Google Gives Webmasters Just What They Need: More Confusion

    July 23, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Last week, Google began sending out messages to webmasters, warning them of bad links, much like the ones that many webmasters got prior to the infamous Penguin update. Google said, however, that these messages were different. Whereas the company’s advice in the past was to pay attention to these warnings, Google’s said this time, that they’re not necessarily something you need to worry about it.

Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts, wrote on Google+,”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,” Cutts added. “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.”

Obviously, this all caused a great deal of confusion, and panic among webmasters and the SEO community. Barry Schwartz, who spends a lot of time monitoring forum discussions, wrote, “It caused a major scare amongst SEOs, webmasters and those who owned web sites, never bought a link in their life, didn’t even know what link buying was and got this severe notification that read, ‘our opinion of your entire site is affected.’

Even SEOmoz was getting these warnings. The company’s lead SEO, Ruth Burr, wrote,”We’ve got the best kind of links: the kind that build themselves. Imagine the sinking feeling I got in the pit of my stomach, then, when a Google Webmaster Tools check on Thursday revealed that we’d incurred an unnatural link warning.”

Cutts eventually updated his post to indicate that Google has changed the wording of the messages it is sending, in direct response to webmaster feedback.


Google has also removed the yellow caution sign that accompany the messages from the webmaster console. According to Cutts, this illustrates that action by the site owner isn’t necessarily required.

  • http://motrizmarketing.com Dennis Miedema

    This piece of news made me laugh. Here’s why (try to follow me here): Google wanted to be more transparent so made some changes but wasn’t transparent about what it wanted to be more transparent about and, as such, it backfired and people complained it should be more transparent about changes. In short: Google, please tell people what you’ll let them see before letting them see it.

  • Geoff Lord

    Google is now in my opinion a complete and utter waste of time for regular relevant searches…..I am off to richer fields on Bing !!!

  • Sandy

    This is the new message I got today. What does this mean? Are they taking action to not consider the links pointing to my site and penalizing the site linking to me or are they penalizing the pages that the unnatural links are linking to? I am very confused. All I see are a some foreign links that I have never heard of linking to me.

    “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. “

  • http://reviewmag.blogspot.com Online Review

    I think Googlers are confused and lost. They don’t know what to do next! What did Matt mean by saying, “…we move towards more transparency…”? In fact, nothing is quite transparent to me! I have discussed with a few of my friends who are into web business. What I could find is that confusions and panic have been snatching their peace of mind. Webmasters are now more confused!

  • http://www.seo-guys.net/ Jerry

    Hi Chris…

    Seems Google THE DOC is being subtly harsh to the webmasters. How can the webmasters remain at peace when Google states “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.”.. It is like the doc saying ‘You are fine but you have a problem heart.’..

    Strange, dunno what more to come from Google in regards to bad links and web spam… Panda, Penguin.. what next ?? Will it freeze webmasters more , say with Polar Bear Google Update?? What say????

    • Arings

      Google Sea Lion Update may be… and all the significant links will will be frozen DOWN!!!

      When I look for “information about ********” it yields the page where amazon is selling that product. How can Google expect to serve its users by providing what exactly they look for?


  • Robin Green

    when will long awaited google anti-monopoly actions? Evil need to get a lesson.