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Google Is Rubber – and YOU’RE Glue

Post image for Google Is Rubber – and YOU’RE Glue

by PotPieGirl on March 26, 2014 · 12 comments

One day you’re ranking awesome in Google – the next day you’re not.  POOF, those good rankings disappear and you don’t even rank for your domain name anymore. What the heck happened?

There are many reasons this could happen, but now add in the fact that OTHER sites linking TO your site could cause Google to put a manual penalty on your site.

It doesn’t matter if YOU placed those other links or you had no idea the links existed, they still can get you in hot water with Google and bring your organic traffic to a screeching halt.

Fair?  Not fair?  Let’s talk about it.

In a perfect Google-run online world, I think it should be like this:


But ever since the news of ONE outbound link on ONE guest post causing a manual SITE WIDE penalty for Doc Sheldon surfaced, the whole, “what Google should do about links” conversation has increased (again).

Now, in the situation with Doc’s site, that was an external link on his site that caused the penalty on his site.  ie, a link he has on one of his web pages – NOT a link TO his site.

I’m not really talking about external links we have ON our sites, I’m talking about links pointing TO our sites.

I have always been of the mindset that:

a) I can’t help who links to me or HOW they link to me, therefor

b) links Google doesn’t like should just be ignored.

To me, it makes perfect sense.  I can’t help what people say about me, or think about me – that’s their business, not mine.

But since Penguin was unleashed and blog networks started getting slammed by Google…and then this whole MyBlogGuest fiasco, it really feels like Google now has this attitude:


They used to absorb the bad links and they’d never hurt us.

In other words, if they (Google) came across a link to our site/web page that they didn’t like, they just ignored it.

Now, they just bounce that crap right back to us for us (the site owners) to deal with…and it’s not a request either.  It’s a “you’re penalized until you clean up the links that others made to your site” type of demand.

One day you’re feeling fine with your exposure in Google…and then BAM, you ain’t fine no more.

No “innocent until proven guilty”, no trial, no jury…you’re just instantly guilty and punished based on their perception.

Even Danny Sullivan begged this of Google in his G+ post linking to his article about the one link/Google penalty situation.


To me, seeing someone like Danny, who is held in such high-regard in this industry, beg Google to stop handling things this way speaks volumes of how out-of-hand this has gotten.

It feels almost as if content containing links has gotten to such a massive volume that Google can’t “afford” the extra resources to process which links to count and which to ignore.

So they’re bouncing that ‘job’ to us.  No give backs, either.

I made a post back in June of 2012 titled “Holy Sh*t!  Please Don’t Link To Me!” – trust me, when I wrote it, I knew things were getting bad, but I sure didn’t realize how bad they were going to get in the next 2 years.

Why Can’t/Won’t Google Just Ignore Bad Links?

In my opinion, Google can’t flat out say, “Hey, we’ve decided to just stop ignoring all bad links from here on out.  Backlinks will NOT hurt you anymore… they may not HELP you, but they definitely won’t hurt you.”

Here’s why I don’t think they can say that -

Once that is KNOWN, people will just start mass-producing backlinks to their stuff at even a higher rate than is already happening.

If nothing is gonna hurt, why not?  Right?  Just keep throwing links at it hoping something sticks and helps.

I really don’t know enough about Google’s resources to handle that or not handle it, but it sure seems like a really load-intensive job to handle.

But it sure would be nice if they did that, right?

Thing is, Google IS Doing This – They ARE Ignoring Backlinks

I have a penalty on this site right here – yep, right here at PotPieGirl.com

I had no idea I had one for a long time.  Somewhere along the line my Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools verification codes fell off my site (shows how much I pay attention…lol!)

I don’t write here for Google.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Google to hate on me – I’d like to know that when someone types ‘potpiegirl’ into a Google search, they’ll be able to find me – but I’m not writing here for rankings, if that makes sense.

So, back to the Manual Penalty from Google that PotPieGirl.com has.

Inside my Webmaster Tools account under the Manual Actions report, I see this:


My first thought was, “Rut Roh, Scooby”

But then I clicked to expand the message to see what is going on and got this message:


Do you see the part I highlighted?  “Some links may be outside of the webmaster’s control” (ie, they get that we can’t control who links to us)….”we are taking targeted action on the unnatural links instead of on the site’s ranking as a whole” (ie, the sites linking TO that page of mine might have issues, but it doesn’t affect MY site).

Yes, they also let me know which page on my site was having this issue…and it’s a really old page (in blog years) – it’s from 2010.

So, it appears Google still IS choosing to ignore bad backlinks (or at least not penalize the site/page being linked TO), but whether it happened in my situation because the links are so old or not, I don’t know.

The penalized post here still seems to rank in Google for it’s title just fine considering the competition – but it’s so old, I really don’t care…lol!

ignore-linksRegardless, it seems as if the “just ignore the bad links” option IS still happening, but what the parameters are, I don’t know.

