1. Have you received a Google Webmaster notice? Here's what to do.
During the last few weeks, Google sent many webmaster notification messages about unnatural links. If you have received such a message, here's what you have to do to make sure that your website doesn't get penalized.
What is this Google unnatural links message?
Google has sent the following message to many webmasters:
"Dear site owner or webmaster of example.com
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
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 you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team"
What will happen when you get such a message?
Webmasters who received such a message observed that many sites were penalized 3-4 weeks after the message. The penalty is for the keywords that are included in the unnatural links.
If most of the links that point to the website are unnatural links then the whole website might be penalized.
What are unnatural links?
There are several backlink types that Google finds unnatural:
Public backlink networks: Google doesn't like fully automated or paid backlink networks. If you participate in a backlink network that can be joined by anyone (even for a fee) then it is very likely that Google has already penalized the network or that the network is a target for the near future.
If you can find the backlink network, Google's engineers can find it, too.
Private backlink networks: some SEO agencies have private backlink networks. Google probably has the technology to detect these networks without creating accounts.
Paid sidebar links: if your website has too many backlinks from the sidebars of other websites, Google might find them unnatural.
Over-optimized anchor text: if the links to your website all use exactly the same anchor text, it is likely that Google might reconsider the rankings of the linked pages.
Fake forum and social media links: some tools create fake forum and social media site accounts to get backlinks to your website. Chances are that Google can detect that type of link.
What should you do?
If you used one of the methods above to get backlinks to your website, try to get rid of these links as quickly as possible.
The formula to high rankings on Google is very easy:
Good content + good backlinks + no spam = high rankings
Optimize the content of your web pages to make sure that Google and other search engines know what your website is about. Then get good backlinks to show search engines that your website can be trusted.
Google has become more aggressive regarding spammy backlinks. In the past, a website might get high rankings for several months until Google detected the site. Now it seems that the it takes a maximum of 3 months until Google detects the spammers.
Do not fall for SEO solutions that promise quick and easy backlinks. It doesn't make sense to get high rankings for 2-3 months just to get penalized after that time. If you are serious about your business, you have to use strategies that deliver high rankings that will stay, even if it takes longer to get these rankings in the short term.