Clarification on Google’s latest unnatural links messages

All website owners appreciate the importance of Google rankings in driving traffic to their site and Google themselves are keen to ensure that website rankings are gained legitimately. Keeping abreast of the guidelines on SEO can be difficult but with enhanced unnatural link detection procedures in place it is more important than ever.

The ultimate penalty of being dropped from Google’s rankings is a situation site owners don’t wish to contemplate. The best way to stay informed is to register with Google Webmaster Tools as this is a great resource to receive updates and help diagnose problems.

Until recently Google targeted sites which were blatantly selling links to help improve search engine rankings. However, this year has seen a significant improvement in Google’s ability to identify unnatural links pointing to a site and subsequently send messages to site owners who are seen to be actively building unnatural links to their own site in order to manipulate their site’s search rankings for various keyword phrases.

These messages are sent to website owners to give them the chance to take action by removing any unnatural links they have built up over time. Unless Google receives a reconsideration request from the site owner stating the action they have taken to address the situation, then quite often Google will no longer include the site in its search results, which naturally for many is catastrophic.

Recently Google has started sending some new messages about unnatural links to site owners, which for many is causing panic and confusion. So to help clear up any misunderstanding Google has published more information to clarify what the new messages mean for site owners.

What the new ‘unnatural inbound links’ messages from Google actually means!

The new messages are a warning to site owners that Google has identified and has issues with a select few inbound links to a site, which it views as being spam like or artificial. However, due to Google viewing the overall sites profile as pretty good, it is not going to penalise the entire site but simply take action by not giving any value to the inbound links it distrusts.

However, Google doesn’t want site owners to feel there’s nothing to worry about. Google are bringing it to their attention, but expect site owners to take the appropriate action.

To help site owners distinguish these new messages they do not carry the yellow exclamation mark like the severe warnings that Google can issue.

What should you do if you receive the new ‘unnatural inbound links’ message?
Site owners should clean up any backlinks that appear unnatural and submit a reconsideration request to inform Google of the action they have taken so as to keep a clear and transparent relationship with the search engine.Within the Webmaster Tools console, Google has recently created the ability for site owners to download the inbound backlinks Google has identified and recorded as pointing to their site and to sort the backlinks by date. This helps site owners more quickly identify which links have been created which Google deem as unusual and are causing them some concern.

Google’s Matt Cutts who recently published the additional clarification information also mentioned the search engine is also looking at ways to provide more concrete examples to make the messages more actionable and to help narrow down where to look if you receive an unnatural inbound links message.

The key takeaway is while the latest messages are less severe, action still needs to be taken; these messages can’t be ignored.

Simon Colley runs Absolute Internet Marketing, a search marketing specialist providing SEO consultant & PPC management services.