What To Expect After A Google Penalty For Unnatural Links

Hello Linkers! It’s been awhile since my last guest post on this site. Since then, I’ve been able to launch a couple of successful affiliates websites in the web, and even experienced getting a huge Google penalty for our biggest profit site.

If you didn’t know, Google went on a banning spree in December 2017 and hit big sites like 10beasts. If you follow Spencer Haws or are just simply in this space, you’d know 10beasts.

Luckily, we weren’t hit on Christmas. Rather, Google kicked us out on February 2018.

It was one hell of a harrowing experience. ShoutMeLoud already put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide on what you need to do to appeal to Google and recover your site so I won’t be talking about that. Instead, I’ll talk about what you can expect when you get this kind of Google penalty.

1. It’s shocking

One minute, you’re on top of the world ranking Number 1 and showing up on snippets for many of your target long tail keywords, and the next minute, you’re gone. You’ve fallen off the face of the world. Google is just that powerful. Our traffic statistics plummeted. We disappeared from search results.

2. You’ll be puzzled

If you haven’t done any blackhat of late, or at all, you’ll be (quite hysterically) asking why you got penalized. Google doesn’t give any specifics. You just get a mail that tells you your violation (in our case, unnatural inbound links) and a quick list of how to fix the problem.

Our first thought was negative SEO from our competitors in the niche. After all, we were ranking sky high. We were so focused on our social media and beefing up our content that we failed to check sites that were linking to us. A quick check revealed hundreds of spam sites linking to us. Funnily enough, it was comforting. This made us falsely believe we’d have an easy time getting back our site after disavowing said links.

3. You will likely get rejected on the first try

Google instructed us to submit a disavow list and so we did. We sent a long-ass list composed of spammy sites and non-indexed sites that were somehow pointing to our website. Prior to this, we also emailed sites to remove our links and we documented all these efforts.

A day right after, we got our first rejection. It was swift and brutal.
It had us scratching our heads. We added everything to the list, didn’t we? But apparently, Google was not appeased. Panic was bubbling but we put a lid on it. We went to work identifying more links to add to the disavow file. We became more thorough than the first time.

4. You may get rejected a second time

The second rejection hit harder. Google made us wait for weeks before the rejection came. We thought the long wait was a good sign and that we were finally getting our site back. We were wrong.
We were sure we had covered all dubious links. The second rejection marked the onset of the fear of the possibility that we may never get our site back. Failure was not an option though. It was our biggest earner! So we talked all of 5 minutes about worst case scenario steps to take and just shoved our concerns aside.

This time, we were ruthless in adding links to the disavow list. We even ventured into links we knew were legit like .edu or .org but we were running out of options and getting quite desperate.

Also, in the beginning, we were only considering negative SEO attacks as the culprit. We were forced to consider our own short brief foray into blackhat linkbuilding when we were just starting out with our site. Most, if not all of the links were already dead but we added them anyways and contacted our guys. They were unhelpful as it was just a gazillion years ago but we added this in our letter to Google.

(BTW, our letter to Google was basically a category list of what we disavowed and a heartfelt letter that we would be model citizens of the Google world from then on.)

5. Third time may be the charm

What kept me sane was THIS video by Matt Diggity.

It took them some frustration and three attempts to get their monster site client to be reconsidered. I don’t know how many times it took others but I’m glad I didn’t unnecessarily expend energy bemoaning the state of our site for more than two months.

Instead of running around like a headless chicken, I threw my energy building our other sites. We kept operations normal on our penalized site and continued to publish content. The rare times I peeked at our traffic analytics, I steeled my heart the same way I steeled my heart when viewing my stocks during paper loss.

Except the two months we were penalized weren’t paper losses. We lost real income. The only silver lining was that we had our December and January profits to tide us over unlike those sites that got banned in December.

FINAL WORD

If you ever find yourself in this situation, keep calm and do what you need to do. It takes time and effort. Google wants you to feel the pain and learn your lesson. (We know we did!) Think positive and you’ll eventually get positive results as well.

Posted in SEO

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