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14 Mar

Naughty Unnatural Links, or Google’s March Combat

unnatural-linksWithin the past 6 months Google has achieved the record in releasing very serious and strict anti-spam algorithms.

However, according to the latest announcement from Matt Cutts, the Google Head of Search Spam Dep, there are even more to expect in the coming weeks.

Let’s review the algorithms we already know about, and try to predict the yet unknown upcoming ones.

  • Link Exchange is Dead

In the mid-November 2012, many webmasters have started receiving panic emails that their websites have been involved in unnatural linking schemes and networks (unofficially, Link Exchanges). Finally, within few days these websites were de-indexed and lost their PR. I would call this time the Link Exchange Death Days. The established SEO community members admit that Link Exchange is dead, but still do not confirm it. Hopefully, the time will make it, because it is always hard to lose something that was a part of your income.

My personal view: This penalisation should have happened earlier, because 99% of websites involved in Link Exchange are sheer link farms and propagating the same ones day by day. Thanks G-le, it is over now!

  • Penalisation of Interflora & UK Newspapers, Warning Against Advertorials

In February, Google has penalised popular UK websites and has issued a reminder that selling links is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.

My personal view:  The warning only mentions “advertorial” pages, but it is still not clear what falls under it and what does not. For me it is unclear how links as “services provided by XXXW” or “we recommend to visit our partner XXX” would be treated. Let’s wait and see how it would work in practice, I mean to learn from someone’s humble topics and articles on the web.

  • SAPE R.I.P

On March 8 (International Women’s Day in the CIS countries) Google was kind and thoughtful enough to present a gift – a  new penalisation. The announcement was very similar to the one about Link Exchange Death – warning/panic messages via Google Webmaster Tools, followed by websites de-indexation within a few days. So now we can say for certain that the most common way of link building for Google in the CIS countries is also dead. What a pity, widely used link building software is useless now. J

My personal view:  The SAPE was certainly overused by webmasters; most of them did not care about where their links were coming from. Moreover, they were software and budgets operators, rather than core link builders.

  • Prosperous Future or Upcoming Penguin, Panda & Link Networks Updates

As you may know, during the SMX West panel, The Search Police, Matt Cutts has announced a new very significant and largely discussed Penguin update that will be rolled out in 2013. But it seems that a new Panda algorithm update will arrive sooner.  We should expect it sometimes March 15-18th. Moreover, they revealed their plans for the upcoming weeks to target another large link network.

My personal view:  To be honest , I have no idea what to expect, but I am certain that these updates will be even more painful for lots of webmaster who still have not realised that they are on the wrong path. However, I have a feeling what/who is another large link network that would be targeted shortly. (A small hint: there are only 3 large ones around).

Finally, for those who are already under surveillance, I wish you a fast reconsideration. For those who worry about upcoming updates, avoid link networks and build as natural link portfolio as possible. Following this idea will save you from any ripples across the SEO industry.

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