Samanthatouch - 3:51 pm on May 29, 2013 (gmt 0)
Well, this took a bizarre turn.
Last week we received an 'unnatural links' message in WMT tools that said...
"Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include selling links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes."
So, I looked through the site and found less than a dozen paid links that did not have the rel attribute set to nofollow. They were cases where older pages were uploaded during an update so I fixed them and sent my reconsideration request.
This was our first bad message with WMT and have been using it for years.
Today we received our response...
"We've reviewed your site and we believe that some or all of your pages still violate our quality guidelines."
I have no idea what Google thinks we are doing.
Since the site still does well and seems to be ranking decently on Google still. I'm not sure what to do. It definitely is ranking lower but we get a lot of our traffic from schools/institutions/organizations and other search engines.
Any suggestions as to what we should look at since all the links we are paid to have on the site are nofollowed and not (never were) in the content but in the sidebar?