After Google’s Panda update, In January and February of 2012 Google sent out over 700,000 emails to webmasters informing them they they were being penalized for their massive quantities of unnatural back links. Google suddenly went from a very permissive parent to a strict arm folding finger shaking authoritarian.

I know that paints a rather crude picture of Google as most of the world sees them as a happy search engine with big colorful letters and fun animations during the world cup but the truth is the SEO industry needed some discipline. Prior to Panda, link building in large and unnatural quantities had little to no repercussions and a lot of benefits.

After Panda was released Google released information defining what an unnatural link was-

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Recovering from a penalization

Rarely do you still find webmasters thinking they are keen and sneaky enough to engage in link schemes without getting caught. However, there are still many of the 700,000 + attempting to recover from Google’s blind side tackle with the release of Panda and Penguin.

Disavow Option

If you have angered the authoritarian parent, you’re probably aware by now that instead of getting a slap on the wrist for your bad behavior, you got kicked in the butt.  Forgiveness is going to have to come through more than just your apology, you have to undo what you did. In rare circumstance you can ask this authoritarian parent to make everything better and they will oblige through little work of your own.

Google has a disavow option where you can essentially ask them to discredit any unnatural links you have acquired. This option should not be approached as a “loop hole” or “quick fix” as Google gets lots of these requests and takes their time processing them. The following is from Google’s disavow instructions.

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Reaching Out to Webmasters

Like any parent, Instead of just fixing the problem for your child, you would rather seem them go to work on fixing the problem themselves. Depending on how many unnatural or poor quality links you have this could take some time. If you have been penalized and you need someone to reach out to webmasters- this could be the perfect summer job for your niece or nephew just starting college. This is classic eight or nine dollar an hour work and will likely quickly burn through your patience if you have more important tasks to take care of.  This is why I would recommend hiring someone temporarily to take care of this.

My recommendation would be to create a spread sheet of all your back links. Have your new employee determine the quality of each site as you would hate to remove organic or quality links. After you have done this, attempt to get contact information for all the sites providing links you determined to be of poor quality. Keep track of those you cannot find contact information for as those should be in your disavow request.

Email these webmasters  and be clear and concise. If they are doing you a favor don’t give them a chore. You can make it easy on them by being completely transparent about why you are contacting them- tell them you have been penalized. Second- describe where the link is on their page so they don’t have to go looking for it.

For example, include something like this somewhere in your email-

The links are in the following locations:

Http://example.com/howareyoutoday/thatsneat.html.com (Link is located in the bottom paragraph of the article embedded in the anchor text: Company’s Keyword)

Http://example.com/thanksforasking/howsyourday.html.com (Link is embedded in the picture of the gorilla at the bottom of the page)

If you are having trouble finding your link you can always right click and view the page source and Cntrl F to find where your website is located as sometimes it can be hard to find (especially if it is an unnatural link)

It is also important to word your email in a way that people will want to respond to you and to help you. Yes you’re unhappy about whats going on but try not to take it on these people. They are your best friends if you have been penalized. The following is an outline of what I have used in the past-

Hi Carl,

My name is Maxwell, I work with Example.com which was recently penalized by Google for “unnatural links.” In an effort to have the penalty removed, we need your help. There are a few links on your site back to Example.com and if you could help us by removing these links we would be very grateful.

The links are located on the following pages:

Http://example.com/howareyoutoday/thatsneat.html.com (Link is located in the bottom paragraph of the article embedded in the anchor text: Company’s Keyword)

Http://example.com/thanksforasking/howsyourday.html.com (Link is embedded in the picture of the gorilla at the bottom of the page)

Google is reluctant to revoke a penalty, until a meaningful number of links have been removed and they would prefer to see a webmaster remove the links rather than have the links disavowed in Google webmaster Tools. This is why your help is so important to us.

If you could please contact me to confirm the links were removed we would be very appreciative.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have

Thank you!

Kind Regards,

Maxwell Pond
Max@example.com
For more information about overcoming a Google unnatural links penalty visit these informational posts-  Search Engine JournalMOZ, BrightLocal
Jamie Bates