Thousands of people received the unnatural link penalty in March of 2012. Even this blog got penalized and dropped from the serps soon after I got the message in my GWT.
My blog has never been penalized before so this is my first penalty I believe and it has been almost a year now since it went into effect.
To be honest I never thought that Google would start penalizing sites for incoming links. It was definitely a surprise to me because it opened up the possibility of Negative SEO.
A lot of small businesses went out of business since then because they weren’t able to recover. I mean how the hell are you supposed to get new customers when no matter what you do or what kind of content you put out Google will filter you out from its rankings.
To demonstrate what I mean let me show you how the penalty works in my opinion.
First of all, all the keywords your main home page is optimized for will definitely drop and possibly never recover. Then you will notice a sitewide penalty as well and Google will limit the amount of impressions you will receive in the serps.
This blog cannot get over 3k impressions no matter what.
The above image shows how many impressions I am getting from Google for the past few months. It has been pretty much the same since March of 2012.
What I did notice is that If one of my posts goes up in rankings others drop to even out the impressions, which tells me that the unnatural link penalty is impression based and has nothing to do with your actual rankings.
When the penalty hit I started a huge link removal campaign. A lot of links have been removed since then that were generated years ago through bad SEO practices. I even admitted that to Google in my reconsideration request many times, but also I have had a lot of links pointing to my blog from Negative SEO someone decided to run for my blog. I am pretty sure I know who they are as well.
Here is a screenshot that shows my effort trying to get the penalty revoked and how many reconsideration requests I have filed since then.
In March of 2012 my Google Webmaster Tools account was showing over 17k links pointing to my site. Now it shows about 6.7k so as you can tell I have managed to remove a good portion of those bad links already.
I have disavowed a lot of links that I cannot remove and filed another reconsideration request in December 2012.
I truly believed that this time there was a good chance that they would revoke the penalty but I was wrong once again.
It was taking longer than usual for them to respond but finally I received a message this month that basically stated that they still see unnatural links pointing to my site.
To be honest, I am not really sure what else I can possibly do at this point. Is it because my site talks about making money and some reviewer simply assumes it’s bad and I am getting discriminated because of my content?…Possible
The question is who is really getting hurt by those unnatural link penalties? I don’t think spammers got hurt at all. They just throw up new domain names and go back to spamming while honest publishers are pulling their hair out trying to save their brand.
So as you can tell the penalty lasts a long time even if it’s your first one. Will it ever expire? I am not sure, but I cannot waste any more time on chasing site owners in 2013.
Just to show you that there was another Negative SEO campaign targeting my site a few months back even while I am already penalized I am going to show one of the links they built.
If you go there and scroll down through the gibberish you will find a link to one of my posts I have published a few months back. Do you really believe that I would do this? I even included this in my previous reconsideration request, but it didn’t matter I guess.
In my opinion trying to remove those links is pointless because even if I do manage to remove them hundreds of new ones like that will pop up in just days.
Anyway, so far the unnatural link penalty for me will have its first anniversary in about a month from now. Is it going to last another year?