Fear Of Google Ironically Has People Considering Making Natural Links Unnatural

By: Chris Crum - August 31, 2012

We recently published an article called “Links Are The Web’s Building Blocks, And Fear Of Google Has Them Crumbling“. This was about the panic Google has caused among webmasters with its messages about links. It’s a panic that has led to many webmasters requesting to have links removed from sites that they would otherwise find valuable, if not for fear that Google will not like them and hurt their rankings.

Is all of this fear over Google an overreaction, or is it justified? Let us know what you think.

I noticed a post in WebmasterWorld that expresses this point to perfectly. The title of the post says it all: “New link to my site worries me — but it’s a good link!” Senior member crobb305 writes:

Got an unsolicited citation from a media source but they used anchor text that I have been penalized on. FUD! Should I ask them to change it? By doing that I make a natural link unnatural, and Googlebot will detect that change (obvious tinkering). Nevertheless, I do have an OOP and received the infamous link warnings about 5 months ago.

I hate it that we have to live with this type of fear.

This person has been a member of WebmasterWorld since 2002, so they’ve clearly been in this world for quite a while. Yet here they are concerned that a completely natural link might draw negative attention from Google. The person is even wondering if they should go out of their way to make the link unnatural to please Google. How’s that for irony? Sadly, it’s highly likely that plenty of other webmasters are thinking similar thoughts.

As shared in the article mentioned at the beginning, there is plenty of overreaction from webmasters out there, and I would say that Google would rather see the link occur in its natural form, but this is the kind of fear people are dealing with to please Google and maintain some form of visibility in search results (which is getting harder and harder for other reasons entirely). Should people have to be this worried about links (the building blocks of the web)?

It probably doesn’t help that Google has reportedly indicated that forthcoming algorithm updates will be more “jarring.”

Another forum senior member later responded, “But seriously, some of the sites of mine that went down the Google drain were clean, ‘link building’ was not done, just attracted some real nice ones and yet the project died due to ‘penalties’. I went out of answers to this somewhere in the middle of 2011 and focus on cool stuff, HTML5, content (I think some tools can be considered good content) and ultimately ranking solid on Bing. Google does whatever Google wants to do.”

Likewise, Chris Lang from Gadget MVP tells me on Google+, “I never have worried about Google. I just do what seems natural. Never been slapped once…. At least not by Google.”

WebmasterWorld moderator goodroi tells the user, “One link from a quality, relevant website is not the problem. The hundreds of links with identical anchor text coming from blog spam, directory submission schemes and other short cuts are the problem.’

“I tend to focus more of my efforts on improving backlink profiles by adding quality links instead of focusing on deleting bad links,” goodroi adds. “Even if you delete every single bad link (and somehow are lucky not to accidentally delete a good link) you still need to build legitimate links. So if you start working on legitimate links you may end up getting enough good links that it naturally defuses the bad link issues.”

Unfortunately, many are seemingly still eager to kill significantly more links than they may really need to. On the flipside, even some publishers are growing leery of including guest content on their sites. This fear, apparently is coming from the Penguin update.

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable points to a post from Cre8asite Forums, where user EGOL writes:

Since Penguin, I am getting a flood of article offers. Most of this content is crap. Some of it is “average” quality (which I don’t publish). Some can be excellent, unique, highly desirable. So now I am deciding if I want to accept some of this content, knowing that I could be publishing links to sites that could have past, present or future manipulation.

I have a potential article that I really like and that would be very popular with my visitors. The author’s site ranks #1 in a difficult niche and they don’t have enough content on their site to hold that position from editorial links (IMO).

I have not seen any articles or discussion about the cautions that a publisher should be following in these days of post-penguin linking.

So, not only are people afraid to have links out there that they would find valuable, if not for fear of Google, but some are also afraid to publish quality content, for fear that it might somehow be connected to something Google will not like. Ironically, quality content is what Google wants from sites above all else.

Are webmasters worrying about Google too much, or are these simply rational concerns, with Google being such a dominant force on the web? Tell us what you think.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.firmoa.com Jenny

    I just can’t understand,why site’s natural links will be the unnatural links, this include backlinks?

  • http://seo-content.biz Natalya Nadolska

    I worry about Google Penguin too. I and my projects have never participated in the link schemes. However, I have read article about low quality link types, which Google can consider as unnatural.
    For example, according to this article’s author, the blog commenting is not desirable.
    I cannot understand that difference between natural and unnatural links.
    According to Google, links from blogs, forums, social networks are unnatural now.
    I think you should write the article about natural, desirable links.

  • Brennan

    Any links could be deemed unnatural, if Barry did publish an article, how does google know he wasn’t paid to publish it? Just because someone hasn’t done anything like that before, doesn’t mean they never will. Better to be safe Bazza and not publish anyone’s articles… Well atleast not link to their websites if you do. Google also penalize the owner site if you allow the passing of page rank, so ‘no follow’ the link, but then no point in putting it there in the first place? Some clear rules would be nice!

