If you work in search marketing, unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll be no doubt aware of the hundreds of thousands of webmaster messages that Google sent out basically telling people Google knows about your crap links and it’s going to do something about it.
Well, a lot of chatter in webmaster forums at the moment is saying it’s started. And the focus is Unnatural Links.
Welcome To The New Google
Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links
Dear site owner or webmaster, 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.
Google sent a lot of these “Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links” messages out to a LOT of website owners recently – and there’s a lot of noise around the web.
THIS SIGNALS A BIG CHANGE IN HOW GOOGLE REACTS TO YOUR LINK BUILDING EFFORTS. The short answer is IF you are linkbuilding using low quality and inexperienced methods….Google is now organised enough to start slapping you about a bit.
- No longer it seems, can you rely on Google to ‘just ignore’ links it doesn’t like and you’ve made yourself. Now, these links may well get you penalised – and quickly – and a lot more noticably.
- No longer, it seems, should you be very cavalier about were you get your links. I, for one, have been happy to take links from anywhere, pretty much safe in the knowledge links are not toxic, and Google will ignore a lot of them. I’m not even sure letting people scrape your content for links is that safe these days!
Google even said recently links can’t **hurt** you, that toxic links don’t really exist, but what’s clear, is that your website CAN have a toxic link profile. It’s clearly all about YOUR INTENT. If your intent was to rank high in Google for particular keywords…. I think that’s enough for Google, these days, to sink your site.
EDIT – A number one consideration in 2013, is to ensure your link does not end up duplicated across LOTS and LOTS of low quality sites. Too many of these types of links DECLARE AN INTENT to Google to manipulate rankings.
Beware overdoing any of the following…..
- sitewide links and site interlinking, and ESPECIALLY if using rich anchor text, and or manipulating the links in any way (like changing the keyword text)
- blog comment links
- article marketing links
- rss syndication links
- directory links
- Get links from real websites
- focus on getting links to inner pages of your site
- build natural domain authority
- Add lots of new content to your site
- Make sure your web page is OPTIMISED for EVERY keyword phrase you think it needs to rank for…..SERIOUSLY…these phrases need to be on the page if you expect to rank
- make sure your content is shareable
Is linkbuilding dead? No. But it just got a LOT more risky.
This advice is not new – it’s just that much more important now.
Unnatural Anchor Text Icebergs
Too much anchor text and little brand signal? If your anchor text profile looks like this:
…expect some ranking woes
over the next 6 months….. ESPECIALLY if those links are from low quality sites!!
If your site is in Google Webmaster Tools – check for a warning message. You will have about 3 weeks to sort this. If you see your rankings take a nosedive – something is toxic about your link profile.
Light at the end of the tunnel? Once you clean up your profile and get back into Google’s circle of trust, perhaps you have a clean start and a chance to do it a bit differently this time? Especially, if Google is going to actually take action on your competitors who are spamming worse than you…. time wil tell on that one.
If you do get a Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links message:
- stop link building **wether** or not you are fighting fire with fire
- make an effort to remove your crap links (especially the ones with a lot of similar phrases – there is a lot of phrase match penalties being handed out and some are reporting their websites and blogs deindexed)
- submit a reinclusion request
- accept responsibility and take your penalty
- reconsider where you are getting your links from – and definitely,
- KNOW where you are getting your links from
- pay attention to site-wide links from other sites…. not only are most of them useless anyway…. now they can make your link profile REALLY toxic ( I think!) – (UPDATE – this has been confirmed with an example actually included in Google’s recommendations to webmasters)
- focus on getting links from REAL sites, and ideally, sites with REAL online business authority
- You can probably forget about generating a lot of anchor text rich links fast….
For now you should probably concentrate on building links with brand signals like simple website addresses and/or your brand name, while paying particular attention to the QUALITY of the site you are getting links from.
I am certainly ONLY marketing my site via CONTENT CREATION, for instance. Social links DO NOT pass the same amount of link power as traditional links especially from very trusted websites…. but they are getting more important, and the more people who see your site, the more chance there is of picking up natural links…..
Manipulating anchor text is very risky now…. and ESPECIALLY if those links are from low quality sites!!
Linkbuilding Strategies & Opinion from the Hobo archive….
- Tell The World About Your Site But Dont Ask For Links Read between the lines when Google gives advice about linkbuilding!
- Local Links For Local People Get the links you DESERVE first
- Link Building Is Easy When You Have Content Worth Linking To It’s all about content these days – on your sites and others!
- Finding Suspended Websites & Link Opportunities With Google
- Reciprocal Links – Good Or Bad – One way links might be better, but reciprocal linking between websites is often natural
- Links From Unrelated Sites – NOT All Bad
- Links That Effect Ranking Change In Google SERPS A list of the type of links you should be aiming for….
- Ranking No1 In Google For Various Terms
- Get Links From REAL Sites (IE websites that do not just exist to link to other sites)
- …and remember it’s not all about actually getting to number 1 in Google these days…. see Getting To Number 1 In Google & Staying There or A Real Google Friendly Website in 2012?
It’s Not Just Links That Sink A Site
It’s worth remembering it’s not just links – or specifically unnatural links – or either, your LINK PROFILE as a whole – that make your site lose rankings in Google. Chances are – if you are running a new affiliate site, for instance, with little domain authority, Google isn’t going to rank you very high in it’s search results pages at all – NO MATTER how good and original your content is.
- Quote: If A Page Exists Only To Make Money, The Page Is Spam
- Doorway Pages Penalty – The Neutral Zone
- Sites Treated Differently For A While Regardless Of Inbound Quality Signals
- Google Sandbox? Or Do You Just Have The Wrong Type Of Site To Compete In Organic Results?
I didn’t even mention Google Panda or the most recent massive fluctuations in Google, which a LOT of webmasters are being very vocal about in the forums….
maybe next time…..
Interesting times indeed :)