It has been approximately one month since Google sent out warnings to developers using the Google Webmasters Tools notifying users that their back link profiles were tagged as suspicious. In the past, messages sent to developers regarding SEO practices were usually in response to unethical tactics discovered by Google, and meant that you were part of a group of users who would be penalized.
When the message came out it naturally caused almost immediate panic all over the web. The reaction was extreme because even users of Google Webmaster Tools who were not actively engaged in backlink building received the message. After the assumptions died down, Google clarified that the notifications were a preemptive warning so developers could address any problems before being penalized.
A Message You Ought to Heed
Just because your site is not entirely doing something wrong it does not mean you should discount the warning that Google has sent. It could be as simple as a broken link on a bad blog page or it could be someone maliciously creating link spam on several pages to rank your pages down. If you receive the message then it means that something has to be done. However, if you didn’t receive the message, let this be a n indicator of what Google is currently focusing on. If Google is targeting certain people for crossing a line, there are likely benefits in positioning yourself as far away from that line as you can.
What You Can Do
So as Matt Cutts had announced, you should not immediately panic in case you received the warning since it is not exactly your site that is being distrusted and penalized. Everyone who is concerned about their ranking in search results should start looking into the following tactics to clean up your backlink profile:
- Start by getting an inventory of all your inbound links. The GWT does not let you get the specific URLs of the pages that have the questionable links point to your site and can only provide you with the general domains. To solve this problem there are several third party tools that can get you the specific URLs so you can build an extensive list of all inbound links.
- Go through them one by one. Google is knocking off all questionable links or artificial links. The best way to check if a link is causing you trouble, put yourself in the shoes of the users and ask yourself if the link is doing anything good for you. If it is a nuisance, if it looks like spam, or if it unnecessary or irrelevant to the page, then start the process to take it down.
- Send a request via GWT to have these links removed. This is not an easy process and you’ll want to track your submissions carefully. You do not need to stress over your request letters. Just keep it simple and to the point. Include the exact URL if you can so that they can immediately find the suspected inbound link.
- Google has announced that if you received the warning, just send them back a reconsideration request. It may sound ironic since you are not the one doing something wrong but since it came directly from Google, just do as they say to avoid any problems and to make the process faster and easier.
Google has put the word out that SEOs should not panic and instead take the time to look into their link inventory and take down questionable links to prevent further damage from occurring. It may have been a drastic move on Google’s part, but so long as the mentioned tips are followed, you will likely avoid any penalty associated with weak backlinks.