Google is cracking down hard on sites with an overabundance of links pointing their way that are deemed unnatural and artificial. This latest move is part of a major campaign by the search giant against sites utilizing various black hat SEO techniques, including backlinking (which didn’t always qualify as black hat).
Word of the move came to webmasters this week in the form of emailed warnings against, “Techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.” It went on to say, “Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank.”
End Times for Link Networks
Google’s latest SEO smackdown comes on the heels of a major de-indexing effort focused on link directories and networks. SEO watchers were stunned when BuildMyRank. a well known link network, shut down several weeks ago when a majority of its content was de-indexed by Google.
Not a Crackdown
In a statement issued to SearchEngineLand.com a Google representative nixed the idea of some sort of crackdown, saying that they’re simply publicizing the fact that unnatural links are penalized with lower rankings.
“In the past, some links might have been silently distrusted or might not have carried as much weight. More recently, we’ve been surfacing the fact that those links aren’t helping to improve ranking or indexing,” that statement read.
Ever since Google introduced the Panda updates almost exactly a year ago, their message to the SEO world has been clear, stick with quality content and natural link networks. But beyond that, many of their moves have been deliberately muddled and shrouded in mystery.
At the recent South By Southwest Conference Google SEO Guru Matt Cutts mentioned a penalty for over-optimization but wouldn’t commit to anything specific beyond a warning against keyword stuffing. While that strategy does make sense, it also makes life very tough for webmasters who rely on top page rankings to generate revenut on a daily basis.
What do you think of Google’s latest crackdown on link networks? Is it a warranted crackdown on black hat SEO practitioners or a vindictive move against legitimate web masters? Let us know on our SEO Forum.