Categories: Crawling, indexing & ranking :

How to overcome Google penalisation without warning

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How to overcome Google penalisation without warning damonsegal 11/13/13 2:27 AM
I've read the FAQs and searched the help center. 
My URL is:

Hi everyone,

I received the following message on June 27 2013:

June 27, 2013

Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank are violations of Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site.

Recommended action

  • Use the Links to Your Site feature in Webmaster Tools to download a list of links to your site.
  • Ensure that unnatural links pointing to your site are removed.
  • When these changes are made, and you are satisfied that links to your site follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request. If you're unable to remove links pointing to your site, please provide as much detail as possible in your reconsideration request.

I immediately used the Disavow Tool to remove the "spammy" links that were harming the site (mostly online article sites). I was under the impression this was enough, as when Webmaster Tools starting showing "Search Traffic > Manual Actions", this is what mine says for this site:

Manual Actions

No manual webspam actions found.

However my rankings for the site still dropped from Top of Page 1 to now bottom of Page 2 and 3. (For comparison, I am still top rank in Bing, though I understand it's apples-to-oranges.)

Crucially: As there is apparently "no manual webspam actions found", I can't send Google a reconsideration request.

Can anyone please kindly advise on what steps to take next? This is very unprecedented and there's very little written on this happening.

Many thanks!
Re: How to overcome Google penalisation without warning I know nothing 11/13/13 2:46 AM
All I'm seeing is hundreds of links from India (different directory websites), have you employed someone/company to boost your rankings? If you have, you've been caught.
Re: How to overcome Google penalisation without warning damonsegal 11/13/13 3:06 AM
We had link building done by a team, but stopped in May once the Penguin 2.0 update kicked in. I've continued manually canning these links, and last week did a brand new disavow list to start fresh.

However Google hasn't had an issue with these ever, as the majority of the links Google reads are just standard article links from legit websites, not directories.
Re: How to overcome Google penalisation without warning maeschi 11/13/13 3:08 AM
If you only used the disavow tool and showed no other effort to get rid of those spammy links I very much doubt that the manual spam penalty has been lifted.
Other people had to undertake massive efforts to have the spam action lifted.
On the other hand it seems strange that you appear in the SERPs at all if you got a penalty (page2 and 3 I mean...) - someone correct me if I am wrong ;-)
Can you actually see a decline of organic Google traffic tied to the date of the message from Google? Or any other date? Or has it gradually declined?
Re: How to overcome Google penalisation without warning damonsegal 11/13/13 3:25 AM
I can see a decline in organic traffic from late July onwards, but not substantially. And we run a PPC campaign that draws in most our Search traffic anyway.

The issue is also isolated just for the keyword "north west foot and ankle clinic" - other pages rank well.
Re: How to overcome Google penalisation without warning maeschi 11/13/13 4:15 AM
Paid traffic has nothing to do with potential penalties - if you had a penalty you would see this in a sharp decline of your organic search traffic.
You want to look at this message as a warning - a penalty may be imminent or maybe (as it says in the message) it already has been applied but granular.
Either way you will need to clean up your link profile - all links that have been built by your SEO company need addressing and cleaning up. Disavow links was a good start and may be enough to get you back on track once further Penguin updates happen. However, if you do have a penalty it probably won't be enough as Google wants to see substantial effort by a site owner to handle those spammy links (i.e. write to webmasters, ask for removal, documentation of all your efforts, etc. and disavow as a last resort.) And then a RR, which you would file for in the "manual actions" section, but as it doesn't mention a penalty there, you're in a catch 22 position...
Hard to tell...