Repair Google Unnatural Outbound Links Without Going Crazy
On April 8th, I was one of the “lucky ones” to receive a terrible email from Google informing me that I had Unnatural Outbound Links and that my website was being hit with a penalty. A penalty that would take my rankings away in a Google search and ruin my SEO (search engine optimization). “What do I do now?”, I thought.
After freaking out, then taking great offense, I settled down to find out what the heck was going on and fix my even bigger offense against Google. Apparently, the month before, Google notified anyone who read their blog (I don’t) that they would be penalizing blogs and websites with these unnatural outbound links.
As anyone with a website knows, if you tick off Google, you can kiss your site traffic goodbye. A quick search of some of my major tags, I found that SandysPOV.net didn’t exist in a search. I was in trouble!
The very site that was penalizing me was the one that I had to turn to find out what I could do so that I could request a reconsideration. What I found was that I was not the only person who had received this email on that day.
How did it happen? As a review blogger, I get items from sellers who want reviews for their products. When I do those reviews and share them on my blog, I use affiliate links (and always disclose when I’m using them) so that I get credit and a few cents if someone purchases that item.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know about follow and nofollow linking. Here was my downfall. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that I started using a WordPress plug-in (Title and Nofollow For Links) that allowed me to check a box to make the link nofollow.
Outbound links or links that take you from my website to another can link you to another blogger’s website, a site to purchase something, or somewhere else. Google felt that my links were unnatural because I was compensated or rewarded for linking to that site.
You could say that was true. You could say that I was negligent. I would say that I was ignorant. Not that it’s ok, because it’s not.
Here’s what I did. I’m not saying you should do this, but you should know that there are many ways to handle this penalty.
- I contacted trusted bloggers to see if they had suggestions. This didn’t get me answers immediately, however.
- I’m not a computer expert, but Google WebMaster wasn’t helpful to me in finding the answers I needed. If you have a website and you’re not on Google WebMaster, then you should be. You can find them HERE.
- Next, I turned to Google and started searching for “unnatural outbound links”. I found tons of articles. Many had pieces of information that was really helpful.
- I spent a Friday night going through over 600 posts on the site and marking EVERY. SINGLE. LINK nofollow. It was a lot of work and I only got through about a third of the posts that night. I got through the rest the second night.
- Then, one of my blogger friends, Herchel, got back to me with an article that I could understand on Beauty and Fashion Tech. I am forever grateful for this information. Unfortunately, I found an answer that worked for me and did in 5 minutes what took me 2 nights to do manually.
- A little over 24 hours after that terrifying email, I submitted my request for a reconsideration and I waited, and waited, and waited for 9 long days.
I was relieved to get the notification that my reconsideration was approved. Unfortunately, the damage has been done and it could take weeks or months to get my SEO back to where it was prior to the Google unnatural outbound links penalty.
So, don’t do what I did. Make sure that you have relevant links that aren’t compensated in any way otherwise you’ll want to nofollow them.
Know that you don’t have to pay someone to do what I did. I’m a social worker and blogger, not a computer expert. What I did, you can do and do well. However, if you take care of your links properly from the beginning, you won’t have to face going crazy like I did.