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How to contact google about a penalty?

 9:53 am on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

My main site got hit in March 2012 pretty much exactly a year ago today.

Visits dropped by around half over the course of a week and then went up slighly maybe 10% a few weeks later.

That's where things have stayed since.

I did get a message in Webmaster Tools at around the same time saying that if I wanted to ask about what was going on I should head over to a Google's webmaster forum and ask about it there. It then gave a reference number to use. Unfortunately, I was on autopilot at the time and assumed it was one of those robots.txt unreachable messages and didn't take much notice of it. I deleted it straight away. Unfortunately there is no undelete.

Anybody any ideas where I should go to ask google about it? Do they have a google group or something?

In Webmaster Tools it says I've got 34,418 links which I know is a big underestimate. Other places <snip> say the site has 48,000. I am assuming that this is part of the penalty if indeed it is a penalty.

Are there any good resources available that will help me figure out what need to be doing about it. I've left it a long time I appreciate I've been involved in a really long software project I couldn't get out of.

I can search for the site name and come up in first spot in google and also have sitelinks too.

Any help and pointers much appreciated.

[edited by: goodroi at 12:17 pm (utc) on Mar 12, 2013]
[edit reason] Per TOS - Please no SEO tools [/edit]



 2:35 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

The best way to contact Google about a penalty appears to be through the front page of the New York Times.


 2:55 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)


You cannot ask any Google employee as they do not care about your site.


 3:02 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Disregarding the last two comments, the best (and pretty much only) way to contact Google is through your Google Webmaster Tools account.

If you were *penalized* you can try submitting a reconsideration request and see if they resend you the same message they sent before.

If you dropped rankings due to algorithm changes, about all you can do is work on improving your site.

Make sure you set it up so that if you get any more messages from GWT, they forward to a working email address that won't throw them in your spam filter. I understand that you weren't paying attention, but it may not be easy to re-create that message you got.


 3:21 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the flippant answer. Netmeg is being helpful. Listen to her.


 3:54 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks @netmeg. I am currently filling out the reconsideration request form... wish me luck.


 4:38 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Feeling a little full after my helping of humble pie. Now just got to wait...


 4:38 pm on Mar 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Sorry for the flippant answer. Netmeg is being helpful. Listen to her.

IDK I thought yours was a fairly true answer, you just left out the part about "if you don't have the connections and name recognition to get there WMT is about the only option you really have. Good Luck!"


 3:10 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just got a reply inside Google Webmaster Tools. There are "No manual spam actions found" apparently. Which is good :)

Quite a quick reply I think.


 4:08 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

It's good that you don't have a penalty, but it might not be good if you've been Penguined and/or Panda'd.. That means if your traffic has fallen, it's probably due to an algorithm update, which means you then have to figure out where the problem is.

The first thing I'd do is rustle up a dateline of updates, and see if your traffic drops match up to any of them.


 4:19 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Jack, you can't directly contact Google about a penalty. The best you can do - and it seems you've already done this - is to attract the attention of a Google engineer in their forums.

Even though they tell you "no manual action", that doesn't mean that much. It's good - don't get me wrong - but if you've seen a big drop with no manual action, that means that one of Google's algorithms has a problem with your site. You will not be able to get Google to tell you what that problem is.

Your only hope is to try and pin down the precise date that your problems happened, and then try and match them to a date relating to an algorithmic change that Google rolled out. If you're able to do that, then you can focus your efforts on figuring out what part of Google's guidelines the algorithm thinks you may be out of compliance with.

For example, if you were hit on the day they rolled out their "too much advertising" algorithm, then try removing advertising from your site.

Unfortunately, the next part is very hard - you have to wait for an unspecified amount of time, because many of Google's algorithms run manually (so people believe that you can't be un-penalized until they run again) and Google's penalty also seem to come with time durations (so even if you fix the problem, the penalty is still there for, say, 6 months).

Welcome to the world of Google.


 5:32 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

This might help: Monthly Reference - Google Updates and SERP Changes [webmasterworld.com].


 5:35 pm on Mar 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks @netmeg and @Ralph_Slate. Time for a bit of homework :)


 1:02 am on Mar 16, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just got a reply inside Google Webmaster Tools. There are "No manual spam actions found" apparently. Which is good :)

This is good news. Now you can narrow it down to the type of penalty you have by going to your Analytics and seeing the exact date you dropped. After you get the date, visit the Penguin and Panda updates pages (You can find several with a simple search on "google panda"). If it falls on a date when there was a Penguin update, you were penalized due to unnatural links - or possibly you have paid links on your site. If it falls under a Panda release then it is more likely the result of too many ads above the fold and a few other items. Again, you can find out exactly what kinds of things each penalty looks at with your website by doing a simple search.


 12:25 am on Mar 17, 2013 (gmt 0)

"or possibly you have paid links on your site"

Aren't they supposedly sending WMT messages now if this is the problem?
I hope so, because I abandoned looking at this possible SE confusion since I didn't get one yet.
I was under the impression it is a manual penalty, based on competitor reports, and thus they would see it as a "manual spam action"?


 11:38 am on Mar 19, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks @jimbeetle. According to the page you linked to we were hit by the "Bad Backlinks Campaign" from March 2012. Would certainly explain why so few of our links show up in Google Webmaster Tools.

We don't buy links, so how am I supposed to know what links are bad?

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