On Friday, March 14, Google announced actions against link networks from Italy and Spain.
Members of the Google Search Quality Team made the announcement via Twitter.
We have undertaken significant action on websites/blogs with paid links that pass PR (PageRank) and its Italian buyers
Today: We're taking action on Spanish blogs that contain paid links shared this way by PR and to their respective buyers
Google also took action against German link networks like "efamous." They made it public they were going to come after those who used these networks to benefit their positions in the SERPs.
This reminds me of a law that was passed to penalize clients of prostitution services. Efforts were directed toward large areas where these crimes were taking place. When someone used the services of these illegal networks, he helped increase their profits. So, he was found guilty by association.
Google spokesperson Matt Cutts also took some time to remind us that Google penalizes paid links and not organic.
To people who seemed surprised by this, they should be aware that Google has never recommended the use of link networks to improve visibility on the SERPs. Google's policy on this states, "Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines."
This is why you should take a look at your links to prevent any actions by Google on your site. First, let’s do a quick review. Ask yourself the following:
- Have I purchased my site links from link networks?
- Have I manipulated the text of any links to benefit me in search results for certain search criteria?
- Have I exchanged links with sites with the intention of increasing the popularity of both sites?
- Or, have I taken any other action that might be considered a paid link by Google?
You can use tools like SEMrush to analyze the profile of a project and avoid a future penalty. You can monitor your visibility in search engines to detect any adverse trends that may trigger an alarm. For instance, some sites had begun to be affected by Google as March 14 approached.
Trend of search engine visibility with SEMrush
Downward trend of search engine visibility of kayak.es
Additionally, it's essential to analyze the links going to your site, especially if they might come from link networks.
The Link Detox tool is very useful to analyze and take actions as necessary. With Link Detox, we know some of the links to this site might be considered from link networks. All of these should be reviewed manually.
According to this tool, Kayak has 83% suspected links where 60% of them are sharing the same IP and have other common footprints that could be considered suspicious.
Link Detox Tool for Kayak.es
* I cannot say for sure that Kayak has been affected by this kind of penalty, but its decline corresponds to the dates of the notices.
If after doing this exercise you find links that can compromise your visibility on Google, do your best to eliminate them. Include "nofollow" on paid links, and even make a request to disable links through the Disavow Links tool from Google to reduce the risk of penalty. Also, carefully monitor messages in the Google Webmaster Tool that may appear about this issue.
For now, Google will continue to battle against link networks and their manipulation of popularity on the SERPs. Remember from our earlier example that the supplier — and the customer — are both being punished.
What about you? Do you prostitute your links or use these services?
Sico de Andrés is the CEO of OPTIMIZALIA, an online marketing agency that carries out strategies for some of the top companies nationally and internationally. Sico is a speaker at technical conferences, and conference organizer of Seonthebeach. He also teaches and give lectures at various universities. Sico is the author of "I want to see my company in Google," which is about search engine optimization and available in three editions, with thousands of copies sold in Spain and Latin America.
Director General de OPTIMIZALIA, agencia de marketing online llevando a cabo estrategias para algunas de las principales empresas a nivel nacional e internacional. Sico de Andrés participa como ponente en congresos especializados y es organizador del congreso Seonthebeach. Imparte clases y charlas en distintas universidades entre las que se encuentran la Universidad Complutense de Madrid o UPCT entre otras. Autor del libro “Quiero que mi empresa salga en google” sobre posicionamiento en buscadores con tres ediciones en el mercado y con miles de ejemplares vendidos en España y Latinoamérica.