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Do I actually have to do anything about unnatural links?



9:27 pm on Sep 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Am I misunderstanding? Everyone seems to be trying to get sites to stop linking to them because of "un-natural linking".

I read the message in my Webmaster Tools account and it says that they are ignoring the un-natural links rather than penalising my site.

BUT -- it then says, once I've got all the un-natural links taken down, I can file a reconsideration request.

I don't get it!? If my site hasn't been penalised, why is Google recommending that I spend time getting those links taken down?


10:34 pm on Sep 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I was wondering the same thing - I had a client that had a message saying the links were being ignored also but then to submit the request later?

The whole "unnatural links" thing gets me - if google is smart enough to find them and deem them unnatural in the first place, why can't they just discount them all instead of penalizing site owners and forcing them to go through the process of reviewing each link, determining by some ever-changing rules that certain links "may" be unnatural. Then submit a request for removal, then wait for a while, then submit a request for reinclusion only to find that in many cases they didn't remove all the right links so go through the whole process again!


6:53 am on Sep 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Not just that, but why bother to show your hand at all?

If you REALLY know which links you do and don't trust, then why tell people about it at all? Why give spammers information about what tricks don't work?


2:00 am on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sorry to go all tin-foil-hat on you all ... but magically, the message in my admin area has changed today. Now, my site is being penalised.

That's a little mysterious? What an odd co-incidence ...


4:09 am on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

It seems pretty straightforward to me. The initial message warns a webmaster that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural links pointing to his site. Although the message goes out of its way to avoid explicitly accusing the webmaster of intentionally violating the guidelines (ie. "If you don't control the links pointing to your site, no action is required on your part."), it is clear that they are giving the webmaster a chance to check the links and take action to remove or disavow any suspicious/bad links he finds before the final judgement is made to penalize the site.

If the "probationary" period ends and Google sees no change, they penalize the site if they believe the violations were intentional and the webmaster receives the second message that informs him of the penalty and explains how to resolve the situation.

A common response to the first message is, "I've done nothing wrong, so I don't need to do anything." Clearly, that is a risky attitude. Google's system and the quality raters are hardly omniscient. So, it would seem to me that a webmaster should take a close look at their incoming links when they receive the first message, and take some action to remove or disavow links that might be deemed artificial. And you should document those actions so you can demonstrate your intention to comply with the guidelines because if you do end up being penalized, filing a Reconsideration Request armed only with a claim of innocence has proved to be futile.


6:46 am on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

and take some action to remove or disavow links that might be deemed artificial

May I take a contrarian view?

With the first message ( where Google says only some links are ignored and you may file a reconsideration if you can get rid of such links), Google is only testing if you really control those links or if you are a victim of competitor sabotage. If links go soon after the first penalty message, your guilt is established and you are a candidate for overall penalty.

internetheaven, did you remove some links after you received the first penalty message from Google?


3:00 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think there's a simpler explanation. When Google started to aggressively penalize sites for incoming links, the webmaster community started to buzz with complaints that it was too easy for competitors to sabotage their sites by posting bogus links. So Google adjusted their automated SPAM link detection system to first notify webmasters when their site was about to undergo a manual review on this issue. That would give the webmaster a clear warning that there was something unusual about some of the links pointing to their website, and gives the webmaster an opportunity to bring the site into compliance.

Every situation is going to be a little different, of course, but whether or not a webmaster is truly guilty doesn't much matter. If Google thinks you're guilty they're going to penalize you unless you bring the site into compliance with the guidelines. And if you do get penalized, the path to getting the penalty removed will likely be a lot smoother if you demonstrate your intention of bringing the site into compliance from the start.


4:49 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Sorry but I don't buy it - to me it's a ploy by Google to see if you are a) participating in link schemes (they suspect but can't prove) and b) when you do comply they use the links you removed to go after other suspects.

I see the long play here - Google wants to crack down on link vendors because they know that link pop is still important and there really isn't another decent measure of quality. That or pagerank is so ingrained in their ranking algo that they can't take it out (remove the sparkplugs and the machine doesn't start).

So what Google could be doing (and it makes more sense to me) is trying to weed out the link sellers by penalizing the link buyers. That's the only explanation that makes sense to me because there's enough PhD's on staff there to figure out just how to disqualify a questionable link without human intervention (ie disavowing links)

Robert Charlton

5:31 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

internetheaven - The core question, I'd think, is whether you think you actually do have some links... a lot of links... that are "unnatural" (ie, which are not freely given editorial links).

If you do have such links, it's not likely that Google was just testing the waters... they were firing a shot across your bow. Now, they're suggesting that you fix the links before they sink your ship.

I'm curious how much time between the first warning and the penalty notice.


5:57 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Take That Back: Not Every Manual Action Must Be Acted On...

I know the preceding is specifically about Manual Actions, but I think the "sometimes it okay to not do anything" point likely applies to "Warnings" also.


6:27 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

That "sometimes" applies to links you know nothing about and which Google is already discounting as part of it's regular algorithmic discounting of crap links.

If you're not aware of the specifics, remember that we're essentially ignoring those links...

What kinds of links would a web publisher not be aware of? Scraper links come to mind.

That Googler also goes on to say:

If you're aware of specifics around those links, then I'd recommend resolving them...

What kind of crap links would a web publisher be aware of? Those are the ones that should be acted on.


7:14 pm on Sep 13, 2013 (gmt 0)

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What kinds of links would a web publisher not be aware of?

Maybe I am one of the few, but I do not obsess over links. I spend my time working on content and communicating with existing and potential customers. I don't have any time leftover to troll through looking at links. Because I don't obsess over links, I really don't have a handle on how many or where my links are coming from.

If every webmaster is to be deputized into Google's link police department, A LOT of us small guys are going to suffer even worse hardships in the years ahead. Time is not an abundant commodity many of us have that would allow us to volunteer for such actions. There are more important things to do like answering E-mails, talking to customers on the phone and basically running our businesses. If I am to sacrifice my customer service to obsess over links, I should just close the doors now. Although places like Amazon cream me in Google, I'll mop the floor up with them when it comes to customer service. They can't service what they don't make or even ship in most cases!


10:41 am on Sep 15, 2013 (gmt 0)

well with reading so many cases and my experience

it is complete waste of time

because you cant take down all links 100%

remaining ones enough to get you algo penalized

and Google clearly marking valid links as spam


5:43 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

How does Google know the difference between a paid link and an earned link.


6:14 am on Jan 28, 2014 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If you're not aware of the specifics, remember that we're essentially ignoring those links...

For years I have seen unnatural links that I have nothing to do with and have not bothered trying to figure out why some dodo has a link to my site. I quit even looking at them because 9 times out of 10 you can't even find any link if you go looking for it. I figure it is info they scraped off Google, trying to have "content" on their site, and it gets swapped out all the time. I think these are the kinds of useless, low quality links that they discount naturally. I'm pretty sure they don't think I arranged any of it, especially when it isn't at the place they claim has a link.

I have received no messages about unnatural links, either, but if I had arranged some links, I think I would try to un-arrange them if I got a message like that.

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