Many website owners employ Google’s webmaster console to check how the site is doing. The search engine giant has just begun sending out new messages to sites showing a peculiar pattern of unnatural links pointing towards them. This post is for giving more context to these new messages being dispatched.
Original link messages
First, let us know a bit about the original link messages Google has been sending. When it sees certain unnatural links that point to a site, there are various different ways that it can choose to respond. It may reduce its trust in the whole site in many severe cases. For instance, this can happen when the search engine believes a website has been engaging in an apparent ‘widespread’ pattern of link spam over considerable time. If a site gets notified for such perceived unnatural links, it recommends removing low-quality or spammy links as much as you can before you submit a reconsideration request for the site.
What has now changed?
In select few situations, Google has noticed cases of directories or blog networks not taking links down. If a site is trying to charge you to put links up as well as to take links down, you can let Google know about that, either by mentioning the same on webmaster forum, in a separate spam report or also in your reconsideration request. Google does take action on such sites, since they often emerge as ones indulging in link spamming themselves.
In cases considered less severe, Google sometimes targets specific spammy or artificial links generated as part of an apparent link scheme and distrust only those, instead of acting against a site and its overall ranking. An explanatory post by Matt Cutts elaborates:
“We wanted to take this extra step toward more transparency now so that we can let site owners know when they might want to take a closer look at their current links. The new messages make it clear that we are taking ‘targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole.’ The new messages also lack the yellow exclamation mark that other messages have, which tries to convey that we’re addressing a situation that is not as severe as the previous “we are losing trust in your entire site” messages.”
The new messages are definitely worth your attention. Why so?
- What fundamentally it means is: Google is now distrusting certain links to your website. The search engine often takes this action when it sees a site that might carry some artificial or spammy links pointing to it (paid links, widgetbait, guestbook spam, blog spam, excessive link exchanges, excessive article directory submissions, and other types of linkspam). So while overall rankings of the site might not drop, likewise it might not be in a position to rank for some phrases.
- Google does use this message for innocent sites some of the time where people are perhaps pointing hacked anchor text to their website to try and make them rank for queries such as (buy Viagra).
- If you receive this new link message, you might want to check some of the most recent links so as to spot anything unusual. And if you discover someone has been carrying out widgetbait, paid links, or any serious linkspam, clean it up and submit a reconsideration request.
- Just to provide you some context, just less than 20,000 domains (less than one tenth the total number of messages Google sends out in a typical month) have received such new messages. And if you do get one such message, there is no reason to panic, but you should not ignore it either.