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#1 glyn

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 09:08 AM

I have had a few reports of this nature appearing in various GMWT accounts recently.

Upon closer inspection and analysis I can reveal that there is absolutely no consistency whatsoever in the sites to which these messages have been applied, and as all my links are good links and very natural I take great offence to Google suggesting otherwise. If there is a problem with my site, I would like clear instructions on what is considered wrong. A message with a few links to generic forums is as helpful as a landing page that brings you to the homepage of a website with portalized content.

Dear site owner or webmaster of ,
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 on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include selling 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 have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team


There has been no-drop off of traffic.
The site(s) have not been deindexed.

If there is problem, tell me the page, dont make me trawl few 10s of thousands, because I wont and it's doubtful others will too.

If there was a negative impact, then what is to stop someone doing unnatural linking to finish off a competitor, and what's the recourse for that person in the case they get hit with this.

Go after the bad SEO's that are putting up horrid websites. That would be a quality filter everyone would appreciate :)

G.

#2 iamlost

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:16 AM

I have read many similar complaints the last month or so. Three things that you might look for:

* one or more sites linking to you from many pages, i.e. sitewide backlinks.

* a significant percentage of repetitive backlink anchor text, especially using high value terms.

* broad/multiple interlinking between your own sites.

Remember that no SE can actually determine natural or unnatural linking; they can only set certain subjective filters. I do note that these filters do seem to vary by vertical/niche so that it can be worthwhile to have a feel for industry link profiles and how your site(s) compare. Being too much of an outlier may be hazardous.

Note: the messages seem to come a week to a month before traffic is affected; G may be providing a warning with a followup evaluation to see if the 'problem' is resolved before dropping the hammer.

Two further comments:

* this would appear to make toxic link bombing a competitor a nasty but valid option once again.

* those of us who simply ignore WMT seem to manage just fine; at least we don't get the aggravation of generic warnings.

#3 clandestino

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:30 AM

Hey Glyn,

A lot of these notices have been a result of Blog Networks. I have one contact that went on BMR and SEO Link Vine and put up just 10 links. He just wanted to see how it worked. He has about 4,000 pages on that site and a lot more than 10 links. You wouldn't think it would make that much difference.

We think that Google follows the known Blog Network links back to your site, finds your WMT script and bam, you're a vicitm.

He got that notice in Jan. He removed the Blog Network links and filed a Request for Reconsideration and Google gave him a pass. His rankings were never affected.

It will take a lot longer now because they've issued about 1 million notices and I'm sure it will take a long time to get through them all. Hopefully they don't penalize your site and then put you on hold for 3 months until they can get to your Request for Reconsideration.

But you're right. This business of Google being unwilling to communicate when they are making Billions of dollars is ridiculous.

Check my rant here ---> http://www.cre8asite...showtopic=90344

Also note that a new industry has sprung up. There are businesses now that will point bad links at your sites to get them penalized. Google -- negative seo -- and check it out.

#4 clandestino

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:50 AM

I think I would follow this guy's advice regardless of the source of the links --> http://www.seomoz.or...networks-advice

One of the comments on this thread says that Google gave him a sample of some links they said were unnatural. He said they were reciprocal links --> http://www.seomoz.or...file-what-to-do

Post here and let me know what happens. I'll give you an e-mail address if you want. Or, is there a way to send a direct message on the forum?

Edited by chuckfinley, 16 April 2012 - 02:24 PM.


#5 glyn

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 06:33 AM

iamlost thanks for the refresher, and those site wide links can be a problem I've seen those in the past (I remember one link was generating 70,000 inbound!).

Chuck, cheers and those guys at SEOMOZ are funny, spoon-feeding research methodology. For the record a blog/SEO network becomes worthless the moment you go and sell it. The trick is not to sell it :rolleyes: and to actually care about your sites...something just about every network I've seen doesn't.

Automate what you can ( LOTS AND LOTS!) but don't substitute it for building stylish, competitive websites that make a user remember how easy it was to find what they wanted, and don't every fall foul of the biggest SEO condition:

"the I am spending so much time setting up a tool that is super complicated that because of the fact it is so complicated and expensive and because it is a piece of advanced technology, it will guarantee me position #1". It won't, or it might for a bit and then you'll be back to the beginning learning another tool!


