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By: Bob Sakayama
2012-07-25 17:05:11
In the past several days, Google sent out a huge number of messages from Webmaster Tools. Many site owners received 3 or 4 messages within a few days. If you very recently (19 July 2012 or later) received a warning of unnatural links from Google it was very likely starts with one of these sentences:

"We've detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines."


"We've detected that some of the pages on your site are using techniques outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines."

These warnings are very, very similar to previous ones sent out in advance of penalizing your site, or to explain why you've been penalized. These have always been scary messages to receive.

And you're probably trying to parse that message against this one from Matt Cutts, which is trying so hard to play down the seriousness of it.

In my view, the message can easily be interpreted as a fishing trip to see if they can trick you into removing some links, and it will probably work. Cutts' post explaining it seems so innocent and lighthearted, given the background that surrounds it. He's saying that this time it's different, doesn't mean you're about to lose your ranks. He starts by trying to downplay the message - even says, "don't panic."

But put this in the perspective of what's really going on and it will appear much less innocent. Very simply, and because of factors outside of Google's control, they are much less certain about what you are actually doing. Negative seo has cast a huge shadow over the certainty of responsibility regarding links pointed at your site. This is reflected in the language of the warning, which is much less accusatory than previous warnings.

"We don't want to put any trust in links that are artificial or unnatural. We recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole."

The History Of Warnings

Couple of things to point out here. First is the history behind this message. Previously, this message sometimes appeared in WMT almost exactly 21 days prior to very granular rank suppression. Sometimes it appeared after rank loss. So in the past, this message was always connected directly to an enforcement action. So why is it different this time, exactly?

Then there's this: "If you are able to remove any of the links, please submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took." If you remember the penalty types, you'll know that only manual actions require a reconsideration request. Automated suppression does not. So Google is messaging us with the threat of a manual action on our sites if we don't remove some of the links deemed unnatural by them.

I read this new message as a weird kind of threat: 'we see that you're very likely using unnatural links, even if they are outside of your control, and if you can remove them we won't harm you. But if you do remove them, be sure to treat this as a penalty and file for reconsideration.'

Seems like Google's messaging is tangled up in contradictions arising from their real agenda conflicting with their desire to do the right thing. But if you received this warning, you may have to provide a sacrificial offering to satisfy the beast. Most people will read it that way which is why this fishing expedition will probably succeed.

Conclusion: If you received the warning, unless you are under negative seo attack, sacrifice some links.


One interesting observation is that of the sites that have contacted us with this message, all have large numbers of links coming from individual domains. Most of those are site-wide. We're focusing take downs on these, especially if the anchors are high value targets. Too early to know whether this is enough. In some cases, where automation was used to build the links, it probably won't be.

Blog_id: 36 | Posted: 2012-07-25 17:05:11 | Views (11,297) | Comments (1)  
Comment By: Stella
re: Unnatural Links Warning
(posted 2012-07-25 19:57:12)

Cutts is saying that this is a step towards more transparency, but what a joke. Google is not showing us which links are the problem, so where's the transparency? Agree - they're just trying to get us to remove links.

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