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Unnatural inbound links warning
asusplay




msg:4562856
 9:16 pm on Apr 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

I received the following unnatural links warning message early last month.

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 unnatural or artificial, and we recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realise that some links may be outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action to reduce trust in the unnatural links. If you are able to remove any of the links, you can submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took.


I was told by the guys who do my SEO not to worry and ignore this message, and not submit a reconsideration request but 10 days later after I saw it traffic absolutely tanked. The explanation I was given was that some links had been devalued and that new quality links need to be built but I am convinced a penalty is involved otherwise there wouldn't be such a massive drop in traffic.

Does this message signify an algorithmic or a manual penalty?

Also is a reconsideration request necessary or would it be enough to clean up the link profile and wait for Google to lift whatever penalty?

 

tedster




msg:4562962
 4:28 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, that automated warning is applied in three different situations.

1. The first is what you originally assumed - just letting you know about the situation, but no traffic loss will result. Doing nothing is the best bet here.

2. The second occurs when the notice is soon followed by ranking and traffic losses. Then I think it's time to break out the Disavowed Links tool and Reconsideration Request - unless the traffic lasses are something you can live with.

3. The third is when things get really dire. Massive traffic losses show up and when you examine the backlink report, you see a vision that's quite hellish with link manipulation programs. You have a big job on your hands here, and may need to abandon ship. It can be worth giving it some energy, but maybe not too much.

I've seen all three of these situations, but Google doesn't tell you where you stand specifically. It's something each affected webmaster needs to work for themselves.

TheOptimizationIdiot




msg:4562970
 4:52 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I've seen all three of these situations, but Google doesn't tell you where you stand specifically.

Unless you're the BBC, then someone at Google will look into it and get right back to you and let you know exactly how many pages are effected. (Of course they don't play favorites to brands, in word anyway.)

asusplay




msg:4563039
 9:59 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks, I think I'm on point 2, however the people that do my SEO still say using disavow is telling G that you've been link building and that you've made a mistake.

My question is do you have to fill in a reconsideration request, wouldn't the disavow tool be enough until the next crawl?

ColourOfSpring




msg:4563052
 11:25 am on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

3. The third is when things get really dire. Massive traffic losses show up and when you examine the backlink report, you see a vision that's quite hellish with link manipulation programs. You have a big job on your hands here, and may need to abandon ship. It can be worth giving it some energy, but maybe not too much.


Just on this point (and I know it may not apply to asusplay), this can happen to any small website with not enough "defensive" authority links. Google will NOT ignore even these links even if they're absolute useless garbage links like forum profile links. Instead Google will penalise your site for them. Anyone can negative-SEO a new site, or an old site that doesn't have sufficient authority links. Disavows can take weeks/months to take effect, and whoever comment/forum profile spammed your site can do it again and again.

asusplay, from the links you see - did you build these links, and are they easy enough to remove? If yes to both, remove them and submit a reconsideration request.

asusplay




msg:4563081
 12:19 pm on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Thanks ColourOfSpring

To answer your question, no I didn't build these links. I hired an SEO company who did link building for me in terms blog writing etc, white hat stuff to increase the link profile.

However on seeing the actual link profile on Majestic I have seen some things which I am not happy with, such as blog spam, some site-wide links etc. When I have raised this I was told it was OK as my competitors were all doing this (my site is in a very competitive field). So unfortunately I cannot remove these links (which are not that many), and have to rely on things like Majestic and WMT to figure out what has been done.

However my site is not an authority in that niche despite my efforts in all of these years so I guess like you said anything that could be perceived as negative will have a negative effect and not just be ignored.

My gripe with submitting a reinclusion request is admittance of wrong doing in the first place...

martinibuster




msg:4563103
 2:12 pm on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

as my competitors were all doing this


That is Cop Out #1 used by spammers and so-called link builders. Your link builders do not have your interests in mind, they're not thinking of how to overcome competitors. They're doing what's expedient.

What your link builders are doing is talking white hat but doing what is expedient (and easy). This is becoming endemic in certain circles. The other day I discovered a link selling network on a PR 6 website. Both the link seller and many of the so-called SEO Agencies partnered with that publisher are members of a popular SEO community that promotes so-called white hat tactics.

How a publisher and agencies can be members of such a community while engaging in link commerce? People rationalize what they do by saying things like Google likes it because it's relevant, we're bringing quality advertisers together with quality publishers, etc.

Meanwhile the bucks get passed under the table in exchange for links. The white-hat talk without the walk is endemic in certain circles. Crowing about white hat strategies is a marketing tactic.

If Google flagged your links that's because your link builders did a bad job. They can't excuse it by saying everyone else is doing it. That is not a strategy, it's a cop-out that reveals their lack of understanding of how to build links in a competitive environment.

still say using disavow is telling G that you've been link building and that you've made a mistake.


They made a mistake. Google knows they made a mistake. Google is telling you that they made a mistake. Now your link builders are telling you to put a leaf over it to hide the shame? Serious? How many Xanax a day are they taking to maintain their illusion that everything is fine? Everything is not fine. You've been busted, it's the worst-case scenario. Hiding is not an option.

