Google's Penalties For Link Schemes Aren't Always So Obvious

Dec 10, 2010 • 8:50 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google has gone on record time and time again that link schemes with the intent of manipulating Google's search results is against their terms of service and will thus take action against web sites both algorithmically and manually.

I figured we'd post about it one more time, because Googler Wysz made a nice comment on why those penalties might not always be so clear. He made the comment in a Google Webmaster Help thread being used to out link schemers. He said:

Thanks for the reports of these link schemes. We have someone from the spam team looking into this. You can continue to report more via our spam report form in Webmaster Tools.

We're already aware and have taken action on some of the sites mentioned, so now's a good time to point out that even if we have taken action on a site to address bad linking, it doesn't always mean that you'll see the results of it in such an obvious way like a site being completely obliterated from the index and not showing up for site: queries. That being said, we can take pretty strong steps to preserve the quality of our results, and link schemes are one of the toughest violations for a webmaster to recover from.

Got that? Even when they do take action, it might not be that they completely drop the site form the index. But Google did say the action they do take is "pretty strong" in order to "preserve the quality of our [Google] results."

He goes on to explain that once a site is penalized there are ways to repent. He explained:

Step 1: Fix the problem. Get rid of bad links on your own site, and get rid of bad links pointing to your site.

Step 2: File for reconsideration. Note that this happens after step 1. ;-) If there are some things you have tried to but can't fix (such as links to your site on pages you don't own), document them in your request.

Oh, and if you are one of those that report paid links, then it might be a good thread for you to check out and post in.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Essex SEO

12/10/2010 02:19 pm

I am aware of one company who is purchasing links ( its very obvious) they are also dominating a local area within Google for certain terms, yet Google doesn't appear to have noticed. Is it only sites that get report to Google who get spotted?


12/10/2010 02:56 pm

Isn't there a pretty big gulf between actually getting a *penalty* and just having some links devalued? There's that old argument that if bad inbound links could really penalize a site, I could buy a bunch of links to my competitors from malware-scraper blogs


12/10/2010 04:30 pm

It is probably a good thing that Google doesn't go ahead and totally remove a site from their index after spam has been reported. It shouldn't be a black or white punishment with no consideration for the offense, its brevity and if it can be reconciled.


12/10/2010 10:04 pm

"If there are some things you have tried to but can't fix (such as links to your site on pages you don't own), document them in your request." How does this comment apply to say sites that scrape your content but still provide links back to your site?


12/11/2010 01:48 am

If Google only followed its policy for large companies who clearly break the rules..they still let them go under the radar and the proof is in the search results.

Vlad Piersec

12/12/2010 11:49 am

I'm pretty sure that is the case. Only reported sites are analyzed. The ones that pass the algo and user detection test are ok and rank for ages in serps.


12/13/2010 07:46 am

The shame old story and that too after knowing how many paid link schemes actually work very well in google.

Mark - worlds largest plr sell

12/13/2010 11:18 am

Google also said that webmasters cannot control every link pointing them. This can be the reason why it sometimes delay or cannot say it clearly for complete removal of a website from its index, in spite of the site being pointed by many bad links! what do you think Sir?

Montreal SEO Expert

12/14/2010 10:08 pm

I believe that paid links are a bad way to promote your site from my exprience. Most of them have no ranking.


12/16/2010 05:54 am

Googler Wysz was responding to a posting by Rackmount where a site has over 500 paid blog links out of 1,000 total links and unnaturally rose to 1st page for all the terms used as anchor text in those blogs. See for the thread. It is very interesting to use something like to compare back link anchor text between competing sites. Natural ranking actually has a pretty low percentage of strong keywords and is heavy on the company name. This is versus an artifical scheme where the there are way too many strong keywords as anchor text. Really easy to see if you run the report on a company buying links.

Montreal SEO Expert

12/17/2010 06:19 am

My experiene with paid links in't good either. Now I check to see their rankings, if they have a 0 ranking then how can they help you. Thank God for good ranking software.


03/04/2011 05:09 am

What happen if my competitor make lot of junk link to me, then how do i get rid of those???

Dave Keys

07/21/2011 05:54 pm

I always have to ask, what stops me or my competitor from "mechanical Turk-ing" our enemies? Like the recent bug that allowed anyone to remove any website in Webmaster tools, this is obviously an exploit that has to be guarded against as well. I haven't really seen a good answer to this question yet.

SEO Professionals

08/15/2011 11:44 pm

When you are link building and someone tells you that you must link to them in order for them to link to you, this is a link scheme. If you are making a link to someone else solely because they will link to you this is also a link scheme.

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