As if the energy-draining wave of heat was not enough, webmasters are faced with another serious issue this summer: the unnatural link notifications, courtesy of Google. Because Google’s stand on this one implies sending warnings even if they don’t plan to penalize it, you must agree that it is very confusing.
The notification – How you should read it
More often than not, site owners do not even notice they have received a manual penalty from Google and simply assume that the ranking and traffic decrease is because they have been hit by the Penguin. If this happened to you, then I strongly suggest you log onto your Webmaster Tools account and check if you have any recent message from Google. The reason for my advice resides in the fact that these are two distinct issues with different solutions.
The unnatural link notification is a rather short (and in my opinion) clear message containing three key elements:
1. In the first paragraph, Google informs you that they have detected link building techniques outside their guidelines – in plain English, Google caught you using non-organic link building techniques and they are about to penalize you.
2. In the second paragraph, Google advises you to look for and identify non-organic links that are pointing back to your site – what they are actually saying is that the reason you are about to be penalized is the detection of unnatural links.
3. In the third paragraph, Google asks you to make the necessary modifications and submit your sites for reevaluation – in other words, you just got yourself a manual penalty.
In my opinion, the new messages are worth your attention
I want to point out that I did read all the blog posts suggesting that this is not something serious and you have nothing to worry about if your link building campaign was based on organic backlinks. On the other hand, I also read the comments coming from numerous webmasters who state that they got burned, despite the fact that they worked on an organic link building strategy. Moreover, if you check out their position on this you will see that even though a site is qualified as good overall, Google is literarily telling you that they do not trust some links to your site. Such links can come from excessive article directory submissions, paid links, disproportionate link exchange, blog spam, so on and so forth.
Considering that Google practically tells you that you have been penalized, this email is naturally a bad thing. Even though some sites are victims of hacked anchor text, this message should not be taken as an advisory notification. However, the good part from all this is that they’re actually telling you why and hence, you can start putting all your efforts into fixing the problem.
If you have identified that the cause of the ranking and traffic drops is associated with the unnatural links notification, then it is time to take action. Before you send in the sites for reevaluation, you will need to take the following four actions:
1. Analyze the site-wide links
Checking out the site-wide links implies identifying the domains that link mostly to your website and verifying if they have been flagged. Discovering the flagged domains and removing them is an action that can be taken directly from your Webmaster Tools menu.
2. Examine the link authority spread
The next you should take comprises of examining the history of the links that do not show up as flagged. In the eventuality that you notice spikes for a certain site, then the most plausible cause is that the page rank of that website is being manipulated.
3. Explore the anchor text distribution
Because the first two steps ensure only a superficial elimination of the unnatural links, it is advisable to explore the anchor text distribution as well. First of all, you will need to remove all dead links, no-follow links, certain site-wide links and deindex some linking root domains. The remaining data should be subdued to further analysis in order to indentify spammy or unfit links.
4. Look for excessive link acquisition
As a rule of thumb, anything acquired in excess over a short period of time in SEO will bring several negative consequences for your sites. Therefore, re-evaluate your current link building strategies and determine if you have faulted in any way.
This is a guest post written by Michael Melen, owner of Backlink Build.