Yesterday, +John Britsios
talked in a Hangout on Air about the Process of Recovering a website.
He's been doing this foresic SEO for a while now and he's shared knowledge during the webinar could be of interest to you.
I'll make a small summary of what he said:
In case of a manual penalty, the very first thing to look after, are the backlinks shown in the Google Webmaster tools. Then you go and download all the latest backlinks as a CSV file.
The next step is to upload all the links to your SEO tool that you use.
Now comes the part where you have to decide what backlinks are more risky or which links are not of good quality.
The first thing to look for is the backlinks coming from domains with the highest PageRank. John manually checks all the backlinks, and he starts with relevancy.
The next thing to look for is the number of external backlinks for the pages that link to the penalized website. Links from such domains are low quality and you have to check if it’s something relevant and pay closer attention if it’s worth keeping that link.
Once checked the relevancy and the number of external backlinks, John checks the link statuses. He ignores the nofollow backlinks, as they don’t pass PageRank, and checks only the dofollow ones.
John warns everybody not to use tools that automatically identify the links that you should disavow. It’s very important to MANUALLY check all the links, otherwise you might end up disavowing some of your best backlinks.
After identifying all the backlinks that are a threat to his rankings, he tries to remove the backlinks. Then he disavows all the crappy links, removed or not. John also shows how he recovered RainVac from a Google Penguin penalty, and advice everybody not to give up. Penalized or not, it’s very important to monitor all your backlinks on a monthly basis.
There is no special formula or percentage for the anchor text distribution of your backlinks. To identify the over optimized keywords, John uses the page “Anchor text” from Monitor Backlinks.
The last thing he does, is to remove from Google, the pages linking to his website that are not live anymore, and have a 404 or 410 status. For this, he uses the Google content removal tool.