Earlier this year Google put out a warning that a war on search engine spam was about to be waged . For those webmasters using questionable techniques they were all shaking in their boots. Now fallout from that change is here. If you haven’t already check your Google Webmaster Tools site, many people are now getting these messages and they look like this:


Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links

March 28, 2012
Dear site owner or webmaster of
We've detected that some of your site's pages may be using techniques that are outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you've made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google's search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team

Now I’m sure a lot of people will find this article after receiving the warning in Google Webmaster Tools and are here looking for a solution. First off there is no sure fire fix on this and people are going to guess and speculate on solutions so take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt. For simplicity I’m going to provide you links to the two most prominent opinions on the Internet and what you will find is there proposed solutions are 100% opposite (big surprise):

White Hat SEO Opinion:

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/unnatural-link-warnings-blog-networks-advice

Black Hat SEO Opinion:

http://www.blackhatworld.com/blackhat-seo/black-hat-seo/419816-guide-google-webmaster-tools-notice-detected-unnatural-links-5.html

I would say that everyone should consider their own personal situation. If your site is 100% made up of bad spam links then I don’t think there is a real solution for you, regardless of what is said I’m sure you will lean toward the Black Hat opinion. If you are a strong site with few bad links you might be able to clean them up and go with the White Hat solution. I think most people will be in the split situation where they have lots of good links and lots of backlinks (backlinks were supposed to be good). For those people you will have to carefully select your future course of action.

One thing that is for sure is that Google made an example of the site BuildMyRank.com and reindexed a huge amount of their backlink network. If you used them, they know about you and you will probably have a message in webmaster tools. If you’d like, the site now allows you to login and click a link that says ‘Delete All Live Links (all domains)’. If you are looking to clean up bad backlinks that is where you should start.

The Internet is a brutal place; its a tough game. Unless you have a legitimate service that people love and need and tell their friends about you can’t expect Google to do you any favours and preserve your high rankings regardless of how you got there. I remember when Yahoo switched from the Yahoo! directory to the Google search engine as their primary source of search results many moons ago, all my #1 Yahoo listings evaporated over night. It happens.

I sympathize though. Google did make thousands allowing BuildMyRank to advertise with them allowing them to tell the world that using their service will allow you to dominate the search engines only to punish all their customers years later. That really isn’t fair. I also appreciate how hard it is to watch your competitors dominate you for years and years, knowing that they are using backlinks and spun articles while you sit back waiting for Google to intervene. Heavy buckling building was such common practice that it really started to seem like standard webmaster practice.

Going forward I would just advice people to stick with things that really make sense. That is what ultimately drives Google’s algorithm. Create a social presence to compliment your site, get your site listed in niche directories or list where it makes sense, exchange links with other webmeisters when it is truly complimentary, guest blog on reputable sites, and create quality content.

For everyone feeling the heat let’s hope Google keeps a level head and devalues all the bad links instead of waging a war on webmeisters. I’d hate to see a spam war emerge where highly ranked sites are targeted by other sites with backlink spam to devalue their Google position. What I think Google may find is if you penalize all the highly ranked sites out there you will find a worse layer of crap below. Generally the sites doing well in the rankings the last few years probably have established larger communities and have been the ones to spend more time and money on improving their sites.

Anyways guys, good luck on cleaning up your site and getting back on track. Share with us your stories.

Joe

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!