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Matt Cutts Explains Change to Unnatural Link Warnings
goodroi




msg:4477628
 9:27 pm on Jul 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts posted about the latest round of unnatural warnings that were sent out yesterday.
[plus.google.com ]

If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, donít panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While itís possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons...


I would not be surprised if Google further expands the notification process in a few more months. Matt Cutts announcement is a good reason why webmasters should think twice when they are notified and think through their changes before implementing them.

 

internetheaven




msg:4478067
 9:50 pm on Jul 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

FFS. I've spent the whole day creating a detailed spreadsheet, analysing backlinks and anchor text trying to work out why one of the sites I manage got this message :-(


YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE!

I am so sick of this Google penalty nonsense. Just ignore anything suspicious Google! I get 50+ emails a day saying "we have linked to you here, please link to us".

There's not a damn thing I can do about it Google. Just because you threaten the "good guys" with penalties does not mean there are thousands of "unaware guys" out there with terrible sites all linking to me.

I have one forum that has put my link in the footer and sent me an email asking for a link back. Google shows 112,514 backlinks from this one forum. My site has tanked. I've emailed the forum owner to no response.

He lives in Norway Google. What am I supposed to do? Fly over, track the guy down and threaten him?! I can't do that for every bad SEO out there that links to me.

Web_speed




msg:4478083
 12:58 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

MC: "Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site."

Should really read... "Yesterday we took two steps back while making another major step towards obscurity, confusion and webmasters blind folding... FTC wants more transparency?...no problems, we'll give them a load of it..."

Sgt_Kickaxe




msg:4478096
 3:03 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

#1 - YAY, I received no such messages.

#2 - BOO, my "incoming link" total has plummeted by 90% over the past few months and continues to creep south, according to GWT. The threshold for a link being qualified has apparently been made more strict.

#3 - Irony, my sites rankings may fall if the link building practices of OTHER sites aren't up to par. Doesn't seem right.

SnowMan68




msg:4478098
 3:17 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@synthese

Matt Cutts specifically mentioned hacked sites with the unnatural links message. He even went so far as to call them (sites) as innocent victims. I think if that is your situation you should be fine.

Andylew




msg:4478133
 9:14 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Its completely bonkers - google really have lost the plot.

Ive had several people contact me over the weekend asking for links to be removed from a site I run. Legitamite non spammy links to big retailers who have received WMT emails so are now asking everyone to remove links to them. Despite trying to explain that the good guys like myself will be happy to remove the links whereas the bad guys wont even respond to contact the link ended up being removed - counter productive as the ratio of bad to good therfor increases! Come on google your meant to be smart!

I get even more anoyed about paid links. So it is ok for google to provide paid links via adwords but anyone who sells advertising on their own site gets penalised - it is about time search was decentralised to several more specialised search engines. Google are welcome to continue to return results from spam and wikipedia. Bring on a specialised search for products, information, social, news etc The one size fits all monopoly google enjoys no longer fits.

Web_speed




msg:4478137
 9:31 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Its completely bonkers - google really have lost the plot.

No they didn't. Apparently the mayhem is very good for business. Theirs!...

Do what i do when i get these emails... delete them. And when/if i get persistent requests from someone i reply telling them to go take it with Google, their member of parliament or the FTC, we cant be bothered with this Google made madness and will continue to link to whomever we effing feel like...

adder




msg:4478146
 11:55 am on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Actually, Matt Cutts has updated the G+ entry (same as the link in the OP).

First off, we changed the messages themselves that we'll send out to make it clear that for a specific incident "we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole."

The second change is that these messages won't show the yellow caution sign in our webmaster console are much more targeted and don't always require action by the site owner.

[plus.google.com...]

Do you think these changes will be applied retrospectively? Otherwise, the webmasters that were sent the message on Friday, won't be any better off - they still don't know whether this is just a warning or a prelude to a penalty.

[edited by: tedster at 12:19 pm (utc) on Jul 23, 2012]
[edit reason] add link, expand quote [/edit]

Maurice




msg:4478182
 2:32 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

+adder or even a post dated response to a penalty from last year!

diberry




msg:4478193
 3:12 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Oh, yeah, welcome to FUD city. Glad they took feedback on board and separated the messages, but real transparency would involve telling us which links are the problem ones. Oh, no, can't have that - because then when the FTC takes a good hard look at the algo, it might not be too incredibly complicated for them to figure out.

I am so over this. And Aristotle, a LOT of people got hurt by Penguin with no unnatural link notices. I even have a definite "no manual action" letter, and I lost 80+% of my Google traffic from Penguin. But that's for another thread, I guess.

adder




msg:4478201
 3:32 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Further news on this. Here's Matt Cutts' latest response in the same thread:

it looks like we will be able to re-send the more specific messages out to websites.

