Identifying and Recovering From Google Penalties: Interview With Brian McDowell

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As part of our SEJ interview series, Brian McDowell of Conductor discusses how to recover from Google penalties.

A lot of sites are getting hit with penalties lately as Google cracks down on negative SEO. Website owners want answers and Brian is here to provide them.

You have to identify first whether it’s a filtered penalty or a manual action and then decide how to proceed. Google has made it a lot easier to identify penalties, which helps when figuring out what you have to do to recover from them.

Hear Brian explain more about this in the video below:

Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • By verifying your website with Google Webmaster Tools you will be able to see if your site has been hit with a manual action penalty.
  • A manual action may not impact your site, it might just impact the links pointing to your site, so make sure you read the description for each manual action very carefully.
  • Google Webmaster Tools will tell you if there is something to be concerned about in regards to your backlink profile. It might be a major penalty that impacts your domain, in which case you will need to do some additional research.
  • If you receive a manual action there is a button for a reconsideration request, which will prompt Google to reassess your site after you have done what is necessary to correct the penalty.
  • Brian suggests the best way to identify if you have been hit with a penalty without receiving a manual action is to check your analytics.
  • A sudden loss in traffic could indicate a penalty. Also, monitoring your backlinks for a sudden spike in questionable looking links may be a sign that you’re soon to be hit with a penalty if you haven’t been already.

If you have any questions after watching the video, please ask them in the comments section and I will do my best to respond to everyone! Please visit SEJ’s YouTube page for more video interviews.

John Rampton
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, full-time computer nerd, and PPC expert. Founder at payments company I enjoy helping people and am always online to... Read Full Bio
John Rampton
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  • Aditya Khanna

    It hard to determine if the website ranking or traffic has been hit due to low quality links or due to better performance of other websites or discounted link juice from classical links built in the past ( directories majorly ) . You can try removing bad links but expecting quick fix without building good quality links is asking too much. I have not seen quick results by link removal process using Disavow tool in my penalty removal process for my clients in the past so i would say that the best way to get out is :

    1: Disavow the bad links
    2: Start building good quality links


  • James Frazermann

    Some great points raised. However, its not as simple as “disavow all bad links” when if comes to manual penalties You need to show evidence that you have tried EVERYTHING in your power to get the bad links removed. It is imperative you DOCUMENT these efforts. Examples of this would be to take screenshots of your emails “to” and “from” the associated webmaster who are linking to your site. Feel free to reach out to me at