What Techniques Help SEO Specialists Recover from Google Backlink Penalties?


    What Techniques Help SEO Specialists Recover from Google Backlink Penalties?

    Navigating the choppy waters of Google penalties can be daunting, especially when it comes to backlinks. We've gathered insights from SEO experts and top executives, including an SEO Specialist and a CEO, to share their successful techniques. From implementing a strategic link recovery to diversifying anchor text usage, explore the ten diverse strategies these professionals have used to bounce back from backlink-related penalties.

    • Implement a Strategic Link Recovery
    • Combine Audit with Disavow Submission
    • Use Disavow Tool and Wait
    • Conduct Comprehensive Backlink Audit
    • Focus on High-Quality Backlinks
    • Employ Content Reclamation Strategy
    • Remove and Rebuild Backlink Profile
    • Hire SEO Freelancers for Cleanup
    • Enhance On-Page Optimization
    • Diversify Anchor Text Usage

    Implement a Strategic Link Recovery

    I once was part of a team at a global company. Our main/priority domain was hit with 'manual actions' related to links, PBN, and anchors.

    The steps, in brief:

    - First, we identified the actual links. We did this through Google Search Console and third-party tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush.

    - We used the disavow tool to upload a file with the domains/links we wanted to be removed from the index.

    - We reached out to some site owners (none replied) and asked for removal. This was necessary for legal purposes

    - For the most important pages on our domain, we merged the content into new URLs (same domain) and did not redirect from the old ones.

    - We then removed the old URLs from the domain, sitemap, and requested removal in Search Console.

    - We also launched a new process

    - weekly backlink audits through Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMrush.

    So, the process caused issues. And besides the steps above, we also launched new domains to spread our 'offerings' further. This was, in business terms, a great move. The situation hit us hard for a while, but the outcome was actually even better than we had hoped for. Increased visibility and business opportunities.

    Magnus Strandberg
    Magnus StrandbergSEO Specialist, Magnus Strandberg

    Combine Audit with Disavow Submission

    Recovering from a Google penalty related to backlinks can be a major challenge, but I've found that a strategic, thorough approach usually pays off. From my experience advising clients hit with these types of penalties, one effective technique is to combine a comprehensive backlink audit with meticulous disavow file submission.

    Let me give you a specific example from a few years back with an e-commerce client that got walloped by the Penguin algorithm update targeting unnatural links. We started by using professional backlink analysis tools to get a full picture of their entire inbound link profile—tens of thousands of links accumulated over many years. This allowed us to identify definite patterns of low-quality, spammy links that likely triggered the penalty. From there, we broke those problematic links into categories—bulk directories, blog comment spam, private blog networks, etc.—and established clear criteria for what links had to go based on Google's guidelines.

    We spent weeks meticulously combing through and documenting these toxic links into an organized disavow file format that Google's algorithms could easily process. But we didn't stop there. In addition to disavowing the junk links, we took a two-pronged approach to actively remove them as well. First, our team submitted withdrawal requests to each of those low-quality sites and networks, asking for full removal of our client's links. Many were defunct, but we still got thousands removed that way. In parallel, we reached out to higher-quality domains on that list—legitimate publishers, information portals, editorial sites—and tried to get webmasters to remove any links that didn't meet Google's criteria for natural editorial links. Customized outreach explaining the situation was key here.

    Once that disavow file and link removal process was complete months later, we filed a reconsideration request with Google to get a manual review of the site. And the results spoke for themselves—within a few weeks, the rankings came roaring back to pre-penalty levels and higher. So while it took an incredible amount of effort, that combination of intelligently identifying and disavowing bad links, proactively removing them wherever possible, and opening that reconsideration request dialogue ultimately made Google's algorithms recognize the actions we'd taken.

    Alex Adekola
    Alex AdekolaCEO, Founder, Remove My Mugshot

    Use Disavow Tool and Wait

    In my case, I only apply extreme measures when there are manual actions. In that case, I conduct an audit to identify the negative backlinks. For this, I usually use SEMrush and contact all the sites that have shady links pointing to me. After three or four days—when, in most cases, I've received no response—I proceed to use the link disavow tool. Then, I just wait and cross my fingers.

    Marco Genaro Palma
    Marco Genaro PalmaFreelance CMO and SEO Consultant, GenaroPalma.com

    Conduct Comprehensive Backlink Audit

    As the Head of Marketing at Stallion Express, navigating the digital landscape is a daily adventure, and occasionally, we encounter challenges like Google penalties related to backlinks. One effective technique we've employed to recover from such penalties is conducting a comprehensive backlink audit.

    We begin by finding low-quality, or spammy, backlinks that point to our site using tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush. Once these backlinks are found, we contact the web admins and ask them to remove the incorrect links. At the same time, we build high-quality and relevant backlinks by guest posting, collaborating with influencers, and through content marketing campaigns.

    In addition, we send Google a disavow file, which lets Google know that we have removed those toxic links. This helps Google understand that we are taking action to fix the problem.

    Once these tactics are in place, we closely monitor our website's performance. We use Google Search Console to track our site's performance, and over time, we've seen a steady increase in our search ranking and organic traffic.

    Remember, getting out of a Google penalty is not a walk in the park. It takes patience, hard work, and dedication to follow Google's rules and regulations consistently. By focusing on quality over quantity of backlinks in our profile and being proactive in our process, we've successfully overcome these obstacles and built our online presence.

