Google's Cutts Explains Untrusted Link Notifications

Jul 30, 2012 • 9:50 am | comments (14) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google WebmasterOn July 20th, Google sent out a batch of new link notifications that scared the webmaster community. Google then informed us we can relax about those notifications because they are ignored links that don't specifically hurt your site.

Still, there was a lot of confusion. So over the weekend, Google's Matt Cutts posted a detailed blog post on what these notifications means. He wrote:

In less severe cases, we sometimes target specific spammy or artificial links created as part of a link scheme and distrust only those links, rather than taking action on a site’s overall ranking. The new messages make it clear that we are taking "targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole." The new messages also lack the yellow exclamation mark that other messages have, which tries to convey that we're addressing a situation that is not as severe as the previous "we are losing trust in your entire site" messages.

Cutts Says Do Not Ignore The Links

Matt Cutts said do not ignore the links despite what we thought Google told us to do on that Friday.

These new messages are worth your attention. Fundamentally, it means we're distrusting some links to your site. We often take this action when we see a site that is mostly good but might be might have some spammy or artificial links pointing to it (widgetbait, paid links, blog spam, guestbook spam, excessive article directory submissions, excessive link exchanges, other types of linkspam, etc.). So while the site's overall rankings might not drop directly, likewise the site might not be able to rank for some phrases. I wouldn't classify these messages as purely advisory or something to be ignored, or only for innocent sites.

On the other hand, I don't want site owners to panic. We do use this message some of the time for innocent sites where people are pointing hacked anchor text to their site to try to make them rank for queries like [buy viagra].

Anyway, Matt goes into more details on the Google Webmaster Blog.

A WebmasterWorld thread has Tedster saying he would still focus his time and resources on other things and not go after removing links in this link unharmful notifications.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Glenn Ferrell

07/30/2012 02:31 pm

Right. We always notice those missing yellow exclamation marks:)


07/30/2012 04:00 pm

Unrelated to this new email, in May we received 2 unnatural link warnings in WMT on the same day, for the same site. Is this likely a bug, oral double penalty?

Ralph Slate

07/30/2012 04:50 pm

Does this imply that if you don't get a sitewide notification, and don't get a targeted notification, that our sites don't have a backlink situation that Google considers problematic? Or does this only apply to the manual backlink penalties, and not the algorithmic penalties?


07/30/2012 05:50 pm

do not ignore the links, ignore matt cutts and google!

Leith Gadge

07/30/2012 09:38 pm

Even better -when Google does roll out the disavow tool like Bing, you set about actually disavowing the links you know are slightly dodgy in a state of utter freak out (because you willingly created them in one way or another) thereby alerting Google to link networks they would otherwise not have known about. Thanks a lot say Google, nice bit of work done there... For FREE.

Leith Gadge

07/30/2012 09:39 pm

Oh by the way, keep calm and carry on :)

FU Matt

07/30/2012 10:17 pm

Why would anyone care what Matt Cutts says? He's a paid Google liar, he says what Google wants us to believe.

Dave Fowler

07/31/2012 09:16 am

I really don't think site owners should ignore these new link warnings. I think Matt Cutts makes a very telling statement in this latest post... "while the site's overall rankings might not drop directly, likewise the site might not be able to rank for some phrases" And that's the key point. Reading around the subject, I believe that some of these alerts are following page level, or more likely keyword level, penalties. The wording of the new link warnings reinforces this, including as it does an instruction to clean up spammy links and then submit a reconsideration request: "We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results." If these new warnings were simply Google telling webmasters that they are ignoring some links, there would be nothing to reconsider.

Varda Shalom

07/31/2012 11:57 am

A lot of confusion , many innocent sites Injured


07/31/2012 07:26 pm

Hang on second, I'm a bit on confused, I was hit by penguin update, yet I didn't get a single notification from G about my links or otherwise. Who's getting notified of the ignored links? Just sites that have millions of backlinks and use Adwords?


07/31/2012 10:09 pm

Wow, all that and I'm still confused!


08/01/2012 10:42 am

Who is Tedster? he knows nothing, stuck on 2003 SEO


08/01/2012 01:20 pm

Hacked viagra sites ?..Suggestion - Remove the term Viagra and its links - after the crawls, blocking them from the algo. Just allow it in "adwords" since Google allows prescription drug adverts. Also modify GMail to no longer allow multiple xrummer created emails. That way the big G could make more money (Larry) and reduce spam (Matt) !. Sites advertising meds could then be marked as spammy.

Hilarity Ensues

08/03/2012 11:01 pm

Why would anyone care about what an internet coward says?

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