And the plot thickens… Just yesterday I wrote about how links are being used maliciously by people with shitty websites for a “link removal shake down” and now, another poor chapter in this Google’s embroiling search signal book has been added.
Over the past few days, Google sent many webmasters messages about unnatural links to their websites via Google Webmaster Tools. Those messages were the same messages as Google already sent back in April, just a few weeks before the initial roll out of the Penguin update.
Here’s the main segment of the link warning notification:
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.
Couple of months later in an interview at SMX advanced, Matt Cutts explained that those messages were sent to webmasters which Google has taken (or about to take) manual action against their website and after they will fix the issues, they should submit a reconsideration request.
Lately, as I stated before, Google begun sending those same notifications to webmasters all over again. So far, it looks like the same pattern as of April right? Well, apparently not so much…
Matt Cutts: Warnings Can Mean Everything, Can Mean Nothing
Matt Cutts has posted on his Google+ account that there might be a huge difference between April’s messages and this month’s messages. Basically he says that the current messages could have been sent to innocent websites for which Google identified some dubious links pointing to, but not necessarily will act against.
So how can a webmaster that received this kind of message to tell if Google has demoted (or about to) his site’s rankings? Cutts is saying that the site owner should follow the “Search queries” section in Google Webmaster Tools to check if there’s a drop in traffic.
But wait… Isn’t the GWT’s Search queries section shows data from about a week ago? Thus it can’t really give you an indication if your website is on the Penguin’s sight or about to be hit by a manual action… What Cutts is essentially saying then, is that if you want to know if you are about to get fucked… You should just wait and see if you were actually fucked…
Cutts is referring to those notifications as a “move towards more transparency” by Google, but not only that websites’ state won’t become more transparent now, it would even become more uncertain and unclear. If someone has received this type of message, it could mean everything, nothing or anything in between.
And the havoc around links continues…
Update: After a big reaction following the mess around these warnings to webmasters, Google decided to alter the messages so they will be clearer.