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Matt Cutts Discusses The New Inbound Link Notifications

 8:50 am on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts discuss about New notifications about inbound links in one GWT blog post:[googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.in ]

Last week we began sending new messages to sites with a pattern of unnatural links pointing to them, and I wanted to give more context about these new messages.

Original Link Messages

First, let's talk about the original link messages that we've been sending out for months. When we see unnatural links pointing to a site, there are different ways we can respond. In many severe cases, we reduce our trust in the entire site.

New Link Messages

In less severe cases, we sometimes target specific spammy or artificial links created as part of a link scheme and distrust only those links, rather than taking action on a site’s overall ranking. The new messages make it clear that we are taking "targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole." The new messages also lack the yellow exclamation mark that other messages have, which tries to convey that we're addressing a situation that is not as severe as the previous "we are losing trust in your entire site" messages.

How serious are these new link messages?

These new messages are worth your attention. Fundamentally, it means we're distrusting some links to your site. We often take this action when we see a site that is mostly good but might be might have some spammy or artificial links pointing to it (widgetbait, paid links, blog spam, guestbook spam, excessive article directory submissions, excessive link exchanges, other types of linkspam, etc.).



 1:52 pm on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

The additional details Matt offered here do help me understand the variety that these new messages offer.

The strategy I still suggest is cleaning up those spammy links that you know you created, but do not worry about the rest. Then, if your traffic still seems to be negatively impacted, use a Reconsideration Request and explain what you've done.

I'm still reluctant to put in work getting rid of backlinks that the site itself didn't create - that really is Google's job (ignoring them), not mine. Only if Google is really getting it wrong is it worth some of the site owner's energy.


 2:23 pm on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

@tedster Of course what Google cannot determine is the intent of the linker and this is what will upset many people who get the notifications and who may consider that they've done nothing wrong.



 2:34 pm on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think most of what he said was already assumed after his Google+ posts. I guess it was nice for him to go into further detail.

One question I have...Do we really believe that only 20,000 messages went out?


 3:12 pm on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)

I had somehow missed the "don't use keyword anchor text with widgets" directive from Google. I've done a lot of widgets over the years. I'm sure glad I've stuck with my brand name as the anchor text. I thought the advice was "don't use off-topic anchor text" like "free online dating" next to an unrelated survey widget. But if the anchor text matched the content of the widget and your site it was OK.


 1:32 pm on Jul 29, 2012 (gmt 0)

This whole situation with penalizing for bad links is extremely frustrating and down right idiotic.

I have gotten both types of messages and after downloading the "latest links" from the WMT I saw thousands of links to our website from Polish domains. We don't do business in Poland, but I know of competitors from that country and I would not be surprised if it's their doing. Those websites are blatantly spammy and I couldn't even begin to envision how to work this out. We have clearly been punished for it, since our most popular pages rank sporadically, while very niche pages are doing just fine.

What can I do? Nothing. I could try the reconsideration request, but I don't see what Google would do, certainly they would not fine-comb my links to remove those Polish spammers and even if they somehow did - what would happen tomorrow, when another batch of them has been crawled?!? Would the infamous "disavow tool" help me, if it ever shows up? Not likely, I just don't have the time to disavow thousands of links every day.

I also have many site-wide links from other websites in our industry. Would I dare forfeit this free advertising and popularity boost in exchange for some vague reconsideration from Google? I think not.

So I am basically hosed, but thank God for Bing :)


 3:16 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Got the original and new link messages for my main site

From my understanding in the discussion here, if your site didn't really see its traffic decrease after the original message was sent, you don't really have to worry. But you still need to clean your links.

I suspected the "unnatural links" are the blogrolls we have where we put all our list of sites in our right column. We have about 5 sites that cater to this big topic, with the main site being the most general and the other sites focusing on niche areas of the topic. All content of our microsites are original and don't copy any of our sites. We got the unnatural link message only for our main site.

After receiving the first message, I promptly removed all our blogrolls. Then I filed a reconsideration request. Three days later after filing the reconsideration request, I got the 2nd message.

Our traffic never declined during this period.

After 19 days, Google responded to say that "Manual spam action revoked" and in part says that

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.

I guess I was just surprised that manual spam action was taken against our site. For some naive reason, I thought that the "unnatural links" will be discounted.

Now I know that once you get a message from Google -- even though they try to make it appear that they are not scaring you -- that you should really take notice of it (if not scared).


 5:06 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

But if traffic never declined during that period, and you receive no boost after manual action is revoked, then there is no point in trying to clean backlinks. What's the point in taking notice of it?


 5:30 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

But who knows down the road when that manual spam action penalty will kick in?

I just think that the fact that Google slapped that manual spam penalty -- even though no traffic hit was apparent -- could mean that it could have some adverse consequences down the road.

Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't ignore the unnatural link warnings, despite Google removing the yellow caution sign.


 6:11 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

LOL - this is so funny. It is so easy and *cheap* to buy tons of garbage links. Heh - many times they actually work for rankings so it's mixed bag when it comes to negative SEO.


 6:44 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

For me, the biggest realization was that when you receive those notices in GMT, a "manual spam penalty" was apparently slapped on your site.

I thought those messages were only advisory in nature, and that your site does not have a manual spam penalty. I was wrong.


 8:08 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

What I don't get is that some sites get those messages even though they never arranged a backlink in their life - and they still are advised to "clean their backlinks."

Such sites have gone with a completely natural backlink profile, exactly as Google encourages. Now they are being asked to make new arrangements for something they never arranged in the first place. I know that many of the unnatural link notifications are on the money. In fact, many site owners have been surprised to discover that someone they hired or outsourced to did do some shady link building.

But it seem to me there are a number of false positives going on, too - and that factor is now distorting the nature of the web even further than the original PageRank algorithm did.


 8:23 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is it possible this is part of a scare tactic also, to really stop people buying links and using other spammy link building techniques. I haven't had any emails from Google at least, so I guess I know my strategies work.


 8:34 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)


Maybe we'll need a web tool that sends us an alert when our link profile is getting close to "unnatural" despite no scheming. A few steps ahead of Google...


 3:29 am on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

As always he could just shut up or leave Google then he would me more useful...


 5:51 am on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Oh, I disagree quite strongly. Even when Matt is spinning information like a top, I find he still offers something that gives me insight if I know how to listen to whatever the topic is. Sometimes it takes me a while to really hear it, but there is usually something worthwhile there.


 7:42 am on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Also its important to read between the lines

widgetbait, paid links, blog spam, guestbook spam, excessive article directory submissions, excessive link exchanges, other types of linkspam, etc

notice "excessive" i.e. its ok to do some link exchanging and article submission.

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