Omnipresent SEO Blog Posts

Have You Been Penalized By Google?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Matt Cutts released this blog today:

"If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole. Yesterday, we took another step towards more transparency and began sending messages when we distrust some individual links to a site. While it’s possible for this to indicate potential spammy activity by the site, it can also have innocent reasons. For example, we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily something that you automatically need to worry about.

If we've taken more severe action on your site, you’ll likely notice a drop in search traffic, which you can see in the “Search queries” feature Webmaster Tools for example. As always, if you believe you have been affected by a manual spam action and your site no longer violates the Webmaster Guidelines, go ahead and file a reconsideration request. It’ll take some time for us to process the request, but you will receive a followup message confirming when we’ve processed it.

Update: Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this change. An engineer worked over the weekend based on the suggestions here, and starting on Sunday we made two changes so you can tell the "individual links aren't trusted" messages from the "our opinion of your entire site is affected" messages.

First off, we changed the messages themselves that we'll send out to make it clear that for a specific incident "we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole." So anyone that gets a message going forward can tell what type of action has occurred.

The second change is that these messages won't show the yellow caution sign in our webmaster console at http://google.com/webmasters/ like our other webspam notifications. This reflects the fact that these actions are much more targeted and don't always require action by the site owner.

Thanks again for the feedback, and we'll continue to work on ways to provide more useful and actionable information for site owners."

If this post by Mr. Cutts makes sense to you then you are doing more SEO work than legal work.  This post is meant for those who were "damaged" by Google Penguin.  Google Penguin was released to strip away the benefit that some law firms were getting from buying links.  This has been a common practice for quite some time but Google finally decided to put its foot down.  Law firms who may have gotten away with this practice for months or even years are now paying the price.  

If you are an attorney reading this, the best piece of advice I can give you is to not try to trick the system but to work within it.  That means, provide information on your website (and other online profiles) that will be helpful to the legal community in general.  You can fool some people some of the times but you can't fool Google for very long.



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