Have you recently gotten a warning from Google about having “artificial” or “unnatural” links pointing at your site? Google says this isn’t a fresh crackdown on link networks but rather a change from bad links being “silently distrusted” to being more vocal about this type of penalty.
Many people have reported getting messages from Google regarding link violations. If you scan the Google Webmaster Help forums, for instance, you will see many examples of these being posted.
Here is how one reads:
Dear site owner or webmaster of ….
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Links No Longer “Silently Distrusted”
Last month, Google appeared to take action against several blog/link networks. Are the messages going out because of that? Google told us no. Rather, it is that Google’s choosing to report penalties about bad linking issues more now than in the past.
A Google spokesperson emailed this statement:
The majority of the increase in messages to webmasters is not due to messages about links. Rather, Google recently started sending messages to sites even for egregious or “blackhat” violations of our quality guidelines. The vast majority of the increase in messages is thus due to expanding the types of messages we send, not because of more warnings about links.
It is true that actions on link networks have been more visible lately, but there’s an important disclaimer to that. Google has been able to trace and take action on many types of link networks; we recently decided to make that action more visible. In the past, some links might have been silently distrusted or might not have carried as much weight. More recently, we’ve been surfacing the fact that those links aren’t helping to improve ranking or indexing.
Earlier this year, Google said that it significantly increased the number of messages they have sent through Webmaster Tools in 2012.
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