Google Sends Out Notifications For Links They Ignore

Jul 23, 2012 • 9:05 am | comments (38) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Ignored Links NotificationsOn Friday, we reported that Google began sending out a new batch of link warning notifications. What we found out later was that these were not penalty notifications, but rather just a heads up from Google that Google is ignoring some links that are pointing to your web site.

Matt Cutts posted the update on his Google+ page saying that these notifications can be ignored. Ignored! Yes, ignored!

How can manual notifications be ignored when Google has told us that manual notifications are penalties and should not be ignored? Well, they did.

Google's intentions were golden. They wanted to be more transparent, tell you they are ignoring links but when it came down to the implementation, they simply messed up.

Danny Sullivan blew up and called this insanity and he is right. It caused a major scare amongst SEOs, webmasters and those who owned web sites, never bought a link in their life, didn't even know what link buying was and got this severe notification that read, "our opinion of your entire site is affected."

So Google changed the message over the weekend. Matt Cutts updated his post to write:

Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this change. An engineer worked over the weekend based on the suggestions here, and starting on Sunday we made two changes so you can tell the "individual links aren't trusted" messages from the "our opinion of your entire site is affected" messages.

First off, we changed the messages themselves that we'll send out to make it clear that for a specific incident "we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole." So anyone that gets a message going forward can tell what type of action has occurred.

The second change is that these messages won't show the yellow caution sign in our webmaster console at like our other webspam notifications. This reflects the fact that these actions are much more targeted and don't always require action by the site owner.

Thanks again for the feedback, and we'll continue to work on ways to provide more useful and actionable information for site owners.

So why is Google informing webmasters that they are ignoring links pointing to their site when it has no impact on their rankings? Any ideas?

Of course, if they did have a positive impact and no longer do, then that might be useful. But from the way Matt worded this, "If we've taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example." So these ignored links wouldn't cause a drop in rankings I guess? So why inform webmasters of links that simply do not count?

We know Google has said they ignore links and it plays no role in hurting your site. But Google has also said if they ignore links, it can confuse GoogleBot.

Update: This afternoon, Google sent out another notification to those on Thursday/Friday via Google Webmaster Tools about this. The message read:

We've detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google's Webmaster Guidelines. We don't want to put any trust in links that are artificial or unnatural. We recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole. If you are able to remove any of the links, please submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took. If you have any questions, please visit our Webmaster Help Forum.

Forum discussion at Google+ and WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to ShutterStock for head in sand

Previous story: Google: Don't Wait For Your Penalty To Expire



07/23/2012 01:13 pm

such a comedy show, gotta love it

Praveen Sharma

07/23/2012 01:13 pm

I have not received any such notification from Google, THANK GOD. May be Google is trying to make webmasters aware of kind of links they are ignoring for their site which can get them penalized (or harm in any way) in future. Barry, is Google also sending the list of links they have ignored?

Barry Schwartz

07/23/2012 01:27 pm


Martin Stanford

07/23/2012 01:31 pm

you cannot love it when your whole business depends on what google does. its quite dangerous for google to act like this...

ujjan Chhattrala

07/23/2012 02:19 pm

I still waiting for google message from last couple of months google doing home work to catch up the spammer it is good step for feature seo, but currently i am wondering about what is the next step for google seo.

Shari Maxwell McConahay

07/23/2012 02:30 pm

The fact that they changed the new messages doesn't help those of us who got them on Thursday. How do we know whether to "ignore" it or not?

Barry Schwartz

07/23/2012 02:32 pm

You can't but future ones you can. If you didnt see a decline in rankings, then dont worry.

Michael Martinez

07/23/2012 04:16 pm

The fact so many people act like the sky is falling because of "negative SEO" seems sufficient reason, in my opinion, for Google to be a little more transparent about which links are not going to hurt Websites. You're getting what you asked for.

Kevin Gerding

07/23/2012 04:41 pm

Google has some serious internal problems. These notices, as vague as they are, do nothing but induce panic. Seriously, anyone that has a somewhat popular site has crappy links from scraper sites and people chatting about you in less than desirable forums. In fact, I had a kind webmaster send me an E-mail over the weekend stating that he liked my site and linked to it. He gave me the URL so I could see. Sure enough he stuck a link to the site I manage in the footer with anchor text. And yes, it is sitewide. Should I ask him to remove it even though he did so on his own free will? If I don't, will the backlink police (Google) penalize my site? All this unnatural link stuff is a big joke and would not be necessary if Google's algorithm was not broken. Instead of creating content, people have been forced to buy a third party product (or hire a SEO company) to sift through many backlinks in an effort to get some removed. Discounting links was not enough. Google has to penalize people for them even though the receiving parties of the backlinks have no control over who, why or where the links are coming from. Sure, there are some gaming the system, but this whole throw the baby out with the bathwater approach is utter nonsense.


07/23/2012 04:47 pm

actually it's quite dangerous for you to only rely on Google Search traffic for your business. You need to have other forms of traffic in place.


07/23/2012 06:41 pm

Barry, there is something fishy about this whole thing. I've worked sites that have never participated in paid links; they never received any type of notice from G. Yet EVERY TIME that Pengiun hit, they lost substantial ranking.

Gices Abraham

07/23/2012 06:44 pm

Seems Google is working hard on Webmaster tools, hopefully not long before they implement the disavow tool now.


