Google Webmaster Tools

How to Fix Google Webmaster Tools Manual Action for Outbound Links


It has occurred. This website as well as two others owned and operated by us, has gotten a Google Webmaster Tools manual action for outbound links. It all started when Google gave MyBlogGuest a smackdown. Here’s Matt Cutt’s tweet implying it.

Today we took action on a large guest blog network. A reminder about the spam risks of guest blogging:

— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) March 19, 2014

There has been a lot of discussion about it on the Internet, such as here and here. We’ve used MyBlogGuest on and off throughout the last year. Probably hardly more than a dozen guest pieces over all three websites. I feel sorry for people who utilized it as their primary source of link development or content publication… and believe me, there are a lot of them.

All of the guest blogs we published were well-written, interesting, and relevant to the websites where they appeared. They contributed value to our websites, thus I don’t understand why outbound links should be manually removed. But it is what it is, and we will comply with Google Webmaster Tools.

The three websites we own that were subjected to manual action continued to get traffic and ranking. We observed no difference between the two. Only two of the websites have had their manual action for outbound links deleted.

Read more:

On March 20th, one was completed just a few days after getting a notification. The action was deleted in less than a week. I must say that I was impressed with the quickness with which responses were returned and the removal of the manual step for outbound connections. Today, April 19th, the second website was submitted for approval.

What we did to remove the manual step for outbound connections differs in two ways. We set all of the outbound links on the first domain nofollow. Every single one of them! We meticulously recorded it in a Google Doc, made the link public, and provided it along with our request that the action be removed.

Let’s look at what we did for that…

since that is most likely why you are reading this post. The distinction between the first and second websites will be discussed at the conclusion of this essay.

Steps to Remove Manual Action for Outbound Links

My heart sank when we received news from Google Webmaster Tools that they had taken manual action on outbound links on our websites. So step one is to consume your favorite alcoholic beverage, smack your head against the wall, or pray for salvation.

Take a deep breath and read on to find out what we did to have the manual action for outbound links deleted.

Make Outbound Links Nofollow

Because all of our websites are powered by WordPress, we discovered a plugin that could make all outbound links nofollow. The External Links plugin was utilized. Please keep in mind that this plugin has not been updated since January 2014 and may be incompatible with your WordPress version or some of your other plugins. This, of course, is subject to change, and the plugin might be updated at any time.

We used the plugin despite the fact that it was a little out of date. However, be cautious and always backup your website before adding plugins. I should point out that we accomplished this prior to the significant WordPress 3.9 release.

If you don’t want to use an old plugin, you may modify links directly by adding the nofollow attribute to your link structure.

<a href="" rel="nofollow">Ranking Edge</a>

We also looked to see if there were any broken links on the site. Despite the fact that we had made all outbound links nofollow, we decided it was a good time to check for broken links. We were surprised to find so many. This was used to look for broken links. I also recorded it and added it to Google Docs. I’m not sure if it was required, but I figured it was better to provide them with too much information than not enough.

Submit the Reconsideration to Webmaster Tools | Request a Review

Hello, I recently received a manual action for outbound links for my website I have made all of the outbound links nofollow and repaired all broken links. The documentation for this is in a Google Doc here [insert link to your Google Doc].

Please check my documentation and review my website. I have taken care of any suspicious activity regarding my outbound links.

Thank you.

Elizabeth Crane

I received an email from Google Webmaster Tools as soon as I clicked “Request a Review.” On March 23, I requested that the manual action be removed. I received an email from Webmaster Tools on March 26th. I was on the verge of falling out of my chair! I never anticipated such a speedy reaction. Hallelujah! If any of the above is too tiny for you to read, please let us know. I’ll focus on the most exciting aspect.

Previously the webspam team had taken action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this action.

That’s it! The mission was completed! I was ecstatic that Google handled it so swiftly and removed the manual step for outbound links. I was completely smitten with Google at the time.

So, what did I do for the second website? So, because the problem was clearly caused by MyBlogGuest postings, I opted to solely nofollow the links in the guest articles from there. I recorded it as described above and filed it as described above. That is exactly what I did today. We’ll see what occurs and whether I need to do anything further, such as nofollow any outbound links.

I figured it was worth a shot to test if the manual action for outbound links just applied to guest articles. Or if the MyBlogGuest fiasco ruined the entire website. I’ll write about it in another post. I’m hoping to hear back within the next week as I did with the original website. Read more:

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