Since this year’s Penguin update on Google, some SEO professionals and marketers have had to adjust their game plan when it comes to promoting a client’s website. Some digital agency’s bad linking policies and link SPAM were the specific items targeted, causing many a link farm or directory site to lose their ‘link juice’ and thus reduce their worth as a linking partner.
This update was a major one, no doubt about it, however Google has been prepping for this for some time, for the last year they have sent notifications (where possible) to webmasters (Within Google Webmaster Tools) advising them of ‘un-natural’ linking to their site.
In the last few months, the notifications seem to have been increased as the major Penguin update ticked over, resulting in many webmasters and marketers wondering if this warning was a ‘friendly reminder’ or a literal penalisation. Google didn’t help the issue by sending out a message from Matt Cutts stating:
“We also changed the UI in the webmaster console to remove the yellow caution sign for these newer messages. That reflects the fact that these newer notifications are much more targeted and don’t always require action by the site owner.”
So, even more confusing; a message without a yellow caution sign doesn’t need action? There isn’t an ‘official’ word from Google, other that Cutt’s comments; however some digital agencies have been scrambling to hide their black hat techniques by requesting link removals from sites that they have paid for links. Even some white hat operators are revising links out there just in case it looks ‘un-natural’.
Certain link directories such as ‘Alt Dir” has attempted to cash in on this scramble by charging to remove free links on their directory. http://www.altdirectory.info/contact.php
Surely a new one for SEO professionals, having to pay to have links removed; one wonders whether some agencies will start offering money to webmasters to remove links to do reverse SEO.
Google has said many times, that not all links pointing to your site are ever indexed, or even ‘counted’ as a vote for your site if they are deemed low quality. Think about the amount of sites someone could create with SPAM content linking to your site; it’s completely out of your control. It seems that doing as Matt hinted; nothing, and stopping your bad linking policies in the future should be enough for now, and wait for Google’s much anticipated Disavow Link Tool, a tool that will reportedly allow you to ‘disavow’ or tell Google to exclude an external backlink so that you don’t get penalised. This may be months away as it is only in discussions:
“Some have suggested that Google could disavow links. Even though we put in a lot of protection against negative SEO, there’s been so much talk about that that we’re talking about being able to enable that, maybe in a month or two or three.” Matt Cutts speaking at Search Marketing Expo