[plus.google.com...]


So fingers crossed... The deluge of new tailored messages will give us more data to play with.

@Maurice? emh? What do you mean?

[edited by: tedster at 7:14 pm (utc) on Jul 23, 2012]
[edit reason] Make link clickable [/edit]

Fiendix




msg:4478235
 6:38 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

and here it comes:

Title: Unnatural inbound links

We've detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines. We don't want to put any trust in links that are artificial or unnatural. We recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole. If you are able to remove any of the links, please submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took. If you have any questions, please visit our Webmaster Help Forum.

Interestingly I got 2 for the exact same domain - and for another site I got 4 - 2 for www.domainname.com and 2 for domainname.com (no www).

[edited by: Fiendix at 6:43 pm (utc) on Jul 23, 2012]

greenleaves




msg:4478236
 6:42 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't know about you all, but since google started sending these messages out, it is easier to rank than ever. My competitors have been scared into inaction, and even better, some are taking down links that help them rank.

All I have to say is; thank you Google. You can be a harsh mistress... but right now, have set the ground so that the brave and bold get ahead awesome.

This new round has given me great inspiration, since I know more competitors will not get scared into inaction or into destroying their own 'unatural' rankings (lolz)

n00b1




msg:4478247
 7:07 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Right... So I received the first 'unnatural links' message just a day before receiving a message that a manual spam action on my website has been revoked. And now they have resent a more specific message as above. Talk about confusing people!

errorsamac




msg:4478251
 7:24 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@n00b1 - Has your site recovered it's rankings yet? If not, I would be concerned that you were hit with a second penalty.

Simsi




msg:4478252
 7:25 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Talk about confusing lol.

So maybe there is an obvious answer to this but I'll ask anyway: if Google thinks a link is suspicious, why doesn't it just discount it in the algo? It's frustrating having to monitor other webmasters to check what they are doing isn't harming me.

n00b1




msg:4478256
 7:34 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@errorsamac

You would be concerned after 3 days? I have been in this situation before with another site and it took about a month for me to recover. I very much doubt there is any 'second penalty' here, especially given the clarification for the 'unnatural links' message was as above. In other words the measured type, not the your site will be destroyed type. I still see the troublesome links listed in GWT but I explained these in the reconsideration request which was successful. Nothing new has been added and the links should disappear off their graphy so a second penalty would make no sense.

mfishy




msg:4478259
 7:51 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google may want to consider simply not counting links they consider lousy. No need to do anything else.

grippo




msg:4478263
 8:08 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The "Unnatural inbound links" can't be so silly as it appears to be. This is how I like to understand:
  • Some link building techniques that were working in the past, just won't. They are not talking about well known unnatural links, say black hat. They want to make clear that some link building techniques won't work any more. Forums signatures, links from any friend site where you have enough control to put a link in.
  • You can't control sh**ty unnatural links. G perfectly knows all about that, and as a matter of fact the original PageRank algo was based on this inability. G are not counting them (I hope). Those are not affecting your rankings (I hope).
  • There are other kind of unnatural links that Google can't assert if you can or you can't control. Thear are in a gray area. If you made some unnatural linking in the past, you get an alert now, and maybe you can clean some of them. If that happens, G gets a hint. and maybe this is good for your rankings (I hope).
  • I can't realize what will happen with those unnatural link that stay in the gray area, but I think this notice is for helping to split one from the others.

courier




msg:4478272
 8:52 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

I got one of these new messages also, I was a target of a massive negative SEO attack early last year when links to my site grew to more than 100,000 in a short time, and still new links getting added today. I have just checked new links accredited to my domain this month and it already stands at 88, so surely G can see themselves if I am at page 20+ this site makes no money, so why am I buying links?

I have been dropped from G results for around 17 months now, and have all but given up on this site. Makes a joke when I am asked if I can remove any suspicious links. I am almost certain who has been responsible for my demise, but G must shoulder some blame for allowing this to happen.

Rollo




msg:4478276
 9:07 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google should really reconsider this business of penalizing for incoming links. It's just too high a burden and the loss of productivity will be enormous if one needs to check backlinks everyday and try to email webmasters to take down links for the reasons cited here - there's no way to control what others do with their websites.

Do you really want to create a situation where sites can blackmail each other or where one might have to file a lawsuit against another website to stop it from linking all the while wasting so much precious time on this silly chore? I think Webmasters have enough chores they have to keep up with. I can't think of a more demanding job than being a Webmaster as it is.

