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Repeat Offenders Face More Severe Penalties: Matt Cutts

by Paras Singh, Dec 13, 2013

Matt Cutts of Google explained that repeat offenders get penalized more severely than those who use spam techniques for the first time, and also said that in order to recover a website you need to disavow all suspicious links.

In a recent Google webmaster help video, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, addressed the topic of recovery from penalty and repeat offenders. He clearly pointed out that repeat offenders are handed a much stronger penalty, while those who have crossed the spam filter just once recover faster.

“Google tends to look at buying and selling links that pass PageRank as a violation of our guidelines and if we see that happening multiple times, repeated times, then the actions that we take get more and more severe,” Mr. Cutts noted. “So we’re more willing to take stronger action whenever we see repeated violations.”

It goes without saying that if you get a warning from Google, then you must immediately make sure that henceforth all your SEO activities are completely white hat. You must also keep a close watch on your backlinking profile in order to disavow any spam links immediately.

“If a company were to be caught buying links, it would be interesting if, for example, you knew that it started in the middle of 2012 and ended in March 2013, if a company were to go back and disavow every single link that they had gotten in 2012, that’s a pretty monumentally epic large action,” he continued. “So that the sort of thing where company is willing to say, “You know what, we might’ve had good links for a number of years and then we had really bad advice and someone did everything wrong for a few months, maybe up to year, so just to be safe let’s just disavow everything in that time frame.” That’s a pretty radical action and that’s the sort of thing where we heard back on a reconsideration request that someone had taken that kind of a strong action, then we could look and say, “OK, this is something people are taking seriously.””

Mr. Cutts also threw more light on the disavow tool, and said that though it might be cumbersome to disavow each and every link that has brought a site down due to bad linking or spam, it is always better to wipe the slate clean for a fresh start.

“It’s not something I would typically recommend for everybody to disavow every link you’ve gotten for a period of years, but certainly when people start over with completely new websites they’ve bought, we’ve seen a few cases where people will disavow every single link because they truly want to get a fresh start,” Mr. Cutts said. “It’s a nice looking domain, but the previous owners have burnt to a crisp in terms of the amount of web spam that they’ve done.”

It also gives a ray of hope to those who’re looking to recover a website that has been severely hit in the past. He said, “Typically what we see from a reconsideration request is people starting out and just trying to prune a few links. A good reconsideration request is often using the domain query (domain :) , and taking out large amounts of domains that have bad links. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going the route of everything for last year or everything for the last year and a half, but that’s the sort of large-scale action, if taken, can have an impact whenever we’re assessing a domain within a reconsideration request.”

So if you too wish to recover your website, then just disavow all the links that were bought during the time your website got penalized.