You may remember that Google sent a new set of link warnings out on July 20th, spreading fear among webmasters, blog owners and small business owners. Then right after that warning was issued, Google turned around and told everyone to relax, saying that these notifications aren’t a big deal and that they only pertain to links that will be ignored – which will not cause any detriment to your site.
Now Matt Cutts of Google has revealed in a blog post that these notifications should not be ignored and should actually be taken quite seriously. You heard that right, Google is flipping the script yet again and now the panic will ensue once more for many.
You may or may not find it reassuring that Google has advised people not to panic. Hearing representatives from Google tell people not to panic is hilarious at this point. First they say to simply discard the messages and not to give them another thought and now the same messages are serious communication from Google regarding something they take quite seriously. Cutts explains that in some cases, Google will distrust links on an individual basis or as a group but will not take action on the ranking of the entire website. In other cases if more serious or more numerous violations have occurred, the entire site may have its ranking suffer a great deal.
So now it is clear (at least as of now, according to Matt Cutts himself) that we should not ignore the link warnings, and these links are a problem, potentially a big one for some websites. Other websites that Google feels are good sites with a minimum of bad links will not see the same degree of penalties. So these messages may be a harbinger of negative action to come, or they may just be Google giving you notice that they are not going to take action against you but will instead target the bad link that is pointing at your site.
There is still one group left that Cutts references, the owners of websites who have received these messages but are innocent sites that have fallen victim to hackers who place anchor text pointing to their site so that they rank for undesirable keywords. Perhaps Cutts is trying to give such website owners a warning so that they will take notice that there is a problem that they were not previously aware of, but if that is what they were trying to do, why wouldn’t they just come out and say that in the first place?
If your head is spinning after this latest development, you’re not alone. But it seems like this message from Google is pretty clear in stating that the new messages are worth a second look, and that even if you haven’t been engaging in the creation of bad or unnatural links, your website may be targeted because of links that you are not aware of.