:)

#6 clandestino

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:03 PM

Hey Glyn,

I know about SEOMoz. They're always trying to analyze 2 variables and think they've reached a definitive conclusion when there are 20 variables that affect the problem. Another way to look at it -- they always want to try to multiply a number with 2 places to the right of the decimal by a number with 10 and claim accuracy to the 10th place. In math, everyone knows you can only get accuracy to 2 places.

I look for good info everywhere though. Everybody has something we can learn from them.

When I see updates that are good information, I'll post it here.

Has anybody had actual experience as to when Google will drop your rankings?

Has anybody been let off the hook when the webmasters they contacted ignore their requests to take down links, as they will do? (The Request for Reconsideration says that Google will consider that.) ???

Isn't it kind of ridiculous for Google to ask you to contact webmasters to take links down when -- the webmasters won't do it, they probably scraped your content and linked to it, your competitor googled -- negative seo -- and hired a firm to bomb your site with blog network links and then reported the blog network to Google, etc., etc. etc.

Edited by chuckfinley, 16 April 2012 - 02:26 PM.


#7 clandestino

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 10:46 PM

Here's an interesting view ---> http://www.branded3....link-algorithm/

#8 glyn

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:34 AM

I think I will switch off all my Webmaster Tools accounts.

#9 bwelford

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 08:51 AM

I've said before that my picture of Google in all this is that of the Sorcerer's Apprentice in that old Walt Disney film. When they first put out the notion of PageRank based on links between web pages as a measure of authority, they were unleashing forces that they had not thought through. Of course people would try to add links massively ... and now we end up here.

Isn't it time for Google to go back to the drawing board. They have an infinity of other ways they could run their Search process. Forget about PageRank and links in the algorithm. I'm sure Matt Cutts can get a job doing something else. He is a likeable and smart cookie.

#10 clandestino

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 01:54 PM

I think I will switch off all my Webmaster Tools accounts.


Glyn,

Smart move.

#11 clandestino

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 02:11 PM

I've said before that my picture of Google in all this is that of the Sorcerer's Apprentice in that old Walt Disney film. When they first put out the notion of PageRank based on links between web pages as a measure of authority, they were unleashing forces that they had not thought through. Of course people would try to add links massively ... and now we end up here.

Isn't it time for Google to go back to the drawing board. They have an infinity of other ways they could run their Search process. Forget about PageRank and links in the algorithm. I'm sure Matt Cutts can get a job doing something else. He is a likeable and smart cookie.


Hi @bwelford,

I had argued that Google should publicize the changes they want ot make 6 months in advance and explain how to make the changes, probably provide actual examples.

The problem with all of this is they are victimizing hard working entrepreneurs and their employees in a time of financial catastrophe. And worse yet, they are doing it over greed.

Sergey Brin is quoted here as being scared that Google is being subjected to oppression that may limit their freedom --> http://www.webmaster...oog/4441200.htm

Well, there's a lot of small business owners that are feeling oppressed right now by Google and stand to lose their livelihood and their employees will be in the unemployment line.

I do agree with you, though. An even easier way would be to put all of this behind us and evaluate sites on their marketing quality and whether they attract customers and engage them on their sites rather than trying to use Gestapo tactics -- Matt Cutts actually tweeted to Dan Thies that he's glad Dan's followers know Google is watching. What??? Is Google some kind of Totalitarian Regime.

This is wrong and unfair. Listen to this poor guy -- he had 12 sites burned and Google won't even comunicate with him -- Why? -- http://groups.google...ers/NJgHT_GPMMQ

There should be some Social Responsiblity, it's smart PR.

And, all of this during the worst financial catastrophe the country has ever experienced (next to the Great Depression).......

Edited by chuckfinley, 17 April 2012 - 02:15 PM.


