Google’s Sending Webmaster Notifications About Bad Links Pointing At Their Sites

google-webmaster-tools-logoIn January 2011, Google began sending out more webmaster tool spam notifications including notifications that your site has been penalized because of selling links. Now there are reports that Google is notifying webmasters that they have bad links pointing to their web site, as opposed to bad links on their web site pointing outwards.

Here is a sample of the email notification from Google:

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. Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team

As you can see, the key distinction here between the January notification and this notification are the words “unnatural links pointing to your site” versus “unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites.” As you can see, Google is telling webmasters that their site has been penalized because they have bad links, maybe paid links or other unnatural links, pointing to your site.

Google began its campaign against paid links in October 2007 and has continued the fierce campaign since then.

Related Articles:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Web Search | Google: Webmaster Central | Link Building: Paid Links | Top News


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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  • Sean Stewart

    So I guess this means it’s time to start buying links and pointing them to competitor websites? Is that what Google is trying to teach us? This is why the “war on paid links” can’t be won. Just another way for BlackHat SEO’s to manipulate the rankings.

  • K.C.

    The “War on Paid Links” can indeed be won, Sean. Google just needs to stop giving any value to sites that sell links and provide no other value.

  • Sean Stewart

    @Ker The only way they can be 100% sure is if they’re involved in the transaction. They can certainly devalue the links which is exactly what I think should be done. The problem with devaluing is that it’s not really scalable which is the way Google likes to do things. Sure some link sellers leave footprints that are easy to detect, but how can an algorithm determine that a blog post containing a contextual link was paid for? The only way to completely eliminate paid links is to ignore links as a ranking factor and you and I both know that’s not going to happen.

  • Major TOM

    it dosen’t make sense that google penalize because of having bad links if so most of people would start to point their competitor with bad links is this hard ?

  • Michael Martinez

    They include a request for details of any links people cannot control so I would say that this is a step in the right direction toward allowing Webmasters to deal with their concerns (whether justified or not) that someone else might be trying to poison their backlink profiles.

  • iriyas

    This is not going to work #fail

  • Bruce Michael

    This will create a real panic situation among website owners, they should also create a solution for this. And am with Sean Stewart that he said “start buying links and pointing it towards your competitor.”

  • Indrajit Champaty

    if this happens then spammers will start building/selling bad links to competitor sites. Google should deal with the situation in a different way. better if it gives notification as soon as it detects a bad link to the site. it will allow the webmasters to report complain against the site. instead of saying “site has been penalized” better to say “site will be penalized”. whatever may be the SEO is going to be tougher in the coming days. :)

  • Roger Weavers

    Google should just not give any value to links they don’t like. By actually penalizing sites for bad backlinks will only lead to abuse.
    It’s probably cheaper to build bad links than it is to build good links so I can see Black Hat SEOs will stop building backlinks to their site and just build bad links to any site that has a higher ranking.

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