Content Marketing

How Bloggers Can Fix a Manual Penalty Caused by Compensated Content & Reviews

Last week-end, Google sent a series of manual penalties citing "unnatural outbound links" target sites that publish paid content and reviews when the blogger establishes a link to the brand or site that compensated them. If your site has received notice, you will find some tips to correct your site and get the manual penalty removed below.

If you have not been penalized with this penalty, but check the products or experiences on your blog (even if you use nofollows), I highly recommend reading this article. Not receiving this notice does not necessarily mean that your site is completely safe.

If you do not know what is a manual penalty (also called manual action), you can find more information on what manual penalties are here . This post will focus only on how you can correct the manual penalty for content and compensated reviews.

These penalties were distributed less than a week ago, so we can probably assume that no one saw his sentence lifted on the day this post was published. I do not claim to have already lifted this specific penalty, and I wanted to be clear that my position is intended to help people recover from this manual penalty with the advice based on my:

Extensive experience with manual penalties (and successfully remove them) Understand Google's guidelines and the types of practices they target with themExperience and understanding of bloggers and how they (we) earn money

The following is simply the process that I would follow if my sites – or a customer site – received this notice of manual action. I decided to write this post after finding my Facebook inbox illuminated by posts from various blogger friends.

How to tell if you have been affected by this manual action

The good news is that if your site was hit with a manual penalty is simple. Sign in to your Google Search Console account and navigate to your site's main dashboard. In the left sidebar, click Traffic Search, and then click Manual Actions.

If you see a message saying "No Web Spam Action Found", then you are clear. If you see a message stating "[] unnatural outbound links do not comply with Google's webmaster guidelines," then you have received manual action.

If you find that the above manual action was placed on your site, my first advice is to breathe and stay calm. Since this penalty applies to all links from your site, it is your responsibility to repair it – and to remove the manual penalty.

To be relieved of this manual penalty – and avoid being hit again in the future (or incur it at all for those who have not been touched in this first round) you will need to follow a few basic steps:

Find out what is considered cleared content (it probably understands more than you think) follow the (recently expanded) rules for links in sponsored content Clean current links that violate these rulesDiscover the compensated content and links to readersSend a reconsideration request to GoogleScroll your fingers and wait for the penalty to be removed

# 1 – What constitutes compensation? Content or Journal Compensated

You will notice that I used the phrase compensated content and reviews and unpaid content and reviews. Money is an obvious form of compensation, so any content or notice you paid in cash obviously counts as cleared content. But there are other forms of compensation surrounding content and product reviews. Compensation can also include:

Be given a free product in exchange for writing a product reviewBe given a free product to give to your readers in a competitionBe given a free experience in exchange for writing a review of the experience (hotel be paid or paid for with a free product to develop and publish content that uses a specific product or service (create recipes using a specific product, develop a tutorial on how to wear makeup by a specific beauty brand, create fashionable outfits using a specific clothing brand, etc.) Write about the products presented in a Swag Bag from a conference or from a conference. an event you received for free for links or content sharing links Attribute nofollow (you only link all these recipes because they are related to yours = compensate ion by exposure) Link to affiliate programs on the domain of the merchant base without nof ollowUsing a free plugin that redirects to the site of the plugin creator without nofollow (the EasyRecipe plugin is a common example of the used one that includes a link to the plugin site with the paid version of the product in your code that is direct and do not use a nofollow) Links to advertisers in your sidebar, etc. that point to the advertiser without using a nofollow link

I'm sure there are more, but these are the important forms of compensation that I see used en masse.

# 2 – The matching rules in the compensated content were extended

Google has long said both to bloggers and nofollow brands of links to the compensated content merchant – warning potential to incur penalties on both sides of this equation. However, the SEO community can be clever.

In recent years, a workaround has been designed and employed by many SEO teams and companies. Although they agreed that the compensated content could not return to the main site they were promoting, they started asking bloggers to access Amazon's product listings, favorable comment pages, and more. on other sites, to social media profiles and even to sellers.

