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James Perrin

Google Quality Guidelines: Webmaster’s Reminded Against Using Unnatural Links

18th Jul 2011 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

Google have let webmasters know once again that failure to meet their guidelines will result in penalties. They’ve been sending out e-mails to website owners explaining their non-tolerance towards unnatural websites asking them to adhere to their guidelines.

This isn’t the first time that Google have done this; since December 2010 they have been providing polite email reminders to those who have fallen foul of their guidelines. However, as has been highlighted by WebProNews, this message isn’t necessarily getting across. With many webmasters still receiving emails and and being largely clueless as to why.

Post Panda/Farmer update, we have seen a strong emphasis on quality sites and unique content [See: Google’s Panda Algorithm Update: What Sites were hit and why?]; natural link building is certainly a key part of this quality push.

It’s a stark reminder to those who participated in link exchange programmes or paid for links. For example, the past couple of days have seen Google’s Webmaster Tools forum gather pace with concerned webmasters, one such concerned user was Playarena.

Within their query, it emerged that the company had used Linkex to help find them reciprocal link partners, and were sent the e-mail from Google notifying them that they had detected unnatural links on their site. Regardless of only two links being reciprocal, they were still found out by Google. This is great news for the web spam team at Google HQ and Matt Cutts alike. However, it isn’t such great news for websites that haven’t been playing fair, or even gaming the system, whether they’re aware of it or not.

So what should these sites do to avoid warning emails, or worse still penalties? Linking is a hugely important ranking factor, but is by no means the only one. To that end, links should be natural and relevant if they’re going to have any sort of an effect. Any kind of link programme whereby links are bought, sold or reciprocated should be avoided. Not all link reciprocation is bad [See: Reciprocal Linking Revival], but the difference is in the relevancy and quality. If it’s blatantly obvious you’re linking for the sake of gaining authority, despite both sites being entirely irrelevant, then this is frowned upon.

As well as being careful about your link profile, you must also ensure your content is quality and completely original, whilst also avoiding the ‘cloaking’ of sites with keywords. The Panda/Farmer algorithm update has been designed to eradicate spammy websites, so these guidelines should be met with open arms, after all, it’s in our interest to do so.

The advice is to stick to Google’s guidelines, or listen to experienced SEO specialists who are in the know.

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