Google is not playing games anymore. After the shocking fiasco with Build My Rank and about a million websites receiving the dreadful unnatural links warning from Google, what is left for SEO-marketers?
Google Webmaster Tools notice of detected unnatural links to [your webpage]
Dear site owner or webmaster of [your webpage]
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 use our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Undoubtedly, it has become necessary for Google to take drastic measures to ensure that they’re providing the best sites turning up on their SERPs. For as long as we can remember, Google search engine’s algorithm has basically worked this way:
Google Search Engine’s Current Algorithm
The higher your webpage’s page rank (PR), the better chance it gets of appearing on the top spot or first few pages of the search engine results pages (SERPs). In order to increase your site’s rankings, already-high PR websites need to link to your site. If you still don’t really understand how it works, here’s a better example:
When Heidi Klum (A-list celebrity) married Seal (not A-list -although this is debatable) they became an A-list couple and Seal was then considered an A-list celebrity because of Heidi’s strong influence.
Similarly, if your webpage has a low PR but many high-PR sites link to it, then their influence causes your webpage to become more valuable and as a result it increases in PR.
Which Sites Come Up On Top?
An SEO-marketer’s job is to maximize a website’s performance in the search engines. Because of this, most of the sites that appear on the top spots when you search for a particular keyword or keyphrase is not necessarily the most relevant website for your search. Instead, they are website companies that have put a lot of effort into their SEO. Now, there’s no problem with that. However, more and more sites that appear on the search engines are spammy and very irrelevant to the searches.
Google’s Aim To Filter Out Spammy and Irrelevant Websites
You might have experienced this a couple of times, where you’re searching for some information and you end up with something completely irrelevant or considerably different to what you were looking for. This would be an example of a site that has used anchor text and a lot of “unnatural” linkbuilding to influence their position on the SERPs. This is also an example of the type of site that Google does not want on their search engine.
As much as I completely understand these steps necessary to better our experience with Google, as someone who is also an SEO-person I now have a lot of unanswered questions. For example: How will SEO work now? How will Google know for sure if a site is using “unnatural” linkbuilding methods? What constitutes “unnatural”? By “unnatural” do they mean ‘manual’ or do they mean ‘unethical’?
Does Google have any other precisely efficient method or will they have no choice but to use actual human-editing if they want to properly filter out unnatural links? This will be one heck of a job for Google to tackle.
The worrying thing is that this change is affecting SEO businesses because webmasters and companies now do not know how to react. It costs a lot of money to place your link on a high-PR site…is it not worth risking right now? Many high-PR webpages have a lot of traffic and this is another reason for advertisers to want to have their links on these sites. Will their intention be mistaken for participating in unnatural linkbuilding? If you’re involved in black hat SEO, this is probably the time to consider finding something else to do.
Other things to consider is this: if you are a website owner and you do not do your own SEO, this is the time to invest in a reputable company that does not use methods considered unacceptable by Google.
On another note, this is possibly a method Google’s using to get more advertisers on Adwords. If you are using Adwords for example, your site comes up on the searches as a sponsored ad. With the other method, instead of paying Google you are paying SEO companies.
A handful of my advertisers on other sites have sent me emails in panic. They do not know how to react; they do not know what to do. Others have considered other ‘methods’ of advertising on my sites (I do not know if some of them have received the warning from Google but it seems to be the case).
The real issue here is that many people have been depending on PR for too long. For quite a while now, many experts in the industry have advised us all to stop looking at PR and not let it run our online lives. I really hope that with the possible changes happening with Google’s algorithm, online marketers will consider more ethical means of website promotion. As a result, if your site’s got great content or very useful, we can hope that people share it and it is pushed up to the top of the searches. If the content is not that great, you can always consider Adwords. Keep it ethical, and your site will be safe.