It’s something all site owners hope they never have to deal with—submitting a “reconsideration request” to Google.
If you find yourself having to deal with the reconsideration process in the first place, that means your site has been hit with a manual action.
In other words, your site didn’t just lose its rankings because of algorithm changes. You—or whoever handles your SEO—probably did something to try to subvert their Webmaster Guidelines on purpose. (At least Google thinks so.)
Some things that can cause Google to hit your site with one of these manual actions include, but aren’t anywhere near limited to:
- “Thin” Content of No Value to Anyone – Google is really cracking down on crap content. You can get penalized for having poorly written, spun, auto-generated, scraped, stolen/plagiarized, “shallow” or otherwise totally useless, low-quality content. (As you might expect, a lot of affiliate marketing “review sites” get hit with this.)
- Cloaking – Displaying different content (including images) to site visitors than what Google sees. You can get penalized for this if you, for example, have images in your content that are covered visually by a different image when someone visits the site.
- Invisible Text – Hiding text from your visitors. You can trigger this one by having a significant amount of text that is invisible because the font is the same color as the background, or using CSS to style or position it in a way that your visitors can’t see it.
- Sneaky Redirects – Sending your site visitors to different URLs than the URL that Google’s bots see when they crawl your site.
- Irrelevant Keyword Stuffing/Repetition – This one is similar to their crackdown on “thin content,” but it’s even easier to detect. Keyword stuffing means loading up your site with keywords in a plainly artificial way (especially repeating keywords unnaturally or out of context, embedding keywords in unnatural or indecipherable writing, and so on) in an attempt to manipulate their bots.
As you can see, the dark side of SEO is a pathway to many strategies Google considers to be unnatural.
While there are plenty of occasions where these violations are accidental, or due to bad plugins, or malicious code injections/hijacking, etc. the common thread connecting these triggers is “knowing deception.”
And best of luck convincing the Google tribunal that you deserve a second chance.
Of course, reconsideration requests aren’t empty gestures. They can work.
Especially if you can prove the guideline violation wasn’t intentional. That can be easier said than done.
Just getting your reconsideration request in front of Google in the first place isn’t as straightforward as you might expect.
It’s not the usual “just fill out these text fields, smash that submit button, and wait 6 – 8 weeks for your response to arrive” routine.
Google requires you to submit a request for reconsideration in the form of a written explanation—and all of the burden is on you, as the site owner, to explain the situation.
They’ll expect you to explain the issues on your site, describe what you’ve done to fix them so that you’re no longer breaking their rules, and document the results of said efforts.
(In other words, you send them an essay saying what you did wrong, that you know it was wrong, that you fixed everything, and that you’re a changed person and it’ll never happen again.)
Then—as the cherry on top—they require you to submit all of it to them in the form of a .txt file.
And—if Google does grant your site reconsideration after reading your Notepad document, don’t expect to instantly rocket back up in the SERPs.
Google considers these types of violations to be egregious enough—at the expense of user experience and safety enough—that they’re going to keep it on your record, and treat your site cautiously.
In fact, given the language in their response to a question about this topic, it’s very possible that some sites won’t be able to achieve the same rankings they had before, once they’ve used these bad SEO tactics.
From their point of view, their manual action against your site fixed the problem.
So—”now more than ever”—stay far, far away from these types of strategies. It can take a lot of time and effort to get your site back up in the rankings once you’ve dabbled in these deceptive tactics.