#12 clandestino

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Posted 17 April 2012 - 07:47 PM

Hey Glyn,

If you put up a new domain and copied your old site there; 301 redirected the old site to the new (page by page preferably); stripped GWMT, and any other Google product, off the old site; and didn't add GWMT to the new site -- do you think the penalty would be passed on by the 301?

#13 jonbey

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 07:15 AM

Google can follow 301s so I do not see how that would "fix" a site. I recall reading some post-Panda threads where people moved all their content to another domain and smirked as they thought they fooled Google, then a few weeks later (next Panda sweep no doubt) their new sites vanished too. Google follows links and then assesses what is there.

If the content is really good, then maybe take the best of the content off to a totally new domain and start afresh, on a new server and keep everything squeaky clean?

#14 clandestino

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:21 AM

Hi @jonbey

I remember reading a post where they said they did that and they had links to comments by someone from Google saying Google doesn't track penalties with a 301. Who knows if that's true. It sounded convincining. But as always, guidance from Google usually works out to be no guidance at all. If someone from Google said that, they may not have been correct or they may have been right but Google changed their mind the next week.

If your site gets burned, though, it may take months to get it back, if ever, and rankings may not ever come back the way they were before. It might be worth a try if you have some time and another domain to burn.

And after someone tries it, please report back here, LOL!

Edited by chuckfinley, 19 April 2012 - 12:22 AM.


#15 jonbey

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:18 AM

Obviously never tested it, but if the content is not the problem, just the way a domain has been promoted, then starting a new domain with great content and fresh SEO really may work out well. If you have a lot of good content... if possible maybe schedule 1-2 pages a day using the old content and make it look like a funky new site is born. Then while the site is auto-publishing your content you work on the SEO and marketing.

If my site was deindexed for spamming etc then that is probably what I would do - assuming that I knew I was spamming and filing reconsideration was going to be a wasted effort.

Content is king!

#16 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:25 PM

There is a classic case where a very well-known SEO blogger bought a "white hat" domain and a "black hat" domain and redirected the black hat domain to the white hat domain and the white hat domain was subsequently penalized by Google. The SEO blogger ranted and raved on his blog about how he lost a large amount of money on this investment.

Matt Cutts suggested he undo the redirect, and the white hat domain subsequently recovered its former good status with Google.

While this incident occurred several years ago and things could have changed at Google, I think it shows that Google has in the past analyzed 301-redirect behavior to assess penalties, even if that doesn't explicitly mean the penalty followed the redirect. One might be splitting semantic hairs to argue over what Google was actually doing.

#17 clandestino

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 08:43 PM

Hi @ Michael Martinez

Thanks for the info, it will be helpful to a lot of people here. There are 1,000's, if not hundreds of 1,000's of people that are getting burned due to circumstances out of their control (one billion users are on Google each week).

You would think that the penalty would follow the 301. It's not a strategy I would recommend other than in dire cases -- if someone's site gets burned, they can't figure out what will please Google, and Google won't tell them (which is very common), it would be worth a try to recover the site this way. They wouldn't have anything to lose, except some time and very little money to buy a domain and host it.

Based on the experience you recount -- if they 301 the site over and the penalty follows, they can always take the 301 down and start from scratch.

Unfortunate that it would have to come to that just because Google won't communicate.

Edited by chuckfinley, 20 April 2012 - 08:53 PM.


#18 strongwordia

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 10:50 AM

We received a warning and are still mulling over whether or not to submit a reconsideration request. It seems we have lost some rankings for head terms but suffering no significant drop in traffic since we have tons of traffic from tail terms. Was there any further news on what happened to you after you ignored the warning, glyn? Anyone else have any further advice, iamlost, others?

Edited by strongwordia, 04 July 2012 - 10:52 AM.


#19 jonbey

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 01:25 PM

I am curious - has anyone ever received such a warning when they have done nothing that they thought was wrong? i.e. they have not bought links? strongwordia, you may not want to say here, but are you sure you are clean?

From a conversation elsewhere (Google+ I think) a figure was thrown around (and then dismissed) of 85%. Remove 85% of the dodgy links and you would be OK for reconsideration. Problem is, what to do if you have not knowingly done anything wrong?

