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Don’t Start The Website Over, Remove The Penalty

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Receiving a penalty from Google is not a reason to jump ship and trash the website. In most cases, there are ways to fix the penalty and get back in. Although the process may require some patience and hard work; the long term result is much better than starting over with a new domain.

There are many common tactics that will place a website in the penalty box. These tactics can include spam links, over optimizing anchor text, building too many links too quickly, and junk or duplicate content. Practicing any of these tactics will certainly get a site penalized, but there are ways to fix it.

Will Link Pruning Help


Link pruning is a moderately new term in SEO. This process involves identifying and removing links that Google considers excessive. Google believes many of these links are used to falsely improve rankings. The reason to consider link pruning is usually caused by receiving an Unnatural Links notice or by a Google algorithmic update.

Users that have experienced a Panda attack or received an unnatural link notices should reassess backlinks and consider link pruning. This process will help the site rebuild and recover in rankings.

Many users agree that the task of link pruning can be overwhelming. Moreover, Google requires that the penalized site should attempt to remove more than 80% of the suspicious links. This is primarily because Google wants a show of good faith. Attempting to remove as many suspicious links as possible is an excellent idea to win Google over. However, this can be problematic when the ability to remove the links is outside the owner’s control. This is the main reason Google created a tool to assist users in solving this problem.

Using The Disavow Link Tool


In 2012, Link pruning was made significantly easier with the arrival of the Disavow Link Tool. The main function of the Disavow Link Tool is to help users that have been unsuccessful at removing a penalty. In most cases, removing the penalty has been unsuccessful even after several reconsideration requests.

Simply put, the intention of the Disavow Link tool is to show Google how many links a user attempted to remove. However, it is important to remember that the Disavow Links tool does not work as a substitute for link pruning. This feature will not physically remove any links. This tool is best used after the user has attempted to remove specific links multiple times unsuccessfully. When using the Disavow Tool, the user should remember the links entered are only suggestions that Google does not have to consider. Currently, Google has no responsibility to honor these type of user requests.

Moreover, Google merely desires to see a clear effort from the user. Negotiating the removal of suspicious links should occur prior to using the tool.

Tactics For Different Scenarios

User-generated Content

Over the last few years, sites that incorporate user-generated content have been heavily targeted. Although many users believe that Google dislikes user generated content, it is a result of user-generated content lacking quality.

The main reason user-generated sites receive penalties is a result of content linking to gambling sites, spam sites, and adult sites. In most cases, when a user-generated site has thousands of pages, these types of links slip through the cracks.

The best way to resolve this problem is to locate the spam content and remove it. Removing content pages that lack quality and blocking pages from being indexed are ideal solutions. After building up low quality pages and creating more high quality pages, it is smart to delete them from the robots.txt file.

Creating All-page Links

When a website places a link to your website on every web page, this is considered an all-page link. In most cases, users try to build all-page links to improve rankings and improve the Google PageRank. It is important to note that Google dislikes all-page links.
After receiving a penalty, the fastest way to remove the penalty is to remove the all-page links.

Duplicate or Junk Content

When SEO optimization was relatively fresh, creating pages with duplicate or junk content could boost rankings. This is especially true of authoritative links that lead to a domain. However, creating pages filled with duplicate content nowadays can hurt rankings. Creating a large amount of content is not important; creating high quality content is important. It is more beneficial to have pages filled with high quality content that use unique links rather than thousands of pages of content that visitors refuse to pay attention to.

To solve this issue, transform the junk content into attention grabbing pages that visitors want to read. More importantly, share and link via the social web. If these are not viable solutions, delete the content from the site or block the content from being indexed.

Over-optimizing Anchor Text

When receiving ranking for a keyword like “camping tents,” sites should link to the anchor text “camping tents.” Although this is accurate to a certain extent, too many links to the site can actually decrease rankings. If the links were not paid for and generated from authoritative sites, it is not wise to remove them. However, if the links were from spam sites or use over-optimized anchor text, it would be smart to have them removed.

If the links are good, then keeping them won’t hurt even if the anchor text is over-optimized. It is important to build quality anchor text links from authoritative sites over a period of time.

Spam Links


In the past, building spam links from unrelated sites could help boost rankings. However, these links are no longer helpful and if these links are directing to your website, it would be beneficial to remove them.

Spam links generally come from sites that have duplicate content as well as sites that are link farms. Spam links can also come from sites that link to adult sites and gambling. If spam links are linking to your site, it would be advantageous to contact every site and request to be removed from the link. In the event the site does not remove the link, provide a legal notice that will motivate them to remove the link.

After contacting the sites several times, use Google’s Webmaster to disavow the remaining links. Although disavowing the links is not as good as removing them, it is an effective solution.


After receiving a penalty from Google, the easy route of dumping the domain and starting over fresh is appealing. However, it can be a rewarding experience to work through the issues and build the site back up. In most cases, applying the fixes will have a site back within four months. This time-frame will be significantly longer if the fixes are postponed. Some users move quickly to fix the issues, and see a turnaround in less than three months.

In order to remain penalty free, users should avoid tactics that offer short-term boosts in ranking. For instance, purchasing links may appear to be a good idea, but it may hurt the site in the long run. Link pruning and the Disavow Tool are great methods for rebuilding a site after penalty.

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George Nielsen

George Nielsen has been in the internet marketing game since 2008 and is passionate about helping businesses use SEO and inbound marketing to generate leads online. He has a B.S. in Marketing Management, loves fishing, and is a big football fan.

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