Google has been issuing warnings for months regarding bad links and has been instructing webmasters to take action to avoid receiving penalties. However, Google just sent out a new batch of messages saying that the last group of warnings that were issued earlier this month should be ignored. Confused yet? Let’s take a look at what is going on here.
In the Spring Google began to issue warnings regarding what they labeled as ‘unnatural’ or ‘artificial’ links. Many webmasters became very worried after they received these messages, immediately wondering whether their sites would be penalized for bad links that pointed towards them, or whether Google was just letting the sites know that they were aware of these links. Google’s response was not very clear and basically said that Google had been monitoring such links for a while and was merely attempting to reveal to the web world that such links do not improve rankings for the pages that they point to.
The next development was the Google Penguin Update. Touted as a package of spam fighting measures, the update served to levy punishment against publishers who had been found to be complicit in various ‘bad linking’ schemes and by decreasing the value of such links so that they no longer had much of a beneficial impact on search results and rankings.
For some webmasters, the rug was quite literally ripped out from beneath their feet. Link networks that saw tremendous volume quieted down considerably very quickly. Those who had quietly been going against Google’s guidelines in the name of SEO by using bad linking practices knew that the jig was definitely up. Google suggested that removing bad links was one way to recover post-Penguin.
The problem was that some people were unable to have the links removed. Fears of the fabled ‘negative SEO’ monster abounded, and webmasters feared that bad links would make them fall to an unreachable low within Google search results. However, Google did not confirm these fears and it seems that most webmasters did not experience such issues.
Just recently, Google sent out a fresh crop of link notices that said basically the same thing that the notices sent out in the spring said. The messages seem pretty clear and unequivocal, and indicate that links should be removed and that if they cannot be removed they encourage the individual to contact Google and file a ‘reconsideration request.’
Google has basically explained that if you receive the message and then see much less traffic from Google, then you need to worry. But if you receive the message and your traffic from Google remains the same, you can apparently ignore the message.
Something has got to give here. Google really just needs to practice true transparency and tell us all what is really going on with these notices. Until then, we are all in the dark.