Or does WMT tell you which links are looking unnatural?

#20 strongwordia

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 02:30 PM

Haha, No! WMT does not tell you what an unnatural link looks like! (Good one.)

I'm really interested in hearing from glyn whether he/she had a site that received a warning, ignored it, and nothing happened.

I have read numerous reports of people getting a warning, getting whacked and not being able to do anything about it but wait for the (merciful?) GoogGods to remove the penalty (if at all).

Glyn seems to be saying "Let sleeping dogs lie" (and the dog is asleep).

Edited by strongwordia, 04 July 2012 - 02:38 PM.


#21 glyn

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 04:33 AM

Add content, do some nice linking and that's it.

#22 Michael_Martinez

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 01:40 PM

Haha, No! WMT does not tell you what an unnatural link looks like! (Good one.)

I'm really interested in hearing from glyn whether he/she had a site that received a warning, ignored it, and nothing happened.

I have read numerous reports of people getting a warning, getting whacked and not being able to do anything about it but wait for the (merciful?) GoogGods to remove the penalty (if at all).

Glyn seems to be saying "Let sleeping dogs lie" (and the dog is asleep).


Glyn is wrong to say that. If you've received a notice in Google Webmaster Tools, pay attention to what Google is telling you. THEY found something wrong and they are taking MANUAL action against your site.

Doing nothing could mean the penalty will stay in place for as long as 4-5 years.

#23 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 02:05 PM

I thought I was pretty clear about that as well in the other related thread, but *shrug*, don't know how else to be more clear.

#24 clandestino

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:36 PM

Glyn seems to be saying "Let sleeping dogs lie" (and the dog is asleep).


The dog is asleep.

#25 jonbey

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 05:38 PM

Seems like the dog is barking, not sleeping .....

#26 strongwordia

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 06:04 PM

Thanks everyone, we filed a recon request and awaiting word after their review.

#27 clandestino

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Posted 11 July 2012 - 06:22 PM

Thanks everyone, we filed a recon request and awaiting word after their review.

You did the right thing. Some people filed 4 months ago and not a word. Their rankings didn't drop either.

At least by filing the recon request you'll find out if there is a manual action against you. John Mu noted that even though you haven't seen a ranking drop after the notice, you may be subject to a manual action that had been imposed quite some time before and they are just getting around to issuing the notice.

In my friend's case, there is no way there has ever been a manual penalty imposed and not a peep out of Google.

I have read lot's of reports that Google does nothing and I have read lots of reports that they will grind you into the ground if you don't show overt signs of subservience and frantically remove links from your site.

Your guess is as good as mine.

Edited by chuckfinley, 11 July 2012 - 06:26 PM.


#28 glyn

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 02:49 AM

Glyn is wrong to say that. If you've received a notice in Google Webmaster Tools, pay attention to what Google is telling you. THEY found something wrong and they are taking MANUAL action against your site.
Doing nothing could mean the penalty will stay in place for as long as 4-5 years.


That's fine Michael, you have your data and I have mine, and from where I am sittting you don't know what you are talking about. But it's of no consequence unless you work at Google, and even if you did I wouldn't believe you.

:)

#29 DonnaFontenot

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 06:17 PM

Regardless of what you do with the information, there's news on this... Lots of new notifications got sent to webmasters today. Go check your Google Webmaster Tools to see if you got hit with an unnatural link notice today.

#30 jonbey

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 06:28 PM

"No new messages or recent critical issues."

I remember a time when not getting mail made me sad. I am talking pre-email era here.

Not getting mail now makes me happy.

Is that progress? Hmmm. No, not really. Oh well.

One interesting point - for a couple of my sites (not the main ones that you probably know about) I have done some directory link building in the past as an experiment. Lots of directory links, pretty low quality. No messages on those accounts.

So I wonder what people are doing to get the messages? Blatantly buying links?

#31 iamlost

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 06:47 PM

There

One interesting point - for a couple of my sites (not the main ones that you probably know about) I have done some directory link building in the past as an experiment. Lots of directory links, pretty low quality. No messages on those accounts.

