Last Updated on August 5, 2020
Unnatural links get your website into SEO trouble. Google has really cracked down on this form of Webspam. In this post I’ll explain Google’s definition and the difference between a manual versus target action and what it means for your website’s SEO rankings.
What Are Unnatural Links?
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In Webmaster Tools, unnatural links are described as a pattern of…
artificial, deceptive or manipulative links [that] point to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
That’s pretty self-explanatory. If links to (and from) your website aren’t related to your industry or what product/service you provide, watch out. Your website may be asking for Google to take action against it.
If your site has a combination of unnatural links along with some quality ones, Google may take targeted action. It’s still a spanking, one that negatively impacts your search rankings. The good news is that they realize not all your links are crap. Just some. It’s a wake-up call to pay attention and remove those links. In essence, a targeted action means they are only devaluing those spammy links and not your entire site. Google still believes your website has some redeeming value. However, you may be on a watch list. They’ll be looking at how you behave more closely.
A manual action on the other hand can be brutal. In this scenario Google has removed all artificial rankings your site might have received from unnatural links. Your SEO rankings resemble being banished to Siberia. It’s a cold and lonely place. Google’s algorithm flagged your site because its links aroused suspicion. Then a human manually reviewed your website and confirmed it. Basically you’ve lost Google’s trust. You’ve a long road ahead to redeem yourself. You’ve got to show you’ve mended your ways. In the meantime, buy yourself a warm parka. The trek back to civilization is long and chilly. Even with Webmaster Tools, removing unnatural links is a laborious process. Prepare to roll up your sleeves. You need to download your links into a spreadsheet and find which ones are unnatural. Then, begin the process of contacting those Webmasters who control those links or shut down the page(s) it’s pointing to. If you’ve got 9 minutes, watch this video from Matt Cutts. He explains the history behind unnatural links and the algorithm’s evolution. He also touches upon the Disavow Tool.
Has Google taken action against your website? What did you do to recover?