Penguin 4.0 Recovery Case Studies

I’m excited to present these case studies showing what appears to be Penguin recoveries for several sites. Penguin 4.0 officially launched on September 23, 2016 (although we don’t know if Google actually put the wheels in motion a few days prior.) When Penguin first launched there didn’t seem to be much change and I didn’t hear anyone shouting that they had recovered from Penguin.

Related: Penguin 4.0 FAQ’s. Here is everything we know about Penguin so far. 


Over the next few days, I looked at a large number of sites for which I felt that they were under Penguin suppression. Instead of just looking at traffic patterns for these sites, I took a good look at a number of keywords to see where they were ranking. For each site I chose a few keywords that were important to that site. I used data from to determine what their rankings were for these keywords in August of 2016 (i.e. Prior to Penguin launching) and then I personally gathered ranking data each day. The data was gathered by using a browser in which I had never clicked on a result. I did the searches in the country for which they did business. In other words, if a site did business in the US I searched on If they did business in the UK I searched on I did not click on any results. I was not signed in to Google.

The following are some encouraging results. I will update this likely in a few days to show if there have been further improvements or whether the sites decline again.

Example #1: eCommerce store

Hit by Penguin: Severely in April of 2012.

Why? Low quality self made links in directories and with article syndication.

What was done to attempt recovery? The site owner had done some disavow work. I was hired several months ago to do further disavow work. (Note: At this point I’m not sure whether the disavow work we did actually caused these ranking improvements or whether the fact that Google is removing Penguin suppressions is what is happening here. I have some more case studies in process to help determine this but won’t have results for some time yet.)

Did the site get new links while suppressed? This site has many natural mentions. They get mentioned regularly in forums and people do quote their articles. 

The following charts show keyword rankings.

Keyword #1

This is a commercial keyword for which the site ranked at position 51 prior to the launch of Penguin. They are currently at #22. That won’t make a big difference in traffic or sales, but hopefully we will continue to see improvement.

Penguin recovery 1


Keyword #2

This was a keyword for which the site had been ranking at #5. Some might say that this keyword could not have been suppressed by Penguin. However, Penguin suppressions can be strong or mild. They have managed to climb up to #2. Let’s hope this sticks.

Penguin recovery 2


Keyword #3

This one is really exciting. This keyword had been used in anchor text in many of the unnatural links. It has made an improvement from #95 to the bottom of page 1 at #10. Wow.


Penguin recovery 3


Keyword #4

This is another competitive commercial keyword. They have jumped from #31 to #7 so far.


Penguin recovery 4


Example #2: Nationally recognized brand

Hit by Penguin: Severely in May of 2013.

Why? Large number of keyword anchored paid links.

What was done to attempt recovery? We did a thorough link audit and disavow. No link removal was attempted.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? This is a product that gets mentioned regularly and linked to naturally. The site has also created some great resources that they promote which results in natural links as well.


Keyword #1

This site was so suppressed site wide that it was only able to rank #4 for its brand name prior to Penguin 4.0 launching. The top slots were occupied by Amazon and some well known retailers. They are now once again ranking at #1.


Penguin recovery brand name


Keyword #2

This is a commercial keyword with a lot of competition. The have improved from #36 to #8 so far.

Penguin recovery


Keyword #3

This is an exciting one. It is again a competitive commercial keyword. They really do deserve to rank well for this keyword but had previously been suppressed at #11. They are now at #1.

Penguin recovery

Keyword #4

This keyword is an informational keyword. The site has some excellent resources on this subject. It was, however, a keyword which had been used as anchor text for unnatural links. They had been suppressed at #70 and today I see them at #1. Wow. It will be interesting to see if this sticks.


Penguin recovery


Example #3: Small business

Hit by Penguin: Severely in May of 2013.

Why? Large number of keyword anchored low quality directory and article links.

