Doesn’t Build Links. Why Did Google Slap a Link Penalty?


A well known and respected search marketer who hasn’t built links in five years tweeted that he received a manual link penalty. Dan Petrovic, of Dejan SEO tweeted that he was shocked to see that his site didn’t even rank for its own brand name.

Dan Petrovic, a respected search marketer from Australia tweeted that his entire domain received a manual penalty. He tweeted that any suspicious links were disavowed.

Screenshot of a tweet by dejan seo

A disavow file is a way to tell Google that a site is not associated with specific spammy links. The goal of a disavow file is to avoid getting a penalty.

Dan Petrovic, founder of Dejan SEO, was surprised to receive notification of a manual link penalty. He was surprised because his site does not build links. Because of the penalty, his website does not even rank for his domain name.

Screenshot of Google's search results showing that Dejan SEO does not rank for its own brand name

Zero Link Building So Why a Penalty?

Dan tweeted that he has not engaged in any link building in five years. His company’s articles generate links all by themselves, which is how it’s supposed to be.

His tweet explained how he hadn’t been link building:

“Obviously I haven’t been link building, it would be like adding droplets into a swimming pool as I have a very healthy organic link profile.”

Dan tweeted an acknowledgement that he had engaged in borderline link building many years ago:

“Possibly there could be something old biting me in the back that I failed to disavow. We did experiment a lot in the past. Nothing so bad that you can’t find me for the brand name.”

screenshot of dejan seo tweet

Google has in the past said that they ignore spammy links. The search marketer said that he has disavowed spammy links. So it’s curious as to why Google issued a manual penalty for links that are so old and of such a poor quality that Google easily discounts them.

Manual Penalty Raises Questions

The penalty is very curious because the links are old and of a kind that are easily caught. So why did someone at Google penalize this SEO agency?

  • Is Google cracking down on spammy links from the past?
  • Is Dejan SEO  a victim of a false positive? A false positive is when Google mistakenly identifies a website as a spammer.
  • Is someone in the web spam team overzealous?
  • Is this evidence of an anti-SEO bias at Google?

Read the Twitter discussion here.



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