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If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.

If we've taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example. As always, if you believe you have been affected by a manual spam action and your site no longer violates the Webmaster Guidelines, go ahead and file a reconsideration request. It’ll take some time for us to process the request, but you will receive a followup message confirming when we’ve processed it.

Update: Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this change. An engineer worked over the weekend based on the suggestions here, and starting on Sunday we made two changes so you can tell the "individual links aren't trusted" messages from the "our opinion of your entire site is affected" messages.

First off, we changed the messages themselves that we'll send out to make it clear that for a specific incident "we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole." So anyone that gets a message going forward can tell what type of action has occurred.

The second change is that these messages won't show the yellow caution sign in our webmaster console at http://google.com/webmasters/ like our other webspam notifications. This reflects the fact that these actions are much more targeted and don't always require action by the site owner.

Thanks again for the feedback, and we'll continue to work on ways to provide more useful and actionable information for site owners.

Update 2: We sent out the updated, more precise messages this past Sunday. We hope these messages are clearer because the newer messages specify if we've taken action on individual links to the site rather than on the entire site.

In addition, we did some more work this week and today we’re deleting the out-of-date messages that caused the initial confusion, so site owners won’t have two messages about the same issue appearing in Webmaster Tools. 
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235 comments
 
Matt, where do I post an official Webmaster question to you?
 
+Matt Cutts I'm sorry to bother you but have the +Google+ team fixed the notification button bug yet? It's been like this for over a week and been driving me nuts. I don't want to switch to a new browser - I'm on Firefox and find it convenient.
 
Something about the term unnatural links makes me chuckle a bit.
 
+Wendy Cockcroft Notification on FF is broken for me too.  Won't update properly or go away after I've looked at the post in question.  Really needs to be looked at.
 
Hi Matt,
Any information you can provide on other sites scrapping content possibly leading to a notification would be helpful.  
 
If they could at least blame someone I can harp on the responsible party instead of grouching at the Feedback team when the bugger has stuck yet again. Is this a Firefox error?
 
A client's traffic got halved since late April, not participating in link schemes.  No notification, and is baffled.  Wishing at least he's notified so at least he knows where to look.
 
So really, every site with a few million links should be getting this notice. That's more transparent, and now more confusing that ever. Don't worry about it, unless you need to worry about it? Now we have to spend hours digging through analytics and correlate a traffic drop to that instead of say, a news cycle, or some other problem.
 
Oh for crying out loud.  There's absolutely no excuse for using the SAME MESSAGE in every situation.  You need flags for "needs action" and "notification"  I can't even begin to relate the amount of lost productivity amongst the civilians (small businesses, yo) over these messages. I've had clients come out of the woodwork after years, terrified because they've received an unnatural link message and have no idea why or what they're supposed to do. And now - maybe nothing?  Do you seriously think people have nothing better to do?
 
"The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about."

+Matt Cutts what should we be telling our clients in a case like this?  If they got the "artificial links" notification with instructions to take steps to fill out the re-inclusion form, but haven't done anything that violates the guidelines, can they safely ignore the notification without risking the drop in search traffic?

(Really appreciate the heads up on this, btw.)
 
Thanks Matt,

Negative SEO is a big deal now, and most people in the know do not believe that Google are able to protect against this.

It's good to see that you've increased transparency on this issue. Thanks
 
That's the advancement of technology! When I was a kid, I used to hear voices in my head - these days, I get unnatural links in my Inbox!!!
 
Got the message, and although I didn't panic, I definitely lost some sleep last night. We appreciate the transparency but we need more detail to go along with it.
 
We're a very small startup. Since we got this message, we've been fretting over, our whole team has been scrambling around digging up various tools to track down the various backlinks & determine which ones are spammy! We did find a few that are irrelevant, but really don't know how to get rid of them. So does this mean, we really don't need to follow through on this? Should we file for reconsideration request in any case?
 
Doing this for 6 years so baffled. No messages in WMT submitted for reconsideration they said no manual penalty. If I copy and paste the unique first sentence into search from the home page not ranked. The snippet copier sites (pagespan and so forth) all rank with o pr over my pr 4 page showing Rel=me. Guess I better find a job?
 
So we shouldn't send reinclusion requests when we get a message that suggests we may or may not have a damaging backlink?  Thanks for the transparency, but I think we really need more of it than this.
FP Marcil
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+Matt Cutts Could we please have tailored messages so that we can differentiate between the different issues? If you detect one link that is bad, maybe tell us where? If we always get the same warning, it will only lead to more confusion imho. (Already started)  
 
Matt,  I started getting comment spam links pointed by the thousands on May 2 about a week after all the blog posts came out instructing people on how to do Negative SEO. 

I don't think I have a single comment link before that day and never received any warnings from Google until June 30th as these links started piling up.

Google penalized my site and there is nothing I can do about getting these links removed.  Any advice?  My reconsideration requests have not gotten me anywhere.  I don't think anyone actually read them.

Best,
Mike
 
So it means that you've sent this message but there is no action taken? Or is there like a deadline to "clean" these links? I mean what would be the nexts steps after this warning? 
 
I agree with what Aaron and Meg said above....sheesh. 
 
I'm a super fan of transparency and welcome with open arms the improvements Google has brought to the webmaster community over the years, but we desperately need more information in these notifications so we may adequately understand the urgency and what actions are appropriate. With regard to this one, I can't emphasize how much productivity and after-hours personal time was lost all the way to the C-level of a billion company yesterday evening as a result of this notification (and I'm not implying that this isn't equally important for a 1-person company, just that there are a whole lot more hoops to jump through as the size of the company increases across time zones).
 
+Matt Cutts ...aww I'd be happy if ya'll just restored our totally redone site to pre-panda rankings...we're tired of eating rice & beans...lol
 
 +Matt Cutts You guys do a great job scaring the sh** out of innocent small business website owners. In a company the size of Google one would think that there might be a  few employees with communicative skills? Maybe you should let them give Google's standard e-mails a work-over?

The e-mail clearly state that e reinclusion request must be send when the unnatural links are removed.

Have Google thought about the impact on "Joe the plummer" with a small website and a few links from Thailand or where ever that he did not create or had anyone create for him?

At least you will have plenty of work dealing with the probably many thousand reinclusion requests you'll recieve.
 
I got the same message and did not sleep last night.  We don't buy any links.  From looking at our incoming links today, some look like spam.  Maybe our competitors are trying to sabotage us? Now I'm not sure if we should do a reconsideration request or just wait?  Google search results have been the lifeline of my small business since 1999.  Receiving this email was rough...
 
Seriously, why would you tell an innocent site that they need to submit a reconsideration request?  Didn't anyone look at that message before they sent it out?  This isn't transparency; it's obfuscation.
 
+Matt Cutts Work on the GWMT messages would be helpful.  How about being a bit clearer on whether an action by Google is imminent?  Despite the messiness and frustration expressed here - thanks Matt for the message.
 
Please confirm :

Is the message that is being sent that Same as the message that was sent previously?
 
I think it would be greatly appreciated by everyone if you clarified whether to do a re-inclusion request if we get an 'unnatural links warning', or to take no action and just watch our traffic? 
 
Google reps keep telling us how great it is that they've sent over 700,000 webmaster notifications in 2012. Now they're just going to send a link warning to every site on the internet and then they'll be able to say that they've sent over ten billion webmaster notifications. Take that, Bing.
 
How about differentiating messages upon penalty with messages warning regarding ignored unnatural links?
 
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind but then this is more of an arm and a leg for an eye
 
My friend is a doctor, and he has started to tell his perfectly healthy patients that they have cancer, but that he's not going to recommend any action be taken. He just tells them to wait until they feel sick and then  give him a call. He's drummed up 3X his normal number of appointments in just under a month!

Seriously though, what the hell is going on???
 
So what's the position on opportunism like "google-penalty.co.uk bidding on "Google unnatural links" in AdWords?

I'd have thought that the use of a trademark in the URL, and the misleading claims in the creative would be a bit of a problem, but hey, they're using Adwords, and when your Q2 figures need a bit of a push, any $ is good $ hey?

Just for posterity, I've posted a screengrab here:

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-RwXGNaqgnZ8/UAnn5JzbYDI/AAAAAAAAAYU/IMOoDZLmiAw/w497-h373/utter%2Bwank.png
 
+Meg Geddes this seems to be par for the course. I'm dealing with a penalty that has nothing to do with the message in WMT. I think they just pick the closest canned message they have and send that rather than taking the time to write a new one appropriate to the situation. Seems to be SOP for companies that focus on dev and not communicating.
 
Wow, I can't begin to tell you the amount of anxiety myself and my team have suffered over this message. We had no idea why we got it or what to do about it. We are a leader in our industry and have never practiced "black hat" SEO. We've focused on content, a good user experience, website speed and great customer service. We built our business from the ground up and  we were honestly worried our entire business was going to go up in flames after reading all the horror stories of others getting this message back in April. Matt, please make these messages more detailed so you don't give people who don't have anything to worry about a heart attack!
 