  • http://www.stevegillman.com/what-does-google-want.html Steve

    As I have posted on my blog, I’m considering buying links for the first time, since honest quality content is not enough now (our dozen-plus sites were knocked down 80% by Panda and Penguin after years of many first page search results). Clearly buying works for some people.

  • http://www.sim64.co.uk/ Terry Simmonds

    I own and run a 10 year old online business directory.
    Not a links directory a proper business directory that lists description, address, contact number and link to website (using URL).

    Unbelievably, I am now getting more and more requests from people to remove the link to website, but what I have noticed is these link removal requests are not coming from the businesses listed but are coming from SEO or marketing companies.

    I suspect SEO companies are now frightening people in to using their services to remove links in the same way they have previously been link building for them.

  • http://www.vesta-tech.net Manila

    I’m don’t know now how to qualify good links. Hope google don’t put emphasis unnatural links

  • Steve

    Google is crap! They seem to get a real kick out of watching webmasters dance whenever google pulls on their puppet master strings. With the last few updates (panda crap and penguin poop) more and more of their results are becoming less relevant and more useless.

    I still have a few sites that are doing quite well in the google serps, but the ironic thing is I really don’t care what google thinks anymore. I’ve spent the last couple years building traffic sources from other directions (since I first realized that google behaves more like a spoiled child than a legitimate internet resource) and now most of my traffic comes from places other than google.

    My advice to everyone out there is find other sources of traffic to your website, or succumb to the frustration of dancing to googles tune whenever they get bored and feel like manipulating the internet.

    • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

      I’m with you!

  • lots0

    Google is no longer a “Search” company. It is a true corporation.
    With Motorola and self driving cars and all the other ‘side’ projects google now has, it is amazing they still focus on search at all.

    A site can survive, and even profit without traffic from google.

  • lots0

    DON’T FORGET to switch your personal search to BING… You won’t regret it.

  • http://www.dirtworks.net John Meshna

    I’m sick of chasing google’s endless stream of bullshit around. They are ruining the internet as we have know it and searches haven’t improved at all. I have competitors with shit sites and poor content that hasn’t been updated in years ahead of me now and nothing I’ve done has changed that. I don’t think Google has a clue what it’s doing anymore and this whole goodwill tour around the physical world and the net by Matt Cutts is just an ass covering tour making excuses for screwing millions of people and putting businesses out of business. They obviously just want to do business with huge corporations who can afford to pay high end SEO companies or have their own internal people who can keep up with their endless stream of crap. They don’t like small businesses and they favor the 1%. This is the final outcome of all this so called updating and improvements to their algorithm. If it’s not intentional then they’re just incompetent.

    • http://www.caribbeanexclusives.com Douglas Lord

      Be careful Google might be reading this blog!

  • Rick

    I’ve had so many sites ask to be removed in the last few months, and sadly for them, they dropped in ranking, and I stayed the same, and in many cases climbed. I don’t worry about Google anymore, our traffic is specialized, and people who need us, know where to find us. Google has updated themselves out of importance. It’s nice to rank high, but not worth the anxiety.

  • John

    I’ve stopped worrying abut Google. A lot of organic search results now seem to come up with more corporate customers of Google in the first page and less real relevance. For business I depend on PPC more, SEO less, and I observe that response in terms of PPC dollars spend is just as good at Microsoft AdCentre. Less reach, it’s true, but lower prices = same results.

  • Watching the Wheels

    I think that EVERYONE NEEDS to stop feeding the never ending egotistical capriciousness called Google. You KNOW they’ll just change their minds next week out of boredom and write a new code.

  • http://www.marketdomination.com Josef Holm

    As long as Google’s got everyone panicking and removing links, their strategy works. The point is that Google needs links to and rank content. Simply by scaring webmasters into removing unnatural links and even have some worry about legitimate links shows that their tactics work.

  • http:www.thecollectorshub.com The Collectors Hub

    With each update in Google’s algorithm, the product search results feature more and more Amazon & eBay pages and less from real ecommerce sites. If this keeps up, people won’t need Google at all. They can just go directly to those 2 sites. Seems like it would be in Google’s best interest to spread the love a bit and give us smaller, independent sites a break.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone.com

    Fear of Google is justified.
    History is replete with megalomaniacs, narcissuses (like the current W.H. occupant), etc. whose visions turned into nightmares.