    Diana Zheng
    Diana ZhengHead of Marketing, Stallion Express

    Focus on High-Quality Backlinks

    Ah, the dreaded Google penalty—the SEO version of stepping on a Lego. So, here's the lowdown on how we played the recovery game... sidestepping those pesky penalties altogether.

    We have found that once a site got hit with a penalty, it's been mostly toast. Be picky with your backlinks as if you’re choosing a Netflix show for a Saturday night binge. Focusing on getting backlinks from reputable, high-quality sites has been a way better strategy than 'extracting' that Lego from your foot afterward. Create stellar content that others naturally want to link to, and build relationships with industry peers for those sweet, sweet organic links.

    Andrew Jenkins
    Andrew JenkinsOwner, Catalyst RVA Marketing Agency

    Employ Content Reclamation Strategy

    As someone who runs a marketing agency, I've dealt with my share of penalties related to backlinks. One interesting method I used was a strategy called reclamation. We found high-quality content on websites with authority that had been copied from our client's site.

    We reached out to the site owners and proposed working to create an enhanced version of the content, linking back to our client's original source. This not only resolved the backlink issues but also gained valuable links from sites in the same theme. It turned out to be beneficial for all parties involved. Google acknowledged the changes in content quality, leading to a successful recovery from the penalty.

    This strategy is more than disavowing links—it emphasizes trust-building and adding value through collaboration and top-notch content.

    Will Hawkins
    Will HawkinsOwner, Digital Business

    Remove and Rebuild Backlink Profile

    It's hard to keep up with Google's fines, especially those for backlinks, but digital marketing and SEO require changes all the time. Google punished our tech blog business for backlinks, which meant we had to start over.

    As soon as we heard about the punishment, we checked our backlink profile. We assessed how useful Google's potentially dangerous links were. The penalty resulted from a recent link purchase. This could be because Google's rules are constantly changing.

    Contact the site that provided the questionable link as the first step in resolving the issue. In these cases, honesty is crucial, so that's what we did. We explained the situation and emphasized our commitment to following Google's guidelines. It's likely that the website owner was aware of the potential consequences and removed the link.

    After removing the problematic link, we submitted a reconsideration request to Google, detailing how we addressed the issue and ensured it wouldn't recur. Be candid in these requests and demonstrate your plan for rectification.

    We waited for Google's response before attempting further repairs. In the meantime, we focused on acquiring useful, high-quality links from reputable sites to enhance our backlink profile. This approach strengthened our SEO strategy and repair efforts.

    Google lifted the penalty because we were persistent. This experience taught me how to monitor websites, resolve issues promptly, and behave ethically in the ever-evolving digital world. For the long-term health and reputation of our tech blog, it made us even more resolved to stay abreast of SEO best practices and improve our strategies.

    Bobby Lawson
    Bobby LawsonTechnology editor/publisher, Earth Web

    Hire SEO Freelancers for Cleanup

    To address a Google penalty related to backlinks, I took a proactive approach by hiring freelancers from Upwork who specialized in SEO and backlink analysis. They meticulously identified and helped disavow low-quality links that were affecting our site's credibility. Concurrently, we focused on improving the overall site quality, enhancing content, and ensuring it delivered real value to our audience. After these corrections, we submitted a reconsideration request to Google. This strategy was effective, leading to the lifting of the penalty. It was a learning curve, underscoring the importance of ongoing vigilance and quality in backlink strategies for maintaining site health and search rankings.

    Valentin Radu
    Valentin RaduCEO & Founder, Blogger, Speaker, Podcaster, Omniconvert

    Enhance On-Page Optimization

    When our company faced a Google penalty due to backlinks, we pivoted towards enhancing our on-page optimization as a recovery strategy. This involved meticulously refining our website's content, ensuring it not only provided value but was also rich in relevant keywords and met all of Google's SEO guidelines. We focused on creating engaging, informative content around playground safety, innovative play equipment, and child development through play. This approach significantly improved our site's relevance and user engagement, which, in turn, helped restore our Google rankings over time. It was a learning curve, but by concentrating on the quality and relevance of our on-site content, we saw a gradual, yet noticeable, recovery in our search engine visibility.

    Wyatt Underwood
    Wyatt UnderwoodChief Executive Officer, Playground Expedition

    Diversify Anchor Text Usage

    One effective technique to recover from a Google penalty related to backlinks is diversifying anchor text. Over-optimized anchor text, such as excessive use of exact-match keywords, can raise red flags with search engines. By incorporating a mix of branded, generic, and partial-match keywords in anchor text, you create a more natural and organic profile, which aligns better with search engine algorithms.

    Implementing this strategy involves conducting a thorough audit of existing backlinks to identify over-optimized anchor text. Then, it's crucial to reach out to webmasters to request changes or disavow problematic links altogether. Simultaneously, focus on building new, high-quality backlinks with diversified anchor text to reinforce the organic profile.

    In my experience, employing this technique has yielded positive results in recovering from Google penalties. By demonstrating a commitment to a natural linking profile and aligning with best practices, websites can regain lost rankings and restore trust with search engines.

    Ivan Brozincevic
    Ivan BrozincevicOwner, freeaffiliatemarketingbusiness.com