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Matt Cutts: Bad link notification emails will include sample URLs

 3:15 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Danny Sullivan in Q&A with Matt Cutts at SMX Advanced...

DS: Give us an update on penalties and how they’re working now.

MC: At the reception last night, an attendee didn't know this, so I need to reiterate: Algo updates happen 500 times a year and we don’t message webmasters on those. But if we’ve taken direct manual action that will affect your site, you will almost always receive a message in Google Webmaster Central.

One thing that’s new is we’re testing the inclusion of example URLs — when we send a manual action notification, we'll include one or two or three sample URLs to show what’s wrong.

(Audience applauds)


Good to see Google making big efforts to reach out to webmasters in tidying up their sites.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 4:47 am (utc) on Jun 12, 2013]
[edit reason] fixed attribution [/edit]



 12:28 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Just adding to this, I'd like to think Google has really been listening to the webmaster community on this issue and responded fast for folks who would otherwise never know. This communication was registered on March 16, 2013 on behalf of the BBC with John Mueller responding:

Looking into the details here, what happened was that we found unnatural links to an individual article, and took a granular action based on that. This is not negatively affecting the rest of your website on a whole. [productforums.google.com...]

Later on around 23 April, 2013 Mozilla was penalized, but as it transpires for only one page. John Mueller and Matt Cutts responded seperately: [productforums.google.com...]

I'm not sure if at the time of this advise, plans were in place to advise webmasters, but if not, this is a really fast response to providing a "half way solution" by providing examples. Let's see what transpires and how practical it is to work with.


 1:05 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

In thunderbird I get alerts like "thunderbird thinks this email is junk"

Be nice if WMT had something like that "these links are suspicious..."

Might be too easy


 10:30 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts expressed difficulties about exposing all of the offending links to a site as it might provide spammers with a tool to abuse. Not sure I understand that, but I do hope that the upcoming communications provide significant insight into what Google classifies as "bad".

DS: How do we know what links count anymore?

MC: Your rant last year was good. A press release link — you’re paying $100 for a link. That shouldn’t count. But making a good site that earns links is what you want. One kind of link will stand the test of time and one won’t.

Matt points to Apple as a company that focuses on great experience for users, and they’re doing well. Encourages audience to think that way. [searchengineland.com...]

Clearly Google cannot identify every bad link, but the problem is that webmasters can't be sure what Google likes in the "gray" area.

Links IMO are a nightmare for both Google and webmasters to play in, IMO, but .....

How are you going to handle "gray" links that Google might misinterpret as manipulative or paid?


 11:15 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Yep they only comunicate if you are "a brand" eveyone else well never mind


 11:24 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

Be nice if WMT had something like that "these links are suspicious..."

Ah, but if they did, the link spammers would be on it in the first 5 minutes, using it to find exactly where the line was and start spamming like mad just on the safe side of it.

Better like this, giving you a clue where to look, without offering a roadmap of how to spam successfully.


 11:54 pm on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

I wonder why people with manual penalties get special attention, special help, and a potential way to recover, that isn't available to people whose sites have algorithmic penalties.


 1:32 am on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I wonder why people with manual penalties get special attention, special help, and a potential way to recover, that isn't available to people whose sites have algorithmic penalties.

usually it's because the site has been outed by an influential media outlet or the webmaster asked for help in google's webmaster forum.
it's probably also because it took special attention to apply the manual penalty and therefore would take special attention to remove it.

cynically speaking, there's always time for special attention with big brand sites, especially when the manual penalty was applied in order to make a very public example.


 12:41 pm on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

I still think it's unfair. If someone's site gets a manual penalty, Google sends them a message about the reason for the penalty, and gives them a way to recover by submitting a reconsideration request.

But if a site gets an algorithic penalty or major demotion, the owner doesn't get any information about the cause and a reconsideration request is completely futile. Why couldn't the algorithm at least send an automated message about the cause of the problem and what can be done to fix it?

Google's present policy in this matter is clearly unfair.


 2:05 pm on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

There *is* no "fair".


 2:49 pm on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Some of the snakeoil salespeople masquerading as SEOs won't like this. I think that many of them just spam site owners requesting that links be removed and charge the client for this service. IF, it is capitalised for a reason, it turns out that only a few links in a site's profiles are bad or "unnatural" then it will mean less money for these people who trade on the fears of site owners. Only after the FUD smoke clears will the damage that blanket removals requests have done to the ranking of these sites become apparent.



 3:48 pm on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Tthis is something people have begged for and I see it as a step in the right direction. Think how much it could help with negative SEO, assuming such a thing exists and works. You'd see "example" links that you don't know how you got, and then you would know to quickly disavow them. It might also make disavow a sharper tool instead of a blunt weapon.


 4:54 pm on Jun 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

Speaking of big brands, I was reading an article on The Economist site and there is a link embeded in the article that looks incredibly unnatural. If you go to the economist site, click on the "No privacy, the govt isn't spying on us" article, you'll see the link.


 8:30 am on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)


That's pretty funny, lol ... real spam, indeed


 9:20 am on Jun 14, 2013 (gmt 0)

:) That did make me chuckle.

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