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Brighton SEO: Kaspar Szymanski – Understanding Google Penalties by ex-Googler Kaspar Szymanski

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Kaspar used to work for Google on the penalties team and here’s here to offer some understanding from the people themselves.

Google is updating their guidelines all the time and it’s crucial to keep up to date with them to understand the manual penalties you may be facing. Penalties do have a time limit, but it is not ideal to sit and wait it out.

The scope of a penalty is of great importance, Kaspar mentions you need to assess when it first happened and what exactly is affected when knowing how to fix it. Kaspar states that Google does communicate when they perform manual action penalties and most are associated with onpage violations. The Search Console ‘warnings’ are not cautionary, it’s already too late, it’s Google insulting your site and showing you that you need to fix this. Every penalty can be fixed and removed.

The example URLs provided by Google are the starting point for dealing with manual action penalties. If your rich snippets have star ratings on every page for example, you will receive a penalty and get all rich snippet removed from your site for a matter of time. Selling and gaining unnatural links will force you to lose rankings significantly lower.

It’s tough when you need to use your limited resources to tackle penalties when you want to use the time to improve your site and continue your SEO strategy. Start with Google’s warning message, let’s begin the investigation. Keep documentation as you do your work for the reconsideration request to Google. This is crucial.

Ensure you are adding value, regardless of what penalty you are trying to fix. Demonstrate your site is providing something that other sites aren’t providing, adding value is crucial to getting the penalty removed. Fresh data from suitable sources like various SEO tools and backlink analysis tools are a key weapon in fighting these penalties.

For link penalties, it’s time to remove backlinks as a priority. It’s not always possible to remove links from the source, however, proving you have asked and tried to get them removed is crucial in your documentation. Next up is the disavow tool. is an assistance created by a former Google Employee will tell you how to correct your disavow file in the right format.

In the email to Google keep it short. ‘I do not care what your name is, I do not care when you received the penalty’ a direct quote from Kaspar. He also says not to get legal aid as they will never prevail against Google’s terms of service. Denial is also not a valid reason for manual penalties being removed, it’s still your responsibility to tackle these issues. On top of keeping your emails short, he also states you should leave emotion out of it, sob stories don’t help your reconsideration at all. You should also state how moving forward you will change your actions and adhere to webmaster guidelines.

If your reconsideration request is rejected, you didn’t follow the above and it may be time to work with an SEO expert. The sample links receiving the penalty will show you where the issue lies, i.e if the content is relating to a press release you then know where your issue has come from.