Categories: Crawling, indexing & ranking :

Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links

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Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Raoul_FFH 8/28/13 12:57 AM
Hello everybody,

I am working for the designer furniture site fashionforhome.co.uk. In February we received an unnatural link warning. Which was understandable, as we have worked with SEO-agencies in the past, who for example did advertorials in newspapers. Besides that we were spammed with really bad links from Indian and Pakistanian Ad-Directories. We have no idea who did this, but it was certainly not us.

So we spent the last months, contacting webmasters, getting links removed and nofollowed and we disavowed around 500 Links. Next to that we stopped the redirection from our old domain to which there are quite some spammy links pointing.

I think we have done everything within our ability, at considerable time and cost to our company, to comply with Googles guidelines. We have completely stopped working with agencies and we pursue a quality approach.

Now after our last reconsideration request was declined we get the message that there are still bad links out there. This is what we were told was one of the bad links:


This is a completely legitimate post and it was not influenced by us in any way. They are writing about a campaign we are running.

I have the feeling this sometimes is completely random. I am even unsure if it makes sense to take the time to actually file another reconsideration request under these circumstances.

Can anyone give us some advice on how to react on that? 

Best regards,

Raoul
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links cduk2013 8/28/13 1:55 AM
Looking at the links on that page, there is one brand keyword link pointing to the homepage, which I can't see any issue with. Then there's a 'money' keyword link "Guide To Recycling" which links to this page:http://www.fashionforhome.co.uk/recycled-furniture
I would guess it's this link that is causing the issue. I certainly can't see anything else at fault, unless the http://sustainablog.org domain has received a webmaster warning itself, or been reported as spam.
Same thing has happened to a client of mine, also in the furniture sector interestingly. This time though it is a link on my own site which has been flagged as inappropriate. My site is a very young Wordpress blog, no external links, no unnatural links warning, no reason I can see for it being against Google guidelines. It's easy enough to remove the link, but I'd like more info on the criteria for assessing unnatural links because I agree with you Raoul_FFH, it seems a bit random.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Suzanneh 8/28/13 3:49 AM
Do you have any links to sustainablog on your site? What's your relationship with them?

Suzanne
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Raoul_FFH 8/28/13 3:59 AM
Hi Suzanne, Hi cduk2013,

thanks for your replies! 

@Suzanne there is absolutely no relation between our company and sustainablog. As I stated in my opening post, they we're just writing about a campaign that we started.

@cduk2013 Well the so called "money keyword link" was choosen by sustainablog itself, probably because they thought it would best describe what we do. We have no influence on this, and we certainly have no interest in ranking for "Guide To Recycling"

Best regards.

Raoul
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/28/13 4:04 AM
Google has given you an example of the type of link they are still seeing, but the exact one they shared is (probably) kosher. Has happened before.

Just roll your eyes and keep cleaning. This link, well, sustainablog have form;


So not surprised it's flagged, really.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links danclarkie 8/28/13 5:13 AM
SustainBlog "have form"?

Of what exactly?

Marking their post as sponsored and tagging the link as "nofollow"?

As per Google guidelines.

The example given is not marked as nofollow and the article is not marked as sponsored.

Seems a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater I'm afraid. 
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Raoul_FFH 8/28/13 5:26 AM
@BenHoff: Well as of your advice: "Just roll your eyes and keep cleaning". In my opinion there is not really anything dodgy left to either delete or disavow. We have done our homework, and receive these links as examples. We have actually better things to do then spend months in disavowing and deleting links without any effect. And by giving links that are 100% guideline conform as example Google is not really helping at all. 

I would like to have an official answer from Google why this link violates their guidelines!


Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/28/13 5:27 AM
That's why it's sensible to avoid any bathwater-removal situation, isn't it?

Like I said, roll eyes, keep cleaning.

Yes, that's nofollow. I wonder if it was when posted. In any event, the markers which could have led to this URL being in Google shitlist seem to be evident on a very quick look (so quick I couldn't be bothered to check the nofollow, true).
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/28/13 5:32 AM
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Mary Desilva 8/28/13 5:36 AM
My question is sustainable is a PR7 blog which is sure a authority blog based on page rank and all other seometrics, Google Mad spam team think its unnatural link then why not to take action against sustainable blog? If google team is sure its unnatural why not to put page rank penalty against it?

According to Google official guidelines its good sign to give links to others which are relevant and required for further information.

Looks forward for a answer from any official person from google
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links danclarkie 8/28/13 5:45 AM
Implying that SustainBlog are the only party that could possibly have built that forum spam link....

Hold on a moment, let me place a forum spam link to your website, mate.