So I wonder what people are doing to get the messages? Blatantly buying links?


It is NOT a simple matter to tell whether a particular link is 'natural' (for some definition there of) or not. Mostly, the SEs work from identified networks and from variations from norms (for some definition there of). Note: what is normal for one vertical/niche may be quite different from another. Typically a threshold is set - I vaguely remember a mention of crappy, i.e. site wide, widget, directory, links exceeding 60% of a site's total links. Obviously it would typically be set high enough to minmise false positives, although with the current campaign that has been on for a while now that threshold may gradually be lowered.

Regardless, simply having crappy or unwholesome backlinks is NOT a site SE killer unless and until they become some significant proportion of a sites total backlinks. A sudden large change, especially addition, in backlinks may throw a flag as well; again, not necessarily a problem, i.e. the site is mentioned on one or major major sites or news, but it likely (remember, nothing is actually known beyond the SE event horizon) gets a check - again perhaps not so much the absolute number of new links rather the percentage increase.

Naturally the older, more popular a site the less such things may have an impact. The newer, less popular a site the more change would be noticeable. And there are always those sites that seem to do everything agin the rules and still rank well... ah well if it were easy... :)

#32 clandestino

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 08:01 PM

"No new messages or recent critical issues."

I remember a time when not getting mail made me sad. I am talking pre-email era here.

Not getting mail now makes me happy.


LOL!

One interesting point - for a couple of my sites (not the main ones that you probably know about) I have done some directory link building in the past as an experiment. Lots of directory links, pretty low quality. No messages on those accounts.

So I wonder what people are doing to get the messages? Blatantly buying links?

Here is my best guess.

I don't think there is anything wrong with using directory links (excessive anchor text may result in Penguin visibility, though). Maile Ohye is on video saying Google doesn't care about low-end directories because they don't affect PageRank. Also, she says,



scraper sites do this to everybody, including Matt Cutts.

Of course, Google may have changed their minds and forgot to tell us about that, LOL!

If you were involved in the main Blog Networks that Google had their eye on such as BMR, the odds are pretty high that you're going to get the Unnatural Links Notice, regardless of the depth and breadth of your link graph.

If you're spamming forums with Xrumer, you're in a high risk position. I saw one the other day where the SEO company created a Forum Group and 1,000's of users that posted with anchor text. We think they must have been using automation because the user names were random strings. I bet Google is wise to this trick.

I read someone that said if you're using any link building package that has a name, you're in a high risk position -- Google has probably bought those packages and is using the info learned to fashion their algorithm. Seems pretty logical.

I'm guessing -- if you have a very broad link graph with high trust and authority links, you may not be vulnerable to the effects of the above links, which fits with what @iamlost is saying. And, of course, if you have a large link graph with some decent links, why would you want low-end directory links? That's what everyone is talking about in regard to Negative SEO. Everyone agrees that you can't take down a high authority site with Negative SEO. It can definitely happen on low authority sites though, so be nice to your competitiors ;).

So, it seems that the antidote to protect yourself from Google is a large number of links with a significant number of links from high authority sites. Who knows what the number of high authority links would need to be, but I would feel pretty good if 10% were on the high end. How many total links? "Shrug" who knows, it depends on the quality of links, but it may be in the 300K to 500K range.

That seems logical as Google is showing a distinct bias toward brands and brands are the kinds of sites that will have that quantity and quality of links.

I doubt you need to worry. There's a difference between advertising yourself on directories and creating a link scheme that generates 25,000 links from one directory, forum, blog site, membership site, etc. It's the large number of links from one domain that trips the notice.

Having said that with reasonable confidence ;) , off to check Webmaster Tools, LOL!

P.S. I've seen several discussions where people that put links in Wordpress Theme footers were penalized and the response on their reconsideration request was that Google wouldn't remove the penalty until the footer links came off, good luck on that one. Here's what Barry Schwartz at SE Roundtable says --> http://www.seroundta...inks-15068.html

Edited by chuckfinley, 20 July 2012 - 01:55 PM.




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