Algorithm Rolled Out: July 19, 2012

Algorithm summary: Overall Gist

In a repeat of March/April, Google Webmaster Tools issued a large number of unnatural link warnings. In a complete 180-degree turn, they then announced that these new warnings might not represent a serious problem.

Hello, Google. Please do not send any additional link warnings to publishers. Your latest round, intended to clear up the confusion caused by the ones sent last week, is likely to worsen matters. There will be warnings once you have achieved some fundamental clarity.

Dear Editors, Here’s the most recent information on the bizarre link warnings and our best guess as to whether you should be concerned. 

How Did We Get Here?

Google began sending warnings to some publishers earlier this year, informing them that they were engaging in “artificial” or “unnatural” linking. Many publishers who received these messages saw their rankings fall, particularly after Google’s Penguin Update.

Later, Google stated that one way to recover from Penguin was to have bad links removed. It also stated that anyone who received a link warning should take action to remove bad links if they did.

New Wording and Additional Warnings

Google made a change over the weekend in response to the confusion. Cutts responded to our original story by saying:

An engineer worked over the weekend, and the messages are now different, beginning with the ones we sent out on Sunday, so you can tell which type of situation you’re in.

We also modified the webmaster console’s user interface to remove the yellow caution sign for these newer messages. It reflects that these newer notifications are much more targeted and only sometimes necessitate action on the site owner’s part.

If you receive a “link advisory” from Google rather than a traditional link warning, it will say something like this:

We discovered that some of the links pointing to your site use techniques that need to comply with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. We want to put our trust in something other than unnatural or artificial links.

We recommend that you remove any unnatural links to your website. However, we recognize that some links are beyond your control. As a result, we are focusing on the unnatural links rather than your entire site for this specific incident.

If you can remove any links, please submit a reconsideration request detailing your actions. Please visit our Webmaster Help Forum if you have any questions.

However, it is bad advice not to be more specific, suggesting that publishers actively remove links pointing to their site if these links are allegedly not trusted. It’s even worse to tell them to file reconsideration requests when they’ve done nothing to merit it.

Google has the right to continue discounting an increasing number of links out there. But, if they’ve done nothing wrong, publishers have better things to do than be dragged into that ballot box policing.

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