Over the last 24 hours Google has issued a large number of “unnatural link” warnings in their latest round of combating websites manipulating page rank and not conforming to Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Webmasters & SEO Managers with access received warnings within Google Webmaster Tools that Google has detected “unnatural links” pointing to their websites and that web masters must resolve the issue to avoid a potential penalty in search rankings.
The warnings originate from Google’s web spam team in their ongoing quest to clean up and improve the quality of Google search results. In a nutshell, if you’ve paid for links, obtained large quantities of links using link schemes or you’ve used “unnatural” anchor text within your links you could have a problem.
Dear site owner or webmaster of XXXXXXXXX
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.
Google Search Quality Team
Why have I received a message now?
Previously, Google didn’t notify you, instead you simply received a penalty and the first time you became aware of it was when your site fell down the rankings. Over the last few months Google, in an attempt to improve transparency, has started to issue warnings with the expectation web masters correct the problem and then submit a “reconsideration request” to have the warning lifted and thus avoid a penalty.
I don’t know what to do, help!
Don’t panic. Google sent you a warning for a reason, you have an opportunity to make things right:
1. Complete the form here and request a FREE SEO Review of your website.
2. Identify problem links (those that are purchased or from questionable sources or those with “unnatural” anchor text frequncy)
3. Remove the links
4. Submit a “Reconsideration Request” via Google Webmaster Tools
If you have received a warning or are concerned about the potential for receiving a Google Penalty to your website then please contact a member of our team to discuss rectification options and receive further information on how to avoid similar events in the future, it is crucial if you have received a warning DO NOT IGNORE IT!
UPDATE 21.07.12 – Matt Cutts, Head of Web Spam at Google:
Last night, Matt Cutts commented on his Google+ Page:
If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.
In short, this is good news as Google are warning you that they have “distrusted” individual links to your site rather than indicating an imminent site wide penalty, so whilst this should still be addressed, it means it’s unlikely you’re site will suffer a manual penalty from Google – for now at least.