Why Isn’t My Traffic Back after Removing a Manual Action?
So you’ve done all the work to remove a manual action penalty from your site. Good job! I know it’s a long, hard road to get out of that pit but it’s well worth the effort for the long-term success of your site. That being said, just because you pored over every possible error for hours and did your very best to fix the issues at hand doesn’t mean you’re suddenly out of the woods.
In fact, your traffic might be just as dismal as when the manual action took effect in the first place. So what gives?
That’s what I’m going to answer here today for you, weary webmaster.
Partial and Sitewide Manual Actions
If your site received a partial manual action penalty, and only a few pages are affected, it’s still important to a) get it removed and b) do your best to regain ranking after it’s removed.
For clarity’s sake, a partial manual action can most often be blamed on unnatural links. Unnatural or “manipulative” links are those that are pointed at your site solely to boost that page’s rank. Certainly, there are cases where this isn’t your fault at all. Someone else out there can link to a page on your site in an unnatural way and that’ll send up Google’s red flags. Usually in these cases, just that page is affected, however.
If the problem is more widespread, several pages may be knocked from the search results. If you get a message that there is a sitewide manual action, this typically means full removal of the URL from the search results has occurred — even if you search specifically for it. The cause here is often super obvious link schemes.
There’s only one solution here. A thorough audit of every single backlink to your site. But you already know that. And you’ve likely done it! The issue at hand here is why your rankings don’t suddenly bounce right back once you remove a manual action.
Well first, the penalty has to be officially removed. That means submitting a reconsideration request and getting a message back from Google that starts with,“We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.yoursite.com/ for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”
Of course, it’s cause for celebration when you get this message. It can take many hours to remove and disavow every single crummy link to your site. So, yes, the hard part is done here. But many site owners don’t see an immediate rebound in the search results. In fact, many don’t see a rebound at all, especially if you removed a partial manual action. At least not without a ton of additional effort.
And the reason why is kind of funny. You know all those unnatural links you kicked to the curb? Well, chances are, at least a few of them were being read as pretty high quality there for a while. And that means your site was benefitting from those links before the unnatural links were called out and your site was penalized for them. Sucks, doesn’t it?
Removing a sitewide manual action will often result in a bump in rankings because at least your site is listed by URL again. Plus, you’ll likely rank for key branded terms once more. Traffic should definitely increase. It might not be as high as it was before, but removal of a sitewide manual action should definitely cause a boost.
Getting Out of the Manual Action Penalty Box — For Real
I’m going to assume you’ve already done the work to remove a manual action from your site. The penalty is technically lifted, yes, but you probably can’t help but feel like you’re still being punished. But the truth of the matter is you’ve got some of your previous site rank and traffic for illegitimate reasons in the past. And now’s the time to make sure your every step forward is 100% legit.
Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines
You’d think this would go without saying but it’s actually worth noting here because the Google Webmaster Guidelines used to be just a list of suggestions. Now, Google isn’t messing around. You have to follow them lest you put yourself at risk for a penalty. Any kind of spammy tactics just aren’t going to cut it anymore. End of story. So study the guidelines and follow them precisely. That’s your best bet for putting your site on better footing.
The guidelines don’t just tell you what you shouldn’t do, by the way. They also offer concrete examples of what you should do to optimize your site. Are you making the most of your meta descriptions, sitemap, and redirects, for instance? If you’re not sure, now is the time to pore over every aspect of your site, make corrections, and optimize your little heart out!
Content is Everything
How many times have we heard that old adage by now, content is king? And while content has always played a prominent role in a good web marketing strategy, it’s never been more important than it is right now. You can thank the Panda update for this, by the way. Regardless, you need high quality content, no exceptions.
And truly, there’s no better way to boost your site’s rank than to take your content marketing strategy seriously. This means getting rid of thin or low-quality content on your site. It means making sure you don’t have any duplicate content. And it also means making the creation of new, awesome content a part of your regular schedule. You can’t afford not to do this.
Build High-Quality Links
There’s no way you can recover from a manual action if you don’t invest some serious time in building new links. Only this time, you can’t just take a scattergun approach. Getting listed in article directories or manually creating links back to your site from a ton of tiny sites you throw up in a day aren’t going to cut it. You need the real-deal class of links that are by their very nature a bit difficult to attain.
They’re difficult to get because they’re high quality. And that means not every site is qualified to get them. Of course, you can do your very best to ensure your site is worthy of excellent links by making great content and being a valuable resource.
Here are a few tips for getting started on the legit link building path:
- Evaluate what your competition is doing. A little bit of research never hurt anybody. And in this case, it’s totally necessary if you want to get a handle on what is working for your competitors. A good way to accomplish this is to identify some of the high quality links your competitors are receiving. Notice what pages are being linked to and create your own content that offers a similar resource — but even better. Then reach out to those sites and point them to your awesome content. It’s not easy and will take time but this is how you build a lasting SEO strategy that looks pristine in the almighty eyes of Google.
- Create outbound links. A resources page is a great place to include these links, and the beauty of it is you don’t have to go overboard. Just a few carefully curated links will do. You can also include outbound links in your content. Cite industry leaders and authorities by name and you’re certain to get some backlink action for your effort.
- Offer something of value. Whether that’s a lengthy resource guide that will demand a lot of links from people or a free ebook or tool that those in your industry will find useful, offer it on your site. People like to link to high quality resources. And people really, really love free stuff. You’ll definitely get some links this way.
- Write guest posts. Yes, I know Matt Cutts came down hard on the entire concept of guest blogging for SEO awhile back but he was mostly referring to those sites that are built solely for accepting guest posts that include links for passing link juice. Writing a guest post for a blog that has high authority in your industry and has a high PageRank will help you considerably. But relevancy is key here. Again, a scattergun approach won’t work. Focus on writing just a few high quality guest posts here and there and placing them on high quality blogs. That link in your bio will serve you well.
Getting rid of a manual action penalty is the first step on the road to SEO recovery. But the job doesn’t end there. You must spend time recovering your traffic. That will take time and effort. But the end result will be legitimate, Google-safe, and will likely yield better results than any spammy tactics you previously used.
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