  • http://wwwbogar.com raghavan

    God gift this site

  • http://mghomehealth.com/ Worried Webmaster

    Is it not a more convincing indicator to Google that when deleting links shows that those links are unnatural? I think if you suspect you have unnatural links pointing to your site, leave them alone. Get more natural links instead of deleting the unnatural ones.. I think there could be penalties for having unnatural links but I also think there are penalties for removing many links as that indicates they were unnatural in the first place. The whole thing is too confusing…. Also how does negative seo play into this? I believe I have been victim to thousands of spammmy links being made by a competitor or some other nasty which were also all deleted a week later. My site dropped.. but was it the spammmy links or was it because they were deleted or both?
    It may have even been a mistake that these links were made to my site instead of another uRL and that’s why they were deleted. Either way, my site was penalized and I had nothing to do with it. I try to play be Googles rules but they still manage to hurt me…

  • http://www.seobooklab.com/ Ram Babu

    I think , it is indeed not an easy task to know or understand Google’s mind How they count our links which should be treated as natural or unnatural, making us consed sometime beside having strong belief on what we do in order to make such natural links anyway . .!

  • http://www.electric-reviews.org Mark Demers

    I think that webmaster`s concerns are very justified (how can`t you?), I just plug away and do things the way G wants and lately my site has been ranking much higher in search however who knows what`s in store in the future. Like everyone I`m trying to diversify my traffic to hedge against any penalties my site may draw in the future for whatever reasons (I don`t know) but I don`t have many ideas on how to do that other than traffic exchanges which to me do nothing but waste time and frustrate me.
    All I ask is that in the future that webmasters know what will happen in advance with these updates so there`s time to fix it . Remember G likes quality content posted regularly not half as* content cluttering the net.

  • http://side-site.com Bryan

    When using SEO, maybe Google should be the missing link?

  • knysna

    I think Googles algorithms could possibly be the missing link.

    Evolutionists speak of the bridge between man and ape (animals) as the missing link. I personally think their are supposed missing links in the Google Center. These been between computer and ape! For instance, Panda and Penguin are thought to be cousins, related to each other through Matt Cutts and the dreaded unnatural link penalty.

    All of the animal algorithms in Google naturally arose by the transformation of some other animal type (Matt Cutts).

    If you still don’t know what an unnatural link is, don’t worry. No one knows what unnatural links are, (just like the missing link) because they are links! Google do however penalize for unnatural links, which lived in the observed past of black hat SEO, which have now gone extinct, replaced by the evermore natural link.

    While some don’t really know what an unnatural link is (or was), they know what they should be (natural). If you know what I mean! As the unnatural link evolves into the natural link, there will be numerous algorithm updates, each algorithm gaining more and more victims of the descendant while losing more and more faith from webmasters.

    Matt Cutts says unnatural links exist whether or not we find them. The fact is we don’t find them. The question is » is the unnatural link idea justifiable and is it working? I say NO!

    I say they need to simply ignore unnatural links and not penalize.

    I presume they are not as advanced as they make themselves out to be. They possible still need to evolve 😉

  • Will

    Yes the fear is justified. Google has killed millions of small websites with the changes the have made over the past year or so. The web is a much less interesting place now thanks to Google. I often have to think about ways to get around Google when doing searches to get the results I want. I have started trying other search tools also. Maybe that will be the way to go.

  • http://www.arbitelcommunications.com/ Jannie Calvetti

    It is not an easy task to know or understand how Google works, because it is so complicated. Google is such a dominant force, everyone uses it. However, I do think it is over rated and they need to make the search a lot more accurate.

  • http://www.dgswilson.com Doug Wilson

    I had a drop in traffic like a lot of other people. I didn’t do anything in response, not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t think of anything to do. I’ve never done any kind of link building. Again, not because I wouldn’t like more good links, but because I wouldn’t know how to go about it.

    I had already decided (before the P’s of peril) I wasn’t going to do anything out of fear of a search engine. I decided to ignore the whole show. I did notice that I now have half the links listed on Alexa than I did when the Fury Broke.

    What I did notice with Penguin was my crawl rate dropped, just bottomed out. I suspected that PeooGle was busy policing the web. Now the crawl rates are back up and traffic is back to normal.

    On people linking to our websites: I thought that was decidedly out of our hands. I have sites linking to me that I didn’t ask for and don’t want. It’s always been this way with my sites and inbound links. I was told by webproworld senior members and google’s spokespeople a long time ago not to be concerned about it (which I was at the time).

    I guess due to my ignorance of any SEO-Trix, beyond on page basics, I’ve had no real issues with any Google Dance.

  • http://www.hispacar.com Hispacar

    Focusing your efforts on improving your backlink profile with quality links (althoug we all know, that they are not always easy to get) is probably more profitable in the long run than focusing on deleting supposedly bad backlinks.

    Most of the time you are simply waisting your time trying to contact webmasters from directories and other websites which are still up and running, hence counted by Google, but are no longer managed properly.

