Google Outbound Links Penalty | How to Easily Remove Manual Action

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In my last post here about How to Fix Google Webmaster Tools Manual Action for Outbound Links, I discussed and showed how to make ALL outbound links nofollow. I had received a Google outbound links penalty on this website and two others. I used two different methods and both worked.

How I got my Google outbound links penalty revoked without making all the links nofollow.

Google Outbound Links Penalty

Making all Links nofollow Worked for Google Outbound Links Penalty…but Wait!

Making all links nofollow worked to remove the Google outbound links penalty I received on one of our websites. It was a rather large site and, to be honest, I just didn’t want to go through each damn post and look for what links I thought should be nofollow and which ones could stay dofollow. So I mass nofollowed every single link, including comment authors and links in the comments.

It did work to nofollow all the links and remove the Google outbound links penalty. But that just didn’t seem right to me. I believe that some links for citations and such deserve to be dofollow links. On my next attempt to remove the manual action (on a second less important website) I tried making just some of the links nofollow.

I had to try to think like Google, a task no one can really do because they refuse to tell us what they really think…or really give us any detailed hints about what is in their algorithm’s mind.

I was frustrated after they would not revoke the manual action on the second site. I went to Twitter and tweeted to Google Webmaster Tools.

@eliz_crane Not sure where you got this advice but we don’t say that all outgoing links need to be nofollowed.

— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) April 25, 2014

First, I was a little shocked that the Google Webmaster’s Twitter account responded to my Tweet. I was impressed with that and it gave me hope that I could remove the Google outbound links penalty without a big fat mass nofollow.

Next, I was ready to attack with a vengeance this website’s Google outbound links penalty. My go to fixes are usually a WordPress plugin and that is exactly what I did. I installed the Ultimate Nofollow plugin.  See that plugin link? I made it nofollow just to make sure I don’t anger the Google gods!

ultimate mo follow plugin

I used the Ultimate Nofollow WordPress plugin and went through every post on the site. I made any link that I thought had the slightest possibility of being part of the Google outbound links penalty. I know what you are thinking. How do you know? Well, you really don’t and I was nervous leaving any links dofollow.

Make all Affiliate Links Nofollow

I looked carefully and noticed that I did have a couple affiliate links for Studio Press and WPEngine. Those were immediately made nofollow. There is no purpose served in having affiliate links dofollow in the first place. All you want is someone to click the link and buy something. That was an easy decision.

Check out what Matt Cutts has to say about unnatural links from your website.

Portfolio Links

On this website we have a portfolio of websites we have designed here. I decided to make all of those links nofollow. However, the Ultimate Nofollow plugin wouldn’t work for that. I use the WP Portfolio plugin for our portfolio. You can add the nofollow tag in the settings of the plugin like this:

<div class="website-name"><a href="%WEBSITE_URL%" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">%WEBSITE_NAME%</a></div>
<div class="website-url"><a href="%WEBSITE_URL%" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">%WEBSITE_URL%</a></div>

Comment Author Links and Links in Comments

Making the comment author links and the links in comments took another method. I happen to use the CommentLuv Pro plugin. I don’t actually allow the CommentLuv part of it but I do use GASP for blocking comment spam. GASP is included in the CommentLuv Pro plugin. Love it for that…even better than Akismet. But the great thing about the plugin is that it allows you to click a button to make comment authors and comment links no follow.

You can also do this in the functions.php file. There is a good article with a code snippet here. It is an older article and I didn’t actual use the code. So don’t hold me responsible for any errors that occur. Don’t forget to backup first before you do anything in your functions.php file.

Check Everywhere!

Your blog posts, pages, and comments might not be the only place you need to make links nofollow. Check your images for affiliate links. Check your footers. Check your sidebars and widgets too.

Documenting your Work in Google Docs

You should carefully document every little thing you did for removing your Google outbound links penalty. Use Google Docs for this. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I basically listed the webpage, link, and action taken. Don’t forget to make the link public or available to anyone who has the link, so they can actually see it. Don’t assume the almighty Google can see it. Here is a screenshot of what I did.

unnatural outbound links

I’ve also decided to make this Google Doc public so everyone can see exactly what I did. Click here to see it.

Telling Webmaster Tools about the Awesome Things you did to Remove the Google Outbound Links Penalty

Once you have made all the links nofollow that you think should be, it is time to notify Google Webmaster Tools and request a review.

manual actions

When you click Request a Review you will be given an opportunity to send a message requesting the Google outbound links penalty be removed. Be nice. Tell them that you are requesting that the manual action be removed and don’t forget to put your Google Docs link in. Please and thank you is always a good thing.

I have submitted three sites now to remove the Google outbound links penalty. Every one of them took only four days to get a response. Here’s what you will receive if they remove the manual action.

Seeing the word “revoked” scared me a little bit the first time I saw it. But in this case, revoked is a good thing! It means they have taken away the manual spam action. Time to celebrate!

My whole experience with the manual action Google outbound inks penalty really wasn’t a bad thing. I think it made this website even better. I’ve heard that some people have had to try several times to get them to revoke the manual action.

I would definitely keep trying if at first you don’t succeed. And I would use the method above instead of doing a mass nofollow of every single link on your website.

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