First step is to see your situation as it is. The reality is that you're caught, you're busted, you have been found out. Honestly face the reality that you have spam links and your site is in a bad place because of it and that the situation is not going to change until you take positive actions.

Second step is to remove as many of those spam links as possible. Don't automate the process or put a newbie on the task and email all of your backlinks [seroundtable.com]. Just get rid of as many of the spammy links as possible.

Third step, submit the disavowal spreadsheet, name the names, explain that you were duped by an SEO agency. Tell Google who they were.

Fourth step is to start over with a better approach.

jimbeetle




msg:4563133
 4:05 pm on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

martinibuster left out a step: Immediately fire the company that's doing SEO for the you. It never should have put you in this situation.

superbitz




msg:4563178
 5:55 pm on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I second jimbeetle: fire the SEO company. More than that, don't be afraid to throw them under the bus when you craft and submit your reconsideration request (and you will need to do that).

Remember as well that Google wants to see a GOOD FAITH effort on your part to prune unnatural links before you resort to the Google Disavow Link tool and before you submit a reconsideration request.

To see what you are up against, <snip, to the effect of: check your backlinks at one of the free sites online.> It's not super accurate but it will give you an idea right away of how much work you really may have to do here.

Good luck and keep us updated!
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 12:12 am (utc) on Apr 23, 2013]
[edit reason] removed specifics, per forum Charter [/edit]

lucy24




msg:4563222
 8:00 pm on Apr 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

hired an SEO company {snip} white hat stuff

It is not every day you see these two things in the same sentence

:: carefully avoiding eye contact with you-know-who-you-are ::

asusplay




msg:4567128
 9:53 pm on Apr 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well I did get rid of them last week I was just waiting until the end of my invoice period in hope traffic would come back like it has done before with Panda updates...if only! I have no confidence in their work and despite telling them why I have stopped working with them they have made no effort to try and rectify the situation. In fact they are pointing to a .htaccess file where I have redirects from the restructure I had a few years ago, so in a way shifting the blame onto me which is ridiculous and infuriating.

I now have a monumental task ahead. <snip>

I can take the time to go through each site in WMT and Majestic, but I don't understand how I can realistically get links removed if they are from comment spam or just spammy links in general. I understand the disavow tool is quite advanced but if you haven't built the links yourself isn't this the only resort?
.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:44 pm (utc) on Apr 22, 2013]
[edit reason] removed specifics, per forum Charter [/edit]

jimbeetle




msg:4567144
 10:55 pm on Apr 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

Well, the SEO company, acting as your agent built the links, so I guess it's up to you to get them removed.

Google wants to see a good faith effort to remove links before submitting a disavow file and reconsideration request. The only thing you can do is contact as many of the linking sites as possible and see what happens. (And keep records of your progress for when you submit a disavow file and reconsideration request.)

Robert Charlton




msg:4567210
 7:20 am on Apr 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

asusplay - It's very likely that the SEO company has some association with these link sources. I feel you may well be in a position to exert some pressure on the company. You can hope that, at the least, they kept some records, including a list of links "built", of linking domains, and domain contact information... all of which would make your job much easier.

Regarding the disavow tool, here's a recent thread that might help you....

Best practices for using the Google disavow tool, confirmed
Feb 3, 2013
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4542078.htm [webmasterworld.com]

It's very likely that these two suggestions in the thread will apply in your situation...

- "I would concentrate on the links reported in the Webmaster Tools on Google."
- "Be aware of the site-wide disavow possibility, it will make your life easier"

With WMT and Majestic, you would have a list that Google considers an adequate starting point, and also a way of checking anchor text.

Good luck, and please do keep us posted.

Whitey




msg:4567213
 7:31 am on Apr 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

@asusplay - just some questions first. Did you :

- have good knowledge about the "unnatural" nature of those links during the build period
- think they may become a liability at some stage in the future
- benefit $$'s from increased traffic/income during the period they were in effect

Then I think you need to weigh up who's responsible for the "damage". Is it your SEO entirely or partly yourself, and what the benefit v damage is.

Then work out if you're going to fix it or not, with or without the resource of the fired SEO company who you might consider charging or requiring them to contribute to the rapid clean up work, even though you may forbid them from touching your site again.

Then I'd do all possible to strengthen your link profile, so that your site can survive, fast. Use the disavow tool carefully, rebuild quality links urgently, diversify anchor text, 404 heavily linked to pages and set up new pages in replacement, where sensible.

IMO prepare for a complete cleanout of sites in the major Penguin 2 update, due soon, and treat the "unnatural links notice" as the most notice anyone's ever had to take steps to purify their sites. Google has shown no mercy in Panda/Penguin and my guess is they are only 75% done before axing the final major grouping of site's into the bin.

I'm being dramatic, but as recent history shows, Google takes no prisoners in these major updates. And Google seems clear about the sites it wants out of it's results.

If Google has discounted some of those links, and you can guess which one's they are, disavowing them may reinforce the act of faith that Google might be looking for.

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