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Google WMT notice of detected unnatural links. So, what now?

 7:26 pm on Mar 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Right before Pubcon 2011 (November) I cancelled the last paid links to my site. The marketplace where I bought should have removed the last one by end of November.

Suddenly I start to get this stupid notification in WMT... It is coming around 3 months too late!

We rely heavily on our merchants. It is a big marketplace and everybody who sells there can link and use widgets, which link to their products. These widgets have a NOSCRIPT part with a standard link to the product.

In the last 6 months we have gained around 1,000 new merchants on the platform. Not all, but quite a lot do link to their products - like they would on eBay or Amazon.

Will they eventually understand that? Grrr... after "Reinclusion request", they still mail me: "nope, still unnatural links..."

To really investigate, I would need some examples. Maybe a merchant (or 20) are doing something fishy - but how should I know?

GWT is totally not helping me...




 9:11 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)


pandora's box is open it seems, like I said in a earlier post Google has made it very easy to rip your competitors.

About 15 min of work can flag a site that has been up for years and been playing by the "rules".

xrummer - 5 mins
scrapbox - 5 mins
blog posts - 5 mins

= GWT message
= 2 to 4 weeks after message your sites take a dive.

You send in your re-inclusion request and say you did not do it, then they tell you TOO BAD you did not remove the links.

Good luck trying to remove 10,000 or so spam links.

Thought them PHD's over in Gtown were smarter than this or they just don't care.


 11:12 pm on Apr 17, 2012 (gmt 0)


This is why I have a love/hate relationship with this industry.

inb4 Google's response about all of this being an extremely rare event, how they have vigorous processes and measures in place to prevent competitors harming websites, and how they WILL just discount links they believe that the owner has zero control over.

Also, inb4 G and friends use this occurrence as an example of how "bad links cannot hurt websites that provide value" or something along those lines...IF Dan's website doesn't actually drop significantly in a few weeks.

I have a feeling he is established enough as is, he's outside of the "normal" verticals in a sense and IMO this stuff DOES get treated differently as well, he has broken through numerous trust/quality thresholds in the SERPs I'm sure, and he may even be classified by Google as an authority result for certain query-types, not necessarily just branded SEO stuff. Not to mention the fact that he "doesn't rely on/or need Google traffic" and that just gives Google the PERFECT PR spin for this that fits in nicely with their ongoing theme regarding the entire negative SEO issue, it almost seems planned lol. "Don't rely on Google for traffic, if your site is good we'll take care of the rest, don't worry about building links either."

I just find it funny that over the years G and friends seem to have assumed that if the majority of your website traffic is coming from organic traffic in Google, your website probably provides less value than other websites where this is not the case. Wrap your head around that one and think about Google's stated SERP goals etc...Do I think it is a smart business model to rely on organic SERP traffic? Nope. But I'm not going to automatically assume that the website provides less value BECAUSE it generates all of its business through Google traffic. Think about it, and think about Panda's "value-judgements" that made decade-old authority hobby websites go POOF overnight, etc...

Now, when this exact same "unnatural links" event and link profile junkification happens to your average one year old website? MIGHT be a different story, trust/;quality thresholds and all...

Just waaaaaait for it.


 1:43 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been digging around for a few weeks & not seen a single webmaster reporting they have recovered from this "unnatural" link penalty*


 1:59 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is a Guide floating around, but i would not think it will help.

The guide was posted Mid March and people complaining its not working, so with the delay in anything Google 3/4 weeks wont tell

I personally think on the next Panda Update there will be a few changes, as too many complaints and results are not as clean as they should be


 2:04 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've been digging around for a few weeks & not seen a single webmaster reporting they have recovered from this "unnatural" link penalty*

That could be because

"When things are great you don't need help and the original help was free of any requirement to advise" or

"You can't fix what you can't find"... if you get stuck on the wrong links you can't get re-included until you hone in of the correct ones or

It takes time to get re-included.


 3:02 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I received one of the Google letters March 2, soon after we started dropping for HUGE (Over 120,000 uniques monthly) competitive keywords that we were positioned at the top for. I wasn't sure what it was that caused this letter from Google. After I studied our site I could not find anything suspicious. I was really guessing after reading Google was getting serious about Title tags and Pop-ups so I removed the pop-up made adjustments to a few Title tags making them less spammy and I received this letter after submitting a re-inclusion 2 1/2 weeks earlier:

Reconsideration request for http://www.example.com/: Manual spam action revoked
March 21, 2012

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.example.com/,

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.example.com/ for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Previously the webspam team had taken manual action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this manual action. It may take some time before our indexing and ranking systems are updated to reflect the new status of your site.

Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking without a manual action by the webspam team. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users. If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see this article for help with diagnosing the issue.

Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of our search results.


Google Search Quality Team


 3:40 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)



 3:46 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Zippyonenut

Was your original message in regard to unnatural links? if so im not sure haow changing Titles and such would have helped

I got my original message 2 weeks after i I spent an absoulte age making all my titles and descriptions unique, they were previously template text with just the different products inserted to make them different


 3:58 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

zippyonenut, I'm sitting here feeling green with envy! Never in my entire career I have received anything so positive back from Google as "After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this manual action.". All I ever get is ambivalent "we processed your request ..." or, indeed "one or more pages still violate...". I honestly didn't realize a definitive positive answer does exist and always assumed that ambivalent as opposed to negative is the best you can hope for.

That said, though, what does fixing title and removing a pop-up have to do with a "notice of unnatural links"? (what type of a popup - an ad or an invitation to register or something else if you don't mind?)

I guess, if you have your content available via RSS and the title becomes anchor text and A LOT of spam sites pick up your RSS, this may have something to do with it but I just can't wrap my head around the cause-and-effect relationship here. Still, congrats on getting a positive result!