What was done to attempt recovery? We did a thorough link audit and disavow. No link removal was attempted.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? Over the last few months I have been working with this site to help them improve their site as it had many quality issues and to coach them on what to do to gain new links. They have gained some links although there is still a lot more work to be done.


Keyword #1

This is a commercial keyword with a lot of competition locally. They really should be ranking well for this keyword as they are recognized as a leader in this area. I believe this ranking will improve more. So far they have improved from #11 to #7.

Penguin improvement


Keyword #2

This is their main keyword. They were severely suppressed for this keyword at #45 as of August. Previously it had been even lower than that. I have been continually telling the site owner that we can’t expect to see improvements on this keyword until Penguin finally reruns. Now that it has rerun, so far we are up to #14. I’m hoping that will improve even more. But if it does not, our continued link acquisition efforts should be able to make a difference now.


Penguin improvement


Keyword #3

This is another very important keyword for this business. They have improved from #23 to #8.


Penguin improvement

Example #4: Small Business

Hit by Penguin: This site had a manual action several years ago and has not been able to see improvements in keyword rankings. They are in a moderately competitive niche, but really should be able to easily rank on the first page. I have felt that they have been suppressed by Penguin and have been advising that they should see changes once Penguin hits. These examples aren’t as dramatic as some of the others, but I do believe that they are seeing a Penguin suppression lift.

Why? Large number of keyword anchored links in low quality directories and articles.

What was done to attempt recovery? We did a thorough link audit and disavow. Many links were removed in order to recover from the manual unnatural links action. Continual monitoring of backlinks was done along with regular disavows.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? I consulted with this site to help them learn how to get links from journalistic mentions and other sources. They have gotten several new links but none have moved the needle until now.

Keyword #1

This is one of their main keywords. We have been stuck on Page 2 forever but really this site should be ranked on Page 1. They have managed to go from #16 to #7 so far.

Penguin improvement

Keyword #2

This is a keyword that brings some business although it’s not their main keyword. It improved from #17 to #4 but is now at #6.


Penguin improvement


Keyword #3

This is another very important keyword that drives clients to this business. It has improved from #11 to #6 so far.

Penguin recovery


Example #5: Large B2B Company

Hit by Penguin: This site was suppressed by a manual action for unnatural links several years ago. While they have made some improvements since then, I have always felt that they were still somewhat suppressed and have told them that they likely would see some improvement when Penguin finally updated.

Why? Large number of keyword anchored paid links as well as directory submissions.

What was done to attempt recovery? We did a thorough link audit and disavow. Many links were removed. Ongoing link audit and disavow work was done.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? This site has been working with a good SEO company and has managed to gain a good number of new links and also to continually improve their on-site quality. 

Keyword #1

This is an extremely competitive keyword. They have moved from #6 to #1!

Penguin recovery


Keyword #2

Another very competitive keyword has moved from #6 to #2:

Penguin recovery


Example #6: eCommerce Store

Hit by Penguin: Severely in April of 2012. Saw some recovery with the Penguin refresh in October of 2014 but we have felt it was still somewhat suppressed.

Why? Directory and article unnatural links.

What was done to attempt recovery? Much link removal and disavow work was done.

Did the site get new links while suppressed? I worked with this business to help them take advantage of press mentions and gain more. They have obtained a large number of really good links.

Keyword #1

This is a product for which they were ranking at #5. They are now #2. This could be normal fluctuation and not Penguin. However, they have a number of products for which they are seeing a similar pattern.

Penguin recovery


Keyword #2

This is one of their main commercial keywords. They have improved from #7 to #1!

Penguin recovery

Example #7

This is perhaps the most interesting example. This was a site for which I had not been tracking keyword rankings. However, I noticed the following on their analytics. This is Google organic traffic:

Huge Penguin 4.0 recovery

This site was hit severely with Penguin in October of 2014. On September 24, 2016, one day after the launch of Penguin 4.0 they saw a massive increase in traffic.

