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Dear +John Mueller 

Posted in: General by Richard Hearne on April 2, 2013
Internet Marketing Ireland

Dear +John Mueller 

I hope you can answer this question:

* A client wants to use a domain which was affected by Penguin.  This was registered after previous owner allowed it to expire.
* They want to start a new website, with good content that focuses on the user not SEO.
* They want to disavow all links to this domain (conservatively into the 10's of thousands of spammy links) so that these wont count against them.

If they disavow everything can they assume that the domain will start with a fresh history?  If not is there some other way to get the history reset.  
Does the domain expiry/drop make any difference in their case?

They don't want to invest in creating a new site/brand only to discover that Google is penalising the prior owner's actions.  I don't know what to confidently tell them. 

I know you've answered many questions related to Penguin, but there doesn't seem to be any definitive response to this scenario from Google.

Not sure when your next hangout is, and happy to ask this there if preferable.

Thanks :)

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  1. Next Hang-out: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/crmhd1334r2250btrn9vn0irhmk

    Comment by Rob Maas — April 2, 2013 @ 10:10 am

  2. Thanks Rob.

    It's kinda funny that I can never find that info when I search on G+

    Comment by Richard Hearne — April 2, 2013 @ 10:13 am

  3. I don't have any generic answer for this, Richard.

    In general, if you start with a domain name that has a bad history, it's likely that you'll end up spending time & resources to get back to something reasonable (regardless of – and also specifically for – Google's side of things).

    Comment by John Mueller — April 2, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  4. Thanks John.  You said you didn't have a generic answer for that, and without pulling punches what you've given isn't helpful.
    They have done their due diligence, and their only concern is impact with Google.  All other concerns are irrelevant from my POV.

    I think as time goes by this issue will only hurt more innocent people, and it's a shame that Google has no official stance on this problem, or at least one that is public.  In fact I'd go so far as to say it's shameful being honest.

    I appreciate the conditions you work under John, so there's nothing personal in my response above.

    Comment by Richard Hearne — April 2, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  5. Why not be proactive and immediately submit a reconsideration request with supporting documentation demonstrating the change of ownership while also disavowing all the current backlinks?

    Comment by Kevin Oedekoven — April 2, 2013 @ 4:15 pm

  6. Sadly there's no manual penalty, so a reconsideration request can't get by
    that filter to be seen by a human. But thanks for the advice.

    Comment by Richard Hearne — April 2, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

  7. There is no possibility of really discerning that any potential/possible/existant domain name has any kind of history, good or bad. It's not like Google publishes any kind of records re: Pandalized, Penguined, outright-banned-for-egregious-obscenity, copyright infringements or many other aspects of this growing problem. And when it comes to what's behind this kind of query, Google's legendary opacity is the primary problem. Google also holds the keys to resolving the problem. In many respects, they do a disservice to the web-at-large in not resolving the problem. Their stance is certainly harmful to many legitimate businesses operating/wanting-to-operate on the web. In that respect, they have a bit of a stranglehold on future development… perhaps they'll deal with it in a positive manner when they realize how much money isn't flowing through AdWords because of that lack of positive resolution…

    Comment by Scott Harris — April 3, 2013 @ 9:38 pm

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