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




msg:4430987
 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...

P!

 

tedster




msg:4431225
 11:17 am on Mar 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yes - the current level of Google webmaster communications is not doing so well. Extensive time delays, messages and headings that have changed from somewhat useful to Zen koans, questionable data and even the new language bug.

I assume that they are undergoing some kind of planned improvement and having some big struggles making it scale properly. Or maybe they really have lost touch with what a webmaster really needs.

On the good side, you did get a reply to your reconsideration request. From what I've seen, if they think you're a total spammer you don't hear a word.

In a situation like yours, I go for a third party data source on backlinks, and fire up the spreadsheets. There is usually a pattern of some kind that triggers this problem, not just a small handful.

textex




msg:4432139
 3:48 pm on Mar 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

< moved from another location >

Really confused...I received an email in Webmaster Tools. But my site is still listed. We don't participate in crappy link schemes. But I do see two sites that are linking to us from thousands of pages. I am going to email these sites and request that they take our links down. Should I be concerned that we are going to be dropped?

We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.

Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.

We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.

If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.


[edited by: tedster at 6:09 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2012]
[edit reason]added quote box for clarity[/edit]

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 6:16 pm (utc) on Mar 22, 2012]
[edit reason] moved post from another location [/edit]

kellyman




msg:4432814
 12:43 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Really confused...I received an email in Webmaster Tools. But my site is still listed. We don't participate in crappy link schemes. But I do see two sites that are linking to us from thousands of pages. I am going to email these sites and request that they take our links down. Should I be concerned that we are going to be dropped?


Expect a drop around 5 weeks after that message, its a warning, try and fix your issues within that time

textex




msg:4432816
 1:01 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Kellyman, is your comment based on personal experience? If not what is it based on. Also what sort of drop? Disappear? -50? Or just some shuffling down?

kellyman




msg:4432819
 1:21 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Personal experience, and a few others here

[webmasterworld.com ]

Im actually going through it right now (well sunday mine dropped and i originally got that same message back in Feb 17th) keywords bounced for a few days shuffling a few positions then main keywords dropped to page 5 Last night...

textex




msg:4432821
 1:35 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

What about long tail? How much overall traffic have you lost?

kellyman




msg:4432918
 9:17 am on Mar 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I would estimate about 70% now of all traffic as keywords are still bouncing and the effect is site wide, so its quiet severe

The only positive thing i see from this is that, Mine is a little different and self inflicted as i linked from one of my sites to a friends new site then back to a new page on a different site of mine, so kind of made a a single link network, which was not intended it was to see how fast we could launch a new site into googles index, and my PR 4 site provided a link for that test, and i forgot about the link and went on holiday for 2 weeks, so my fault explained to Google but still dropped, that other site of mine has very little links so i know its that so i think my main site was caught just after they followed the link

The other site of mine dropped in December and partially recovered February so the filter was not too long but still devastating non the less

crobb305




msg:4433213
 4:06 pm on Mar 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I also received that message on 03/02. I didn't check WMT until this week, so that message was there for 3 weeks. No changes in rankings until this week, a drop on a few phrases (-10% in traffic), but doing well on longtail. It seems that many, many webmasters received that message in late Feb/early March. What to do about it is the question. I haven't even asked for a link in over a year. The questionable IBLs must be very old, or newer spam attempts by someone trying to spam link my site. I am reluctant to respond to G until I see what, if any, significant impact it has on my site.

wingslevel




msg:4433221
 4:49 pm on Mar 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

We are seeing more and more of this. Think it's related to the January algo tweak that was announced as being link related?

As smart as they are, whenever google engineers try to divine intent from data, there seem to be lots of innocent casualties. Looking at our back links, let's walk through what decisions they have to make. Say a spammy directory site links from 2000 pages to example.com - are they scrapers? Did they just build a junk directory and list example.com? Did one of example.com's competitors buy the links? Did the directory scrape some news site and then place the link to example.com? If >10% of example.com's inbounds come from these types of sites, do they get a penalty? >20%?

I wish I could say that I felt comfortable with google making the right choices on those questions right now, but I don't.

For those of you who have received the message, can you share some data with us? Maybe as to the type of links and percentage of total inbound? Since we will never get guidelines from google, maybe we can develop a framework here by sharing some numbers.

On one of my ecom sites, there are 45,000 inbounds showing in WMT. Looking at the top linking sites, 5 have greater than 1,000 links and three of these link only to our home page. A couple of these are sites that are low quality directory type, but, I don't think real spammers. I have never bought a link in 14 years. Should I be worried? Two of the sites don't even publish any contact info. Should I go through Whois and demand that they remove the links? Why should I have to bother with this? I haven't done anything wrong.

