Google Webmaster Tools Re-run Explained

by Alex Graves
Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
Well not too long ago I brought you a post that revealed that there had been a new release of Google Webmaster Tools messages that looked to be aimed towards the detection of unnatural link placements into the sites that received them and I thought that I would revisit the topic following further information which has become available.

According to Google Spam Team leader Matt Cutts, the latest influx of messages that have been sent out have been designed to further their commitment towards creating a more "transparent" search engine but at first glance the messages seemed to be exactly the same as the ones that were sent out during their first running of notification, the messages quickly being followed by rapid drops in rankings and a requirement to re-assess your backlink profile before requesting re-inclusion into the search engine through a manual check in order to try to regain those rankings that were lost.

Webmasters throughout a number of niche markets saw websites completely crash out of the search engine results, almost slashing their income stream to nothing due to foul play that Google believe they have been involved in during their promotional antics.

With the new messages that webmasters received there was an air of confusion as websites received multiple messages through their webmaster tools accounts informing them that their site had been identified as having "Unnatural Links" pointing at the domain.

As with many Google updates, discussion was rampant throughout a number of webmaster forums as people looked for help and advice on how best to deal with the latest notification, something which became even harder to be able to offer advice on due to the Google+ comment that Matt Cutts released through his profile which seemed to inform those webmasters that there was very little to panic about should they believe that their link profile is not in violation of the Google guidelines.

Cutts' comments sent shockwaves through the online market as people began to speculate whether the messages were simply to draw more re-inclusion requests out of the woodwork, something that would allow Google to manually check and obtain information about paid advertising placements with many webmasters only too willing to send a complete list of sites over for the Google employees to assess and take action on.

Due to the confusion that was evident, Google decided that they needed to take their upgrade in ‘transparency' further and warned website owners that they would once again run the notices, pointing out that there would be two versions of the message that would be created, with a minor difference allowing you to realise whether the notice is about a singular link or whether the whole site could be at risk of falling under the "Unnatural Link Penalty".

According to Cutts, webmasters should look out for whether the messages that they would receive carried a caution/warning symbol within the title tag as this would be the way in which you would be able to distinguish whether Google are frowning on just a small element of your backlink profile or whether they are looking to target the whole site.

Messages that carry a caution sign are aimed at websites that are under wider penalisation as these are the sites that carry a number of links that are in breach of the Google guidelines, which could result in a sitewide drop of rankings and if the case is severe enough, de-indexing from the search engine all together.

The second version of the message do not carry the caution/warning sign within the title line, meaning that Google have identified a link in which they believe to be worth of them taking action against and this is thought to mean that they are going to discredit any authority that the link offered to the linked site in a bid to cancel out the draw of placing the link.

Although the messages that are being sent out to site owners through their webmaster tools account are still very brief in terms of explanation of which links they disapprove of, this is definitely a step further towards creating the transparency that the search engine are trying to offer to site owners, but they are still going to need to open up a little wider in order for website owners to be able to see what Google are really looking for and there seems to be a reluctance to do so in order to keep the search engine a level playing field.

As always, discuss and comment here or drop me a tweet on @AlexGravesSEO.

Bronco - Digital Marketing Agency
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