Google penalty emails keep coming
by Jon Law, on February 5, 2014
Ever since the Google penalty began, there have been emails asking for links to be removed from decent sites. This is usually due to panic setting in. A Google penalty can be implemented manually for websites that have broken their terms and conditions in some way. These indiscretions are often related to some kind of spammy behaviour from webmasters trying to get a higher position in the search results. Normally, it involves getting links back to their site in an unscrupulous manner.
Google has upped it's game and can detect spammy linking patterns much more effectively than it once could. If enough triggers occur a manual penalty is implemented by a human checker rather than a machine. These penalties are good news for the internet!
Google penalty recovery involves removing iffy links
To recover from a manual penalty Google insists on it's pound of flesh. It really is all about being sorry and not doing it again. Whatever it is. Usually it does mean dodgy links.
As outcome of the penalised attempting to recover from such a penalty is the receipt of email requests to remove links (see below for a very cheeky example). The senders of these emails are convinced that your link to their site simply must be removed. This is not necessarily a reflection on your site as such. There's no need to panic. Your spammy link is probably NOT the reason Google has punished a site you've never heard of.
As mentioned earlier Google wants it's pound of flesh. So the recovery process requires the naughty webmaster to wade through piles of links and decide which ones need to be removed. Then he/she must approach the owners of identified sites and solicit them to remove said offending links.
So usually, at this stage, the link is only deemed bad because a panic-stricken penalised webmaster says so.
What if Google tells them your link is bad
Well this can happen. Google can indicate seemingly respectable websites as being of unsuitable quality. If your site contains pages linking to a penalised site Google can indicate these as being dodgy. I've seen this happen with websites that are so obviously genuine it makes me cringe.
Of course, once indicated as bad by Google the cheating webmasters will approach these sites and ask for the links to be removed. Often this is no more than Google claiming it's pound of flesh from the cheating webmaster.
How can you be so sure...?
Matt Cutts (head of Spam at Google) was recently on a talk show style webcast - Twit TV - where he intimates Google's need for spammer's pound of flesh. Google are out to frustrate the link buyers and spammers. This Twit TV program is long and the small section about frustrating spammers is beyond the hour mark. Cutts says
If you want to stop spam, the most straight forward way to do it is to deny people money because they care about the money and that should be their end goal. But if you really want to stop spam, it is a little bit mean, but what you want to do, is sort of break their spirits. There are lots of Google algorithms specifically designed to frustrate spammers. Some of the things we do is give people a hint their site will drop and then a week or two later, their site actually does drop. So they get a little bit more frustrated. So hopefully, and we’ve seen this happen, people step away from the dark side and say, you know what, that was so much pain and anguish and frustration, let’s just stay on the high road from now on.
Google want to heap pain, anguish and frustration on the webmasters who skank them. And you get that straight from the horses mouth. They don't care if you've spent £400 a month on AdWords for five years or if it's your first indiscretion. If you break the rules and trigger a penalty they will take their pound of flesh in the form of "so much pain and anguish and frustration". Be warned...!
For much more from Matt Cutts in this Twit TV episode go to the Buying Backlinks is Bad post.
A recent Google recovery email
Over the weekend Lollipop Local HQ received an unsolicited email from someone trying to recover from a manual penalty. Here's a screengrab of the email
So this bloke is asking us to add the "nofollow" attribute to the link to his site as it doesn't comply with Google's Webmaster Guidelines. Yikes! That's scary! What can we have done. If you scoot over to the small business seo services page in question it's difficult to find the link. That's because it's not there! In fact, the link is in a comment. Sadly, this comment made it through the filter. Here it is
So this bloke is asking us to retain the link but give it a nofollow attribute - so Google will discount it. Obviously, he wants any traffic this link could send so requests us to change it rather than remove it. If you read the comment you can see that it is clearly a spammed comment, auto generated and probably sent out to hundreds of posts. So the irony is that this bloke could remove the link himself be deleting his comment on the post. But the fact is he spammed our site in the first place!
He is clearly sending out emails in bulk, we've had two identical ones to different email addresses. He spammed us in the first place but is then asking us for a favour! Unbelievable cheek! So what should we do...?
The moral of the story is to avoid a possible Google penalty by following their T&Cs. But if you fall foul of a Google penalty and so have to pay with your pound of flesh put the effort in before sending out these emails.