Wikipedia says: [The French word terrorisme in turn derives from the Latin verb terreō meaning "I frighten”]
I have received the "unnatural link" notification yesterday and didn´t sleep very well last night. Today I have talked to another webmaster, who is trying to delete links to his site for six weeks now. I received half a dozen mails from other webmasters begging to delete their links on a social bookmark service I started, when social bookmarks were trendy and ok for Google.
Now this webmaster ARE frightend! Is this REALLY the new policy of Google?
P.S.: When google thinks, that a link is "unnatural" then Google should ignore it.
 
 
The message you sent out just states that there are some bad links but you don't tell us which ones and even if you did, there is no guarantee I/we can remove links built by other people.  This really concerns me as I do everything possible to build quality, ethical, organic websites and now I realize that anyone without morals and ethics can create a negative SEO campaign and destroy any and all of my websites.
 
Negative SEO is not as easy as some people seem to believe/suggest.
It is not a new thing.
It's been around for years on end - and Google have been aware of it, and taking steps against for a long time.

It's hard to implement, can be costly and in many cases will simply fail to achieve it's objective.
Further - links is only one avenue for NSEO.

More importantly : NSEO is not the focus here.

The fact that google has decided to flash out a bunch of new messages,
that are not particualrly helpful/informative,
to a bunch of people that may or may not need to worry,
is the issue.
 
Also, if Google wishes to be more transparent (which I'm all for) shouldn't the messages received in GWT be as transparent as possible? (not vague, fear inducing messages :)
 
Maybe Dear +Matt Cutts, this seems to me just like a "I'm feeling lucky" message to some well linked domains resp. domain owners, hoping for discovering some undiscovered link networks so far.
This is the worst try ever by Google getting a lot of innocent webmasters to drop their pants in panic of maybe getting penalized.
Shame on you!
Perhaps you should better do your own homework instead of wasting my time and the time of a lot of other webmasters while doing their job in creating good and link worth content.
 
It would be very helpful to be told what's expected from the webmasters when sending out these emails. All my suspect links seem to be in the comments and my websites are set to"DO NOT FOLLOW" for these links. SO why is Google following and than scaring the bejesus out of me? I am all for transparency and appreciate the heads up by Matt, but it still causes sleepless nights and a lot of work to try and rectify the so called unnatural links.
 
The emails from Google have always been fairly stock. They want you to do your own backlink audit, and clean up spilled milk. Google has no desire to penalize every website that shows up with questionable backlinks - they'd wipe out a lot of good search results. And, there's no doubt that so many of us submitted to 300 free directories 5-years ago, and that footprint is still there.

They are actually being more transparent now then they have been in the past - so at least now you know that they are seeing unnatural things in your backlink portfolio. Regarding not being able to sleep at night - I know all about that :) Take a deep breath - if you've got low quality off-page SEO tactics underway you should really revisit that. If there's old stuff out there that you didn't do, then just hang tight and see if your rankings adjust downward - if they do you're gonna have to plead your case, and make a strong effort to contact websites and ask them to stop linking to you.
 
WTH! what next? a message that  "YOUR HOME IS ON FIRE!!!"  then a few days later "well... not yours, this time, but could be you next time"  FAIL!
 
+Matt Cutts, any idea on where Google is at with its link disavow tool? While I am a firm believer that sending out unnatural link messages in WT is doing the job of getting webmasters, SEO's and site owners to start carefully analyzing the backlinks they are responsible for, why not give them the immediate ability to disassociate themselves from these types of links? Having this tool as a resource will also help facilitate an even more focused discussion in the community on links Googles considers unnatural or spammy. 
 
A message about Unnatural Links without any indication on which specific links are Unnatural Looking is ridiculous.  You know which ones you don't like. How are we supposed to shift through the link list to know what to clean up?  How are we supposed to evaluate what the  hell is even Unnatural about them?
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+Matt Cutts We are seeing more and more DMCA takedown requests, even from legitimate DMCA firms, demanding links that links they do not want be removed or the entire site taken down. This is a gray area of DMCA law that is very disruptive to web hosts and many websites. I can only assume the sudden and massive surge in these DMCA requests is a result of recent changes by Google to penalize spammy inbound links. Transparency is a great first step, but please continue to do more. Also consider alternative ways to block spammy links without penalizing innocent sites. Thanks! CC: +Michael Denney +Christopher Foley 
 
So in short: there's no way of knowing if its your link building or someone else's unnatural linking that is causing problems. And if you do experience a huge drop in search traffic you'll have to limp along for weeks or months before your reinclusion request is processed. Sound about right?
 
+David Boyd  you are exactly correct. But even if you find out that someone bought thousands of spam comment links after all the instructions for Negative SEO came out on blogs following the Penguin Update, you cannot get more than a canned reconsideration  response from Google because there is no way to remove those links.  

I didn't have a single comment link before May 2 and now I have thousands courtesy of a competitor.  Classic online terrorism and It worked.  It feels a lot different when someone else targets your business and ruins your site, than if I at least had the opportunity to do it yourself.  Nice going Googs!
 
Hello Matt,
Thank you for sharing this information. If someone got panic and already request for reconsideration by asking they do not know what is the reason and what could be the source of unnatural question. Is this going to be any problem?
Thanks in advance for answering the question.
Regards,
CV
 
+Meg Geddes+FP Marcil and +Donna Fontenot I appreciate the feedback and I agree. I'm traveling today, but I'll talk with people on my team when I get back about making the messages about individual links different from the previous messages (where the entire site is affected).
 
Thank you. That would be a step in the right direction.
 
Thank you. That would be very helpful.
 
Reconsideration request Avalanche. I expect many happy and attentive googlers processing all the requests :)
 
How can you create such a panic state amongst innocent webmasters. How?
 
I suggest to help people that got a message an tell them the links what are seen as "unnatural".
Me got penalized without telling me why and even after the 5x try no information why, even I told google all the links which were bought and that they can not be removed.
 
Thanks Matt, but biggest question is that how do a webmaster get to know about unnatural links pointing towards a innocent site?, because it is possible that his/her competitor may be doing unnatural things.

Another question: If webmasters send details through reconsideration request that the links cannot be controlled by his/herself than how will Google deal with those links and how much time will be taken from Google?
 
Thanks for the update.

I'm all for better search engine results, but why aren't you targeting the websites with spamy links?

From reading the comments above it seems many companies and small business's are being affected by this, and many of them haven't done anything wrong.
 
Again, all these moves towards better transparency lead to a larger  mess.
There are only two ways out of this mess:
a/ go back to 2005 when there was no communication out of Google except from the GoogleGuy.
b/ get rid of organics and show only ads - this is the target anyway, isn't it?
 
Bueno es saberlo. Todo sea por mejores resultados en las búsquedas.
Aunque esta medida tomada de forma excesivamente genérica puede afectar bastante el trabajo de muchos de nosotros.

Good to know. All for the best results in searches.
Although this measure taken in excessive generic enough can affect the work of many of us.
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I can't laugh this is just to much even if the message get changed. Mention the links in WMT and let webmasters decide. 
 
+Matt Cutts I think if you really want to be transparent, which I believe that is what you guys strive for then why not include a few examples of "unnatural links" in the message. In fact, why not include all the links?

Sending out generic messages is not good, not at all and you know that. 
 
Bonjour
Je suis artisans je ne suis pas un professionnel du web ni du référencement et en plus je ne parle pas Anglais !
Imaginez le temps passé sur les traducteurs à essayer de comprendre ce que j’aurais fait de mal.
J’ai suivi les conseils de Google que j’ai pu trouver et comprendre puisque le plus souvent en Anglais, j’ai jamais acheté de liens et les échanges fait avec d’autres sites sont toujours fait dans le bute d’apporter un complément d’informations à nos visiteurs.
J’ai réalisé mes sites dans le bute de faire connaitre notre entreprise et d’apporter les meilleurs conseils et renseignements a nos futurs clients, ce qui jusqu'à présent marché très bien et nous permettais de travailler, moi et toutes les autres entreprises travaillant avec moi.
Maintenant je me retrouve dans une situation ou je ne sais pas si je vais pouvoir continuer nos activités. Pars-que Google a décidé que mon site n’était plus conforme et qu’un simple message (toujours en Anglais) a suffis pour détruire des jours et des nuits de travail et l’avenir de plusieurs personnes.
Dans la vie si vous travaillez mal vous perdez vos clients ! Ce qui est normal, mais vous savez pourquoi.
J’aurais juste voulu que Google me dise pourquoi !
Je m’excuse de vous avoir écrit en Français
Bonne journée
Cordialement
E.Levigneron
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I have spent the last almost 3-4 months of my life every day and night trying to clean a certain sites back linking profile to no avail thus far. I took over the SEO for an owner that owns very high profile domains that can not be just abandoned and start over as they are grade A .com domains with a fairly strong public following. The previous indavidual that was doing the SEO was from a local company that yes used methods against Google Terms unknown by the owner. Anyways I took down over 70% of the sites links... however the problem was that we do not have the passwords for some of the  "un-natural links" and most site owners just ignore your request for link removals or ask for you to pay to remove links. I had the design guys re-design the entire site, moved to strictly social sharing for our new "natural link building for success plan". I then begged and pleaded to the Google spam team providing all documentation on what we have done to make things right and after 5 different re-consideration request denied with the exact same reply we still get no love from the Google Spam team even though we have shown to try our very best to make things right. The site gets more traffic from direct url type in traffic than it does from Google and continues to be #1 in Bing and Yahoo... I am about pooped out on even trying, but if I succeed in bringing the site out of the penalty it is worth a huge raise for me... so I will continue to push ahead... very tired, sad & depressed

Question: Can a site have the penalty removed after a certain amount of time passes even if all the re-consideration request keep getting denied? If so is there an approximate time frame like 90-120days, 6months or even gulp years?
 
