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!
Regardless, 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?