SEOPanda




msg:4434553
 9:18 pm on Mar 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

We received this notice today as well. We haven't done anything spammy (I know many people say this, but we really haven't). We have a few sites, and only one received this message.

The question is, what do we do now? Has anyone received this message, but nothing has happened? Or was everyone affected when they received this?

Has anyone filed a reconsideration after this, and their site remained ranking fine?

webman




msg:4434649
 2:04 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I also received this message for two of my 20 sites so far. The first message was received ten days ago and the next six days ago. Traffic is still good for the site from ten days ago but the rankings for the site that got the message six days ago have fallen, but not dramatically. I am still waiting for something bad to happen, but I've read that some people actually see increases after these warnings, so I am crossing my fingers.

Messages like this are very frustrating, and I have chosen not to respond to their threatening letter. After all, there is nothing I can do to change the links that point to my sites.

tcsoftware




msg:4434699
 8:47 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Perhaps for pontifex it might be a good idea to redirect the merchant links off to subdomains to limit the impact of what they are doing.

Overall though Google shouldn't be handing out punishments for an unnatural backlink profile, only ignoring the links. The negative affect on your page rank would of course depend on the proportion of unnatural links.

If it was the case that backlinks could have a negative affect on your site then it would be very easy to destroy your competition and anyone buying a domain would run the risk of buying a 'damaged' domain.

idolw




msg:4434700
 8:56 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a solution for all these problems. I simply do not log into Webmaster Tools at all. I do just the right stuff to promote the site, no shortcuts, etc. Life's easier that way.

sanjuu




msg:4434709
 9:41 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

A related question.

If there are a lot of unnatural links to old URLs on a site, and these URLs are currently 301-ing to current pages (previously to maintain any benefit they might have passed through), would it 'satisfy' Google if these old URLs are simply 410d (and therefore there is no gain/benefit from these links in terms of Google)? Or would Google not be happy until the links are removed from the third-party sites?

kellyman




msg:4434712
 9:57 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

I simply do not log into Webmaster Tools at all. I do just the right stuff to promote the site, no shortcuts, etc. Life's easier that way.


So do most that are reporting on here, however it seems that even if you have links that you did not create are pointing to your site then you are being penalised so in theory it could be your competitior doing this and killing your ranking which if proven is going to cause chaos, as all these spammy sites which are no good to any one now will just find a new Gig and for a price 301 those sites to peoples competitors and hopefully pass the penalty.

webdevfv




msg:4434718
 10:45 am on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

We had this message a few days ago. Since then we've moved up a place or two in the rankings and google has sent us loads more traffic.

I'm wondering whether they've sent the same email to all the other sites in our Top 10. Perhaps knocking out competitor sites is proving beneficial in the short-term.

We await our punishment in 4 weeks time! Have no idea what the 'unnatural' links they refer to are. I expect they've sent the same email to so many websites that if they drop those websites from the SERPs they'll be left with total utter rubbish.

Google are tying themselves in knots and almost extricating themselves from Natural Search by continually forcing top 10 listed sites to move into (or if already using it) increase revenue spent on Adwords. I expect in a year or so time that there will be NO Natural Search listings on the front page of google.

All search will be paid for. My theory is to forget playing google's game of running about like a poodle and to use the energy in working out what are the best (value per click) paid search opportunities or other routes to traffic - both from google and rival sources.

SEOPanda




msg:4434911
 4:34 pm on Mar 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

Has anyone received this notice over 4-5 weeks ago, and has not had a negative ranking change?

CainIV




msg:4435112
 5:46 am on Mar 30, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think the degree of action, and the time-to-action vary depending on the severity of the infraction.

I have seen some websites who I am in communication with regularly drop over 50 spots weeks after receiving these email.

And others that haven't budged, over a month later.

Ultimately it could be as easy as Google sending this message to those that are legitimately using tactics that they shouldn't be.

And let's face it, the campaign could be about gaining information. After all, what better way to get a quick amount of data back about links and link arrangements than have webmaster snitch on sites that sell and indict others that advertise there?

McMohan




msg:4435508
 6:16 am on Mar 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

IMHO if you do have control over those fishy links, removing those links after receiving the message from Google could be suicidal. It proves to Google that you created those links that you are able to remove them. Best course could be to just do nothing and say I have no idea how those links came about and I am helpless in this matter.

petehall




msg:4435528
 9:28 am on Mar 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

@McMohan I think I would agree with that! Its an admission of guilt.

I think this is the best mind game ever and G is having some real fun turning the cards on people who have tricked them for years. I actually quite admire the tactic, it's bold and ultimately I think it will work.

Really, none of us are bad people. We're just trying to make a living... so a bit of paranoia really will make a lot of webmasters think about what they are doing. I bet most will stop what they are doing or reverse where possible.

Clever G.