Hi, All

I also Received a Mail for unnatural link activity, traffic on site remains same even ranking goes UP.  but the question is we never buy or paid for links. we are not using any faulty activities for our sites. than how can google mailed us for these activities. I lost my sleep at nights from last two days...

its really a panic state amongst innocent webmasters.
 
Reading between the lines this latest batch of messages sounds more like a gigantic cock-up at Google's end Matt is left with the job of trying to play it down.
 
So what we assuming the sites goes down or not..
 
Educated guess - probably not.
 
+Matt Cutts  we need data to be able to evaluate and comply. New features such as links by date is flawed. The data in WMT is flawed. Lets combine this with LRT, OSE, Ahrefs and a number of other sources. Then we can drill down on this data, but, it's still flawed! 

+Matt Cutts  for the love of god man, help us to help you. The SERPS are an abomination, absolutely atrocious. You opened the door for NSEO, so, why not let the good guys help you out, help clean up the mess you have created and help Google remain a great source to search the web and find pages which have been indexed on relevance and authority and aid your user experience.

Seriously +Matt Cutts  its time to have a little honesty and a little transparency. As a experienced SEO, i have a complete level of distain never felt before for Google, because of the FUD and propaganda of 2012.

Google remains the market leader, but, your persistence this year to drive an increase in hideous profit levels on paid advertising to the detriment of organic search is somewhat disgusting.

My clients can't understand, why I preach best practice, why there site speed, code and content is infinitely superior to 90% of other sites in their search vertical. Why their backlink profile does not grow at the same rate as all their competitors(because we develop relationships and good links and not spam), why there brand name seems to be being punished and some exact match domain is outranking them.

So I implore you +Matt Cutts please, a little graciousness on the part of the almighty Google and enlighten me, as right now, the best advice seems to be... buy a new domain, exact match or as close a possible and hyphens are fine :), put some content on it, spam the hell out of it and you will rank for any term you want
 
I'm so confused +Matt Cutts  one of my client's competitors are still rank high even if they do keyword stuffing and too many inlinks in their content. This makes me sick!
 
Are you going one day to publish a white book on how to be google friendly ? We are like magicians trying to discover your 'bonne pratique'. 
 
Also, most of the competitors of my clients website are doing link scheme or link exchange but still they are on the top five position.. Come on Matt!
 
A well-balanced online marketing channel strategy defines the purpose of search engines "to deliver qualified visitors as one out of several other efficient channels to only the OUTER periphery of a web-selling-system."

Well ... if a search engine fails doing this job - who cares?
 
I guess as a German webmaster, you +Karl Kratz got the message, too? We have to talk on SEOkomm :-)... anyhow: I suggest that Google lets webmasters enter untrusted sources. One more way to filter the web from spam. Bing does it already and if you have 100 webmasters entering the same domain, it is pretty sure that this domain is doing something fishy... THEN you might control the source for shady business manually... perfect. Can't be that hard to implement in WMT!
 
I like what +Yousaf Sekander  says... "why not include a few examples of "unnatural links" in the message. In fact, why not include all the links?"   - I think that's the real meaning of transparency... 

I think the likely reason that no examples are given is likely that with this approach, lots of webmasters will get rid of lots of shady practices, rather than cherrypick the identified problems. For Google, the less specific you are the better, right?  

However, from a site owner standpoint, I think a vague warning where an "...innocent site will get the message..."  and then to say it's not  "something that you automatically need to worry about."   does them a true disservice, and just perpetuated the FUD...
 
What I don't understand is why would we receive this message when we just received a response to a reconsideration request (our 4th attempt) less than a week earlier. Seems like there's a disconnect somewhere.
 
Matt, Bing recently established a way to "disconnect" offending links. I would think that, if Google is truly interested in bringing websites back into compliance, this would be a simple way of doing it. This would also negate any ill effects of negative SEO, if such a thing exists.
 
We need the disavow tool and need it fast. How can you (Google) have the power to break a business based on assumptions and not give us the simplistic tool to fix it? It beggars belief. It feels like a game when it shouldn't be. You can't play with people's livelihood. Give us PROPER information if you claim something is amiss and give us a PROPER vehicle for response and rectification. It's getting stupid now it really is.
 
+stu foster ... I am pretty sure you would never build a house on sand.

Google is a technical platform for indexing/ assessing data and showing query-based results. Google is not a reliable platform if your business is 100% dependant on those query-based results.

Why all those complaints ... ?
 
+Karl Kratz Google is a money making behemoth first and foremost. Let's not forget that. Houses may have been built on sand many years ago, sand that was previously stable. Don't be so blinkered and see what's a actually happening.
 
If I whant to pull down an competitor, I do just buy links that point his URL, correct?
 
Vincenzina Ienco, imagine a situation: You have a quality website. It's so popular among visitors that a name of website (unique word) became a popular search phrase in Google. And one day your site disappear from there and all traffic (your own bookmarkers) go to low quality websites. And you don't even know how to fix this. Would you say "thank you" to Google in this case?
 
I understand your point of view, but a traffic by a name of website is not the same free traffic which Google gives you by other search queries. If a site woudn't exist then a traffic by this search phrase (a name of a website) would not exist also. And it's very sad when visitors who search for your site can't find it in Google.

For example a search query "Facebook". Do you think it would be so popular if this site woudn't exist?
 
Vincenzina Lenco, you must have mastered Google webmaster tools. Not everyone out there has, and navigating the Google webmastercentral is not easy. It takes a long time to find what you need. Sometimes you became more confused and give up. The Panda and Penguin updates have done some good, but they also have ruined some small and large websites. I agree with Ihar, as a lot of my websites have lost their ranking and there was no explanation as to why. I am glad that you are benefiting from the changes, but don't be so quick to dismiss others concerns.
 
+Vincenzina Ienco  yes, providing you can actually get some real (official) attention. In many cases i've seen confused users helping each other and then more confusion was generated. :-/ in many cases there was no answer at all: an italian community was recently penalized becase some spammer made some fake profiles to build some backlinks. They were removed, but the penalization is still in action. 
 
How about not counting spammy links at all? You know - just ignore them? Problem solved for everyone.
 
The past few months iv pretty much spent 100% of my time searching seo forums, posts, twitter updates etc etc, trying to find out why my rankings are dropping, am i being penalised, why is this spammy 1 page site outranking me, and so on...When all i, and im sure most of us, want to do is get back to writing quality content and providing a great resource for our visitors..When is this all going to calm down Matt?
 
Sounds more like ... you might warn us about having un-natural links, but we should not worry about it as this might be just a "Hi There" email worded similar to the "Google Spam team Warning" email.  Perfect +Matt Cutts thank you for the heads up :)
 
Thanks Matt Cutts -  I was fired after my company received this warning.
 
activities did in the past, not possible to change all the times.. in fact most of the times.. the way of apperoch should be different & must be strong... like valuation links... suppose my links out of 1k 100 are Spammy links than now i have to make a more strong links for the maintaining ration.. what other experts are saying on this????
 
+Matt Cutts, that message did freaked me out. I instantly started researching on my backlinks. Though I have managed to get rid of some backlinks, but not sure if they are really spam or not.
Is there any way to check if the backlinks are spams or not (in Google's eye).
 
