Dear site owner or webmaster of [site],
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
This message was sent to webmasters that paid for links directly, through third parties, used software, subcontracted SEO work, messed with some black hat or grey hat techniques, “didn’t know what they were doing with linkbuilding”, or were just unlucky.
When I say unlucky I mean that if someone was using the WordPress Plugin Comment Pig, your website could have been randomly selected as a backlink for a spammy comment. You get penalized for that. It’s not just Comment Pig: it applies to ANY site that Google doesn’t approve of that links to your site in an article.
Taken to the logical extreme, some Viagra Russian site may be randomly linking to your site (usually with a script) and you could be penalized by Google.
Hey, what a great way to get a competitor de-indexed! Just set up a Canadian Drug spam website and start creating outbound links to your business rival! Huh.
But most of the notices are due to companies who threw money at SEO companies or workers to get backlinks and not knowing what the linkbuilders did- ignorance is bliss. Others were fully aware and now claim ignorance about Google’s TOS, which was always the same regarding links: you can’t pay for them.
So companies who received Google’s threat are in full panic mode. They will send out e-mails like this:
“I have detected a link from your website which points to my website. Please remove ALL links pointing to my website ASAP.”
Yeah, so they had no idea about which link schemes, blog networks, or software “their SEO people” used to create backlinks. Therefore anyone suspicious who links to their site will get a message like that.
And how did Google bust everyone? Google Webmaster Tools. Duh. It gives Google free reign to check everything about your site. I’ve been telling people that for years- it gives them a quick backdoor and they will take you down if you are into link building, affiliate marketing, or have multiple identities on the internet. Of course they don’t need GWT to do it, but it makes things easier for them.
I also told my partner Tony Vahl earlier this year that Google was forcing Webmasters to sign up with that “free” service if a site was “suspected” of a malware infection. So if you were signed up with AdWords, you’d get the notice from Google telling you that your site has been taken down due to Malware, and THE ONLY WAY to get back in the search engine giant is to sign up for GWT.
Companies, bloggers, and everyone in-between feels that they must bend over and comply or risk being blacklisted, penalized, or de-indexed from Google’s search engine. Smells like a monopoly to me. Looking over monopoly cases from the past, it fits. Please don’t argue that just because Bing and Yahoo exist that Google doesn’t practice a monopoly. Please don’t try to say that a typical business in 2012 can function without being listed in Google’s search engine. Google owns the search engine industry and can make or break companies, individuals, livelihoods, and reputations.
I’m tired of Google being the self-appointed COP and KEEPER of the internet. I’m sure you are too but most of you continue to use Google’s services, which defeats the purpose if you protest.
Here’s a post from a user named “gmartfin” over at HighRankings.com on how to respond to threats:
Dear Mr. Google:
We purchased advertising on another site. Apparently you intend to use your virtual monopoly to force us to end this advertising or suffer the consequences. As this advertising competes directly with your adword monopoly we believe your actions violate the law.
We’ll see you in court.
Your states attorney general, consumer affairs, (your relevant gov’t agency)
Now seriously before you give a knee jerk reaction please think about what I’m saying. Google is a virtual monopoly. These links represent PAID ADVERTISEMENTS on other sites. For Google to go after a competing source of advertising and threaten to punish in the event they find you doing that is a huge violation of existing laws.
More to the point is that Google has gone from a search engine to dictating the type of business you can have (or get banned) how many ads you can have (or get banned) and on and on.
Directory sites ….banned
Too much advertising….banned
The real question in my mind is when do we as webmasters and SEO people start saying no more?
Google is now in the process of dictating what the internet is going to look like in the future. Regardless of what you think or like. Are you prepared to allow that?
The other way to respond to Google is to actually comply and contact every webmaster of every suspected shady backlink that comes up GWT. These webmasters are under no obligation to comply or even respond. So let’s say you are able to politely request link removals and 66% of the webmasters help you.
Then you have to down on your hands and knees for Google, lick their boots, grovel, confess your sins in detail, give up your link partners, and ask for a manual reassessment of your site.
This has been going on for years after Google went after the so-called “mommy bloggers” who were making money at home by writing posts for money without disclaimers. The FCC got involved and forced all bloggers to comply with Google’s TOS!
In my humble opinion, Google should just DISCOUNT the links it deems spammy. The amount of backwork that webmasters and SEO workers have to do to comply to remove links is unbelievable at this point.