If anyone DOES know, I’d love to hear it (thank you).

I looked thru all 1,000 links to this site that Webmaster Tools shows me – and wow, what a journey THAT was.  I already knew that a few years ago, someone decided it would be cool to go out and register “potpiegirl” at various p0rn and witchcraft forums and put a link to my site in the profile (nice, right?) – and I knew that I had generated a LOT of links from crazy places with the whole Google Raters Handbook situation happened….but wow at the other links!

Some are really good (thank you to those that chose to editorially link to me – you’re awesome!) – and some are just plain junk.  Then there are those that are on sites in a language other than English, I have NO clue if they’re good or bad….hahaha!

My point of that is this – if I have that much issue determining what might be good and what might be bad, how do the small business owners do it?  I really, really feel for them.  They’re so vulnerable to backlink attacks, and it’s so damn confusing to even begin to try and figure out how to clean it up.

I don’t know how Google will straighten all this out – or if they will try at all.  Anything they put weight on that helps to increase position in the Google search results WILL be manipulated.  Just nature of the beast online – ranking well in Google is too valuable to others at this moment in time.

But something needs to be done….

What is YOUR idea for a solution?


Michael Martinez March 27, 2014 at 12:01 am

You and everyone else who is freaking out over this need a hug but y’all also have got to calm down.

This day was a long time coming and it’s not like there weren’t warnings. For the people who have been able to file reconsideration requests and recover their Google traffic this is a chance to learn something…something important.

People in the Internet marketing community are not skeptical enough. They plant too much good faith in any blog or forum comment or conference proposal where someone says, “I did this and it’s totally ‘white hat’ and la-de-la-de-la”.

It’s not white hat. It was never white hat. If you want to be a goody two-shoes with your marketing you can’t be out there putting “vacation rentals” anchor text into author profiles; you can’t be inviting every random stranger to publish content on your Website; you can’t say “Oh, I’m content marketing” when what you’re doing is link building.

People are now trying to run away from using the term “SEO” to identify what they are doing — but they don’t want to change what they are doing. There’s a whole new world of pain waiting for the next buzzword that Internet marketers adopt.

PotPieGirl March 27, 2014 at 12:20 am

I’m plenty calm =) This whole moment in Google history is a great learning opportunity so I’m seizing the moment.

It appears that Google isn’t ignoring ANY links anymore…many in the community wish they would go back to doing that (ie, ignore the bad links)…and then I see with my own eyes inside my Google Webmaster Tools that they ARE ignoring some backlinks.

So, does this happen in only certain situations? Is my notice an error and I really was supposed to get a massive sitewide penalty? Will Matt Cutts ever send me a Google T-Shirt? Inquiring minds want to know…haha!

In all seriousness tho, I am well-aware that if one does anything in hopes it will make them rank better, it’s not “White Hat”. I also don’t consider myself “goody two-shoes” about all this either. White hat/black hat/purple hat…whatever – I don’t wear a hat (well, I do when I golf).

I agree tho – it’s one thing today, and it will be another “hot” thing tomorrow. It’s never boring and that’s why it all interests me so much.

Michael Martinez March 27, 2014 at 1:04 am

It appears to me that you and a whole lot of other people are really NOT learning from this experience. Did Google create the environment? Absolutely. We all knew that already so no one learned that this week.

Did Google create the spammy links in the guest blog posts? Nope.

Did Google warn people to stop using guest blogging for links? Yup.

Did people listen to Google? Nope.

The lesson to be learned — if there is any lesson — may be what Danny Sullivan wrote on Search Engine Land: stop building links.

People have been complaining that if you just blog, only blog, and don’t do anything BUT blog then no one will find your Website — which is absolute trash, complete nonsense, and utter rubbish. It’s also NOT TRUE.

It just takes LONGER for people to find your site. Meanwhile if people write more about stuff they actually care about and less about stuff that makes their eyes roll up in the back of their heads a lot of folks may become fine bloggers (your passion is wonderful, BTW — I think you long ago conquered that hurdle).

It’s the SEO community or marketing community or whatever community that collectively tells people all this crap about how hard it is to get search engine traffic that is responsible for the current mess. Not Google. Just the people who put themselves in this position with their incessant demand for links, links, links, links.

Anyone who says that is what SEO is all about or that links are the most important factor in Google’s rankings or SEO doesn’t know what they are talking about.

Kris March 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Fine. So then why does Google impose manual penalties for links?

I got one of these penalties, have followed their recommendations 3 times, removed more than half of the 6,000 links to my site I can find, and still can’t get the penalty removed?

What is the rationale behind a penalty? An admission that their algorithm failed?
And why the moving target? If they really want to improve the user experience, they can see my content is legit. They can’t just tell me what I need to do to get the penalty removed?

I get your points, but isn’t their lack of transparency at least as evil as the links they are trying to keep from affecting their algorithms?

Michael Martinez April 3, 2014 at 2:36 am

“So then why does Google impose manual penalties for links?”

