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