This whole idea outlines why link penalties can't work, and lead to bullshit NegativeSEO..
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/28/13 5:50 AM
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Michael Martinez 8/28/13 6:12 AM
Just out of curiosity, how did Sustainablog find out about your campaign?  They appear to be part of a "sponsored post network" (Cf. http://importantmedia.org/sponsor-a-post/) that I suspect is violating Google's guidelines.

Now, there is nothing illegal about these kinds of networks and the links they sell.  Google is just one company trying to do its own thing.  You don't have to depend on them for traffic.  There are certainly other ways of building traffic to a Website.

But if you approached Sustainablog first, then even if you were unaware of their participation in that network, you were (unwittingly) asking for trouble with Google.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Raoul_FFH 8/28/13 10:30 AM
Hi Michael,

yes we did approach Sustainablog, as well as a few other websites and magazines that are relevant to our recycling campaign. I feel this was completely okay, as we did not ask for links, we did not pay for the publication and we did not influence any of the content. 

Following this discussion I also noticed that Sustainablog is part of the Important Media Network, that offers "Sponsored posts and advertorials". As far as I can see it these posts (just going by the two examples one the page) are within Googles guidelines, as the links to the sponsor domains are nofollow. 

Sustainablog seems to follow these guidelines on sponsored posts (e.g. http://sustainablog.org/2013/08/buying-second-hand-online-better-for-your-wallet-the-planet/), while being inconsitent on guest posts (http://sustainablog.org/2013/08/web-green-energy-efficiency/).

Still the post about our campaign was none of the above and therefore I think it is okay that it's dofollow. Anyway we will ask them to put it on nofollow and will continue to screen all remaining links with even sharper eyes.

Thanks for the input everyone!

Raoul
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Eric Kuan 8/28/13 10:45 AM
Hi Raoul,

Thanks for your feedback on the example links sent to you in your reconsideration request. We'll use your comments to improve the messaging and example links that we send.

If you believe that your site no longer violates Google Webmaster Guidelines, you can file a new reconsideration request, and we'll re-evaluate your site for reconsideration.

Thanks,

Eric
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Michael Martinez 8/28/13 1:41 PM
I think the Google spam team made the right call, then.

That you didn't know you were asking for an editorial writeup from a "bad neighborhood" doesn't make the link any better than the other links on a Website that is violating Google's guidelines.

I have no idea of whether Sustainablog is aware of those guidelines or the consequences of their practices.

The guidelines are not there because of individual links.  They are there because of the systematic practices that Webmasters engage in, which include both seeking links for the sake of improving search performance and providing links for the sake of benefitting from having the ability to influence search performance.

We can agree that many people who are unaware of this gray space are being caught in it but the resolution in your case is pretty simple.  Ask Sustainablog to either remove the link or add a "rel='nofollow'" and in the future -- if you're going to ask for links (which you have the right to do) -- try to exercise some reasonable due diligence.

ON EDIT: And at least you got a reply from a Googler, but practice due diligence going forward.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ashley 8/28/13 1:52 PM
Excellent find Michael - while I do think clearer messaging back from Google would be awesome, with a little digging I've yet to find reporting back from them that was totally erroneous.


yes we did approach Sustainablog
It's a great link - but that approach is unnatural. Nothing wrong with it, but you need to make sure those are nofollowed. 

Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links DaMan 8/29/13 1:09 PM
http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penalty-wrong-17290.html

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

I'm the owner of sustainablog.org. This is a legitimate link - I'm not certain why Google would say otherwise. We do sell content sponsorships, but those posts are clearly labeled, and all links to the purchaser are no-follow (and they know this up front).

I'd say somebody in the webspam team got overzealous or at least didn't look into the matter too deeply.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links True Answers No Hypocrisy 8/29/13 1:24 PM
man u are wasting ur time
check forum and see whether anybody who get rid off manual penalty ever regained any rankings back
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Geminineil 8/29/13 2:22 PM
MasterOfKings:
"check forum and see whether anybody who get rid off manual penalty ever regained any rankings back"

and THAT is the key factor that most webmasters chasing the dream of recovering from a manual penalty don't realise...

Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links OldWelshGuy 8/29/13 2:27 PM
There is no right or wrong unfortunately there is only Google, and Google web spam team are the ultimate sanctioners.

The problem with that link is not what it IS, but what it APPEARS to be.  A saying I have used all the way back from the early days of HighRankings forum was taht dolphins get caught in a tuna net, NOT because they were dolphins, but PURELY because they swam with them.

