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How to Disavow Links and Recover from Unnatural Links Penguin Penalty

“Why my website’s traffic & rankings are down? Is my website penalized by Google, But it is showing nothing in manual actions in webmaster tools? Then how do I find if is there any problem with my website?”

This is the biggest question in every webmaster’s mind when your website’s rankings and traffic are down suddenly.

After the Release of Penguin Update from Google, many websites got penalized. After going to link disavow process, many of them are still struggling to recover from an unnatural link penguin penalty.

It’s really a very big confusion for all the webmasters, which links to remove and which links to retain, as webmaster tool does not give a full list of unnatural links in the warning message. They just give 3-4 types of unnatural links.

This confusion becomes much bigger when there is no indication about any manual webspam action in Google webmaster tools. In this case. you don’t know which links to remove from Google & how to disavow links when there is no penalty on your website.

Here we are discussing how to disavow links to remove unnatural links penalties from websites and how to remove links from Google when there is no penguin penalty but an only indication.

Our aim is to remove unnatural links build for your website from Google, but retain as many good links as possible so that you can regain rankings again.

Why Google Penalize Websites?

In Past, Number of links played a very important role in ranking of any website, Because of this reason, webmasters started building as many links as they can to rank their website in search results.

In this greed of ranking at top positions, they started building bulk spam links for their websites. This created a situation of confusion for the search engines, how to show search results? On the basis of quality or on the basis of the quantity of link. So Google started penalizing websites creating spam or unnatural links for their websites.

Nowadays, Google keeps an eye on all the websites and monitor their backlink patterns, i.e. how they are linked to other websites and how websites are linking to them.

If they find anything unnatural or spammy then they apply manual actions on that website and degrade their search rankings. But if they are doing a spamming activity on a bigger level than Google put their website in the Sandbox.

It removes their website completely from the search engine, even the website doesn’t show up on entering a brand name in Google search.

It doesn’t mean that the links have lost their importance, but now the quality of links matters the most. If you have good quality links with a good link profile and amazing quality content that you are the king.

What Google Mean by Unnatural Links/Spam Links?

Here we are sharing some examples of unnatural spam links:

1. Links coming from paid link network (selling links for a few bucks), For example – Google has penalized many paid link networks like Anglo Rank, etc. Matt Cutts has revealed what a paid link is.

2. External links build with rich keyword anchor texts. For example- A few years ago, there was a humor that got penalized by Google and their traffic went down by more than 25%. Check out this amazing post explaining how Expedia built links with rich keyword anchor texts. It is recommended to use anchor text variations in building external links to maintain a good link profile.

3. Building links with websites not related to your business niche. Not all of these links are irrelevant, but most of the links you have built by yourself can be considered as irrelevant.

For example, I have seen many finance business websites having links from “android phone blogs” or “baby care blogs” etc.

4. Guest posting do-follow links with exact match anchor text

5, Building links with website Google don’t recommend like adult website

6. Following are some more example of unnatural links

  • Low-Quality blog networks
  • Low quality, irrelevant or paid directories
  • Article directories
  • Low quality, spam blog comments
  • Low-quality press releases sites

For more, Visit Google link schemes

How to Determine Unnatural Links to Remove from Google?

1. Download all backlinks coming to your website on domain level & URL level, and then divide them according to their Page rank, DA & No follow & Do follow (use monitor backlinks tool to find do-follow links)

2. Now separate all the backlinks according to their niche type and then find out the anchor text used for these backlinks

3. Find out all the paid links from link networks and put them in disavowing list

4. Separate all the links with rich keyword anchor text, then categorize these links into two categories 1. Niche & 2. Non-niche (off-topic links). Select all the Non-niche links and make them no-follow or disavow them (If you can’t make them no-follow)

Look what John Mueller said about off-topic links

Just to be completely clear on this: you do not need to disavow links that are from sites on other topics. This tool is really only meant for situations where there are problematic, unnatural, PageRank-passing links that you can’t have removed.

5. Separate all the guest post links with exact match anchor text coming from low-quality sites, irrelevant sites or site which does not belong to your niche and make them no-follow

6. Separate all the links from unnatural sites and put them in the Google link disavow list

7. Create a combined list of all the unnatural links explained above, then try to remove or make no-follow as many links as you can manually by reaching website owners/webmasters

How to Disavow Links?

Removing links from Google index is a very important task to complete link disavow process and recover your website from Google penguin penalty.

Check given below steps on how to disavow links from Google.

1. Send explained outreach emails to the webmaster, explain them the complete situation and request them regarding the removal of backlinks from their website pointing towards your website pages

2. If links are so old that you can’t reach their webmasters or can’t remove manually, create a disavow file and submit it to disavow tool according to the steps described below.

How to Disavow Links Using Google Disavow Tool

Removing links from Google using Google webmaster disavow link tool is a two step process and comprises of following steps.

