UPDATE: The reason for the current UK notices and Interflora’s rankings have been discovered. More information Here: http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/interflora-what-really-happened.html
I am somewhat a tin foil conspiracy theorist when it comes to google. And often my theories do prove to be right, and most times I am not far from the mark. This week, two seemingly unrelated events have triggered one of those theories.
In addition, I have spoken to a fair number (10+) UK SEOs that have had this gem in their inbox:
Unnatural inbound links
We’ve detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
We don’t want to put any trust in links that are unnatural or artificial, and we recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links may be outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action to reduce trust in the unnatural links. If you are able to remove any of the links, you can submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took.
If you have any questions, please visit our Webmaster Help Forum.
Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043 | Unsubscribe.
This is Event 2.
Notice the wording (emphasis mine):
We don’t want to put any trust in links that are unnatural or artificial, and we recommend removing any unnatural links to your site. However, we do realize that some links may be outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action to reduce trust in the unnatural links.
If you are able to remove any of the links, you can submit a reconsideration request, including the actions that you took.
So how are these two events tied together?
By now, if you work in SEO, you should be aware that google cannot catch all the spam that goes on, algorithmically anyway. They are getting better at it, as Panda and Penguin clearly indicate, but its not perfect yet. Add to that the “new” public belief that you can hurt a site by Negative SEO (a whole bunch of us old timers have insisted that this has ALWAYS been possible, but it’s a bit easier now).
SO what is googles best defence?
One of the serious problems in planning the fight against American doctrine, is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine…- From a Soviet Junior Lt’s Notebook
“The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.” – from a post-war debriefing of a German General
And this is true of google’s latest strategy. Scare SEOs and webmasters to the point that they don’t know what can and cannot hurt them. Get them to clean up search results FOR google. And this latest bout of warnings, IMHO is exactly that.
- Penalise a LARGE UK brand – send fear of god into SEOs. Check.
- Send a bunch of vague link notices in GWMT to the general population. Check.
- Sit back and profit.
- Don’t panic.
- Create a list of all your shitty links (you should be doing this anyway!)
- Wait to see if there are any drops.
- If there are, you should be able to isolate where the drops are and for what terms. Start clean up.
- If there are drops and you cant isolate the drops, then reach out and contact via resubmission, with specific question about the links.
- If there are no drops, build newer, better quality links .
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile