Life is going along in the flow. Paid work is coming in. Prayers are being answered. Whack! Suddenly an email appears from Google with a warning. Google Penalty: no get out of jail free card!
As a blogger online for years with minimal negative experience of the Google changing algorithms, even seeing the phrase, Unnatural outbound links, can momentarily raise the normal heartbeat.
When I saw the email the first emotion that hit me was confusion. Talk about stress. Google’s links in a penalty notice are anything but transparent! Oh, it’s clearly stated but they give you quite little to go on. You have to behave like both Christopher Columbus exploring new worlds, and Sherlock Holmes asking many questions.
Then, I found a video with Matt Cutts, Google’s main liaison with webmasters, saying Google is “trying to be more transparent.” You know what Star Wars character Yoda says about trying?
“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Transparency? Yep; Google is not. Oh there are some hints for you but, you are pretty much going to have to navigate, question and for me, in the end, hire a pro to get the Google Penalty removed.
Here’s my story, and I stick to it.
1 – Google good intentions
If Google means to serve people up with links to valuable content, not spam, it certainly does the general public well. But I find it difficult to picture in my mind a Google employee sitting in some cubicle in their California offices, or other locations, looking at each website.
Nope. In this technological age there is enough automation to power give Columbus a powerboat for his explorations. So Google crawls with their Googlebot and looks at words, tags, and every kind of content you might be able to think about. Using whatever their algorithm of the season is for ranking the billions of pages it finds for a search, voila, your site is either blessed or cursed.
Then, in a borderline bullying way, if it’s the curse, you end up in the quicksand and hope they will throw you a rope, that is, an answer to your question.
Start pulling on the rope.
2 – Google Webmaster Tools
Not being one to like to easily turn over my blog to anyone, including my webmaster, the search for colleagues experienced in maneuvering this started.
LinkedIn was my first go to although, it didn’t give me the depth of information to manage the situation.
Then on locating a Google Webmaster forum to discuss these penalties and how to maneuver your blog or website back to Google’s good blessings, there was an end in sight.
Someone on the Webmaster forum told me, “The kind of penalty you have is one of the easier ones to fix.” We each can control links FROM our site so that made sense.
The suggestion was made that any outbound link should be made “nofollow.”
If that isn’t contrary to helping to build SEO for any of us, I don’t know what is.
The question I had to keep asking, “what is unnatural?” According to Google could be a paid link, meaning Google thinks you are selling links to get Page Rank.
This even includes Blogger Guest websites like one I belong to, MyBlogGuest. Coincidentally, the day before I got my Unnatural outbound links, Google penalized MyBlogGuest and Tweeted about it.
Actually digging further, any outbound links that look like you are using links to places like Twitter, Facebook and the like to get Page Rank, those are frowned on.
I set out on the task thinking I would add the nofollow command to all outbound links, as well as delete my JVZoo links which I had no control over that I could find, my work began.