Google Unnatural Links Penalty

In the world of AI, Google is looking to automate as much algorithmically as possible.

So surely there are no more Manual Action Unnatural Links Penalties being sent to website owners’ Google Search Console?

Well, you could not be more incorrect, as Google is still blasting out these manual action penalties for inbound, unnatural links.

If you have been hit, then buckle up because it is not a quick fix, and we will explain the best practices to recover.

What is a Google Unnatural Links Penalty?

The Google search engine applies the Unnatural Links Penalty to a website as a result of the website having unnatural or low-quality links pointing to it.

These links are often referred to as “bad” or “toxic” links.

Google will flag your site if it continuously receives backlinks from known link farms or problematic domains.

What Happens After a Google Unnatural Links Penalty?

On average, 3-5 days after receiving a message in the Google Search Console, you receive a manual action penalty, and the traffic drops suddenly by around 95%.

URLs get delisted, or rankings drop from positions 1-3 to 70–80 or even lower.

When using the site: search operator will return 0 URLs or an empty result.

A reconsideration request is needed to be implemented with the disavow file submitted.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Google Unnatural Links Penalty?

On average, it takes approximately 10–12 months to recover from a Google Unnatural Links Penalty.

The length of time to recover can vary massively depending on who submits the reconsideration requests.

We strongly advise using a backlink audit expert who understands the process of trying to revoke your manual action backlink penalty.

A specialist link audit company can speed up the process of website recovery and have much higher success rates in lifting the sitewide penalty.

No timeframes can be guaranteed because you are in the hands of Google to respond.

Best Practice to Remove a Google Unnatural Links Penalty?

Here are the steps needed to recover from a Google Unnatural Links Penalty:

  1. Extract all links from your backlink profile using Link Research Tools, Google Search Console Links (Latest Link), Majestic SEO, AhRefs, and Semrush Backlink Audit Tool
  2. Perform a comprehensive backlink audit to highlight all toxic links
  3. Outreach to all the list of problematic domains to try and get the hyperlinks removed naturally
  4. Submit the outreach spreadsheet to Google to show the attempt to remove the backlinks, tagging all Link Detox Rules (explaining the reasoning for the disavowed links)
  5. Upload the full disavow file to Google Search Console
  6. Submit a reconsideration request

The reconsideration request is an attempt to have your website’s penalty reviewed and lifted. In the request, you should explain your actions to address the penalty.

Note: It might take 3-4 attempts to revoke the penalty and a backlink audit expert will speak directly to a Google employee to work through any links that need addressing (which might have been missed).

Why is Backlink Doctor the Best Google Unnatural Links Penalty Recovery Expert?

Backlink Doctor is the best Google Unnatural Links Penalty Recovery Expert, as they live and breathe this more than anyone else in the industry.

A group of highly skilled SEO professionals founded Backlink Doctor, which is solely dedicated to website recovery.

The godfather of disavows, Rick Lomas, has fully trained the Backlink Doctor team to carry out tasks to his high standards.

Backlink Doctor has the largest account in Link Research Tools of anyone else in the world, so more data is needed to understand what Google is looking at.

Why use Backlink Doctor as your backlink audit company?

The advantages of using Backlink Doctor for disavows and backlink audits are:

  • The best success rate at recovering from a Manual Action link penalty
  • The fastest times to help recover from a sitewide penalty
  • Specialists with access to the largest backlink data source
  • Familiarity with Google Re-Submission Process and Strategy
  • Ability to fast-track submitting reviews multiple times for having penalty revoked

There are many reasons why Backlink Doctor is the best Google disavow service and the best at assisting in recovering from unnatural inbound links penalties in Google Search Console.

Will My Website Fully Recover If The Link Penalty is Revoked?

If we get your link penalty revoked, there might still be other issues wrong with your website that need addressing, like:

  • Content Quality
  • Internal Linking
  • Stop buying spammy links (look for a vendor who understands low toxicity and high trust, instead of obsessing over DR)
  • EEAT (can you tick all the boxes with contact details on the site and policies to look trusted?)

SEO is a long-term game and any tactics that give you quick wins sometimes will come back to bite you further down the line.

What Does A Manual Action Link Penalty Look Like?

In Google Search Console you get a message saying similar to this:

  • Main Domain Property (Stating Pages with the URL pattern: sub. example. com/)
  • Main Domain https Property (Stating Pages with the URL pattern: sub. example. com/)
  • Sub-Domain property (Affects all pages)
  • https Subdomain Property (Affects all pages)

Here is an image showing the Unnatural Inbound Links Penalty in the Google Search Console.

Unnatural Inbound Links Penalty in Google Search Console

Popular Questions

Can I submit a disavow file and reconsideration request myself?

The success rate of personally submitting a reconsideration request on Google is almost zero.

If you were building a house, you would employ:

  • a bricklayer to build your wall
  • a roofer to install your roof
  • a plumber to install your water supply

The same applies to getting a Manual Action link penalty revoked and just hire the expert who deal with this on a daily basis.

Does Google consider these as backlinks?

There is a huge misconception in the SEO industry that Google ignores toxic links, or that negative SEO would be easy.

Well, the truth is that negative SEO is easy to implement because Google does not do a good job of ignoring some type of links.

Buying 10,000 spammy web2 backlinks as part of a negative SEO attack is easy for Google to detect and they do ignore these types of backlinks.

But the paid guest post link farms in bad link neighborhoods with exact match anchor text are the backlinks that cause the most problems and need addressing.

Google has created the disavow file for your benefit, so use it to remove any spammy or problematic backlinks pointing to your website.

What platform do we need to disavow toxic backlinks?

The platforms you need to disavow toxic backlinks are:

  • Link Research Tools
  • Google Search Console (Latest Links)
  • Majestic SEO
  • Ahrefs Site Explorer
  • Semrush Backlink Audit Tool

If any backlink audit specialist is not using all these platforms, you should use another supplier.

Solely using Semrush or AhRefs for disavows is bad practice and we strongly recommend simulating data from all fve platforms listed.

What Happens After a Reconsideration Request?

Google will respond with a message in the search console saying “Reconsideration request processed”.

The standard reply is, “In response to your reconsideration request, Google has reviewed your site for violations of Google Webmaster Guidelines. Based on this review, some of the manual actions on your site have been adjusted or revoked. You can see what manual actions are applied to your site by checking the Manual Action Viewer in the Search Console.”

A Re-Submission Process and Strategy can be applied to resubmit but if you submit reviews multiple times it takes more time for Google to respond as the number of submissions increases.


Google only refreshes data of its algorithms once every few months, and your penalized site won’t recover until a data refresh determines that the site has taken the precautionary steps.

An unnatural links penalty is applied to websites that violate Google quality guidelines.

After recovering from a backlink penalty, stop purchasing cheap blog comments from low-quality sites on Fiverr or dubious backlinks from spammy link vendors.

Moving forward, look to only acquire quality contextual links from low-toxic and high-trust websites.

Get yourself a backlink rejuvenation pack to kickstart your road to recovery with an influx of new, fresh, trusted editorial backlinks.

All Disavow Toxic Backlink Related Posts

Check out the in-depth list of related posts about disavowing toxic backlinks.

The list of articles shows everything you need to know about removing dangerous backlinks that could penalize your website in June 2024.