Case Study: How to Remove a Google Penalty with Majestic SEO
It’s exactly a month since I joined Majestic SEO as their Brand Ambassador in the US, and not a day goes past when I’m not made aware of just how fantastic this company is.
While I was being courted for the role, I canvassed many industry people privately, asking them what they thought and why. The response was unanimous that what Majestic had built was very special, very unique and very niche.
When we demo it at events like SMX East last week and Pubcon in a few days, it’s great to show all the features and help some SEOs do some competitor analysis on the fly, but I’ve been on the look out for stories from the industry about how marketing managers have used Majestic to affect real change and glean results for their businesses.
Look no further than Nick Mueller from Zetta, who came to our stand in New York last week not to see a demo, not to ask a question, but to say thank you for helping him and his company get out of a deep black hat hole.
Here’s his story:
This is the story of how I overcame a penalty from Google and got the “Manual spam action revoked” message into my company’s Webmaster Tools account last week after being hit by the infamous “notice of detected unnatural links” message back in March 2012. The super summarized version of the story is that I wasted a lot of time and sent a lot of pointless emails sent until I found Majestic SEO, identified the exact links causing my penalty, got many of them removed and got Google to accept my reinclusion request.
Here’s How I Tried to Cleanup My Backlink Profile Without Majestic
1. Downloaded the “Top 1,000 domains that have links to pages on your site” report from Webmaster Tools and went through it 1-by-bloody-1 to manually identify spammy links bought by our now-former SEO agency.
2. Hired contractors from oDesk to find email addresses for the webmasters of each of the sites with links to my site using the manually compiled list mentioned above.
3. Emailed each of these webmasters with a sharply worded message saying they had to take down the specific link immediately. Actually, I think I said. “Within 48 hours.” It was really just to get their attention, which it did, in the form of many vicious refusals and insults. My personal favorite is reproduced in the screenshot.
First Reinclusion Request Fail and Discovery of Majestic’s Backlink Report
Even though I got a lot of replies from webmasters who seemed like professional insult-comics, some people did respond that they were taking the links down. I also got lucky that an article submission directory that had actually created the majority of these thin and duplicate content links responded saying they would take down a large chunk at once.
So, feeling confident, I submitted my first reinclusion request and send an email explaining the situation to Matt Cutts using every possible configuration of his address. This was in early June 2012, a little more than 2 months after getting the “notice of unnatural links” message in late March.
Then the request came back 4 weeks later from the Webmaster Tools team and Matt himself: Reinclusion rejected!
My spirits were crushed, a lot like my site traffic, until I reached out to a friend who recommended Majestic SEO as being a better way to see my site’s full backlink profile, which I could use to take down more links.
Using Majestic’s Backlink Report to Find Penalty Causing Links, and An Email That Works To Get Them Down
Here’s what I did next, that got my site free of the penalty:
1. Used Majestic SEO to create a .csv of my site’s backlinks sorted by anchor text. The huge chunks of different exact match keyword terms I found enabled me to instantly identify the ~250 bad links that were causing my penalty.
2. Found the contact information for these webmasters using WHOIS searches. There’s a guy on oDesk who’s really good at this, let me know if you want his name.
3. Sent this email to each of the webmasters. This nicer tone, along with adding their domain name to the subject line got excellent results. The moral of this part of the story is that if you’re actually a nice guy, prentending not to be offends both legal and natural practice.
Oh Yea, Penalty Revoked!
After sending messages to each of the spammy links I found using Majestic’s anchor text report, I noted in the spreadsheet which webmasters responded and which links were down. Then I submitted a spam report in Webmaster Tools for any link whose webmaster didn’t respond, and noted that in the spreadsheet. Finally, I added the spreadsheet to my Google Drive so it could be submitted as link in the reinclusion request.
Like clockwork, 4 weeks later my site’s penalty had been revoked. It’s been nothing but a new traffic and qualified leads party since then, and if it wasn’t for Majestic I’d still be stuck at the penalty pity party.
If you have a story like Nick’s, then let us know and we might publish it on the blog too!
See you in Vegas!!!