Stuart in Minneapolis, Minnesota is imprisoned by his Google Penguin penalty. His site went from the first page to nowheresville after getting dinged for spam backlinks.


I suffered a massive hit from Penguin. My old SEO dude did some spam backlinking and now my site isn’t ranked anywhere after being on top for years. Can I recover? If so, how soon? If not, what do I do?


My sympathy goes out to you Stu. It’s not like I haven’t heard these questions hundreds of times before. You’re in a place where you need to make some decisions. After working on many Penguin recovery projects, I can assure you one of the following questions needs to be answered to recover…

  1. Do you have the bankroll or time to pinpoint your spam backlinks? It’s going to cost you between $600-$1500 to hire a pro to do the work. You can do this yourself if you have a few days (and a couple of long nights).
  2. Are you a patient type of guy?
  3. If no to #1 & #2, have you thought about abandoning your domain? Doing so is actually much faster than submitting a disavowal request of your links through Google Webmasters.

Here’s the problem. It can take 4-6 months for Google to disavow your backlinks. But first you need to find them. I do Penguin recoveries by evaluating every stinking link manually. It’s best to use two or three different tools to pull ALL YOUR links.

The bummer is there’s no guarantee you’ll recover your original rankings. I know, it’s a big, fat pill to swallow.

Think about a ┬ánew domain. I know, mentally it’s hard. However, a brand new domain comes with a beautiful thing: zero backlinks. Of the Penguin projects I’ve done, the waiting game is the hardest part.

  • You submit the disavowal
  • Then wait
  • Next, give it a few more months
  • Soon you wonder if you did right
  • Afterwards, you start hoping and praying
  • Down the road it takes more time
  • Then suddenly…
  • It either works or you wait more time

The longest recovery I’ve seen was about 14 months. The quickest was 3 months. If it were me, I would seriously think about a new domain unless your branding revolves around your original domain.

Good luck Stu and stay in touch if you have questions.