Unnatural Outbound Link Warnings from Google
Many search engine optimization professionals received a link-related manual action last Friday from Google. It wasn't websites receiving links that received the manual action, however, but rather those doing the linking.
Manual actions for "Unnatural Outbound Links" are incredibly rare (many of the SEO's I've spoken to since Friday were unaware it even existed) but it could signal that Google is turning its focus to penalize those that are leveraging link tactics deemed low-quality instead of high-quality sites that are simply victims of link spam. These manual actions will be seen as a better, and more effective and thoughtful approach to controlling links to many in the SEO industry.
It doesn't seem as though any sites that have received the manual action were actually removed from the index but it likely will affect the ranking of sites that participate in link schemes which aim to artificially boost the perceived importance of sites.
The blogs affected (many of which were in the food, decor, and craft-related markets) received the following message:
Google has detected a pattern of links from your site to other sites that is either unnatural or irrelevant. This pattern attempts to artificially boost other sites’ ranking in Google Search results. Such unnatural ranking would cause search results to show preferences for results not relevant to the user’s actual query. It also violates Google Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, we are discounting the trust in links on your site. This manual spam action has been applied to
. To fix this, remove the unnatural links on your site and file a reconsideration request. After we determine that you have complied with our guidelines, we will remove this manual action.
Are the unnatural outbound link warning and manual actions a sign that Google is getting more sophisticated in uncovering link schemes? Sound off with a comment below.