+Abhik Biswas don't need to worry about, untile n unless don't get any kind of worning from webmaster... :) lol... i would like to say, just find out in google your backlinks & keep data with you.. other than google webmaster tools is good other are just bullshit. :)
 
We're almost out of business thanks to Penguin.  After suffering through five years of a recession this year started out great and then Penguin came along and our business has almost disappeared completely.  We'll be done soon.  Truth is we are now I just haven't figure out what to do next.  Hard to start over at age 55 with a family.  We received no messages from Google of any kind except recently after we resubmitted and they said all is well with our sites and there was never a problem but something is up because our traffic has been off by 2/3 since April and this is after it started to take off just like the old days before the recession.  I build my sites myself and know nothing about cheating of any kind and I've never engaged in keyword stuffing or any of the practices I've heard about.  I don't kn ow how.  I'm not that bright.  I just have great products my customers love to buy with lots of content on my sites to help people learn about farming and gardening and not the boiler plate diatribes you see on other sites.  What few customers we have left still tell us how much they enjoy our sites and how glad they are to have found us.  Since the drop off I've spent everyday scouring our sites for broken links and spelling errors and any other problems I could find and Dirt Works is probably as clean a site as it's ever been at this point but no change has happened.  Our sales are off by 90% and we're not going to make it.  I'd like to know why?  
We racked up a lot of freight bills and inventory bills with vendors this spring getting ready for what looked to be our best season in years and now we are essentially bankrupt.  We can't pay our bills, including our mortgage and everyone hates us.  Answering the phone around here now is agony.  Why did this happen?  What can we do?  We're only in business now because I haven't figured out what to do next.  This after being in business since 1987.  Google screwed us some how and I don't know why.  
 
Ciao Vincenzina Ienco e Andrea Scarpetta. Your comments are constructive and true, BUT they do not help people who have one business website that only posts info. for said business and nothing else. So... where are this unnatural links in there? Apparentemente la trasparenza esiste per noi ma non per Google.
 
Alright. I got there are two kinds of message; one is for the site (March, April), and the other is for some links (July).

My question is all the message sent last week are the one for some links? or includes both of them??
 
Personally, I think someone at Google accidentally triggered a flood of these, and this is just a face-saving way of pretending no-one screwed up ;-)
 
Matt i think it is VERY important the 'innocent' webmasters are told that they will not get punished.

People can lose their jobs over this message and if they are 'innocent' but aren't told then it's not really fair i don't think.

Perhaps a message to the innocent ones just saying you're not going to get punished would REALLY help ALOT of people who are quite worried right now.
 
Thanks for the clarity

Also when is Google considering to launch a tool that allows web masters to disavow certain links similar tool to Bing which allows webmasters to “Disavow” Links.
 
Ian, I am kinda of the same mindset TBH. Does seem odd not to get the heads up before this happened and the very quick post batch of notifications sent PR piece from Matt. Nothing at Google surprises me any-more.
 
Hi Matts, i understand but there's people getting crazy out there. Why don't you use something like a new meta tag or new command in the robots.txt to tell your spider that links are not desired? I introduced (tried to do but you know, i've not the strenght to do that) a new META NOFELLOW on www.nofellow.com, to tell your spider the links are not "our fellows" :)
 
I'm really quite perplexed.  I've had neither message for any of my sites, yet looking at the downloaded 'All_Links' file in Google Docs format for my main site (see profile) I have 8,891 links most of which are crap.  I have never, ever indulged in any kind of link creation programme but there really, really is some rubbish out there linking to my site.  I'd have expected the second form of the message: "we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole."  I might even have whooped and cheered.
 
You guys need to sharpen up your act - very poor service.
 
+Matt Cutts whats up to the webmasters who DID receive that mail the past days? will they get a second "correct" mail or do they only have to wait until the traffic goes down or not?
 
Hi, Matt. Thanks for your quick reply. It is really helpful info.

Also, I have same question as Patrick above.  How the webmaster who got massage last week can recognize the difference? I am sure many people should have same question.
 
Hi +Matt Cutts thanks for the update, seems sensible and improves transparency even further, which seems to be the goal right now. So now that you've announced this change are you going to resend messages to Webmasters? So we all know where exactly we stand.

Cheers
Ant
 
A couple of 'disavow' ideas have been discussed.  My personal preference is for something search engine independent - either a Disavow: directive in robots.txt or a badlinks.txt file analogous to robots.txt

I don't really want to put these lists in separately for each search engine - let's have something they can all access.
 
How to seed fear and confusion Part 2. Well done Google & The Spam Team. These are tactics that dictatorships deploy to keep the masses on their toes. Really bad for brand building. Really bad for proper SEO. Really good for all the new 'Link Removal' companies. </sigh>
 
Why not eliminate suspect sites and pages from Tim Berner Lees Giant Global Graph?  In addtion, there may be flaws in the adaptive inverted link matrix model of the web used by Google and other search engines.  Nobody can require inclusion in a search engines index or archive so the best solution to suspect link profiles, SERP data mining sites, article spinning etc. is to zero them out.

By zeroing out suspect sites you avoid cases similar to the

McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit

Google:

McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit

in the case it is unknown to you.

As far as I have understood you can be sued for nearly anything in the USA.
 
+John Meshna I checked and I don't think Penguin affects you at all. It looks like the Panda algorithm is what's affecting your site.
 
+Matt Cutts  RE: Your update. Does that mean notices webmasters got will be updated, or going forward new notices will be different depending on the reason for the warning?
 
Matt its fantastic you are taking the time to reply to us on here but please could you let us know if another message will be sent out to reassure the 'innocent' sites they will not be affected by the warning.
This really would be respected and appreciated, as i'm sure you can understand there are a fair few webmasters wondering if the message is going to bad bad or its ok.Waiting for rankings to go down is difficult to work with and plan for.
 
Meet a guy in the coffee shop yesterday randomly during a chat. He had been hit by Penguin, and has since lost a large portion of his organic traffic and sales. He received the vague WMT warnings and was freaking out.

I hadn't heard about the messages that went out but he let me look at his WMT and all I could think was WTF Google?
 
That's fantastic Matt, when might this happen? i think the innocent sites who employ seo people want to know they aren't going to get hit.Meaning they can plan their seo in the right and non panic way :)
 
Brilliant, once again Matt i am very thankful you reply to us and listen.
 
Google has clearly made a decision towards less transparency not more.  They have put thousands of small business owners out of business and they refuse to own up to it.  It's very clear what they did.  They set up a complex web of blocks to sites that they consider to be not important to them and are going for the big box store clients like Wallmart, Sears, Target, Amazon and so on.  Google searches suck now.  Even trying to find descriptive data about subjects is hard now.  You have to dig and dig to get the simplest information now. It's all boiler plate crap from amazon and other mega corporations with the same content and products.  Content has not improved even though Matt Cutts keeps saying it does matter.  If it did matter my site would be number one for every keyword I buy.  People used to call us just to thank us for all the information we have and doing such a good job.  What few customers we have left still give us compliments and ask us to hang in there.  Unfortunately we're a seasonal business having to do with farming and gardening and we have already lost most of our season and over $300,000.00 in revenue.  We can't make that up.  We are essentially done as a business thanks to Google.  Google could give shit about content.  They care about money and that's all. Only companies like Amazon and Wallmart etc. can possibly keep up with the ridiculous minutia constantly being added to the google search algorithm.  We recieved no negative massages about our site, but our sales dropped by 90% after penguin came out and we're now bankrupt.  This could have been our come back year after suffering through five years of recession but Google decided to shaft all the small buinesses on the web and favor the rich.  I think Google is working with Mitch McConnel to destroy this economy so they can get their corrupt, tax dodging minion Romney in there so they can be even less regulated than they are now.
We resubmitted twice after reworking everything we know how to rework and were told that there was no reason to resubmit because nothing was wrong.  I've scoured all their suggestions as to what else to look at and everything checks and I've had other greater minds than mine look into this for me too and taken all their suggestions even though I've been told nothing is wrong so I can only come to the conclusion that google just used it's algorithm change to clear the decks of small businesses and start raking in the dough from the 1%.  I'd like to see Matt Cutts come here and explain to my two year old son why he thought it was important to put daddy's business out of business and why we have to lose our house and the life I've worked so hard to create for us.  I've been in business since 1987 and on the web before Google was an idea yet they seem to think they get to decide who lives or dies now.  As I've looked around and read more about what Google is up to I understand I am not alone.  I also understand that Google doesn't care.
 
<quote> 
I've been in business since 1987 and on the web before Google was an idea yet they seem to think they get to decide who lives or dies now.
</quote>

This is my opinion.  Nothing more nothing less.

1.  Then you should know not to rely on any search engine for your company or business.
2.  Nobody can as I wrote above require an inclusion in a search engine's index or archive.  You may be correct that Google now prefer big money and big companies.
3.  What I personally think is worst with Google is how they treat AdSense PARTNERS that can automatically have their accounts suspendend without waring. 

If you can program a bot to close your account, you can also program a bot to warn you that your AdSense account will be suspended unless you log in and take action.  That is not possible when your account is AUTOMATICALLY suspended. 
 
Matt, please answer to my question if it's possible, I would appreciate it very much. I wanted to ask you what do you think about a situation when any popular site disappear by it's own name. Do you think it really improves a quality of a search? If you don't think so then probably you could think about this idea and consider it in your next updates?

I'm talking about every site on the internet. I think that people who use a name of a site as a search query in most cases search for an exact site. And when a site disappears from search results these visitors are getting unhappy.
 
Hi John Meshna

You made some powerful points, so I thought I'd take a quick look at one of your sites: http://www.dirtworks.net

Here are a few initial observations:

Much as I like some aspects of your site, I suspect that you've outgrown the 1shoppingcart it's based on and would be well served by migrating to a more modern e-commerce platform. Anything from OS Commerce derivatives to Magento would help. Like it or not, there's a danger that you were caught by Google's Panda (site quality update). Key changes I'd make is to always have a single page per product, so that Google can identify them easily, include Amazon-style product  reviews and to look for a content management system that used CSS rather than html tables for layout.

Finally, it's important to ensure that your pages' code is up to date and web standards compliant. For example, some of my SEO plugins think that your site's homepage doesn't have a title tag! (Which, as you probably know, is quite important to SEO).

It turns out that there is a title tag on the page, but there's also a closing html tag </html> just above it, which probably shouldn't be there and may be creating some issues.

Finally, your site received an awful lot of backlinks in a short period in late 2010 and so if nothing else works, that could be worth investigating: see: http://www.majesticseo.com/reports/compare-domain-backlink-history?d0=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dirtworks.net%2F&d1=&d2=&d3=&d4=&type=0&ctype=0&IndexDataSource=H
 
+John Meshna with all due respect, your situation has nothing to do with Romney. Invest $10 and get Copyscape Premium. I had a quick look and it seems your site is very popular with scrapers. I found dozens of sites that are scraping content from your site, and knowing how passionate you are about your business, I don't think that you're directly responsible for duplicate content, however, this is your main issue - duplicate content. Prepare to be filing a lot of DMCAs.

Another thing that you urgently need to act upon is your email marketing provider. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have heard about robots.txt or taking care of their customers' data. Get them to remove your content from their domain ASAP and find a new email list management service.
 
I feel for everyone who got a message. It can be super scary and can kill a business. Hopefully there is a balance and you aren’t more than 50% reliant on Google for traffic but it is still stressful. I think the uncertainty is that is most scary – not knowing or necessarily understand why the penalty was happening.

I work for a museum that has done no link building at all and was hit with an unnatural link warning because of a successful hack they fixed. The hack meant they were showing a particular pharmacy advert and then had a shedload of spammy links pointed at them automatically. Sad news is the links were hidden in an announcement about the big project they currently have on so alas they now barely rank on their own brand.

I wish this kind of negative SEO wasn’t possible. OK – not negative SEO per se but a great way to kill a site… Point a bunch of spammy pharma links at it and that’ll effectively kill it :-(

My hope is that this new round of link quality assessments will help avoid penalties like this in the future by simply devaluing the value of the link and not necessarily punishing innocent (in this case) sites.
 
<quote>
I wish this kind of negative SEO wasn’t possible. OK – not negative SEO per se but a great way to kill a site… Point a bunch of spammy pharma links at it and that’ll effectively kill it :-(
</quote>

Personally I don't think so.
 
+Matt Cutts, you write "If we've taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example.". This has happened to me - 50%-80% drop in search traffic on April 24, but no message and no manual penalty. I do not engage in link buying, selling, or trading, and my site is an authority site which has garnered it many thousands of backlinks.

Can you at least give us a little transparency as to why our sites are being penalized by the Penguin algorithm?
 
Maybe this is a stupid question, but if it is the way you say it is in this post, then why don't you guys write that in that damn email? You know, that email gives the impression that Google doesn't trust anybody, even when you have been doing everything right for years. Big error in trust management there.
 
Just go this message (without the warning symbol) I guess this is the clarification that they aren't taking action on the website as a whole..Sheesh, should have sent that out the first time rather than cause mass panic

 Unnatural inbound links
Jul 23, 2012

We've detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
We don't want to put any trust in links that are artificial or unnatural. We recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole. If you are able to remove any of the links, please submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took.
If you have any questions, please visit our Webmaster Help Forum.
 
We never received any warnings or red flags of any kind but we got screwed anyway.  I had a million dollar business and a nest egg here and it's all gone after a short three months and there's nothing it seems I can do about.  Google now controls who gets to be in business and who doesn't.  Business 101 students learned that customers are the drivers of your business but Google has decided that isn't the case anymore.  We had so much business back in April we thought the good times were back but then penguin jettisoned our site ranking and it's over, just like that.
 
Why did you include this line:  "If you are able to remove any of the links, please submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took."
 
Yeah, found that odd as well? Is it supposed to read "are not"?
 
also, why use the same form? "reconsideration request" sends shivers down the spines of honest webmasters.
 
exactly - "reconsideration request" typically means - i was banned and i want back in! - Maybe "let us know" wording might have been a bit better 
 
Now hearing of people buying up old link farm sites like BMR and Linxboss just to spam their competitors links into these well known "Google observed" sites. Much cheaper way to rank than doing it properly, with community building and good content.

Yes the big sites may have a massive "content and reputation" buffer which I'm sure plays into the algorithm as "armor" against most Neg SEO attacks, but start up, small webmasters are being struck down indiscriminately and with such ease and lack of cost and effort.

The profile of those who would benefit the most are the webmasters with sites in the bottom half of page one for their main keywords. This way destroying just 3 or 4 sites with NS will reap huge traffic and turnover results with a staggeringly small amount of effort required.

Post bad content to bad sites with bad links. Just scrape some rubbish, spam a link (same one - don't bother diversifying anchor texts) stick it into a $50 tool and press "Go"
Now they are using old deindexed link farms for even better/quicker effects.

It couldn't be much easier!
 
Negative Seo is alive and well and Matt can say it doesn't till he blue in the face but we all know its does.  Nice to see some people wake up.  
 
+Matt Cutts thanks for the update, but if Google really wants to be "transparent" why don't you just add an extra column to the "Links to Your Site" reports titled "Link Ignored" and simply fill it with an appropriate "Yes" or "No", that way it is completely transparent. That way you don't need to send a message that scares me half to death!
 
Im with Joe on that one..Just been copied in on an updated message.. its probably even more confusing for the business than the first now trying to work out a vialble solution is like a childrens game... somwhere between blind mans buff and russian roulette :)
 
Link disavow tool is desperately needed. We sees lots of useless links from sites with home we have no affiliation. Would be nice to make them go away. 
 
+Matt Cutts "The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.
...If we've taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example. ...
As always, if you believe you have been affected by a manual spam action and your site no longer violates the Webmaster Guidelines, go ahead and file a reconsideration request.
...It’ll take some time for us to process the request, but you will receive a followup message confirming when we’ve processed it."
All these sentences from your first message, comes just to reveals a "communist mentality" in professional terms. This is essence of all Google Search Quality Team actions against innocent sites. You punish first, second you come with unclear explanations, and finally: "your site no longer violates the Webmaster Guidelines, go ahead and file a reconsideration request." But for Your errors or mistakes, exist somebody from Google which pay? But for all these time when websites (in facts humans behind websites) was treated as "criminals", Google comes which some apologies? NO. Exactly like on the "communist mentality" - We have the right to punish everyone -  We don't offer explanations to anybody. I have just few simple questions. Why You don't come before to any action with a simple "Disavow" tool into WMT account? Why don't offer to all SEO professionals, website owners a real feedback with "unorganic links" - not same supposed unorganic links into every answer and after all these two first steps to punish websites which still have pointed "unorganic liks". WHY?
 
Matt, I hope you take the Disavow idea to heart soon.  We have spent months and thousands of dollars trying to get links removed from our website to no avail.   We are suffering from double jeopardy - manual and algorithm penalties and can't seem to be able to remove enough spammy links (for which we paid SEO comapnies a lot of money) to get us back in good graces.  Being able to disavow them would provide and easy fix.  I'm sorry if I sound like Princess Leia's R2D2's hologram, but we need your help.
 
The fact that Google doesn't just ignore the links it doesn't like, but instead, wants webmasters to hunt down these links and do something about them...well...that's just ridiculous. When did Google stop recommending that webmasters should "design sites for users as though Google didn't exist"? This hat dance that you're asking webmasters to play definitely doesn't mesh with that advice. Google, if you don't like a link, ignore it.
 
You're money making based on spam and black hat SEO is now over. Get a real job.
 
Will sites that got this new, updated warning get hit by virtue of the fact that these so-called unnatural links are no longer going to be passing juice?
 