Bad, bad idea Google... just ignore the links you don't like and de-index the spammy pages that host them. There's just no need to open up this Pandora's Box.

jwarren93




msg:4478277
 9:11 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Simsi is right... "if Google thinks a link is suspicious, why doesn't it just discount it in the algo?"

Google already knows when a link comes from a crap site, so discredit it, trash it, do whatever you so choose with that information, but don't bother us with it. We're not here to help build your algorithm. That why you guys get paid the big bucks. Figure it out, and let's move on.

On the other hand, if you truly do want our input, let's talk. How do we get a hold of you again?

seoskunk




msg:4478278
 9:17 pm on Jul 23, 2012 (gmt 0)


Bad, bad idea Google... just ignore the links you don't like and de-index the spammy pages that host them. There's just no need to open up this Pandora's Box.


I think the Pandora's box has been open a long long time. People have been Google Bowling sites for years. The difference here is google are being up front and transparent when your penalised. Surely thats not a bad thing

I also think disavow links will be a huge quality indicator and put the webmaster back in control.

crobb305




msg:4478320
 12:58 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

Today, I got two of these new messages in a 4-minute period (to the same site). Will I get a message for EACH suspicious link that is detected? The site in question is one that was already Penguinized, and was also previously penalized subsequent to an "unnatural links" message received back in early March. The reconsideration request for the March notice was rejected two weeks ago (it took 7 weeks to get a response, by the way). The two new messages today are just additional slaps to the face, and they seem a bit redundant/ridiculous at this point. The messages are still just as vague as ever.

CainIV




msg:4478345
 5:35 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

The entire (paid links + notification) system is crude, poorly planned, even more poorly executed and needs to be drastically fixed fast.

At this point the only thing that will save it is for Google to bite the bullet and offer disavow and full disclosure of links Google sees to any domain.

Opens up other worms, but at this point this latest move would is quite frankly embarrassing.

atlrus




msg:4478350
 6:02 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is some light in this tunnel:

However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole.

If I am reading this correctly - Google will simply discount the links, instead of penalizing your website. God, I hope I am reading this correctly :)

Wilburforce




msg:4478355
 6:59 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

If I am reading this correctly - Google will simply discount the links, instead of penalizing your website.


What if the target pages are penalised for the link anchor text? I don't read "targeted action" to mean "ignore".

indyank




msg:4478369
 9:13 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole.


I read it twice, thrice and many times again and again. Doesn't this mean that they infact mean a penalty, which they impost for the site as a whole in other cases (say penguin and panda) and here they will take targeted action (impose penalty) on the page in question.

If they meant "ignore" by "targeted action", what is the need to mention it along with "instead of your site as a whole"? If they ignored the unnatural links to a page, the page in question will naturally loose its ranking power but the other pages on the site or the site as a whole shouldn't have to be mentioned at all as the impact on them will or should not be much. I think this is the very first admission by them that all these are penaltiesthough they try to play with words and call them "targeted actions".

So what will happen if they found unnatural links to the home page of a site? Won't the whole site be affected?

n00b1




msg:4478371
 9:31 am on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

It is a bit ambiguous really. You could interpret it as meaning that "they are taking targeted action on the unnatural links" which simply means devaluing them. The "instead of your site as a whole" is probably just to reaffirm that this isn't a penalty which does usually affect the entire site - it doesn't necessarily mean that it is narrower penalty.

If you follow what Matt C has said on G+ and elsewhere he seems to imply that the message is an FYI and it may not require any intervention from the webmaster. They even got rid of the yellow caution symbol to reflect that.

Maurice




msg:4478396
 12:14 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

@adder had the warning on the 18th for site that got panda'd hard months ago

netmeg




msg:4478403
 12:39 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I for one take it to mean that they are not taking action against the linked-to site, but they are devaluing the links (which may result in a slight rankings drop if you were artificially up there to begin with)

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

crobb305




msg:4478408
 1:18 pm on Jul 24, 2012 (gmt 0)


However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole.

If I am reading this correctly - Google will simply discount the links, instead of penalizing your website. God, I hope I am reading this correctly :)

This is also how I read it; however, what about entire sites that seem to have been previously penalized (subsequent to Penguin 1.0, the site doesn't rank #1 for its own name and is supplemental for snippets of content)? Maybe the next Penguin refresh will reduce the severity of the penalty, particularly for the site owners who have done some link cleanup. We are going on 2 months since the last Penguin refresh.

I am just returning from a 10 day vacation (needed to get away from the computer), so just catching up on all the news in WebmasterWorld. I am trying not to ask redundant questions. It still sounds like a big mess with these link messages.

[edited by: crobb305 at 1:36 pm (utc) on Jul 24, 2012]

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