SEOPanda




msg:4437755
 10:04 pm on Apr 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

Instead of reaching out to everyone to change links which I am not sure if G even thinks is a problem, what if we simple 404 the page? Would that in effect be "removing the backlinks" ?

Thanks

pottisun




msg:4438983
 1:33 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

@SEOPanda
[Has anyone received this notice over 4-5 weeks ago, and has not had a negative ranking change? ]

i had received this notice for 2 weeks of 2 sites.
and now the result is all of ranking of author keywords gone ...
the main keywords ranking changed from 1st page to 2nd page or 3rd page...


i'm a chinese ..poor english ... sry...

insidemind




msg:4438992
 2:22 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

what now? stop building crappy "links" to your own sites and start sending them to your competitors! j/k
seriously it looks like google just ushered in the age of negative seo and has put all the crappy link providors back into business :(

newebster




msg:4439067
 9:47 am on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I received this message on March 23. Rankings do not appear to be effected yet. I did take what links I have control over down and replied as such. Just waiting on the hatchet any day now.

kellyman




msg:4439322
 9:04 pm on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

Dear site owner or webmaster of www.mysite.co.uk,
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider www.mysite.co.uk/ 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. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to comply with our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have additional questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team


Well there's a surprise

I spent a week going through all the links possible, i noted 1000's on a Google groups, copied E-mails i sent to site owners, I asked Google to wipe the site clean as there is nothing more i can do.

Many of the links are crap, links that a scraper bot harvests.

Most links are over a year old, I have listed all the new links i have acquired by writing decent Blogs on my own site, to which people have linked to

I have no outgoing links on my site, i am finding links from this March, i am not link building they are clearly from some bot gathering URLS to add to these stupid directory's,

If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request


I did that they did not listen.

What else can I do, i have had enough Im tired of this, The Serps are poor at present and im not surprised everyone is being penalised so their sites drop only to be replaced with rubbish.

I really wish i continued Link building rather than spend a fortune adding new content and tidying up the site adding to the thin pages to avoid panda, which I did, as then i would say hey ho they got me but I had a good run.

Time for a URL Change I think, but going to delete my WMT account and everything else Google

newebster




msg:4439333
 9:37 pm on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

@kellyman

How long did it take from the time you received the first message telling you about the unnatural links and the penalty invoked? How long did it take for Google to return a response to your reconsideration request?

kellyman




msg:4439343
 10:17 pm on Apr 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

From my first message In WMT I dropped around 5 weeks later , i put in a re inclusion request which took around 8 days to get a response.

Im Gutted, but i think i know why it has happened and although nothing I directly done I just found out in the last hour after posting that message here, that my site was on a active blog subscription, to which the company i used a year over a year ago to do some SEO for signed me up for and it never got cancelled.

And there was me I was adamant i did nothing for over a year and to find this, I have to put my hands up and apologise and take the penalty.

From what i gather these so called SEO' just outsourced my work and added to these private Networks, and although i did stop using them the links just carried on, so anyone in any doubt Check, check and then double check again

SnowMan68




msg:4439374
 12:13 am on Apr 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

@Kellyman

I am sorry to hear that your site traffic has dropped. That is never good news for any webmaster. Hopefully you will be able to recover soon enough though!

When you said that you dropped about 5 weeks after the initial email, how much did you drop? Percentage of G referrals? Were your G referrals steady up until that point?

I don't want to stir the pot, but I'm curious if maybe you got hit by one of the algo updates over that period of time. Possibly the bad/unnatural links that were giving you value were really just devalued? The second one I really wonder about because so many of the big blog networks took a hit over the past month or so. If these links were giving you value, losing them would demote your overall sites authority. This could in turn have an affect across the board.

It just seems so crazy that they could demote your site because they have decided YOU purchased the links. How does Google truly know that you have bought links until you actually admit to it? Up until that point it seems like it could be anyone placing the links, especially competitors if they know it will have a negative effect.

I have heard that some people affected have been able to see improvement by continuing to focus on building better quality links. Not sure if that's an option, but definitely something to consider.

kellyman




msg:4439394
 1:50 am on Apr 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Traffic was steady and moving up, 17.5k unique's per month

I dropped around 30% Most others in the same situation report the same amount, however, i think the longer it's going on the bigger that percentage is.

It does seem true that Google are penalising sites for having links pointed at them and i suppose they are taking the view that dont matter who pointed them at your site, your going to get punished, but at what costs, regardless that i paid a SEO to work my site it is a quality site,

All though they have not actually said its a manual penalty they admit its the links pointing to my site

We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines.
so Go figure, really not happy with the outcome, but what can you do you cant beat God, have to sit it out forever how long it takes me i have no choice
This 130 message thread spans 5 pages: 130 ( [1] 2 3 4 5 > >
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