 4:13 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes, the original message was for unnatural links. We are clueless how these changes made a difference. Thats why we believe in the theory that some of the 700,000+ letters that people received in WMT was a glitch or error..
But, we have come back from 5th + pages to 2nd page..


 4:21 pm on Apr 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry I missed the pop-up question. The pop-up was a Video Spokes-person that started once you arrived on page. I was reading a Thread on Digitalp#*$!x that Google looked at pop-up that start automatically as spamy or some sort of affiliate site.. Like I said, I doubt that this was a fix, but rather I received this letter by error.


 1:17 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@zippyonenut How long did it take to get a response from Google?

Have your rankings now returned to normal?


 2:04 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@totalodds, we got the unnatural link letter from google on March 2 and did re inclusion same day. We received the response letter on March 21


 5:31 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

At one time didn't Google encourage link juice? Now they penalize it? I can understand blatant abuses, but hitting a site with a false positive because they trade links with 100 or so related sites just shows that something is still broken within their system.


 6:35 pm on Apr 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Googles broke, they will have to backtrack on that penalty, as too many sites are being dumped way down, the quality is slowly going from the Searches, give it time,

Just because a site ahas a few Bad incoming links don't mean it's not a quality site.

Low in a very competitive niche im now seeing tweets ranking, directors and comparism sites

Good work Google now thats quality


 1:53 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Update: 16 days after sending in a Reconsideration request I get this response

We received a request from a site owner to reconsider www.yoursite.com for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank....

So does this mean it's a manual penalty?


 2:28 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Any time you send a reconsideration request where your domain isn't in the manual log you get a canned response that no manual review occur but that doesn't mean an auto detection didn't happen.

So you can be 100% certain you have been manually reviewed.


 4:27 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

@fathom I'm sure we have been reviewed.

The question is would you say it's algorithmic or Manual penalty we have after receiving this response?

Does this penalty have a time filter?


 4:31 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

So does this mean it's a manual penalty?

May have been an algorithmic penalty that will not be manually revoked at this time.


 5:03 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Difficult to say.

I specifically ask Matt Cutts that (back in 2003 so quite dated now) and his response was as an example...

1st offense 30 days
2nd offense 60 days
3rd offense 90 days


It could as easily be 3, 6, 12 months or 1, 2, 3 days.

I spent a year inaccuracy quote Matt and a year later Danny Sullivan query and it was then he stated the numbers were fictional the varying degrees was factual.

I'm on my 100,485 offense so mine is to the tenth power! :)

[edited by: fathom at 5:31 pm (utc) on Apr 20, 2012]


 5:18 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is interesting:

We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines.
(emphasis mine)
Do other people receive such definitive responses to recon. requests sent right after the "unnatural links" notice?

I guess, what I'm trying to get at is this: if the response you get is non-specific - "one or more pages ... still violate" - does it mean that the unnatural links were fixed but there is still a different penalty applied?

There seems to be at least four types of responses (all templates, I'm sure but a human may have to look at the site to pick the right template)

  1. Positive: "we have revoked this manual action."
  2. Negative specific: "We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate..."
  3. Negative generic: "some or all of your pages still violate..."
  4. Ambivalent: "We've now reviewed your site ... If we don't find any problems ..."

Can we have a show of hands on which responses people are getting (presumably after taking steps to rectify the "unnatural links"). Is there another response I missed?


 5:34 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I initially thought they did but take any sentence and "QUOTE" it in Google and you'll see tons.


 5:37 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I guess mine was Negative Generic: "We've reviewed your site and we believe that some or all of your pages still violate our quality guidelines"


 5:41 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

First this - "We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate..." and then this "Manual spam action evoked". But this was without taking any steps to rectify the "unnatural links" because there weren't any such in the first place. Google is goofing a lot these days.


 5:44 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just got the same message again after 2nd reconsideration, I know i have poor links to the site i highlighted them and responded with the 1000's of mails i sent addressed to the webmaster of that site

I got that exact same response

We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank...

I got that message 2 days ago and Last night i had a massive drop again, not sure if someone at Google is being vindictive, because i asked twice. No idea

Or it could have been because after that last message i totally deleted my Google account..

Who knows, but what i do know is that whatever we do its guesswork, someone in another thread reported he changed a few titles and descriptions and that worked..

No option but to sit this out now, but what it has done is forced me to use other avenues for advertising and im still doing ok,


 5:45 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Congrats, indyank! (I'm assuming you wanted to type "revoked"). This is a second time I see someone reporting a positive result, so it's not a fluke, ha?

Was the second response a result of a second reconsideration request or have you only sent one?


 5:51 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes i meant revoked.and yes it was in response to a second reconsideration request. I was surprised to get this email on unnatural links.

The site didn't have many links and several were of poor quality too (because of its niche). I was honest when I told them that I won't be so foolish to get into low quality link networks.


 5:59 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm interested in knowing real times for notification, to penalty, to reconsider sent, to message response, to actual recovery... and see if there is a pattern.

I have 1 SEO training now to become a recovery specialist. I never bothered before but with all the spin & hype of Negative SEO there's an untapped market with lots of money especially from SEO that don't want to lose their customers.


 6:01 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)


Have you seen any changes in your ranking yet, following the positive response to your reconsideration request? Or did you just get that message today?


 10:02 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well I'm hoping that this penalty has a time-frame, i,e 60,90 days*

Normally an over optimization penalty would last from between 60-120 days. Then your rankings would return*

But this is a new penalty/phenomenon -
If there's anyone out there who has definitively solved this problem & recovered?


 10:14 pm on Apr 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

But this is a new penalty/phenomenon
My understanding of the phenomenon was that the penalty itself is not new, just the notifications about it.
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