Nice how everyone gives suggestions about what I need.  guess what, we don't have any money to make any upgrades.  We have to go with what we have.  1shoppingcart sucks and I know it but none of the off the rack carts are any better for our situation.  I've downloaded trial copies of just about every cart you can name and they all stink.  We ship a lot of heavy products and all the web based carts have lousy shipping modules.  They go berzerk when the weight gets over 70lbs.  They're all designed for light weight items not 500 lbs of organic grain!  They're also way too complex for what they do.  the one good thing about 1shopping cart is it's very easy to set up products and make changes but they have multiple server issues and their weight based shipping doesn't work for heavy items either.  I've talked to more than a few web companies about building or converting to a much more modern platform and the estimates from 15,000 to $25,000.00.  We're completely out of cash and credit at this point.  We suffered through a five year drought and everything was fine this spring.  It seemed like everything was going to be okay again and we could start imagining getting onto a better platform but then our site rank went into the tank over night and now every vendor, trucking company and the bank is furious with us.  Our customers are none too happy with us now either, what few we have left that is.  Furthermore, we have to depend on the web for all of our business.  too bad if Google's urban ethos makes it impossible to imagine the specific circumstances of other people's lives.  Zoning won't allow us to open up a bricks and mortar store and we live in Vermont with a total population of about 650,000 or so in a town of fewer than 8,000 people spread out like peanut butter on sliced bread.  Even if we had a store our customer base couldn't begin to support us.  there just aren't enough people around.  Much of what we sell is not special around here but it is in many parts of the country.  I know because people used to call us and tell us how much they loved what we do.  We're selling lifestyle with a scent of Vermont and it always worked before.  Matt Cutts wrote back but I don't seem to be able to respond directly.  He's telling me penguin isn't the problem panda is but I have the stats to prove him wrong but I can't upload any screen shots in this forum.  
Scrapers.. not much I can do about that.  I don't know where all the back links in 2010 came from.  I didn't even know they existed until a friend of mine showed them to me during this period.  I don't even know how to do such a thing.  If some one did that it wasn't me and I don't know who they are or what to do about it.  I'm a simple guy who used to make a living selling farm and garden products to appreciative customers and tasught myself how to build a web site.  It's not very sophisticated but it works and our customers who are the basis of any business always liked it a lot.  Who is Google to decide what busines model a person is allowed to have?  Are they judge and jury of the internet now?  Now I'm fighting with my wife about how to go through bankruptsy and foreclosure on our house and what the future holds for our family.  This whole thing has made my wife's health decline in a serious way too.  Stress is a trigger for a lot of things she can usually manage but this kind of thing is too much for her.  If I sound angry I am because we were fine until Google decided to screw around and ruin my business.
 
O hay.. Of course Romney the disingenuous bag of shit isn't to blame for what's going on with me personally.. I know that.  Whoever commented on that part of my post is missing the point i made.
 
+Matt Cutts  Why don't you also name the links? It is clear you know them, so this would be a GREAT help for everybody and a clear sign of transparency and fairness from you!
 
Penalizing sites for unnatural links could create a whole new industry.  Imagine getting an email saying that you must pay a certain amount or unnatural links will be created for your site.  Or perhaps the links were created first, and then you have to pay to have them removed.  It's very scary business when you consider hurting a site for what someone else could do.  
 
+Jason Vandenbrink: i already get these mails around twice a week! We have at least 2 idiots out there, who bought us Xrumer runs and created stupid squidoo lenses, because we did not pay... and I refuse to pay, always.
 
I agree with Jason, this is a new industry and i believe it is growing fast and big, since create a link is much more easy than delete one. Thanks for create such a big opportunity.
 
+stu foster There was a misunderstanding, I think :) What I wanted to say is:

Seen as ONE out of several online-marketing-channels, Google is a great idea to deliver qualified website visitors to the OUTER periphery of a webselling system.

If it (Google) fails doing this job - who cares? There are plenty more channels to be used, and no one should let his webselling-core be affected by Google, eh? :-)
 
Thank you Matt for arranging the update email. I can sleep now at night. We had two bad marketing companies work with us and just wrecked our traffic for our website. I still wish I had not had anything to do with them. I sell plumbing and heating, so I'm no real expert in marketing. Not understanding it - as I do now - reading your information has enabled me to make the right decisions for my business. Thank you Matt for sorting this email problem. Also thank you Google for having a face to talk to - very impressed. 
 
+Matt Cutts It remains ambiguous whether this new message is telling you that links are being discounted (ignored) or that a more specific action is being taken ON YOUR SITE. In other words; a penalty that affects the page that the links are pointed to. I am sure many people would have these unnatural links pointing to the homepage, in which case anything beyond ignoring the links would surely affect the whole site?

Any clarification would be much appreciated.
Carl E
 
I'm not entirely sure that this isnt beneficial to my site - we have been targetted with a bunch of spam blog comments, which I think are the links of which Google refers to in the message received by us yesterday. I'd be more than happy for Google to discount them.
 
The problem from Google's point of view with any kind of disavowed tool is it it gives SEO's and Webmaster's a method to directly tweak and experiment with the link building profiles. Although it is in 'our' interests to say 'Hey some crap SEO company did this back in 2008- they have been fired - we do this all in house now'. It gives those smarter than myself the ability to learn about Google's algo.

This is clearly not a technical challenge for Google its more of a political internal issue at 'The Plex'. It is possible to deliberately or through lack of vision and leadership, badly manage and confuse staff and departments in such a way as to ultimately manifest confusion in the organic search experience, with the ultimate result being a surge in PPC 'certainty' from us, the consumer. 

I fear we will have to trust Google has a moral compass and at least give people the chance to distance themselves from bad links from X years ago. Improving user experience with Panda updates is a good thing, but it can also stagnate creativity and invention as companies without strong leadership go for the normal and safe, instead of an outstanding UX. 
 
I agree that a disavow tool would open allow spammers and poor SEO habits to prevail over quality, but without quality intel on what is considered to be link spam on a site by site level any most of the ranting is moot. How can a site be penalised for links that are not shown by the systems provided by the penalty givers... I think we all get what Penguin was about, OK then, point proven Google, now go fix the issue without destroying the world economy further than it is.
 
If you are so good at identifying "bad" links why don´t you just devalue them then? This kind of communication will also be read by decisionmakers that have no knowledge or experience with link building or SEO. Uninformed, stupid decisions will be made and businesses will get rid of links or do other stuff that harms their rankings. Jobs will be lost. People will suffer. All because you guys decided to solve this problem not with the algo but with a PR-campaign that scares people. Don´t be evil... how about don´t be a dick?
 
+John Meshna, the best theory I have heard is that Penguin may have resulted in a "trusted site" designation being removed from your site which then exposed your site to the ravages of Panda. So even though your traffic dropped on April 24, the suggestions as to how to improve it are all Panda-centric.

Of course the better solution would be to figure out how to get the trusted site designation back - in other words, remove the Penguin penalty.
 
+John Meshna maybe if you get some links from Monsanto your ranking will improve.  (Seriously though I hate seeing good people in small businesses suffer.  I think it just goes to prove a point that no business should be Google dependent because it is a strategy that will ultimately come back and bite us).  
 
+Matt Cutts ,Google brought the scenario of website indexing to such abominable levels that people have to beg for reinclusion for errors which were not theirs in most of the cases. This is pathetic.Also we note that you have the notorious scorn for the privacy of your users.I once used to be an ardent fan of Google.But now no more.

After observing the chaos in which Google is indulging for the past few months,I would like to give you a wise piece of advice.
It is said by ancient wise men that achieving peak success for either organizations or humans is not a very difficult task but
maintaining the sucess is difficult. The reason is not that they lack in abilities or because of some superior competition but because
of the greed that sets in among them. It is shocking that Google which is known as the best employer hitherto and which enthralled users so pleasantly for the last few years is not exempt from the invasion by the treacherous "greed".It is unimaginable that the company would stoop to the level of resorting to dirty tricks like manipulative algorithms, shocking its users.It is this greed which has brought down many successful empires. organizations and achievers. It seems you have reached the same stage and would be joining their group very soon. I am sad to see that Google which showed that phenomenal success can be achieved in very short time in a chosen activity will also join the ranks of crumblers in phenomenally short time.

Be careful my dear Google, competitors like Facebook, Microsoft and Apple to mention a few would jump at this opportunity and snatch the hitherto enjoyed success from your hands.If you lose success through loss of credibility, it is impossible to recapture it. You have achieved success through exemplary hard work and matchless innovation and even they may not come to your rescue once you fall from the pinnacle of success and glory. Wake up before you fall.
 
+Jim Peake, Absolutely every site on the internet is dependent on Google. You can't build a site which will be completely independent. If doesn't matter if your visitors love your site, if Google says that it's not a quality site you will loose a big percent of your visitors.
 
+Ihar Paliashchuk Google has the last say when it comes to apply their ranking. This has been a puzzle for there is no clear cut logic ( except that of google ) when it comes to seo. Algorithms means different things to different sites. One guy comes up with a new site, has no link building and ranks Nr. 1 because he paid for PPC. Another guy has an excellent site build it over years, ranked top 10, and skydives when Penguin strikes. Where is the logic ?
I am no longer concerned, as Google does what it feels is right anyway, or what the google bot program has been programmed with.
This can favor some, and shun others. There is no clear boundary.
SEO has become a real pain in the neck.
 