The concept was that the clearing site remained in Google's guidelines, but that it continued to improve the search engine rankings for sites that sell or promote their products, services or website. But Google has now included these secondary links as links that must be nofollowed in cleared content:

"This includes links to the product itself, the sales pages (as on Amazon), the links of affiliate, social media profiles, etc. that are associated with this post. "- Google John Mueller

So even though you followed the rules of nofollowing links to the basic sites that compensated you for the content, the rules were extended – and you must make sure that your site complies with these additional rules if you want to avoid a future sanction.

# 3 – Clean Up Outbound Links Against Nature

You will need to follow any link directly to the merchant – or any other secondary link associated with the merchant – in n & # 39; whatever position you have been paid for creating. You will also need to add an nofollow attribute to all site entities that generate compensation-based links.

# 3.A – Addition of a Nofollow attribute to links in a compensated content

If you write your messages in text mode, then you simply need to edit the link code to use the attribute nofollow

An example of link code without nofollow:


An example of a link code with a nofollow:


If you write your posts in the visual editor, you can use the (free) Title and Nofollow for links plugin. You can find a guide to install and use this plugin here . The plugin will allow you to check a box to add a nofollow attribute to a link, without having to modify the link code. However, it is important to note that if you disable the plugin, all nofollow attributes added to the links that use it will be removed.

The two options above mean that you will have to go through all your posts one by one. nofollow all offensive links – which includes the side-step style links mentioned in section two.

A more radical option is to nofollow all external links on your blog using the External Links plugin. Keep in mind that if you use this option, any uncompensated link on your site to other bloggers will be stripped of any SEO value.

There is no doubt that this is a faster option, but it can also affect looking for other rankings and damage with the web's natural ecosystem. Personally, I would only follow what really needs to be followed. I know I would like other bloggers with legitimate links to my site – so Google knows my site is great – to do the same.

# 3.B – Add a Nofollow attribute to add credit links

If a plugin adds a credit link to your site that does not contain any nofollow attribute, it violates Google's instructions. You have three basic options to solve this problem.

# 3.B.1 – Upgrade to the paid version of the plugin to remove the credit link
Most free plugins with a paid version will allow you to remove credit links once you have upgraded to the paid version. I will always choose to go with this option when it is available because I would prefer not to be linked to an unrelated website – with or without a nofollow.

# 3.B.2 – Modify the plugin to add a nofollow to the credit link
If you do not want to upgrade (or if the upgrade does not remove the credit link) You need to modify the plugin so that it contains an nofollow attribute on the credit link. Beware of removing it entirely because it may be required by the plugin creator in exchange for the free use of the plugin. Unfortunately, I can not tell you how to edit each plugin on the planet to add an nofollow attribute to any credit links that it contains. They are found at different places in the plugin's source code, and some plugins make it more difficult than others to modify credit links.

# 3.B.3 – Remove (or replace) the plugin entirely
Removing the plugin would be the last resort for most blog owners, especially if the plugin is feeding a basic feature of theirs site. However, this is the option left to you if you can not implement one of the two options above (unless you can convince the plugin owner to make the credit link for its compatible Google plugin).

# 3.C – Add a Nofollow Attribute to Affiliate Links and Standard Paid Ads

This step includes adding a nofollow to all links Affiliates on your site – even those clearly labeled as ads in your sidebars. You'll want to do the same for all links to your site's advertisers, including text links and banner ads in both content and site design.

# 3.D – Make sure the links contain a Nofollow Attribute

If you participate in a type of linking or cross-promotion campaign (when you log in to Other bloggers and you link them as part of a group promotion), you need to make sure Your Link Ups make a link to sites that find it by using a nofollow attribute on each link. If you do not know how to do this, you must stop participating in the links and remove any links you have posted on your site.

# 3.E – Add Nofollow Attribute Link to Links That Benefit Guest Authors

Make sure links in guest posts contain a Nofollow attribute on links to the author's site (and any secondary links they will benefit from as described in section 2 above). Although this is not directly related to the manual penalty related to the compensated content, now that you have been hit by a manual action, a human will review your site to make sure it complies with all of Google's rules. before lifting the manual penalty. . Google has required that all links that benefit the author in guest publications are not tracked for several years now. So be sure to clean these links if you have not done so before submitting your reconsideration request to Google.