I did a traffic drop assessment for this site last year and concluded that they had been victims of negative SEO. I don’t say that often. the site had many ultra spammy unnatural links. They had not built any of these links themselves. I felt that this was one of the few sites that had been unfairly hit by Penguin and I advised that they bring their case to John Mueller of Google.

Although I haven’t been tracking these keywords, Semrush is showing a significant improvement for most of their keywords. The number in brackets represents their rankings last month, while the blue number is this month.

Keyword improvement

I’ll be watching this case with great interest as it is the only case I have seen where there has been a dramatic improvement that coincides with Penguin 4.0.

Sites that did NOT recover

There are still a number of sites that I monitor for which I had expected to see improvement and I have not yet seen anything significant. A couple of these saw a slight uptick today (October 1), so I will continue to monitor them. If you have been expecting improvement and have not seen it yet there are a few possibilities as to why:

  1. It’s possible that you were not actually suppressed by Penguin. You could be suppressed by Panda or one of Google’s Quality Algorithms. Or, it’s possible that your site was only ranking previously on the power of links that were unnatural and actually doesn’t deserve to rank higher.
  2. It’s possible that you have been overly aggressive in your disavow. If you have disavowed a lot of good links, then you could be hurting yourself. When we have more data, I’ll be making a decision soon on whether or not we should be reviewing our disavow files and removing potentially good links from them.
  3. It may be that you still need to wait. Google has said that Penguin 4.0 has several components to it. You may still see improvement yet. Be sure that you are monitoring keyword rankings and not traffic as a jump from page 6 to #6 may not result in a big change in traffic.
  4. You may need to disavow more. From what Google is saying, it sounds like Penguin is simply devaluing links and as such, I think that this possibility of needing to disavow more is unlikely. But, if you have a lot of unnatural links and you have not disavowed them, Google keeps on telling us that there are other algorithms that use links. It may be that unnatural links are still holding you down.

My advice at this point if you have not seen any recovery is to still wait.


This is the first time ever that I have been really excited about how Penguin is running. I am seeing improvements in many sites that should improve. Also, I’ve yet to hear cases of sites that have been unfairly hit. In fact, however, I haven’t heard many stories of sites being hit. I am suspicious that possibly Google has not run the part of the algorithm yet that devalues unnatural links. It’s possible that they have simply run the part that allows sites that have been suppressed to get out from under that demotion. Time will tell.

I am really hoping that I see further improvements. I’m also hoping that I hear more cases of recovery from the public. If you have seen Penguin recovery or improvement I’d love for you to comment below.



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  1. Hey Marie, encouraging stuff. Not seeing much movement in the UK yet on several sites we are monitoring.

    I figure it is still a waiting game.

    Will check back to see how your other sites do + feedback.


    • Hey Marcus, I was seeing exactly the same as you in the UK until this week. Severally of the ecommerce stores we manage have had huge fluctuations this week which suggests we’ll see some more over the next week or so.

      Thanks for sharing this Marie, some interesting insight.


  2. Wow, great info by the way on Penguin. Amazed to see a case study on penguin update so soon. Keep up the good work.

  3. This is depressing! Why? Because I was hoping that my site would improve when Penguin was released and today it’s down two places from where it was!

    I’m currently at a loss as to what to do – I thought my site was good! (mind you – don’t all site owners?)

    Hopefully Marcus’ comment above is right about it being a waiting game for UK site owners.

  4. seeing strange thing – the rank checker shows big improvments but when i check menually it’s remain without change. anyone else see this?

    • It may be that you are seeing a different data centre than the rank checker. Or, is it possible that you are checking in a different country than the rank checker?

      • Hey Marie and thanks for your replying.
        I check my keywords with serpbook. for the last 4 days I’m seeing twice a day my keywords (175) tremendously jumps up (40%) and after short time back to normal. I don’t believe this cuse is a different data centre. I’m tracking my keywords on (israel). maybe google testing still out-there?