+Heinz Rainer, I'm not only talking about SEO. I'm talking about everything. Due to Chrome (32,13%) and Firefox (25%) Google already can catch a huge % of your visitors even before they visit your site.

If you take any popular website and then go to Google Trends (it provides a stats for search queries) you will see that almost each popular site on the internet has a lot of visitors who search for it in Google. These people are mostly bookmarkers of this site. They just use Google to visit their favorite site.

And one day Google can decide that this site is not a quality site and penalizes it. And these visitors who used Google to visit a site are getting unhappy.

This is what happened to my sites. I lost many my bookmarkers. It's very sad to loose pepope which search specially for your site and spent there over 20 minutes (according to my counter and Alexa.com).

For my opinion a quality of search can't be improved with that. Now these people can't find what they are looking for. And Google Trends shows that they search less and less for these search queries.

People are unhappy but a webmaster is also unhappy because he lost his bookmarkers. This is very sad and it proves that it's really impossible to build a perfect site and do not depend on Google.
 
On Google Webmaster - the webmaster can see all the external links. Google should categories these links - Safe and Spam and also give the webmasters option to Block/Tag the spam links.

Doing so the site owner notifies Google that he is not associated, so his site should not be penalized.

Google can then clear all the tagged sites from indexing and make the  web much more cleaner.
 
Hi,,
Offering superb ... And since I am offended many irregularities found on my site because of this message and other messages such as precedent contrary quality ...And other ...


My question is: why is the imposition of sanctions on ordinary websites which aspires to top even if they have many links ... While large sites publish links spamming and is at the forefront of abnormal results and no offended by even one violation!!



And another thing why not punish sites neglected by their owners and had left a reference to links and comments? Why don't you monitor their sites and have published comments ...? I believe they are the first and main reason for this problem.


And finally: you will help to get rid of this violation? Please contact admin @ 2sw2r.com

And thanks
 
Seems like the gits at Google are losing the rest of their wits.
 
There has been a lot of speculation about the messages. Are they part of a Google plan to get publishers to reveal bad links that Google isn't able to detect on its own? Hard to say.
 
Hi Matt. 
All week long my sites danced in SERP, from page 1 to 2. And today I see that my main site, dropped to 6 page in few minutes was on 8th! How is it possible? There where no "black seo" no "infections". What should I do? That's my business and I live from it? My site is for people has beautiful design, when my competitors, with, I'm sorry, which have not so nice sites, stays on their position. So how could I know what should I improve, which findings should I make from this update? I'm just disappointed...
 
Why do you all blame Google for this? It is part and parcel of their business strategy.It is their search engine,so they show results as they want. People should check alternate avenues to spread business and not depend on Google alone. Perhaps in future for getting included in Google search, every business owner or site has to pay. This is in line with the  priority, businesses are getting with Adwords and paid ads.
 
You need the ability in GWT to allow site owners to disavow themselves of certain links and agree to forgo any link juice those links provided. Even Bing lets you do that.
 
Dear Matt.
What if a so called "SEO expert" decided that buying links in free wordpress themes was a good idea? One of our site is badly affected because of such links. At least I assume it.
The site got a big slap on Jan. 19/20 this year. Because of the date I always thought that the site was hit by the page layout algorithm. A lot of layout improvements have been done since, but there was no recovery til now. I don't know if the penalty was triggered by Panda 2.3 (Jan. 14. ?).
Every improvement we did didn't help at all. The site has unique content and is over 9 years old. Before the penalty it got around 10 - 15k daily visitors from Google, now it's only about 25% of it, and it looks like it's still falling.
We cannot do anything about it. The site is doomed because of bad backlinks that we cannot remove. Fresh bad backlinks pop out of the box everytime a webmaster uses one of that themes.
A reconsideration request doesn't make any sense in this situation, or does it?
If there was something like disavow tool we could at least watch links and tell Google about new bad ones.
The way it is I think the site will die or will get a deadly punishment sooner or later.
Thanks.
P.S.: edited percent number
 
Hello Matt
We have got warning for Unnatural Links a month ago, and we take quick action and removed backlinks from about 250 unique domains which we think look spam. We request for reconsideration with the details of 250 domains from where links has been removed, after 15 days we got a message from WMT that "We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines."

Now I have again downloaded "Latest Backlinks" from WMT and go through some of them and checked out about 150 domains and found that 25 domains have removed my links few month ago but WMT still showing those link in my backlink table. So I have now two question:

1). In how much time Google Webmaster Tool Update backlink table. So at-least we can't get panilities  for those links who don't pointing to my site.
2). My website ranking goes down from 2nd page to 8th page in Google Search in April for a "specific keywords". Now I have redesigned my website, update fresh content and removed lot of bad backlinks and working on Quality link building. But I didn't see any improvement in ranking. Please suggest me what to do now. And what to do with the links, I am not able to remove.

thanks
 
When is Google going to stop spreading paranoia about link exchange and reciprocal linking?  Sure be specific if you see full duplex irrelevant linking in high volume but leave the little guy alone who is making low volume linking decisions to brand his site within his realm of interest.
 
Bonjour
Désolé je ne parle pas Anglais, je me permets donc de vous écrire en Français.
Je me demande pourquoi vous vous amusez à faire mourir des entreprises !
Vous dites que c’est pour donner des meilleurs résultats dans les recherches !
Mais regardé et essayé de faire des recherches via Google.
Il me semble à moi mais aussi dans mon entourage et sur les forums, qu’il devient de plus en plus compliqué de trouver les bons renseignements.
Je trouve le plus souvent des sites vides ou sans rapport avec ma recherche !
Pourquoi ?
N’avez-vous pas peur que les gens ce détourne de vous ?
Vous croyez vous si puissant pour croire qu’ils vont rester sur Google sans chercher ailleurs des résultats plus pertinents.
Vous nous demandé de faire des sites de qualités ! Vous avez absolument raison.
Mais pourquoi ? Puisque la plupart ont disparus de votre moteur de recherche, sans vraiment d’explications. Juste, semble-t-il ! pour avoir fait des échanges de liens, comme il était conseillé de faire.
Cordialement
E.Levigneron
Traduction Google= Hello Sorry I do not speak English, I am therefore writing to you in French. I wonder why you're just dying to do business! You say this is to give the best results in searches! But looked and tried to search via Google. It seems to me but in my surroundings and on the forums, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the right information. I find most often empty or sites unrelated to my research! Why? Do not you afraid people will hide it? You think you are so powerful as to believe they will stay on Google without looking elsewhere for more relevant results. You asked us to make quality sites! You are absolutely right. But why? Since most have disappeared from the search engines, without really any explanation. Just, it seems! for doing link exchanges, as he was advised to do. cordially
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Having received the three various types of message about 'unnatural links' I am wondering whether the 27th July message will supersede any previous message and/or penalty? My first message was on 7th April and also hit on 24th April. But how long to wait from reconsideration request?
 
Please make some option to disable links in webmaster tools because we can't control all sites where we have links...
 
Meaning, if you have received the message you have affected sites. How about for those who have not received the message?
 
Please indicate the concerned links or simply ignore it. I've received an e-mail with "detected unnatural links" for a site 3 weeks after your message "manual spam measures removed". Just confusion, but no help for any webmaster - sorry :-) 
 
Today I received a manual action titled  User-generated spam. Google has detected user-generated spam on your site. Typically, this kind of spam is found on forum pages, guestbook pages, or in user profiles. As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to your site.

I have 240k pages. We run a blog and forums. I'm aggressive in deleting spam and using tools to prevent spammers, which is why I'm left scared and scratching my head as to what to do.

I've done a fair amount of searching, but haven't seen a lot of folks getting this particular message.

Any suggestions for next steps?
 
I did received a message today "We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines. Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank"

I am so lost, I downloaded the CSV file from Google web admin site that links to my site, I have found about 250 of them, lots of them I couldn't find a link to my site and other are links like estimates of traffic, keyboard analytic, I do not know what to do, I own and operate a small gift site, and most of my visitors are coming from Google Adwords,  how can I stop anybody a specially a competitors to do me no harm.

any advice please, should I ignore this message too?
 
Thanks, I'm learning SEO.
 
The changes have taken SEO to another level. The depth of complexity is deeper than what the IBM computer Deep Blue would be calculating in a chess championship.
 
I'm so sick of Google. I wish someone else would come along who could actually compete. I got Google Bowled and still trashed. My site was manually reviewed and "white flagged" or whatever you want to say and then 1 week later the algy picked it up again and threw me in the dumpster. Check it - startuploans.org....links from the library of congress, pepperdine, score, sba.gov, etc...and yet a competitor can throw 1,000+ shitty payday loan links at me and crash my rankings with no problem. It's nuts. If you're going to roll something out like that, at least make sure it can't be abused.
 
