It is now evident that any suspected trail of unnatural outbound linking on your website will earn you a penalty from Google. It was reported a few weeks ago that Google would start to issue a number of penalties to websites with unnatural or artificial outbound links and we have now observed through industry news sites that this does seem to be the case and companies are reporting and sharing screenshots of the penalty information they have received from Google. We share a sample of one of these messages a little later in the blog.
What are outbound links?
Unnatural outbound links are links that redirect you to a particular webpage or a different website entirely. The main reason why most people resort to linking to other pages is to manipulate their website’s ranking on search engines. On the other hand, there are other types of outbound links that are genuine in their purpose for example a link for further reading on a certain topic, however, the manual actions team at Google chose not to take anything at chance and disapproved all websites that had any links on them.
Google terms on outbound links
Google has strong feelings about the addition of links on your website. Based on the manual actions taken by the company, it is still uncertain if websites that featured or those linked to by the outbound links were penalized altogether. Several webmasters reported to have received messages in Search Console informing them of the meaning of unnatural links on their websites. Based on an article published on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, in 2015, Google sent more than 4.3 million messages to webmasters. This is to notify them of the manual action that Google took in their website and to help them easily identify issues. And, Google is seeing an increase on the number of messages they’re going to send to webmasters in the years to come.
In a video made available in the Google Search Console Help Centre, members from the manual actions team at Google talk about unnatural links. We can comfortably presume that little changes have been implemented over the past few years when it comes down to defining Google’s terms on the unnatural outbound links. This is due to the fact that the video displayed in Search Console is from about three years ago.
To get more idea of what they’ve discussed, here is the video:
Regarding the penalty, webmasters also received an e-mail from Google; a message that was also put up on the same page as the video. The message was as follows:
If you see this message on the Manual Actions page, it means that Google has detected a pattern of unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Above is an example of what you may receive from the Google webmasters. The have offered three (3) helpful suggestions on how-to fix the problem with outbound links on your website. As you can see they agree with using the <nofollow> HTML code and consider it to be the most effective solution to use to avoid penalties.
As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to the affected portions of your site. Actions that affect your whole site are listed under Site-wide matches. Actions that affect only part of your site and/or some incoming links to your site are listed under Partial matches.
Webmasters are advised to log in and have a look at their Google Search Console to confirm if the above notice is present or any other notifications. There is no need to panic if your website has been affected as there are ways and steps you can follow to fix websites that have been victim to the outbound link penalties.
Dealing with the linking penalty
There were several complaints from webmasters on a number of Google support forums who clearly felt that the manual actions team at Google unfairly targets their sites. The angered and confused website owners seemed not to understand the action as some claimed the links are how they make money from their blog and played no part in manipulating their ranking on search results.
Your website might be genuine and not a part of those that buy links to gain page ranks or any other artificial linking schemes, therefore you should be careful not to overreact. First things first, before adding any affiliate links to your website, ensure that you have read the guidelines set by Google on link schemes. A good is webmasters whose websites review various products and later get a certain compensation need to reveal this kind of relationship in details and use the ‘nofollow’ tag when necessary.
Adding the nofollow tag to a link means that the link will not be included when ranking the website in the search engine results page (SERP). According to Google’s guidelines, if you have included any form of paid affiliate links ensure you give a full disclosure and add a rel=”nofollow” attribute or by redirecting the link via a page restricted by robots.txt and eventually send a request to Google for reconsideration of the site. To avoid the unnatural outbound links penalties. Traces of bought links or artificial outbound links can lead to the entire site facing a penalty or if you are lucky, just specific sections of the site. It is therefore very important to review Google’s Webmaster guidelines regarding linking.
If your site seems to be in violation, you may choose to remove the links or preferably hire professionals such as Local SEO Search Inc. based in Toronto to assist you in lifting the penalties and offer other valuable information about SEO strategies. Call us today on at 416-888-8756 for quality services.