        • Yes I’m seeing the same thing. Rankings improve significantly on certain keywords then slide back to their pre-penguin 4 levels. Very frustrating…

    • It’s really hard to say Yosef. I would trust your personal checks of keywords more than the rank checkers, provided you are sure that you are not seeing personal results. This might be a good question to bring up with support for the rank checker that you are using.

    • Also…we still are seeing a lot of volatility. I have some Penguin hit sites that jumped from page 9 to page 2 and then back to page 6 for some keywords. And I know Dr. Pete is noticing a huge amount of volatility with MozCast.

      • maybe I should wait for Penguin changes propagate to different datacenters? I’m seying this becuase when I’m browsing privately Online (with HMA! Pro VPN soft) and searching on from USA ips (and not with my israeli ip) I see the big Improvement that I sent you earlier.if it’s matter of datacenters update, how long it can take before i see the changes also in my country?

        • I’m not sure that anyone outside of Google knows exactly how long it takes for different data centres to update. My suspicion though is that the results could simply be different when searching from the US vs another country. If your rank checker is based on a US ip you might be seeing different results from them than actually exist.

  5. I’ve finally seen some uplift in my keyword tracker, visibility metrics and the like today, big jumps and green all over the screen. The ranks that have gone backwards, by quite significant marks in some cases, are the ones that have, probably what you would call, ‘over optimised anchor text’ – ie we’ve built links with keywords that are very specific to the page. So, in the new Penguin world – do I disavow or do they just get ignored? Do I wait, or act now?

    • Hi Sally. I’m happy to see that you are seeing big jumps up. That is great. Regarding the keywords that are seeing drops, my guess would be that you have lost the value of links that Google hadn’t picked up previously as unnatural links. According to Google they are no longer suppressing sites in the eyes of Penguin.

      It’s still too early to know whether or not we should be disavowing. On one hand, if Penguin simply devalues, then there is no reason to disavow. On the other, Google keeps saying that there are other algorithms that use links so perhaps it is a good idea. I think that if you’ve got links that are obviously unnatural then yes, I’d still disavow them.

      • Okey Doke. Sounds like this is a waiting game. Unfortunately – some of them are our highest traffic ranks. We’re not seeing big uplifts in traffic – but the signals in our rank checkers would suggest its improving. Is it like to take a single jump up or more likely grow and improve over a time period?

        • It really sounds like Penguin is re-evaluating things as Google crawls the web, so yes, it should be a gradual increase. That is what I am seeing in most sites that are improving.

  6. Hey please answer.

  7. I was penalized from Penguin 2.1, then I disavowed the bad links. Didn’t recover from 3.0, then disavowed even more bad links that showed up. My content and current backlink profile is much better than my competitors’ site and they outrank me on all keywords. And now 4.0 came out, I still haven’t seen any ranking changes. Ahhh. I am so stressed out. Should I be concerned?? =[

    • Hi Thomas,

      Each day I keep hearing more reports of people seeing sites that hadn’t shown recovery now recovering. It’s possible you may see something happen soon. If, however, in a few weeks you don’t see any improvement then I’d maybe look to see if perhaps you have disavowed too many good links. I have also seen some cases where sites didn’t recover because they didn’t have any good links at all. Hopefully that’s not the case!

  8. All my links that haven’t been disavowed are niche related and high domain ratings of 50-80 except for the niche related ones, which falls between 30-50. I disavowed ones are clearly manipulated links. I do hope it will recover within a few weeks. Thanks doc.

  9. Hi Marie,

    First of all, thanks for this wonderful post here and it really helps me understand how the new Penguin Update is going to impact. I would like to share my experience with 3 keyword of my site. 2 of them was in first page and 3rd one was in 2nd page of Google results. But now I can see that the ranking for my website for those keywords are getting varied time to time. The 3rd keyword shows in first page at times and the other keywords going back to 2nd pages sometimes. Is this oscillating performance due to Penguin 4.0 update?

    Hope to see what you are saying about this change?