07/23/2012 06:45 pm

Welcome to what happens when something gets too big for its britches and there is no viable competition. :-) I have an extra set of arm and leg chains you can borrow if you wish? I'll also be happy to share my stale bread and water with you, too.

Shari Maxwell McConahay

07/23/2012 06:47 pm

Thanks for keeping me updated Barry. I just received NEW emails to replace the original emails stating that my sites are not being penalized, just some inbound links are being ignored! *BIG SIGH OF RELIEF!*

Sal Hakim

07/23/2012 06:52 pm

I can see how frustrating this message could be for site owners. I think what Google is trying to implement with these types of additions to their webmaster tools is heighten site owner awareness of factors that could impact the overall quality of their site. Now that being said, my question is "if you have a massive amount of links that they are ignoring, would they reward you for removing or changing these links to fit a more quality criteria?" For e.g., many SEO's like to put a link within the footer of their clients website pointing back to their company site, and lets say that this is showing as an ignored link in webmaster tools. The SEO goes to the client site, removes it for the footer and instead adds it to the about page and instead of pointing back to the SEO company's homepage, points the link to a case study. Peoples thoughts please


07/23/2012 06:59 pm

The next hurdle will be trying to figure out which links to disavow. :-) I think it would be more ethical for G to use their resources and simply ignore the damaging links. It's the right thing to do.

Andrew Dixon

07/23/2012 07:34 pm

If Google want to be "transparent" why don't they just added a "Linked Ignored" column to the "links to your site" data with a simple "yes" or "no" in it so we can see which links are and are not ignored instead of scaring the living daylights out of us.

John Richardson

07/23/2012 08:35 pm

So, there is now an opportunity for people who control networks of Google-shunned links to simply point those links away from their own sites and point them to their competitors sites.

Panic and Buy Ads

07/23/2012 09:44 pm

Dear idiots, this was done the day Google reported a 42% increase on ad clicks and after it was revealed that 66% of clicks go to ads. Matt the Fraud Cutts is trying to distract you suckers. Either way, call your Congressman and Senator to ask for a Google breakup or you will go broke. Google wants to go full pay-to-play, openly. Panda and Penguin do that already.


07/23/2012 09:45 pm

Google doesn't care for anything else but for their revenue. Panicked people buy ads.

John E Lincoln

07/23/2012 09:57 pm

Google, google, google. please get it together

Brandon Heate

07/23/2012 10:36 pm

This would be fantastic! I just have a feeling Google does not want to make things that simple for those of us that work for rankings instead of paying for clicks


07/23/2012 11:42 pm

You feel it right. Work for visitors.


07/23/2012 11:45 pm

Yeah, Google is responsible for recession ....


07/24/2012 12:03 am

1. crappy links, you told about, do nothing ... no probs at all. Just couple of months ago I got 100000+ crappy links from 6 crappy sites belong to one person. Google said nothing. Means Google can perfectly detect links quality. 2. You got usual spam email from a link builder (he read to much SEOs forums). Just ignore it. 3. You have nothing to worry about, if you didn't participate in any kind of link building.


07/24/2012 12:21 am

Forget about SEO stupid things like : - I got penalty minus 327 ; - I was hitted by Penguin/Panda ; The algo became very complicated. You can't be sure why your website is going up or down. Work on your website in general, not just on links (because SEOs said it was Penguin 1412412414) or on navigation (because SEOs said it was penalty minus 80809809809). You're loosing main goal, following all these numbers.

Allison H Bison

07/24/2012 01:37 am

Yes, google judge all the things, ignore or not, punish or not. And I understand, google is an commercial company, so every move he made will ultimately lead to the max profit.

Martin Stanford

07/24/2012 06:21 am

I actually do have other traffic sources but who on earth gets enough traffic vom bing, yahoo or stuff like that... ;)


07/24/2012 09:56 am

Get out of here Matt (Cutts) Get a life you lying, cheating POS.

Ashish Pratap Singh

07/24/2012 10:04 am

No such notifications till now. Wish they could notify webmasters before rolling out drastic updates like Panda & Penguin.

Nick Stamoulis

07/24/2012 01:42 pm

I appreciate what Google is trying to do, but they messed up big time. There have been so many causes for real panic over the last few months that seeing this message is enough to give a white hat SEO site owner a heart attack. @google-1d03ff31c7511a99de27373993c13f05:disqus has a great idea that I would love to see Google implement. It would make things so much more straightforward.


07/24/2012 02:27 pm

Agreed. Twitter and social media traffic doesn't convert as well. If u rely on those for a living, u're dead


07/24/2012 02:57 pm

Barry Schwartz, where did you see the list of links being ignored?! I cannot see one along with the notification.

Webstats Art

07/24/2012 05:04 pm

why is this blog only page rank 3? Surely Barry is being penalized?

Captain Cheeseburger

07/24/2012 05:31 pm

Uhh source?

Inbound Marketing Expert

07/25/2012 05:12 am

I am totally agree with you. Google Just wants earn revenue from advertiser, they doesn't care about SERP. Few of the week ago i find some irrelevant search reuslt when i typed "Website Designing Services". It Return me the data contain "Website Development". Have you ever seen this. Just find it by searching on Google. Really, this shows that doesn't care about relevancy and just wants to earn money. Thanks


07/29/2012 11:44 pm

Pretty silly to send out warnings about single links, but not state which link it is...


07/30/2012 01:01 am

That does not seem to be the case.

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