Note: Not sure if white hat or grey hat. You guys be the judge. I know my tag still says Newbie on here, but I have been in the SEO game for over 8 years now. Wanted some anonymity, so I went the route of a new username. I work with a lot of clients on monthly contracts and run a web design/search marketing company with a website that needs to rank high for local service related keywords to generate leads. Last year I had some decent success ranking for geo "seo" and geo "search engine optimization" and geo "website design" keywords. I had a buddy who was taking over the link-building doing some shady linking. We had about a dense amount of links at 25% anchor ratio among our major pages for our big keywords. Well Google caught on and hit us with a manual penalty in about July of 2013. I spent the next couple of months trying to get my links disavowed. I researched tons of different methods from people who had experienced the same issues as I was. I bought into a bunch of different software and websites that didn't do the trick either. I sent numerous requests with my link disavowal spreadsheet only to be rejected over 8 times. After a while, I gave up. Tried other marketing methods to get leads that had stopped coming in for the company, but I knew this was only temporary. After a couple of months of rejection, I was flirting with the idea of migrating the site to a new domain and doing 301 redirects. I looked up tons of advice on this matter but ultimately decided not to do it... well not entirely. In October, I made the decision to migrate the site. With over 400 pages of blog posts, company pages, and complex inter-workings for guest blog registrations, and email marketing systems, the process took about a week to work out all the tweaks. I decided to only redirected the homepage. I changed my domain from a .com to a .net. Only a few of my clients noticed, but everyone was pretty oblivious to the switch. I then decided I was going to start from the ground up. I started with the link-building at square 1. Got rid of the buddy who put me in that predicament, and focused on the link-building myself as I should have the first time. My rankings reached page one in February of 2014 and things have been going smoothly (knock on wood). After hitting page 1, and 4 months later, I decided to add the other redirects. I now have a wild card redirect for all .com page to the .net pages. That was 3 months ago and nothing has happened (knock on wood again). I wanted to share this success story with anyone who may be thinking of migrating the domain over to a new one. My .com to .net switch worked out beautifully. My advice would be to not do any 301 redirects right away, and be ready to start over. When disavowing isn't getting you anywhere, keep your head up and bring on a new sense of motivation with a domain switch. Luckily, this is the only site I have had to deal with a serious manual penalty issue. I make sure to use about 20-30 different keywords per page when it comes to link-building these days, but I know some newbies run into walls sometimes. Let me know your thoughts.