    • Hi Robert,

      Gary Illyes tweeted today saying that they still have a few more days of lifting off Penguin suppressions. Also, John Mueller commented in a hangout that other algorithms are working hard to adjust rankings now that Penguin suppressions have been lifted and as such we should expect to see some volatility in the search results.

  10. Since the Penguin been released, we have seen some of keywords been pushed back but slightly, some of them massively. However, at the same time our many other keywords pushed to top and those keywords were ranking 100+. What could be the reason for this sort of shift. And what could be the best way to secure the ranking against those been dropped.
    here is the site link for your reference: www. webuycarstoday

    • Hi Jack,

      Google said today that they are still working on removing Penguin suppressions and that this is causing a lot of volatility in search results as the other algorithms work together to figure out where to rank sites. I suspect that things will jump around for another week or so and should settle down after that.

  11. A great case study on penguin. Kindly update on the progress

  12. Great Post.

  13. This is a great write up and echos some of my thoughts regarding the latest Penguin update. I’ve run into an interesting case I’ve never encountered before- anyone have any ideas?

    I just got a new client (literally one week ago). Client is a local commercial cleaning company. We redid their website in April/16 to a more expansive, content-rich site that also runs an active blog (1-2 posts per month, mediocre quality until recently).

    Client opted for another SEO firm that built links through obvious paid guest posts, link directories, etc. I actually e-mailed client and made them aware of this and cautioned them. They replaced this firm with us, starting Oct 1.

    Well, their home page – and only their home page – has been deindexed as of Oct 5. I hadn’t actually done or touched anything yet.

    Searching for the site URL brings up other pages, but the homepage is absent. I have checked for a technical reason that it would be deindexed and find no reason there. Nothing is in robots.txt. Headers come back 200/OK. The rest of the site is indexed fine.

    Just the homepage is missing.

    I have confirmed that all the links built by the external SEO firm point to the homepage (for 5-7 variations of anchor text).

    My thoughts are that I need to contact those blogs to try to get links removed as well as disavow through search console. 18 hours ago I submitted a recrawl/index through the search console, and again an hour ago. I’ve done all I can with the site itself.

    Has anyone else ever had just one page of a site go missing? What did you do?

    • Hi Cameron,

      This really sounds like it must be a technical issue of some sort. Penguin won’t deindex pages. And it would be uncommon for a manual action to deindex just the home page. On a site: search do you see the home page at all?

      Have you tried looking for an accidental x-robots noindexing? Glenn Gabe has a good article on that:

      Have you tried taking text from the home page and searching in quotes to see if there is perhaps a duplicate on the web that Google is thinking is the main version?

      Any canonical tag on the page?

      Have you tried doing a fetch and render with Googlebot? If so, have you tried submitting it to the index?

      I’d be happy to take a look if you want to send me the url. I like mysteries like this. I did have one case very similar to this and it turned out that the site had previously received a manual action and somehow Google forgot to turn part of the manual action off. I contacted John Mueller about it and the next day the home page had returned (after being absent for a couple of months).

    • Hi, I am just being curious how you go to know the client opted for a firm that built links using unnatural methodologies. What criteria have you used in this respect to develop a best practice link building tactics and strategies for your client considering that Penguin 4.0 is active?

      • Hi Stanley. It’s usually fairly obvious to me when I’m auditing links to know whether a client has built links using unnatural methodologies. Basically if you’re building links primarily for SEO then they’re going to be unnatural links.

        In the era of Penguin 4.0 I feel that Google is getting even better at determining which links are truly good links and which ones are there just for SEO. As such, the more you can do to earn links rather than make your own the better. Link building is indeed getting harder.

