A few weeks ago, I changed my domain name from MyBlogLift.com to BlogCharge.com
There were few reasons why I decided to make this bold move, which includes –
- A Short Name – Shorter names are easier to remember. MyBlogLift wasn’t a long name, but I wanted a short name.
- Brand – One thing I have learned from my blogging career is that – branding is everything. People relate the quality of your content with your brand and how well they know you. For this reason, I wanted to have a domain name which can be turned into a brand. BlogCharge looked perfect!
I came up with this name while I was brainstorming various domain names – possibly two words domain names with word ‘blog’ in it. Seeing the name available was a bit surprising as most of such two-words names have already been taken.
Without wasting much of time, I decided to buy the name and transfer my existing site to it.
I used NameCheap to register my domain name and manually transferred and moved my WordPress site to a new name.
Everything looked perfect until I saw that Google wasn’t ready to index my new domain name.
What Went Wrong?
It never crossed my mind but the domain I registered had its own history – a bad one.
The domain was previously used as a spam machine with tons of Chinese links pointing to it. I checked its history using Wayback machine, and the results were disheartening. The previous owner of the domain has used all spam methods and possibly it was some kind of PBN.
So, the next step I took was to make a Google search to check what pages of the site are still indexed. The query “site:blogcharge.com” brought up some media files (in Chinese) which were still indexed by Google.
I waited for few days to see if Google detects the changes and index my new articles, which could have solved everything.
But, that never happened. Even after a week of patience, my blog was nowhere on the Google except those spammy indexed media file URLs.
And with my limited SEO experience, that means only one thing – the domain was hit by a spam penalty.
So, I added the domain to my Google Search console and browsed to Search Traffic > Manual Actions.
Although it was expected, I nearly pulled my hair when I saw that it was actually hit by a pure spam penalty.
The exact words by Google were “Pages on this site appear to use aggressive spam techniques such as automatically generated gibberish, cloaking, scraping, content from other websites, and/or repeated or egregious violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines”
“How could I make such a dumb mistake?” was the only sentence repeatedly coming through my mouth.
What I Did Next?
I had two options:
- Go back to MyBlogLift, cancel all redirects, delete my post and social media announcements about the change of domain name, and cry over the loss.
- Or stay with the domain and fight with Google to take it out of the Spam Zone.
Guess what? I chose the latter.
After several hours of reading Google webmaster forum and analyzing previous victims of the same penalty, I found a promising solution.
Ask Google for a reconsideration
But, there was one thing missing. To actually convince Google to consider your request you need to take some action and tell Google that yes I’m trying to fix the issue by which my site was penalized.
For this, I requested page removal of all the indexed URLs that popped up when searching for “site:blogcharge.com”
I also used SEMrushSEMrush and Ahrefs to find out the spam links which were still pointing towards the domain. After collecting various domain names, I requested Google to disavow these links by uploading the disavow file to this page.
The next day, I wrote a detailed reconsideration request to Google in which I talked about everything about not knowing that the domain was previously used, what I did to improve the domain, and why I need to use this domain.
The key part here was to stay honest, accept your mistakes, and apologize. Google doesn’t owe you anything and if you’re rude while submitting your reconsideration request, be ready to get a negative response.
I submitted my reconsideration request on 17th October 2017 and was asked to wait for 2-3 weeks before I get a response.
In the meantime, I focused on improving my blog’s loading speed and design. If a Google member visits my site, he should get the feeling that I actually care about my site and I’m not a fictitious guy.
On 26th October, I got good news. My reconsideration request was approved and Google removed all the manual actions on the domain.
It was a sigh of relief and now I was confident that I can move on to this domain name.
I submitted the sitemap again, submitted a manual crawl request of the homepage (here), and after a few days, my homepage was ranking first for search query “blogcharge”
TL;DR – I bought a new domain name and Redirected my site to it. Later I realized that the domain was a hit by a spam penalty. I requested Google for reconsideration and got it out of the spam zone. You can follow the same guide to Remove Google Spam Penalty from your own domain.
Key Notes of This Experience
Here are a few things I learned from my experience:
- The domain name you just brainstormed may have its own history
- Do not change your domain name without first verifying its cleanliness
- Always run the domain through Wayback Machine before registering it
- Check its index status using query “site:domain.com” to see if any spam pages are indexed
- If you’re hit by a Google penalty, correct your mistakes, apologize, and ask Google for reconsideration
Well, I made a mistake which (almost) ruined my blog’s future and I’m not ashamed of accepting it. I learned some important lesson which is what counts at the end.
Ever faced the same experience or any mistake which had the potential to ruin your blog? Let’s discuss it in the comments section below.