Step 1 – Download links to your site from webmaster account and create a file containing disavow links (as explained in the above steps)

Step 2 – Upload list of links to Disavow links tool page

For More Visit Google Webmaster Guideline

Learn How to Use Link Disavow tool from Matt Cutts

Do you think anybody from Google review your reconsideration request? Yes, they do manually review each and every reconsideration request to disavow links. Here is a video from matt Cutts talking about this topic.

Why Most of the Link Disavow Reconsideration Request Fail?

1. Not properly Identifying which external link needs to be removed. It is really hard to determine which backlink is unnatural and need to be removed, in this confusion webmasters remove as many links and it harms their site rankings and Page Rank.

2. Identifying every unnatural link is a problem and removing all of them is necessary, otherwise, Google will not consider your reconsideration request.

3. Improper Use of the Google disavow tool. When you have completed finding unnatural backlinks for your site, then create a disavow.txt file and upload it properly in the Google disavow tool.

4. If you don’t format your disavow.txt file correctly or don’t upload it correctly, then Google will not consider your reconsideration request.

5. Google doesn’t even inform webmasters about the unsuccessful attempt.

If you get Penalized by Google, Are there any other Options left?

It is always harder to recover from a Google unnatural link penalty or penguin link penalty, even you have disavowed unnatural links, but still gaining the same traffic like before the penalty is very tough.

What About Starting a New Website with a New Domain Name?

There are mainly two cases,

Case 1 – If your website’s link profile don’t have any links coming from high authority niche sites (Natural organic links), and there are only links coming from paid networks, rich anchor text links from different niche, paid directories etc. then you should go for a new website with new domain name.

Because you have created so many mistakes that rather than wasting time in removing these links from Google, you should start a new website from scratch.


Case 2 -If your website’s link profile is showing a good number of links from high authority sites from your niche and there are some unnatural links then you should try multiple times by disavowing all the unnatural links and see if there is any change in search positions and traffic in 2-3 months.

If there is no change then you should go for the new website with new domain name rather than wasting your time on your old website.

Eric Ward contacted sites with unnatural links penalty and advised 60% of them to kill their website and start a new one. Read here his amazing case study

“The only way to get rid of the Google penalty completely is to start a new website with fresh content”

One thing to keep in mind that if your website gets penalized by Google, then there are possibilities that Google may look at other websites in your webmaster account to check for spamming activities, and if they found anything suspicious than your other websites may also get penalized.

Few Things to Remember while Going for a New Domain

1.Always check the backlink history of a domain you are going to buy, because if you are buying any domain with a good PR, but there are some unnatural links pointing to that domain then you are again creating a problem for you.

There are so many domains who used to be one of the most spammy domains in the past, and if you are planning to buy any of those domains then you are not coming out of the problem but getting into a big one again.

Matt Cutts from Google said that you don’t want to dig yourself out of a hole if you are buying a spammy domain.

2.If you are planning to shift to a new domain and redirecting your old website URLs to the new domain name then Google penalties will also follow you as they also redirected to the new domain and you will reach the same place where you started.

3.Even if you are not redirecting your old URL’s to the new domain, but copying the same old content to the new website then also Google penalty may apply to your site because Google may recognize your content and pass the penalty for your new site. Look what Google’s John said in a hangout.

He also recommended in Google Webmaster Help in a thread.

If you’re creating a new website and don’t want to be associated with the old one, I’d strongly recommend really making a *new* website and not just moving the content to a different domain. You don’t need to wait for anything in a case like this — it’s fine to remove (or block) the old website, and to create a really new one elsewhere at the same time.


Link building is always a deciding factor for rankings in the past, but now things have changed, but still there is a good contribution of links in the overall success of the website. You just have to follow this simple process.

  • Build links that looks natural to search engines
  • Follow all the link scheme guidelines by Google
  • Publish quality content so that people love to link to your content

So are you going to check if there is any spam link is pointing to your website? Tell us more about your website link audit and tell us if you have any query or suggestions in the comment section below.

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  1. Retta Matson

    June 4, 2015 at 3:48 AM

    Perfect article to explore how such issues can be resolved. Thanks for the updated version.


    • Bhavuk Khandelwal

      April 30, 2016 at 9:28 PM

      Thank you so much, Reeta. Let us know if you tried this process on any of your websites?


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About Me

Myself Bhavuk Khandelwal, I have keen interest in writing about Digital Marketing and this is the reason of establishment of this blog Tech SEO Tricks, I am Blogging about Search Engine Optimization, Blogging Tricks, Content Marketing, Make Money Online, Affiliate Marketing, Online Marketing Promotion Strategy, Sharing How to Guides and many other topics. I am doing various Experiments and will be sharing all the Findings and Tricks on this Blog in Future.

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