  14. Very interesting article.
    We have been also noticing lot of improvement in our AU sites.

  15. very nice article! congrats 🙂

    Our website had an HUGE improvement on the last 2 weeks. But is not the “season” to our market niche, so in question of traffic there is not a big change. but our keywords are going up very fast.
    We had a penguin penalty in 2012, after we have recover maybe 40%.
    in 2014 we got other strong penalty, since we are fighting to return to first pages.
    But now with this new update we are back to first page on several keywords. still rising to others, hope it will continues 🙂
    thank you very much for your article.

  16. Awesome post marie!

    Can you break down the anchor text percentage that you use for each case studies?

    • Hi Kobam,

      I’m not completely sure if I understand your question properly. I think you’re asking what was the anchor text percentage of links built to these sites. The problem though is that the sites that have seen good recovery are ones that have attracted good links. I’m not talking about self made links.

  17. That’s why, Because Penguin always burry million of websites on its update. And i found still many spammy sites are getting ranked in serp.

  18. Thanks Marie, a very comprehensive case study! Can I ask what rank tracker you use? I was kind of reading the charts wrong at first until I realise that the bottom of the graph was the high rankings!

    • Hi Caroline,

      In these cases I manually tracked keywords on an incognito non-logged in browser on I made the graphs myself by plotting data on Mac Numbers (like Excel for Mac, but it makes nicer charts).

  19. I think also patience needs to come into play with Penguin would expect Google has devalued a lot of spammy/poor sites prior to the update, but purely on a crawling basis, so it is reasonable to anticipate a relatively slow crawling process. Which of course will slow down the Penguin refresh for that site.

  20. hi.
    One of the page on my site hit by penguin 4.0 all ranking from that page is gone. Previously my kwd on 2 -3 page of google.
    On sept 23 my ranking gone but my other kwds targeted by other page are still ranks at 2-3 spot.
    Now how to recover that specific page from penguin algorithm.
    P.S: anchor text is normal and most of them are branded term.
    1week ago i orederd some pbn links they are not good quality and they are not detected by google WMT.

    • Google’s goal with Penguin is to make it so that links that you make yourself (or pay for) do not help with rankings. While some people are likely still able to get away with PBN links, these truly are unnatural links.

      We need to shift away from thinking about anchor text ratios. The new Penguin is likely much much better at figuring out if a link is unnatural regardless of anchor text.

      The key to ranking now is to truly get good links (and do other things to make your website the best of its kind). If the only kind of links that a site can get are PBN links then sadly, this business model is unlikely to work.

  21. Interesting case studies Marie, sounds similar to what we have seen here in the UK. Many of our clients who had Penguin penalties applied years ago (and long before our involvement with them I might add) have seen sizeable improvements.

    The biggest changes for UK SERP’s were in the second week of October so roughly a week after those in the US as reported by yourself and many others.

    Since then however and over the past 10 days or so we have seen some websites fall back a little to a similar position before Penguin 4.0 updated so it’s a little strange to say the least.

    I believe the key now Penguin is real-time and seeing as sites are no longer supressed is the importance of gaining quality links and that is going to remain a big focus of ours.

    For anyone interested to know more about Penguin 4.0 and it’s affects on UK sites, I made a short video for our visitors, which you can check out here:

  22. Hi Marie,

    Saw a lot of the SEMRush screenshots you posted on Twitter and it’s great to see your client recovery stories! Just wondering if you’d seen any regressions due to them tweaking the algo? Or are all the recoveries remaining stable thus far?


    Dan Taylor

    • So sorry that this comment took so long to get approved. I’d say that for most of these clients they have continued to see recovery. Some have dropped back a position or two on some keywords but most are seeing really nice gains still.

  23. Hi there Marie,

    I really appreciate how much hard work you do, just to get the best content out there for us. This is a very detailed blog post, where everything it is covered.


