not the end of the world, but you certainly want to take immediate steps to set your website free. Learn how to determine if you're in penalty and the steps you can take to reclaim good SEO health.


Megan Geiss: Hi. I'm Megan Geiss, Marketing Strategy Director here at RKG, and today we're going to talk about manual penalties for bad linking. In other words, how do you get out of the proverbial Google jail?

So, first of all, we start by determining whether or not you're actually under a manual penalty. To do that, you go to your Google Webmaster Tools account and click in the upper left-hand corner on the link for messages. If any message that's listed there feels like it might be about unnatural linking, chances are you're under a manual penalty. Let's double check one more place and under the Manual Actions link, still in Google Webmaster Tools, you know you're under penalty if you find something there.

So now we've got to clean this up, and what do we do? Chances are you have thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of backlinks. We need to gather a list of all of those backlinks and determine the quality of those and rate them.

So once we've done that and we've determined we have maybe 100,000 bad backlinks, what do we do with those? We manually look at each one. I know this sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but it's something that needs to be done. Are they spammy? Are they link farms? Are they even relevant to your site? If the answer to those are yes, yes, and no, then we would put those in the bad backlink column.

Once we determine that list of overall bad backlinks that we want to get rid of, the next step is actually doing some outreach. You have to reach out to the webmasters for each one of those sites and ask them to remove the link. Now, a lot of times, most of the time, you're not going to get a response. But you may get a response of, "Okay, we'll remove that link," and you may get a response of, "Yeah, we'll remove it, but you can pay us for it." Between those three responses we gather all that data, and we actually have a second round of outreach, because chances are most of the webmasters did not respond.

We do the outreach a second time, we wait for a response, and again we gather all of the data, and we take that data, put together our final list of bad links, and we upload those to the Google Webmaster Tools Disavow Tool. Once we've done all of that work and documented everything we've done, we actually reach out to Google with a reconsideration request that outlines all of the work that's been done, who has responded, who hasn't, and perhaps even examples of what some of the responses have been. Once Google takes a look at that and takes a look at your current backlink profile to determine the quality of it, you'll get a response from Google letting you know whether or not that's been accepted or not.

Hopefully, if you've followed this process and been diligent about getting rid of the bad backlinks, you're getting your get-out-of-jail-free card from Google. Was it free? No. Was it easy? Absolutely not, but you're on your way to backlink health and hopefully a better experience for SEO.

Thanks for listening. I'm Megan Geiss. Tune in next time to the RKG blog.

Join the Discussion