/webmasters/community?hl=en
/webmasters/community?hl=en
4/16/12
Original Poster
Google user

Unnatural Links, Webmaster Tools, and "Negative SEO"

I have read the FAQs and checked for similar issues: 

My site's URL (web address) is: http://www.seofaststart.com and http://www.seoresearchlabs.com

JohnMu replied in another discussion () and suggested starting a new topic.

Both sites have received "unatural links" messages in Webmaster Tools. Neither site has had a "link building" campaign ever.

By using 3rd party tools (e.g. Majestic) I can see a lot of unnatural links pointing at both sites, but I didn't put those links there. I have, for years, warned people not to buy into blog networks, profile link spam, paid text links, etc. and it's easy for a spam peddler to add spam links pointing to my site, since making spam is what they do all day.

Thus far, neither site appears to be affected by "penalties," and in my own case, getting traffic from Google is not especially important relative to the large audience I already have. I have submitted reconsideration requests on both sites as JohnMu suggested, but the big questions remain:

1. What should a webmaster do when something like this happens?
2. Will Google still state that what others do on the web should not be able to affect the rankings of one's web site?
3. If #2 is not true, does Google realize that they are actually creating a larger market for the spam they want to prevent?
4. Why, if you find unnatural links, don't you simply delete the links from your index and carry on?

It is far less important to me, to get answers about MY sites - and far more important to everyone that Google address the issues which affect all webmasters.

Thanks for your time, everyone.

Dan Thies
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All Replies (96)
Joooh
4/17/12
Joooh
Some guys are already starting Negative SEO companies out there to do what they normally were doing to normal clients to their competitors to counter balance de unnatural links.
Will.Spencer
4/17/12
Will.Spencer


1. What should a webmaster do when something like this happens?

If you know Matt Cutts, you can call him and he will clear the penalty. Or, if you know someone in major media, you can ask them to write a story which embarrasses Google and THEN Matt Cutts will clear the penalty. Otherwise, you're pretty much screwed.

It is interesting to me that Google penalties are easy to clear if you are guilty and almost impossible to clear if you are innocent.
 

2. Will Google still state that what others do on the web should not be able to affect the rankings of one's web site?

Google has toned down that messaging, but not abandoned it entirely.

 
3. If #2 is not true, does Google realize that they are actually creating a larger market for the spam they want to prevent?

Google's recent actions have created a MASSIVE market in negative SEO.  The link graph is set to EXPLODE.

Google seems to be either ignorant or uncaring concerning the affects of their actions on "ordinary" webmasters.

 
4. Why, if you find unnatural links, don't you simply delete the links from your index and carry on?

Google could do this.  This was the original practice.  However, that doesn't seem to be as effective as spreading FUD amongst novice webmasters.


It is far less important to me, to get answers about MY sites - and far more important to everyone that Google address the issues which affect all webmasters.

It's not guys like you and I who get screwed by Google's silliness.  It's the poor souls who are new to the industry and actually believe the crap they read.
 
Sean Stewart
4/17/12
Sean Stewart
And therein lies the problem of Google penalizing sites with "unnatural links". You have zero control over who links to your site and how they link to your site. Period. If Google detects unnatural links they should discard them.
seo101
4/17/12
seo101
@Dan   "I can see a lot of unnatural links pointing at both sites, but I didn't put those links there"

Unfortunatly your gloating on Twitter to MC over blog networks being indexed upset a lot of people. You have been targeted.
Norm DePlume
4/18/12
Norm DePlume
Loving the irony.   

+++ This thread delivers!
Jimmy Bellers
4/18/12
Jimmy Bellers
"Oh my" Houston we haz a problem. 
Norm DePlume
4/18/12
Norm DePlume
I think the exact quote was "many pants are being pooped, and it's long overdue".


4/18/12
Original Poster
Google user
Gloating? That's funny... but they've been at this for years, and I already had an "unnatural links" message before any splog network peddlers had a chance to get mad at me for talking to Matt. I mostly tweeted at him about that to check for a pulse, since my "WTF" questions (as above) have been getting ignored for so long.

I have no sympathy for the people who have been lying to small business owners for years ("Google loves our links but even though they love it, it's also totally undetectable - buy now!") - this is entirely about the victims of the splog networks. Who are legion.

The only reason I am bothering to post anything here now, is to try to get some answers for everyone on whether Google has decided to open up the market for "negative SEO." Still looks like they haven't, but I also think they owe every webmaster an answer. Once I see how this all plays out, I expect to be "Google proofing" these particular sites with robots.txt.
fathom
4/18/12
fathom
Without any insights in general of your specifics I found it odd that websites a site where there has been NO "link building" at all would receive a message for unnatural links.

Without any insights in general of your specifics I found it odd that any website not link building would have 3rd parties that would find such a website competing with them.

I know every domain have less desirable links but those do usually promote thus in the great scheme of thing aren`t all that unnatural as far a manipulation.goes.

I caution webmasters not to knee-jerk everything as ìt was a competitor... more likely it is complacency and forgotten knowledge.

I did check archive.org and found a blogroll on your domain (no idea when that was removed) with many domains included which suggests you did participate in blog networking. What you link to can get you into problem faster than what links to you.

Dan I known you for a long time and we have a duty not to merely speculate on causes because of we don`t do painstakingly hard research we both know the uneducated will simply point and say `see`a competitor did this.

Just because the labels change doesn't mean the new version isn't the old version in drag.

Google writes about blogrolls on its Paid Links references:

Paid links

Google and most other search engines use links to determine reputation. A site's ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to it. Link-based analysis is an extremely useful way of measuring a site's value, and has greatly improved the quality of web search. Both the quantity and, more importantly, the quality of links count towards this rating.

However, some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.

Not all paid links violate our guidelines. Buying and selling links is a normal part of the economy of the web when done for advertising purposes, and not for manipulation of search results. Links purchased for advertising should be designated as such. This can be done in several ways, such as:

Adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag
Redirecting the links to an intermediate page that is blocked from search engines with a robots.txt file

Google works hard to ensure that it fully discounts links intended to manipulate search engine results, such as excessive link exchanges and purchased links that pass PageRank. If you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, let us know. We'll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.

"I'll link to you if you link to me"... excessively (e.g. every page like a blogroll or excessive friends pages or excessive links pages, or excessive sitewide links or commonly called paid links if your didn`t know yourself or your friends) would be unnatural especially if this is a high percentage of your profile.

The link wheel came about with the invention of the blogroll... calling it something different does not change to nature of the development.

No matter what you call it... we do it to advertise and that means to be in Google`s good graces to add nofollow to those.

I cannot claim this it what happen to your domains... I simply saying that speculation in our business that someone intentional did this to you (without conclusive proof of who) just makes everyone ignore their own responsibilities.

I agree with John Mu... it would be very very rare for this to happen... just like it would be very very rare for you link spam but seriously you had a blogroll of friends in a sidebar with sitewide links to them... and those are identical to paid links (pattern wise).
85 MORE
AlexDuvot
10/5/12
AlexDuvot
wondering what the end result will be?

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