# 4 – Openly Disclose Content and Compensated Links to Your Readers

Links Is Technically Enough to Stay in Google's Good Graces, It's Not Enough to Satisfy Guidelines FTC surrounding the mentions of sponsored products . While you are dealing with the disclosure of paid links to Google, I also recommend that you disclose the compensation to your readers too – or you could end up as a defendant in a lawsuit for lack of disclosure.

In addition, although not disclosing the compensated content to your readers is not a violation of Google's guidelines for webmasters, Google has repeated ad nauseam over the years that they prefer to see the compensated content disclosed as such to readers.

# 5 – Submit a reconsideration request to Google

Before drafting and submitting your reconsideration request, let me clarify two things:

N & # 39; Do not try to conner Google and do not waste

You must not submit a request for reconsideration to Google until you have browsed your site with a comb and you have cleaned each link of your site that violates the instructions. You will not be able to hide anything from them or do anything stupid to clean up your site – and in my opinion, you will only make them angry if you try.

I tend to think this way – When I tell my child to clean his room, I expect them to clean their room. When they tell me that they have finished, and I see that they have done a half sitting job, I am annoyed. I tell them to clean to my standards this time. If I come back to check again, I look harder this time, and now I notice something sticking out from under the bed. So I start looking under the beds and in the closets to see what else they have done to do it properly. The result is that it takes a lot more time to clean their room, and I scrutinize more and more each time I have to check it out

Do not be that kid by submitting a reconsideration request to Google.

What to include in the Request for Review

When writing your request for reconsideration, keep it short and precise. Nobody wants to read a six-page essay on your website. When I submit a request for reconsideration, it consists of a few key points:

I accept responsibility that the site in question violated the guidelines.I let them know that I now understand why he violated the guidelines. I let them know that I cleaned up the violation (s) and cite some URLs that violated the guidelines, but have since been corrected as examples of this cleanup. If there were several types of violations, I could give them a list of the types that I cleaned up. I let them know that I am familiar with their current guidelines and I will make sure that my site will follow them in the future.I thank them for spending time reviewing my site.

which should not be in your reconsideration application include:

Denial of blame or mischief Reasons that you feel that their guidelines are unfairSob stories about how this has affected your traffic, income, life, etc.Anger posted in In any form

Once you have written your recommendation request, you can submit it to Google for revision

# 6 – Cross your fingers and wait for

Once you have submitted your reconsideration request, you simply wait and see if Google lifts the penalty. I have seen requests for reconsideration get an answer in as little as a few days, but I have also seen them take several weeks.

If Google approves your reconsideration request, you'll receive a notice in your Google Account. Search Console account that tells you that the manual action has been revoked. I hope your rankings will come back soon after that.

I say with optimism because there are several cases where rankings do not bounce back. But I would be surprised if the rankings do not bounce well enough when it comes to this specific manual penalty. Of course, keep in mind that other factors – such as bloggers everywhere on the web nofollowing links en masse to remove their own manual penalty – could affect your overall ranking ability having nothing to do with your manual action (now up).

If Google denies your reconsideration request, you will also receive a notification as such. If you are lucky, they will also cite some examples of how your site still violates guidelines. If this is not the case, simply browse your site again, this time scrutinizing it a little harder.

That said, with this series of manual actions, Google is pretty clear on what needs to be cleaned up. at the top You just have to do it.

And for the sake of all things holy, once you have raised the manual penalty, do not repeat the same mistakes. Google has not hesitated to say that they are really bored by repeat offenders and that they are harder to re-offend


If you have a question about a specific concern surrounding something that you think can be seen as cleared content and how to handle it that is not covered in the message, do not hesitate to drop it in the comments, and I can give you my opinion.

However, please limit your questions to this specific penalty manual (bloggers and nofollowing compensated links) as I will not respond to general requests for help with the manual penalty .

I published this article about this particular penalty because I know a lot of individual bloggers, one- (wo), who can not afford to afford professional services penalty collection – and because the causes of this manual penalty are fairly generally defined in nature.

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