"A man is judged by the company he keeps" you need to keep that in mind when approaching any site to promote yourself, and a site that sells sponsored posts EVEN if they are nofollowed will always raise an eyebrow.

Unfortunately the ONLY way I have found to get a penalty listed is to take an axe to it and trim some of the good stuff along with the bad.

As I wrote on my blog recently (oddly enough about guest blog posting) "Keep reading the above, and remember, if it waddles and quacks, it is probably a duck" in this case Google are deciding it is a duck, no matter what you think, or KNOW it to be, remove the duck and move on.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ashley 8/29/13 2:59 PM
DaMan - 

How does:
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

I'm the owner of sustainablog.org. This is a legitimate link - I'm not certain why Google would say otherwise. We do sell content sponsorships, but those posts are clearly labeled, and all links to the purchaser are no-follow (and they know this up front).


Align with: (from the OP)
yes we did approach Sustainablog, as well as a few other websites and magazines that are relevant to our recycling campaign.

It's easy to tumble when you're walking such a fine line.... 
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Raoul_FFH 8/30/13 12:38 AM
Just to clarify... A lot of people here say it's wrong that we approached them.

For example:

"It's a great link - but that approach is unnatural. Nothing wrong with it, but you need to make sure those are nofollowed. " (Ashley)

To take a learning from it, what is wrong with approaching websites, telling them about your campaign? This is standard PR work, especially in a case where we never asked for a link or offered a payment.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links DaMan 8/30/13 5:36 AM


W dniu czwartek, 29 sierpnia 2013 23:59:00 UTC+2 użytkownik Ashley napisał:

Google doesn't dissallow contacting companies that write in the same niche to inform them of your company and what you are doing. I think that's one of the core responsibilities of any companys PR.

If its deemed worthwhile and the company publishes an article thats great. Additionality if a link is given and it's editorial = not paid for,  there is no problem. Why should there be? Just because you initiated the contact doesn't mean anything bad.

We can't get paranoid, although it seems that is Googles aim /or at least a by product of this line of concept/. Google web spam team needs to be certain a link is paid for before they claim so. There is no evidence that this specific link is paid (are the other ones in the article also paid?). The web spam team reviewer got ahead of himself.  The site seems to have a clear policy of what paid posts and any doubts the web spam team should work to the benefit of the sites.

Furthermore if they are certain the site is selling links they should wack that specific site with a penalty. What they are doing is counterproductive.

Why do they give examples of directories that are "spam" and still they are indexed and have PR? Why do they question your link on a site and not remove the sites PR (and now that they are not even gonna update this.... talk about clarity). Really Google..

Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ashley 8/30/13 8:42 AM
I think that Google doesn't say that just PAID links are bad - they say unnatural links that are followed are against guidelines.
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.

I think of unnatural as you had some hand in getting them created. Whether it was paid, barter, asking nicely, begging, hacking, submitting, whatever. Google's really looking for the links where people find you and love your website so much that they can't help but writing about it or sharing with their family and friends.

Easier said than done though, right?! I can fully appreciate there are lots of ways to define these relatively lean guidelines. 
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links DaMan 8/30/13 9:31 AM

Google's really looking for the links where people find you and love your website (.........) 

To find you they need to see you somewhere. So you need to do outreach. If the link is placed editorially, the method of contact, is it by mail, snail mail, telephone, ad or even smoke signals doesnt matter as long as the follow link was the editors choice

I think of unnatural as you had some hand in getting them created.

So if I found out about x company due to an ad in the tv, or a sponsored post, or due to the company buzzing about it on a social site (paying for buzzing) I should place a no follow if I chose to write about it as it was "paid"? In short all links are created by some hand of the owner by spreading information about it so its originally found doesn't matter the distance from the original "paid" mention. We are getting too far down one side of the scale. There needs to be balance and sensibility to all this. Currently there is more and more paranoia about links. A little evil IMO.




Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/30/13 9:34 AM
We are getting too far down one side of the scale. There needs to be balance and sensibility to all this.

Where there's ambiguity, Google will look at the wider site to try and make the best decision posiible, surely, so... *shrug*.. It's not like we're talking about the NYTimes here.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Geminineil 8/30/13 9:43 AM
DaMan

Totally agree...
Why do they (Google) give examples of directories that are "spam" and still they are indexed and have PR? Why do they question your link on a site and not remove the sites PR (and now that they are not even gonna update this.... talk about clarity). Really Google..

and that is what I don't understand... there are some websites that are nothing but spam, have content with very little value and are built just to generate backlinks and yet still Google keeps them in the index and sometimes gives them a page rank. IF there are websites that Google really does not want other websites to have links from then why doesn't Google just de-index them. It would save everyone a whole lot of time including Google.


Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links DaMan 8/30/13 10:01 AM


W dniu piątek, 30 sierpnia 2013 18:34:49 UTC+2 użytkownik Ben Hof napisał:
We are getting too far down one side of the scale. There needs to be balance and sensibility to all this.

Where there's ambiguity, Google will look at the wider site to try and make the best decision posiible, surely, so... *shrug*.. It's not like we're talking about the NYTimes here.

In that case I return to the point, that if Google  was sure the links was paid why does the "blog" have a PR7... Either its selling links or it's not, either it's unnatural or it isn't. Why was is there different treatment to the site that posted the link vs the site that got the link. Out of 12100 pages indexed they only have that "one" paid?

BTW are you sure none of the NYtimes links are not "paid"? With so many editors? How many of those posts were written up after the company was contacted by some other company PR department, newsletter, saw an ad, etc etc?

No wonder people are confused and claim a double standard in other instances. Google should follow through not stop half way. Really IMO the sites that post paid links should be the ones wacked/have soft penalties applied and informed. Would be harder for manipluators. Again going off too far on one side of the scale.
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 8/30/13 10:02 AM
We'll use your comments to improve the messaging and example links that we send.

Seems to me you got your answer already, anyway - example links are new, and your feedback was appreciated. 
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links albatross-au 9/1/13 2:53 AM
Google's really looking for the links where people find you and love your website so much that they can't help but writing about it or sharing with their family and friends.

Spare me this rubbish. There is already a huge industry of folks creating links and reviews using unique IPs and multiple identities. As clever Google thinks they are at identifying "unnatural links" these people are one step of Google. And they are already scamming "authorship" too.

And what about "linkmail" where you contact the site that has an unsolicited link (or more likely many unsolicited links) to your site and they respond with "sure we'll remove them but you have to pay us". The rates I have been quoted range between $20 and $40 per link
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Geminineil 9/1/13 4:44 AM
I don't think there is a day that goes by without me receiving an email from some seo company that will provide backlinks. The world of building backlinks has just changed and some of the links are at the moment harder for Google to detect as they look natural.

Fort me the concept of ranking websites using backlinks as a significant part of the '200+' signals is flawed and the sooner Google gets away from it the better.... Bing and Yahoo don't have the problem... meanwhile we just have to get on with dealing with what Google wants us to do...
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links True Answers No Hypocrisy 9/2/13 9:05 AM
it seems like 195+ signals have total 5% importance and 5 signals have 95% importance

i can clearly tell that they are manually boosting massive sites
they are ranking rest according to the how less penalized you are
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ben Griffiths 9/2/13 9:07 AM
i can clearly tell that they are manually boosting massive sites

Source code or STFU
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links lcurr 9/2/13 10:16 AM
>> Fort me the concept of ranking websites using backlinks as a significant part of the '200+' signals is flawed and the sooner Google gets away from it the better.... Bing and Yahoo don't have the problem... meanwhile we just have to get on with dealing with what Google wants us to do...

It's probably the other way round.

Google's lowering the importance of links per se and increasing importance of unique content on a site.

Bing and Yahoo on the other hand are still using backlinks as a significant part of their algorithm so that's why you see many sites in this forum that say that they're ranking well on Bing and Yahoo but not on Google.

Re: The SE_Expert/MasterOfPuppets Thread: Diary of an Angry Fail SEO True Answers No Hypocrisy 9/2/13 11:08 AM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Ashley 9/2/13 7:59 PM
they are the most non-transparent company.
bwahahahahaha!
Re: The SE_Expert/MasterOfPuppets Thread: Diary of an Angry Fail SEO True Answers No Hypocrisy 9/3/13 12:10 PM <This message has been deleted.>
Re: Google tells us to remove 100% legitimate links Geminineil 9/3/13 1:23 PM
Icurr "Google's lowering the importance of links per se and increasing importance of unique content on a site.Bing and Yahoo on the other hand are still using backlinks as a significant part of their algorithm so that's why you see many sites in this forum that say that they're ranking well on Bing and Yahoo but not on Google."

I think that is looking at Google through Rose tinted glasses... I am not sure that Bing and Yahoo has ever ranked websites using backlinks to the extent that Google has...  and "Google's lowering the importance of links per se and increasing importance of unique content on a site." It may be that Google is trying to do that but when I look at websites ranking on page 1 of Google in SERPS I am not sure they are succeeding...

I think what is happening at the moment is that seo link builders are 'gaming the system' just as much as before but have become more 'devious' in their methods of creating 'natural' looking backlinks.. whatever that is!
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