How to Send a Reconsideration Request to Google
Google's Search Quality Team posted an informative FAQ on the Google Webmaster Central Blog about filing a reconsideration request to Google for backlinks - something you may need if your site suffers from inbound links from spammers and black hat sites.
This is because Google decides a page's ranking in the SERPs (search engine results pages) based not only on where that page links out to, but also from where links are coming. Although the entire post is worth a read and contains links to tons of useful webmaster resources, we're providing some highlights below:
- Google can end up penalizing your site for bad backlinks two ways: through algorithmic changes, which are automatic, and through manual spam actions, which involve an actual human looking at your site and deciding it deserves a ranking demotion. Google says that you should only file a reconsideration request when you've been levied a manual spam action. If you're not sure whether your penalty was manual or algorithmic, it won't hurt to file a reconsideration request.
- Examples of inbound links in violation of Google's quality guidelines include links embedded in text ads that pass along PageRank, automatically generated posts in your forums and spam blog comments with links to less-than-reputable sites - so, yes, user generated content can certainly damage the quality of your link profile. If these types of links are cropping up on your site and you can't remove them yourself, it's time for a reconsideration request.
- And, seriously, you should try to remove the bad backlinks yourself before you go to Google about it. If you do end up filing a reconsideration request, make sure you provide detailed documentation, including some type of evidence that you're no longer attracting bad links, details about how you're going to prevent bad links from coming to your site in the future, and exactly which link you're looking to disavow from your site - basically, you need to prove to Google that you know you did something wrong and you won't do it again.
- Be prepared to wait. While Google tries to respond to reconsideration requests within a few days, more complex requests could take a lot longer, especially when Google is receiving a high volume of requests. The day after an algorithm update might not be the best time to file a request, for example.
- Don't expect a miracle. It's entirely possible that Google will tell you that your site remains in violation of their quality guidelines, at which point you'll need to take further action to remedy your site before you file another request.