Because people are placing links for the sole purpose of influencing Google’s search results. It’s one thing to link out to other sites to help your visitors; it quite another thing altogether to use other sites to link to your own solely for your own benefit.

The algorithm is not, never has been, and probably never will be mostly about links. But as long as Internet Marketers think only in terms of links, links, links they will continue to make bad linking choices.

“What is the rationale behind a penalty?”

The tacit contract between you and any search engine is that they get to use some of your content to show their visitors your site exists and in exchange they’ll allow their visitors to click through to your Website.

When you do things they ask you not to do (in their Webmaster guidelines) they interpret that as you violating the terms of the unspoken contract.

And when a search engine (in your opinion) violates the terms of the unspoken contract you have the full right and freedom to block their crawlers from your content.

It’s all actually very transparent.

Kris April 3, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Maybe it is transparent in a “big picture” kind of way.

But when my site gets a manual penalty for buying a few links, and the high ranking sites have far worse link profiles, far worse content (if any), are much more sneaky that I am with their tactics, and keep their high rankings without penalty, is it any wonder that those of us who don’t live by “black hat” are pissed off?

So I guess I’m just just being idealistic and asking for a level playing field. But I don’t buy adwords and I’m not as good at hiding my “black hat-ness” with redirects and other crap, so I guess I just don’t qualify for leniency?

PotPieGirl March 27, 2014 at 1:47 am

“..People have been complaining that if you just blog, only blog, and don’t do anything BUT blog then no one will find your Website — which is absolute trash, complete nonsense, and utter rubbish. It’s also NOT TRUE…”

Absolutely agree – it’s the ‘want it NOW’ mentality that causes trouble. I love me some shortcuts, but there is definitely a time and a place for them as well risk/reward that has to be assessed.

Thank you very much for the compliment!

Charles March 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

The thing is, Google has made managing their SERPs difficult for themselves by not taking action against backlink spam early enough. They delayed until it had become rampant and difficult to check. Whose fault is it? Google.

IMO, the only viable solution is moving from a link based algorithm to something else. But, apparently, there’s nothing presently more reliable for sorting web pages in the index than backlinks.

There are penalties being shelled out everyday, both to sites promoted using whitehat and blackhat methods, so the only recourse we all have is becoming big brands, which is not possible.

We can complain all we want, but Google will still do what they want eventually. At the end of the day, it’s all about hoping you don’t get penalised unjustly.

Chase March 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm

The whole disavow situation did not help the problem. I had links to an authority site on a couple of my sites that otherwise had no problems and no backlinks of any harm. The Authority site disavowed their links with Google and now the sites I linked from are gone from the rankings period. Google has so much collateral damage from their war on SEO and Spam and proving the theorists wrong. It’s unbelievable.

LeslieZ March 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Google’s algorithms should be a warning to them that there may be something a miss. But to completely wipe a site off Google and then anonymously brag about it to scare the masses is crazy. Google quit playing big brother and help educate on what makes better website content (at least to you).

I understand you need automation to keep up with the insane amount of websites on the internet, but having an algorithm (or several algorithms) does not stop you from thinking and doing what an algorithm can’t…reasoning and doing the right thing.

Mr Bearly March 31, 2014 at 10:57 am

Seriously you do not get links from any site, other than spammers, if you just add content to your site. I have several sites which prove that. Without a link Google will not find you and nor will anyone else.

Most of my sites have very few links to them and consequently they don’t rank and don’t get traffic and yet the content is better than some of the rubbish blatant link only pages that Google rank, you’ve all seen them. No content, just links on a parked domain. Should not be in the serps at all.

I have built an automated blog as an experiment, used to rank very well and had traffic but has now been de-indexed, as it should be ’cause it’s rubbish. Anyone want to slam 40,000 links at a competitor? I can take them down for you.

Alan April 5, 2014 at 5:42 am

Quite honestly, I’m enjoying watching the backlink saga.

I have been in the IM space since 2009 and have ranked sites, articles etc. (made some good money) and watched them vanish from google overnight.

I leveraged Ezinearticles to the max and followed up with my landing pages after the fall of ezine. Only to see those sites fall away slowly.

Gosh, I miss ezine so much….. but it seems (to me) to be moving back towards that model everyday!

Leveraging the authority of another site could be coming back into “fashion” so to speak.

Yep, squidoo’s authority is diminished (not gone by the way), but the authority of other sites like Pinterest, seem to be finding their legs.

Oh and just a soapbox issue for me….. I think that it is silly for those that speak in terms of ethics when it comes to backlinking and/or leveraging the sites of others.

So what is ethical when “backlinking”? Google seems to be changing that definition by the day.

So what *is* webspam?

Spam email is very real, but webspam is something that Google defines.

“Bad” or spammy sites, articles etc. wouldn’t be spam at all if Google didn’t crawl them. No one would know that they existed until Google crawled and indexed them, right?

Maybe I’m crazy…. What do you think PPG?

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