What do webmasters do when receiving a manual action from Google telling them they have a penalty because of paid or bad links pointing to their site?
Google told us back in June that we should use Google’s “links to your site” report within Webmaster Tools to analyze bad links pointing to our sites.
In fact, earlier that month, a Google engineer who works in search quality named Aaseesh Marina told an SEO named Marie Haynes that using Google Webmaster Tools “Links to Your Site” section would be enough to discover the bad links pointing to your site and to submit a reconsideration request. I actually confirmed that with Google’s John Mueller later that day, and he did agree that the downloaded sample links report would be enough to find the bad links to your site.
Then last week, I spotted a help thread where Google sent an unnatural link notification to a webmaster, and one of the example links provided by Google in that notification was nowhere to be found in the link report within Google Webmaster Tools.
One would think that Google representatives Aaseesh Marina and John Mueller weren’t telling the whole truth when they said all you need to worry about are the links in the sample links report. So, I immediately emailed Google and asked them why are we getting mixed messaged.
Google’s Matt Cutts, the head of search spam, responded saying:
It’s certainly the case that we endeavor to show examples from the set of links returned by Webmaster Tools, and likewise we prefer to assess reconsideration requests on that basis of those links. However, if there’s a really good example link that illustrates a problem, we do leave enough room to share that link, especially because it can help point the webmaster in a better direction to diagnose and fix issues.
From this response, it seems that even if the link example is not removed but all the bad links found within webmaster tools are removed, Google may decide to lift the manual link penalty. I am not 100% clear on this, but that is my impression from this response.
Typically, Google is not asking you to remove all the bad links, but they want to see you make a significant effort to remove most of the bad links. Which may be why Aaseesh and John said it would be enough to just look at the links within Google Webmaster Tools.
- Google Advice On When To Submit Reconsideration Request & How To Clean Your Link Profile
- Q&A With Google’s Matt Cutts On What To Do If You Get A Manual Penalty
- How Google’s Disavow Links Tool Can Remove Penalties
- Filing A Google Reconsideration Request? For Best Results, Use The Same Language As Your Site
- Google Sending Additional Reconsideration Request Responses To Webmasters
- Google Adds Reconsideration Request Status Updates
- Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice