Google Swats Unnatural Outbound Links With Latest Round of Manual Actions

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Bloggers are feelin' the pain after this weekend when Google sent out a new round of manual actions punishing unnatural outbound links. The SEM Post has a comprehensive summary of the events as well as some helpful speculation about the what, why, and how.

It's the kind of manual action that Google doesn't send out very often. But some webmasters think they should use it a little more often. The reason is because, as The SEM Post writes, it "puts responsibility for many of the low quality links on the person doing the linking, rather than the site receiving them, something that some see as a much fairer way for Google to go about negatively impacting these types of links."

It's an interesting situation. It seems like Google has discounted the trust of some links on the affected sites. But these sites haven't (yet?) seen an impact in the SERPs. Nothing has been removed from search results and rankings haven't taken any serious hits. But that could just be because of a delay. Who knows what will happen in the coming days.

One piece of speculation that I found interesting is the notion that this could be the other shoe dropping on Google's pronouncement that bloggers need to start nofollowing and disclosing their promotional links. I'd love to see this kind of disclosure more strictly enforced, personally. But only some of the blogs affected by this round of manual actions actually have followed links in promotional/sponsored posts. So it's hard to tell.

Other things that this manual action could be about:

  • Badges/embedded links (ala Thumbtack)
  • "Link Parties," which sound exactly as sketchy as they really are
  • Is Google using data from disavows? The SEM Post speculates that if they are - and there is no way to say for sure - it could cause a mess in the future
  • Link exchanges

Give the article a read. Were you affected? What do you think is the reason behind these manual actions?


Disavows filed by people who have no idea what sites to list

If Google uses data from disavows, they may as well throw in the towel. The tools that people use to recover from unnatural outbound link penalties list major sites and the people using them don't know any better. 

Even the sites with the toughest Editorial policies are getting disavowed. Sites that have strong editors ignore removal requests and that will get the people trying to recover to disavow their sites. What a huge mess this is. 


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