Link schemes, or buying unnatural links has been a violation of Google’s Webmaster guidelines for quite some time now. The reason certain websites practice these “black hat SEO tactics” is to manipulate Google’s page rank, which, in turn, boosts the site’s visibility on search engine results pages. While sites have been penalized for this before, Google took a major stand in its position against these low-quality outbound links on Saturday when they issued penalties to a near-infinite number of sites across the web.
Many site admins awoke on Saturday morning to see the message displayed to the left. As Google states in their notice, the best ways to combat these penalties go as follows:
- Find the unnatural links and remove them. Sometimes, people will actually pay for these links in order to boost their site’s SEO. Other times, two sites will link to each other’s sites, which, while mutually beneficial, is a violation of Google’s Webmaster guidelines.
- You can also use <nofollow> certain links or <noindex> entire pages to prevent Google from penalizing sites.
- You may also contest Google’s assertion that the outbound link is unnatural or deceitful by submitting a reconsideration request. This will allow you make your case to Google why your site shouldn’t be penalized.
Of all the sites that have received the aforementioned warning, not all of them have been penalized as of yet. However, Google will not be rewarding these sites for their outbound links at least until these links are removed, or Google approves the admin’s reconsideration request.