Google sends out GWT penalty notices
The dreaded Google link penalty message made its way to a number of terrified webmasters yesterday, as Google ramps up – again – its quest to clean up ‘unethical’ linking techniques.
Buying links or participating in link schemes with the sole purpose of passing PageRank from one website to another is against Google’s guidelines – every SEO knows this and is probably the first point you were told when you started working in the field.
None of my current client websites received such a wanring, but a website I used to work with (that I am still verified for) did indeed get one.
I had a quick check using the excellent SEO Majestic, and saw that their link profile took a huge surge in recent months:
There are a large number of directory links (I presume a fee was exchanged for a bulk upload) and spammy looking blogs. This really highlights the point that you need a quality link building strategy, rather than carpet bombing a ton of low quality blogs/forums/directories – that no doubt give you quantity, but not the quality. This isn’t even lazy SEO, its just the complete wrong technique in order to improve your website’s organic visibility.
So I thought I’d run a quick check, using the excellent tools avaliable to me at Intelligent Positioning, to see if this modification had any impact on rankings, which to my initial surprise – did not:
Could this indeed be the warning before the next instalment of Penguin is rolled out? Is it a heads up to webmasters to try and clean up their act prior to the filter being applied? Or was this website not as guilty as others were?
Since I posted this blog Matt Cutts has updated his Google+ account with an post trying to add some transparency to what was an ambiguous message in the first place. Turns out, Google are (according to the latest message below) going to review the ‘unnatural links’ to you website (with a possible downgrade), rather than penalise your website as a whole. So any position drops, resulting in a loss of traffic, will no doubt be due to the weaker links that are now pointing at your website:
Your thoughts/comments, as always, are welcome.