  • http://sufferingfrommigraine.com Migraine headache

    I think if the link is related to the content it’s fine. Finding reference content in a thick book without marking the pages would be very time consuming. Google can’t afford to ignore links. No logic behind it. Links are the the reference bookmarks of the web. Without them, the web would be a thick book without bookmarks.

    Google is full of it scaring webmasters when they have to use the stuff webmasters put up and they have to use it the way they are. If a site goes lower because of google that’s only a temporary relapse, it’ll come back up sooner or later due to the algorithm which is looking for information on a given subject. It’s the game of the words (content) and references (links)

    If a 500 words article has 10 links, that could be looked as spamming, but if 5 x 500 words articles on the same subject has 10 related links (2 each) that adds extra content and 10 links for the site.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    All Google is doing is making publishers fear the web, or at least fear Google.

  • Joe

    Matt Cutts crumbling white hats while the blackest of the black stay alive and well. Room full o’ retards at Google if you ask me.

  • http://www.bdword.com Saiful Islam

    I think Google has an idea that they can improve user search experience with the latest Penguin update. But they are missing a point that the web is not build by only a site’s reputation but it is built by thousands of business guys who want to sell their product by gaining in the top position in search. My friend’s site Bangla Dictionary is also affected by their update. What I think is that the site is better than other sites which are being shown in the top ranking with the same keyword. So I doubt how long Google can keep this idea to improve user search experience.

  • http://ephedrinewheretobuy.com Mike Budd

    I believe that it was high time for Google to work on this backlinks topic with Panda and Penguin updates: I am still amazed by the ranking position of some sites that have so poor quality content. I am sure that they are just using the SEO talents of other companies by buying links or whatever, but they have no special talent seen on their pages. I think it’s unfair and any attempt to improve this is for me going in the right direction.
    About “natural links” that could be harmful to our site as webmaster, I wonder why we can’t just tell Google to ignore them through an option in the Google Webmaster Tools for instance, that would probably solve the issue, no?

  • Toni

    The Penguin updates are really crazy when it comes to black SEO. It opens up the opportunity for your dishonest competitors to create thousands of bad link to you without your knowledge and knock you off the search engines. The purps don’t get penalized you do. How is that a good thing? Penguin from Bat man is a good name for this Google update.

  • http://www.canvasprintmaker.co.uk Alan Robertson

    I really wish Google would stop moving the goal posts as and when they feel like it. First we are told that anchor text is important and now we are told it can harm you with nobody really knowing what the “magic formula” is. I for one got hit over something unintended that seems quite obvious now but at the time it didn’t. It wasn’t an attempt to manipulate the results but more a lack of understanding. When you are asked for a “title” in a search engine directory they should really be asking for “company name”. The title on the website was “product from company name” (sorry to be vague but I’m trying not to promote anything) and so this was what was used as a title with all the search engine directories. A shame then that this skewed the anchor text to my website….. An easy and yet costly mistake to make. From now on all my links are going to be just the web address and forget any anchor text. Penguin may well be an anti-spam device but it destroyed legitimate websites as well. In my mind I will not be relying on Google as much in the future – they play God with people’s lives. One touch of a button from them could bankrupt a company and lay staff off instantly.

  • http://www.knightrealm.com Mick Lehr

    This should at least cut down on blog spammers who would post their spam links about 20 times in a row expecting traffic to their sites.

  • http://weavervilleonline.net Tony

    I have been working web design since 2003 and SEO since 2005. My very first project in 2005 was to get a professionals gambling strategy website to page one where others had failed. With Google being notorious for disliking any site that had anything to do with “Gambling” (even sites that were not about or had anything to do directly with online gambling, but merely sold strategies) I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Link farming had been done before I got there so I removed as many links as I could, addressed on and off page SEO, and had the site on page one in less than two weeks shockingly to me.

    My current project has nothing to do with gambling and is just a county website for a small town, named after the town. The site was launched in August 2011 and in May 2012 we started showing up about page 3 for the towns name as a keyword. In July we fell suddenly to page 8, three days ago we were at page 3 again and yesterday we were removed all together… but I had done nothing major to the site since May but post links from the towns Facebook page… about one link every 3 to 6 days. Now an inner page featuring the county sheriff’s department comes up on page one consistently and I have done nothing to that page to promote it and content is only updated about once every 2-3 weeks… much less than the home page. In Yahoo however, the home page (which has been kicked out of Google for God knows what reason) comes up on page one every time and has progressed over the past year as a website should.

    Since this baffles SEO logic I decided to not promote, refer people to nor mention Google to anyone and removed the Google search box and all references from the website, even the Google Ads from our AdSense account (which we weren’t collecting from anyway). If Gggole doesn’t want to associate with our website, then our website will not associate with nor care about Google.

    “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is a well known phrase and when everyone makes Google the God of internet search then the humbleness of that power leaves and what’s left is a dictator.