Google Penalized One Article On BBC’s Web Site

bbcGoogle did end commenting on why the BBC received an unnatural link notification despite offering us a “no comment” on our story this past Friday.

Was the BBC penalized for unnatural links? Was it possible that the world’s largest news organization was not trusted by Google’s algorithms? The answer is, only one article was penalized.

John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google Switzerland, said in a Google Help thread:

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.

As you can see, Google will penalize a specific webpage, specific section of a website or even the whole site.

In this case, it seems as if Google only took action on a specific article and not the whole website.

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Kyle Eggleston

    I don’t think Google would be this graceful to smaller websites/companies. It seems like Google had to be delicate with BBC because they’er a media mogul, and could very easily sue them. Just another premium example on how Google favors the superiority of Big Business.

  • Miklin SEO

    Google is the America of the internet.

  • Naveen.S

    Kyle just imagine that BBC is moghul of media and at the same time that Google is massive giant of internet from USA. Yes indeed BBC can sue them. I wonder how Google can penalize for just one article against BBC.

  • Richard Horvath

    Interesting to see Google pentalize just one page. I wonder if they have done this before and we’ve just never noticed it.

  • Derek Ostler

    Has anyone else ever seen google just penalize one page with no other pages being effected?


    They are in the spotlight. This was an easy case to detect and penalize.

  • Scott Van Achte

    This is ridiculous to me. Come on Google. Do you actually think that the unnatural links to that specific article were the result of the BBC spamming?!?!?!?! I highly doubt it. On the surface this looks like a big win for Negative SEO. Everyone, start setting up bad links and direct them at Google. – oh wait. It won’t matter. Is there any way to Give Google a taste?

  • Joe Youngblood

    A lawsuit would be frivolous but Google has been burned by the media a lot lately. This might be an attempt to maintain a delicate relationship for PR’s sake.

  • Durant Imboden

    It seems that “transparency” attracts more brickbats than praise.

  • halezaidi17vi

    my co-worker’s aunt makes $62 an hour on the laptop. She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her income was $16289 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more on  Ask25.c­om

  • Craig Broadbent

    One of Google’s stock messages is that it’s taken action against individual links/pages. They’ve got egg on their face sending messages to the BBC though, hopefully this will nudge them into providing more granular detail in messages.

  • Jawad Latif

    Interesting. Came to know first time that Google can penalize even a single page, leaving rest of the website as it is.

  • Mark Hughes

    To those saying that it’s ridiculous that Google would penalise the BBC – I don’t quite agree. Just because the BBC is a big site, that doesn’t mean some employee of their site (or another big website) might be tempted to play dirty tricks to improve rankings. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that the BBC would ever do that. But other big sites might. So this is a message to big sites (who largely escaped the same penalties as smaller sites last year) that Google are willing to penalise anyone…in theory!

    There is a real double standard in the response, though. I doubt the local florist who unwittingly employed a dodgy SEO and doesn’t have the team of techs and online marketers to help them fix it, would get that. I’m sure lots of your would back up that from experience.

  • Jane Carroll

    If you think Joan`s story is surprising,, three weeks ago father in-law also made the small fortune of $7691 just sitting there seventeen hours a week from there apartment and they’re friend’s aunt`s neighbour was doing this for 5 months and easily made over $7691 part time from a labtop. use the instructions on this site… jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

  • Local SEO Florida

    This is really funny-good news, Google did end commenting on why the BBC received an unnatural link notification despite offering us a “no comment” on our story this past Friday.

  • Paul Gailey


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