You may or may not have seen this message in your webmaster tools account recently, what is it for? What are you planning to do about it? Are you going to get a penalty?
The truth is no one knows 100% what the sudden increase in messages relates to, however there are plenty of conversations happening online discussing theories and actions you should take.
Even though there is plenty of commentary on this subject, I still want to put my own personal feelings out there, and try to give some advice based on experience and some conversations I’ve had recently.
What Do they Relate to?
Well, all the fingers seem to be pointing at the de-indexing of large link networks, designed to generate keyword rich in content anchor text, these sites have been running, and working, for years but it looks like those days are finally coming to a close.
However, I have personally spoken to webmasters over the last week that have never been involved in any of these networks, yet have had the message pop up in their webmaster tools.
If you have one of these messages you need to ask yourself the following questions:
> Have you been involved in any artificial link networks, either now or in the past? (Some sites received the message for links that were built in 2009)
> Do you submit spun content to low quality blogs and article directories?
> Have you paid for one off ‘link blasts’ on large networks?
> Do you syndicate masses of low quality content to press hubs and article directories just to get links?
> Do you have a large amount of site wide links, all with rich anchor text?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, then you need to take action, and if your site has dropped rankings, as well as getting the message, then nothing short of removing the links will help you out.
What to Do?
If you’ve received this message, you really need to find a way to remove the links and then send in a reconsideration request to Google. Even if your rankings haven’t been hit, I would still go down this route.
The bad news is if you do have a penalty, it’s highly unlikely to be a manual one.
A lot of these networks and low quality websites have been de-indexed, so your site is not receiving the benefit of these links anymore. Removing them and sending in a re-consideration is not going to get your rankings back.
Having said that, we have seen some websites broadly improve their rankings after the removal of these low quality links, however the majority of ranking drops tend to only be on keywords that have been targeted aggressively with these networks.
In order to get your rankings back you’re going to have to do things the hard way, by rebuilding the links you have lost in a natural way. This is going to take a significant investment, don’t take any more short cuts, the road to rankings is no longer an easy one.
I have never been one to fully submit to Google’s rules and guidelines, for the last 7 – 8 years of being involved in this industry I have seen Google make algorithm shifts, seen websites filtered out of the results or outright penalised. To be honest, all updates gone before have done very little to address content spinning, low quality blogs and link networks, however this one is for real.
You may feel this treatment is a little unfair, especially when you consider that comment spam, forum profiles and paid links still seem to be holding their weight, but try and trust me when I say “quick & easy link building is over”. If sites haven’t been hit yet for using other, possibly more aggressive link building techniques, they will in the future.
We have all syndicated content, spun articles and possibly used these paid networks, but it’s time for a change of perspective, you can no longer achieve rankings by building hundreds of low quality links every month, it’s time to start doing it right and looking for quality over quantity.