    Clay Smith

  24. Hey Marie,

    Have you run across any page 2 suppression’s? Meaning, a lot of keywords getting jumps(finally), but none will go past the #11 spot (other than brand terms)


    • Hi Mike,

      I have had sites where it seems like no matter what we do, we can’t budge off of page 2. I don’t think that this is a Penguin issue though now that Penguin no longer suppresses sites. I think that in cases like this there could be other things holding the site down such as suppression by the Panda algorithm or perhaps keyword stuffing or who knows what. I also think that in many cases the sites that we are trying to push on to page 1 really don’t deserve to be there. That can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you find the first page is filled up with say, listings from ebay, etsy and amazon, it might be that Google has determined that those are the sites that users want to see for that query. In the past we could often push through that kind of thing by building links, but that just won’t work anymore.

      • Ok thanks. In terms of site quality, i believe this site should be on page 1 (as page 1 is filled with similar sites), and the fact that the site has brand traffic with niche keywords ex. brand + bluewidgets (about 5-7k according to GWT) leaves me to think that this site is SOL!

        In those no hope site examples – i guess only thing to recommend was to move URLS or rebrand?


        • Hi Mike,

          That’s a call I wouldn’t want to make without doing a thorough assessment. Let me know if you’d like to hire me to review the site.

          You said something interesting though, “I believe this site should be on page 1 as page 1 is filled with similar sites.” In many cases, if a site has had previous issues with Panda, Penguin or some type of quality algorithm it’s not enough to be just as good as the sites on page 1. You often have to go above and beyond to convince Google that they would be crazy not to show your site above those.

          For the “no hope” examples, I wouldn’t often recommend changing urls or rebranding. It’s not that Google is suppressing them because of their domain name or brand. But rather, the point is that there is nothing spectacular about their content. Changing urls would not fix this.

          That’s a hard thing to assess for your own site though. I’ve had many cases where a site owner thought their site deserved to be number one and when an outsider looked at the site there was no clear reason for people to choose that site over the sites that were already ranking well.

  25. Hey Marie,

    Very interesting article. thank you

    1. Quick question: “We did a thorough link audit and disavow. No link removal was attempted.” Can you explain what’s the difference of disavow and link removal? Disavow -> you means G. Disavow links tool, and for link removal -> manual actions via contacting other webmasters? Correct me please if i’m wrong.
    2. I know that this question asked many times, but a lot of SEO guys mention that nowadays G link disavow tool is useless. WHat do You think?


    • Hi Alexo,
      What I mean by saying, “No link removal was attempted” is that instead of actively trying to get links taken down, we used Google’s disavow tool to ask Google not to count those links anymore. I’ll only attempt link removal if the site has a manual unnatural links penalty.

      Regarding your second question, I’m going to hopefully write an article on that soon, but I recommend still disavowing if you have a lot of SEO made links. The main reason to do this is to avoid a manual action. But Google also says there are other algorithms that use links so that’s something to consider as well.

  26. Thanks Marie for quick reply. Quote ” The main reason to do this is to avoid a manual action”. The is another opinion too (JB’s opinion). Unless you don’t get manual action don’t report it – if it’s not your fault, if you don’t did any “SEO links” any sense to report it and IMHO there is real sense.

  27. I think also patience needs to come into play with Penguin would expect Google has devalued a lot of spammy/poor sites prior to the update, but purely on a crawling basis, so it is reasonable to anticipate a relatively slow crawling process. Which of course will slow down the Penguin refresh for that site.

  28. Hey Marie,

    I was wondering Why Did My Rankings Drop After Using Google’s Disavow Tool?

    Let me know what do you think?


    • Hi Herman,

      There are two possible reasons for this to happen. If you disavowed links that were actually previously helping your site, then this can cause a ranking drop. With that said, there have been a number of algorithm changes in the last couple of months. It could be that the traffic drop is not related to your use of the disavow tool but rather, is due to a core algorithm change.

      If you noticed a drop on February 7, March 7, April 4 or April 17, then I’d be looking more at overall quality as a cause.

  29. Enjoyed your update at Pubcon 🙂

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Marie Haynes is the founder of HIS Web Marketing, formerly at In 2015, she rebranded the company to Marie Haynes Consulting Inc.