How Long Will it Take to Remove Google’s Penalty for Unnatural Inbound Links

Since 2012 Google started to run an algorithm that penalized websites that manipulate inbound links to increase own search positions. Since 2012, WillBeCoded’s SEO team have successfully restored over 50 websites that were hit by “Penguin” algorithm.

1) Manual sanctions

A moderator from Google’s Spam Team have banned your site and you are being notified about it via Google Webmaster Tools as well as e-mail.

Googgle Penguin Penalty removing

2) Automatic sanctions (aka algorithm penalty)

You are NOT being notified but site significantly loses positions and search traffic. It is worth noting that automatic sanctions could be applied to the whole site, certain page or certain search queries. Example: an online book store could have plenty of traffic on inner category pages, yet its main page – out of top 50 for general search phrases.

4 main indicators that site could get penalized by ‘Penguin’

  • 1) Over spammed anchor text (link’s keyword).
  • 2) Unnatural concentration of links pointing to the same page.
  • 3) Site has an alike inbound link types. Example: footer links only.
  • 4) Links form low quality sites. Sites that do not have any traffic from search engines (can be checked with alexa, similarweb etc…). Example – site is out of Alexa top 2 million.


How to Take Sanctions for Unnatural Links Off in Google

There are a few steps to be taken to remove website’s penalties:

1) With the help of services like majesticseo, ahrefs and Google Websmater Tools – collect all links pointing to your site (or at least linking domains if links exceed a few reasonable thousands) and make an excel spreadsheet out of them. Add columns with the deletion status (for those you will remove manually), spam and not spam columns. In some cases it is mandatory to collect both incoming links to your site with “www” and without “www” – sort them out and delete duplicates (in some cases you could find up to 10% of additional linking domains to your site).

2) Every inbound link/domain must be manually checked for spamminess. Example: if site is indexed; if page is indexed; if content is indexed; # of links from that page/domain; is that link of an organic nature; is that site ranked well in google; is that site selling links; domain age, last updates on that site (is it dead or not), trust flow to that site, is it indexed by domain key words in top 10; etc… Depending on # of domains that are linked to you – you can automatically sort out weak domains by trust flow as an example to save time.

3) Spammy links must be combined into a separate table for manual removal. You have to e-mail those spammy webmasters and do your best to have those links removed. In some cases webmasters will ask for compensation to have links removed ($5 is an average cost per such removal but it can vary – try not to pay over $10 per such “favor”). If you are unable to reach that webmaster or remove the link on your own – try looking into “who is” data and retrieve contact e-mail or admin’s phone number – call, negotiate and have that link removed. You must document this process in order to show it to Google later on for them to know that you have spent the time to actually clean the site up.

4) Next step is to create a disavow file in a certain format and submit it. Format can be a simple .txt file with domains or links listed from new lines:

Disavow file example

After you are done with the disavow file that contains all the bad domains that link to you – you are ready to upload it into a Disavow Tool –

Select the domain, select the file and submit it:
Disavow file Submission Button

If your sanctions are manual – you will have to upload the disavow file and manually delete approximately 50% of those bad links and your reconsideration request will be approved, although it may take you a few attempts. Yet, not always a successful reconsideration request will lead to an instant Search Positions Recovery as deleted links will no longer be juicing your website. In addition, very often, your site will not only have manual sanctions that we already have taken care of – but an algorithm penalty as well. In such case, when reconsideration was granted and you feel that you still have stronger backlinks profile than your competition, yet search rankings are still low – carry on with manual bad links removal process. You will have to manually remove (they also expire over time) enough bad links in order for and algorithm penalty to let you go (bad news is that they do not run it very often).

If your site has algorithm penalty only – every 20% of bad links removed will positively effect your search positions. Make sure to have a well prepared disavow file uploaded. After roughly 80% of such bad links are removed – your site will regain its full strength based on your legit linking profile. In most cases it would take up up to 2 months of work to have manual penalties reconsidered.

Conclusion: if you really care about your site – trust your SEO to professionals or make sure you do a high quality job with that regard!