+Matt Cutts if we are trying to remove blogspot domain links how can we do so? the support is not there on the forums or contact form to ask someone to remove it? this is a problem due to previous seo works doing very poor qualityy article submissions. Please advise.
 
Thanks Matt,
It's helpful for me, can you tell me how can i save my documents in my Google account?
 
Just suppose i request a webmaster to put my link on their sites and they put, if Google Spiders consider that as a unnatural link and then send me a message to remove that link which is pointing to my site, i can remove that link because i did that. But if my enemy or any competitor does that and make some unnatural links then how could i able to remove that links?

I request to Google to make a new software which should message to webmasters who have unnatural links on their websites, In this way most of online business person can save their websites..
 
It would be very beneficial to have specific data to show clients.  A client could be working with a totally legit SEO company, and have their site hit by work done by "others", and incorrectly place the blame on their current SEO practitioner. 

Honestly, this is turning into a realtionship from h*ll.  Imagine trying to make your partner happy when they won't tell you what they want beyond generalities such as "be nice", lol.

Legit SEO people are 100% willing to follow rules and guidelines - they actually WANT to do things correctly.  Why are Google's engineers driving chaos instead of facilitiating "alignment"?
 
+Matt Cutts Is still still an issue? One of my clients received the dreaded message yesterday, along the lines of "We detected unnatural links pointing at your site, feel free to lodge a re-inclusion request when you're done mopping up". Obviously this has sent both them and me into an absolute freakout - they've never participated in link exchanges or paid for links, and there are lots of new (very spammy) comment links pointing at their site now, so it's very obvious that they've been the target of negative SEO.

I'd like to think webmasters aren't held responsible for someone else's actions (e.g. negative SEO), so if this message is just over-generalised, something needs to be done about it. Judging by the comments above, the loss of productivity over these messages must be horrific. We're sitting here wondering if the site is about to be cut off at the waist over the fact that someone has decided to point a bunch of dirty links at the site. If we'd received a more targeted message saying "you have some unnatural links, so we're going to disregard them from now on" we wouldn't be nearly as concerned.
 
Signalling individual links as 'unnatural' would surely only reflect upon links that have been Automated by backlink generators - Manual submissions and relevant content writing with 100% unique backlinks  should resolve this and keep your website updated with fresh and relevant content and articles - How many people have been affected by this update?
 
I am surprised that Google have not included an adwords discount code with these unnatural link warnings.
 
I agree with +Richard Walker - my client received one of these messages and it gave ZERO clarity on which links specifically are unnatural links. So we can attempt to correct any we can - the rest are out of most people's control. Thanks.
 
I had 3 of my top amazon affiliate sites tanked due to being hit with spam back links (5,000 in two weeks) and I can't stop them! I tried contacting webmasters, some helped, some didn't. I went to Bing and disavowed the main offending URL's and started getting traffic back from Bing and Yahoo but absolute ZERO from Google! (even though I retain PR ratings...). Proof that you can get hurt quite easily and proof that a disavow tool can help stop these underhanded tactics!
 
why google webmaster not sending any message to my website after 9 july 2012
 
I have a question--is there any way to reopen a video so I can add to it?
 
I didn't get any message from Google but I am still worried about those domain I linked from. I made several request to all some give response but some stupid are not replying me. What to do now?  should I use disavow tool from here. Its about 1000 links coming from many different different domain.
 
I run a website that allows people to sponsor pages, the links are clearly marked "sponsored by", so does this count as an unnatural link? I considered it "white hat" as it is clearly marked.  A couple of our sponsors have received these messages; one has  withdrawn sponsorship as a result, and the other has requested the "no follow" tag be used.  So, what do not for profits do?  How can we attract sponsorship?
 
Matt what about if a competitor can buy bad link service in few $$$ targeted to your website and you are going to either hit by Google Penguin update or you could get a notification from GWT for unnatural linking... What you did wrong? Simply Nothing... Then why you got penalized for a stupid work done by your competitor... Still these questions are non answerable and hope Google team will take some good steps for these real life issues...
 
If in any case, my website will be affected by Panda/Penguin and I will somehow clean up the bad links, redirection, url errors pointing to my site, Can I now submit for a reconsideration request, even if I don't receive any notice from Google Webmaster Tools about the sudden drop on rankings of my website?  I saw some websites that were not really competitive back then that is now dominating the rankings today. How was that happened? Confused o.O
 
i really apreciate your constant interaction with the community. have a gr8 conventaion
 
But matt i dont understand this. When you have a company end making money white your site but some one put 10.000 bat links behind it than the site is gettong a panalty richt? It takes months too get it out when you asking your webspam team ! That is not richt this company can not make money end in this bat economic years its going done thanks too google !! So this happens too 2 frends of mine end thee must sell there houses en are in bad shape because of google !!!
 
hi matt - please please read this 
i got the unnatural link message more than on year ago and after that we lost our ranking from page 1 to 5 and 6 for almost one year , i have changed my website shopping cart to a better seo friendly cart and i worked days and nights for more than a year to fix any problem that i knew and i worked with so many seo reputable company to remove all bad links as much as i 
could and the rest that we could not we have added to disavow , and we have made our site as best as possible free from duplicate content and meta tag and we have added good content and remove any bad seo  technic that we knew and have sent the reconsideration request for 2 or 3 times but still nothing happened ,even when we look for our brand 
mezon handbags , we find it in page 5 or 6 and we do not know what to do any more , we have asked so many webmaster  to remove the links to our site and we add so many other so disavow and we made our webpages free of any problem .
i have spent more than $14500 with seo companies but we do not find the problem that made us to loose ranking and pushing us back to page 5 or 6 
we are almost bankrupt and my families and all the employees that works for us are in hard ship and going in to bad depressing life .
please can you check my site and if is ok  remove the penalty or whatever is on it and preventing it from  ranking .
i have worked very hard for one year to make sure i have clean and seo  friendly website and what google wants.
please do not ignore me . thanks and hashem gives you beracha
 
+MEZON HANDBAGS Hey, you have to look for an alterntive, get trafic from Facebook or somewhere else.
This actions that +Google and +Matt Cutts are taking are not so fair and good.
I ve seen that on many important queries you are getting very irrelevant results (not in one or two... many many) on natural but very relevant on paid. I ve also see that you have many times the same irrelevant site with different pages. So the result is: BIng, more clicks on paid results.

+Matt Cutts Dont forget that "we" as users and marketers need to live and you cant sell just "air". Remember Nasdaq 2000, they were selling iliussions and they doesnt exist any more.

Seriously, your results are getting every day worse, and i cant demonstrate it
 
my site is not having any unnatural links other then advertisement, willful by the host I purchased it from, here hoping to see that they are working on this, and shall be removing their mug and their literature of my links  .... kinda sad when you purchase a domain site for ten years, have no issues, then suddenly see someone else trying to get ahead by placing their face in your mugs slot on links with their literature trying to sale their items where yours is suppose to be ... do not seeing this being an error since I have the app on my site to agree or not, I did not!!! Want my business card link to represent me not Go Daddy ... oh by the way this other business does business with us, that is purely wrong, amazed feds are not all over this and the better business bureau
 
Hi Matt - I am an attorney in Washington and when I set up my Google+ account I set it up as a business page got a message from someone at Google saying this looks more like a Business Page. Did some research and changed my Google+ to an all personal page, then set up a Business Page. Is there a way to let Google know that I fixed it? In the Google Structured Data Test Tool everything is showing verified and good but I can't get my photo to show up - thinking it had to do with the mistake?
 
How can I remove my sites and article from bad links where my previous webmaster has linked?
 
thank you, never had issue with any of this, then I am me, people I have become friends with in the virtual world are equally the same. Think this really applies to exploited corporate propaganda, don't ever use those sights, really sorry but well get enough corporate trash in real life to deal with, why should I blog it in the virtual? so let them have theirs wars, I will stay simply being me, real person, let them have their fake robots and engines with all their fake lies that some can join if the pay the mighty dollar and I will be me, myself, and I which in my eyes makes life much more adventures lifely and fun in the virtual world.
 
+Michael Kohlfürst  "Matt, where do I post an official Webmaster question to you?" I would like to know that too. If anyone knows please reply. Thanks.
 
Thanks for the post. 
 
I've just been told that I have to remove a link on our website because Google is telling the owner of the business I'm linked to that his site is an unnatural link.  WHAT…totally crazy.  My members want access to this and now I have to remove the link???  I really don't get it.  It's not spam at all.  
 
Thanks for the info. I just got the message, and looking for a guidance to see where I should start to fix before contacting Google. As far as I know, I practices all white hat SEO but I know people out there uses my articles w/o my authorization and either add their links or in some cases leave some of my links on those articles. :(
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