Google’s Matt Cutts is back to posting Webmaster Help videos rather frequently. In the latest, he talks about whether or not a site should worry about their links if they have not been participating in link schemes.
Cutts speaks in response to the following user-submitted question:
If I haven’t bought links, participated in any linkwheels or schemes, or spammed links, should I spend time analyzing my links and trying to remove ones I didn’t create that look spammy?
“My simple answer is no,” says Cutts. “If you haven’t been going way out there, playing toward the gray hat/black hat edge – if you haven’t been pushing the envelope, participating in paid links…all that sort of stuff, in general, you know, you get a mix of links from all over the web. Some of them are going to be higher quality (Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, whatever). Some of them are going to be lower quality, including some random people who happen to scrape other people who link to you.”
“If you haven’t been pushing the envelope, it’s not the kind of thing where I would worry about looking at your link profile, carefully pruning, and trying to figure out each individual link that you think should count,” he continues.
“Now, if for example, you have gotten an ‘unnatural links’ warning because maybe you were doing some paid links or you paid someone to build links on your behalf, maybe they were pushing the envelope, and you didn’t realize it, then you can download links, sorted by date,” Cutts says. “Hopefully we’ll give you some examples of the sorts of links to look at. Then it might make sense to look into that, but otherwise, your average mom & pop – your normal business (someone who’s not just trying to place number one for ‘poker’ or ‘online casinos’) is not the sort of situation where you need to worry about looking at your individual link profile in my opinion.”
Google has actually penalized itself in the past for some “pushing of the envelope” that was done on its behalf without the company realizing it. You may recall that the company’s Chrome browser landing page was penalized after a paid link scandal. Of course, after the penalty wore off, the page was able to climb back up in the search results.
Google, of course, has launched a new Link Disavow tool, which lets webmasters tell Google links it would like to be ignored, but Google has cautioned that this should really only be used as a last resort if you have had actual warnings, and have done all you can do to get the questionable links removed.
Most sites should not use it, according to Google, and the comments made here by Cutts kind of back up that notion. Here, he’s basically saying that most sites probably don’t even need to worry about their link profiles (provided they’re not doing anything spammy), so these sites certainly wouldn’t want to mess with the Link Disavow tool, which when used improperly, could come back to haunt webmasters.
If you’re unsure about what all Google considers to be link schemes, read this section from Google’s Quality Guidelines on the topic.