Google hates “unnatural links” — even if you don’t know what they are.
Posted on 21 Jul ’13 by Earl
The following recent experience is being shared for those who might find themselves in a similar situation with Google’s efforts to improve their link search content.
I’ve used Google’s Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for years to track Google’s indexing of this blog and those visitors it receives. They’ve both been useful tools allowing me to fix minor issues with this site and to understand which posts are generating the greatest interest on the internet.
It was a surprise this past May 16th, 2013, when I received the email below from the Google Search Quality Team:
Since this is a simple blog and I don’t participate in any “linking schemes” or had not made any in-depth changes to the site in recent months my first reaction, after making sure malware wasn’t installed on Meandering Passage, was to proclaim my lack of knowledge, my innocence — requesting Google to reconsider and reexamine the site.
Their response follows.
Notice no details of exactly what is wrong beyond it having to do with links…they leave you having to read the guidelines and trying to figure it out.
At this point I took some time (almost 2 months) to do some research and to check the help forums mentioned in the email. What I discovered was a lot of sites get flagged with this message, some of which blatantly are taking part in some sort of scheme and many others, such as I, who have somehow been captured in the Google quality net sweep without knowingly understanding what, if anything, they did to get there.
Since I knew this issue had something to do with linking and Googles search engine indexing I took some “drastic measures” to try and eliminate it.
- First, I disabled the “CommentLuv” WordPress plugin since it places a link in each comment back to the commenters latest post — not sure if these were nofollow or follow links but I wasn’t taking any chances.
- Second, I installed the WordPress “Nofollow Internal Links” plugin which adds the “nofollow” rel attribute to unimportant internal link, including: read more, tag cloud links, categories, archive links, author post_link and comments popup link.
- Third, I installed the WordPress “SEO Nofollow External” plugin which automatically adds rel=”nofollow” and target=”_blank” to all external links.
Basically, I drastically reduced the links the Google Spider would be following on/from my site.
After completed these three steps another request for reconsideration received the following response.
You might wonder what the repercussions were once the notice was issued. Meandering Passage’s Google Page Rank was set to zero (0) and searches which would before bring up a Meandering Passage post link on the first page were now placing it somewhere lower so it was not being view by most people. Google search engine traffic to Meandering Passage was noticeably dropping off.
After Google revoked their “manual action” Meandering Passage’s page rank is back to normal and it’s again appearing nearer the top of relative Google searches.
I’m not sure which of the three steps may have solved the “problem,” but I’m probably going to leave things as they are for now.