This is a TRUE, SUCCESSFUL & UNREQUESTED story from Manuel Porras, one of our customers.

“I don’t have any knowledge about a recovery using the Google Disavow on an algorithmic penalty. Only manual penalties have been publicly reported to work using the Disavow tool. Knowing this I wanted to be 100% sure that this isn’t something else. I took the diligence and analyzed the situation carefully.”

Read the full-disclosure at the end of the article.


Let me tell you my experience with CognitiveSEO and the Google Disavow Tool.

I’ll begin a few months back in time.

PENGUIN our worst enemy

Note by Razvan – You can find another traffic screenshot in the mail conversation I had with Manuel, at the bottom of this email.


One of the websites I manage had suffered considerable Google ranking + traffic impact with the release of PENGUIN back in April 2012. But the first releases of penguin did not kill us completely from Google’s Organic results. Google traffic kept dropping slowly over time. Until in May 22, 2013 the 4th update of PENGUIN was released. After this release we dropped and dropped and dropped in rankings for our main two keywords. Traffic from Google was almost none soon after that.

Note by Razvan – This is SmartLipo, the site that recovered from the Google Penguin Algorithmic Penalty using Google Disavow

Here is the full history of the site on the WayBackMachine


We had been trying everything possible

  • Removed links we could remove, and contacted webmasters to help us removing (suspicious links)
  • Recreated the whole site, with a new backend, enhanced page speed
  • Created new content (taking into account what users are and were looking for)
  • De-optimized what we considered over-optimized SEO
  • Tried to build new (clean and not black-hat) external links
  • Improved our Social sites (facebook, twitter, opened a pinterest account)
  • Corrected the errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools (as much as we could)
  • Etc, and other things

Nothing seemed to have the slightest impact in our Google rankings (hence our Google traffic)

Discovering and getting to know CognitiveSEO

One day in May my boss tells me to try the disavow tool. I was very skeptical of using it, having read that it could be harmful if used wrong. But what else did we have to loose? Google de-indexing us perhaps?  He (my boss) pointed me to use this tool he saw that featured an Unnatural link detection option. I went and played a little in Cognitiveseo. I created a new campaign for the site, the report was ready after a few minutes. I decided to import links that I exported from webmaster tools. I just felt more secure adding some extra link data.

Using the ‘Unnatural Links Detection’ option

I decided to run the link classification, it takes a few minutes. I decided to go slow, and take my time. As I mentioned I am too skeptic and cautious (that can be sometimes a problem when you need to react fast). Anyway I decided to take a look at every domain and almost every link, I was not sure to trust the unnatural link report from the beginning. I went and checked with my own eyes almost every link and every domain (no matter if suspect, unnatural or ok). I found some unnatural links that I liked and some ok links that I did not trust. But in general I ended up agreeing with the report in a considerable percentage. Apart from the few links I manually readjusted from OK to unnatural and vice-versa I did not have much work to do on the report. I took a second look (took me some time), and decided to export the domains I marked as disavowed (well actually all suspicious and unnatural ones).

Once outside Cognitive I went and took a last look at the domain entries of the disavow file, making sure no good domains were in it (at least the ones I consider vital: e.g. Facebook,  twitter accounts, trusted customer sites linking back to us, some domains, etc., you get the idea of which site you can trust).

Submitting the disavow file to Google


On July 9th submitted the disavow file to Google (made the sign of the cross). I captured a screenshot to show later my boss that I did use the disavow tool as he suggested a few days back. I continued with my life. I kept checking rankings every other day, nothing seemed to change the first days, the first weeks.

The resurrection

Close to 3 weeks passed after the disavow submission, when all of a sudden one day when I run the rank check (using a VPN tool) from different IPs and different states in the US, I saw that our site was raking #3 and #2 from many different locations. At first I thought I was doing the rank check wrong, maybe the VPN is not working and I am doing a local search? Maybe the browser cache is holding onto my Google session? Are these results personalized? I did not want to get any false hope so I did not tell my boss about the news, I decided to track ranks for the next days, every morning. The ranks were consistent, #3, #2 and even #1 in some cities. I finally accepted it to be true as I saw the increase in traffic in Google Analytics. I did not want to celebrate, maybe its temporary, maybe google is playing a prank on us, maybe it’s all a dream. Well that dream has been going on for the last 5 weeks.



Although I have done many things to my site, I am pretty f***ing sure the disavow submission was the one that helped me back in rankings. I could have done it without the help, yeah but it would have taken me weeks if not months to find out by myself which links are bad and which not, and webmaster tools does not give me many links that Cognitive does. Cognitive is a perfect way to complement what webmaster tools shows you (external links). And now I know that Cognitive saves a mountain of time classifying bad from ok links.

Cognitive is not paying me to write this, I just want to acknowledge and share this story with the skeptical ones like me out there. Hope it works for you as it did for me. If you do it right, I am sure it will.

Manuel Porras – Webmaster – Smart Lipo


Transparency Note and disclosure from Razvan Gavrilas(founder)

On September the 3rd I received the first mail from Manuel, (I did not know him until then).


I answered him that I would be interested in his story, but he never got back … until 17th of September, when he mailed me the story that you just read.



I don’t have any knowledge about a recovery using the Google Disavow on an algorithmic penalty. Only manual penalties have been publicly reported to work using the Disavow tool. Knowing this I wanted to be 100% sure that this  isn’t something else. I took the diligence and analyzed the situation carefully. Here is the full transcript of the mail discussion between me and Manuel (for the sake of full transparency).





As the founder of cognitiveSEO, I am extremly happy and proud when people connect with me and tell me their successful stories on how the tool made their life easier.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you all, our customers, for making this possible. It is YOU that give us the power to innovate & solve your problems faster & better.


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