Fixing Google Manual Action: Unnatural Links from Your Site


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Wee-ooo, wee-ooo! Here come the Google Police! Breakout the handcuffs because we’re back with more fixes for Google Manual Actions.

Note: We’re absolutely joking, these actions aren’t illegal, but they do violate Google’s guidelines. This means you lose the right to lose Google’s services until the problems are fixed.

Google Manual Action reports are when a human reviewer has determined that pages on your site don’t comply with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. Most of the time, the algorithm itself detects spam and demotes it, but occasionally there is a need for a human reviewer to decide if the page is in violation and needs flagging. Sometimes, pages are removed entirely from the search results. If Google flags one of your pages, you usually have the opportunity to visit the Manual Actions page. As we’ve discussed, this page lists numerous common issues that may appear on your site as well as how to fix said problems. The ranking of your site could be affected by the flagging of a page. If it is, Google will send you an email to give you a heads up.

What we’re saying is be careful and don’t wind up in Google’s virtual timeout.

What we’re discussing today is having unnatural links to and from your site. Misleading information connected to links that you include in pages on your site is something Google won’t tolerate. They want only the best for their users, and that’s not link scams (ugh). 

Google Manual Action: Unnatural Links From Your Site

Alright, so what the hell is an “unnatural link”?

Google considers links “unnatural” if you make them with intention for that page to only raise your site’s page rank. If the editor or the site owner do not place your links and didn’t vouch for them, then Google regards them as unnatural links. In the beginning, it was easy to manipulate the algorithm with links. However, with the advances Google has made, it’s much easier for it to differentiate between genuine quality links and those that are merely trying to cheat the system.

Like we said, Google wants honest links that come from and link to quality sources to deliver to their users.

What Constitutes an Unnatural Link?

Young businessman shows the word: Links

Worried you’ve got unnatural links on your site? Nah, probably not. To be honest, most of these manipulative links are super obvious. Here are some examples of links that may earn a red flag.

  • Exchanging Money: This example should be a no-brainer, but if you pay for your link, it’s unnatural, even if all you did was donate.
  • Exchanging Goods or Services: Okay, so you haven’t given anyone money, but you did send them a free trial of your latest product. You’re in the clear, right? Wroooong. Exchanging goods or services for links to a popular site is also considered unnatural.
  • Too Many Link Exchanges: What we mean by this is, “I’ll link for you if you link for me.” Too much of that can trigger Google’s algorithm spidey senses and send you packing with a red flag to the time-out chair until the problem’s fixed.
  • Several Irrelevant Links: You don’t want to write an article about marketing advances and include a link about shower curtains.  A relationship like that will have Google scratching its head and wondering why and if it was a mistake. Your readers will most likely sympathize.
  • Matching Anchor Texts: Matching your competition’s anchor text in your links word-for-word to help increase your rank will only backfire on you. Doing this can result in Google recognizing what you’re doing and either ignoring or flagging that page.
  • Too Many Advertisement Links: Excessive advertisement links will trigger a Google Manual Action, unnatural links warning, and you will be restricted until you reduce the number of advertisement links on your page.

Can We Fix it? Yes, We Can.

Young businessman working with laptop at office

So, you might be wondering what the process is to fix these issues once Google flags you for one. It’s slightly different depending on whether the links were to or from your site.

  • To Your Site: If you have links coming to your site, then Google recommends heading over to the Search Console and downloading a list of web pages that have links to you. Check the file for any that violate the guidelines then go to the webmaster of the site that linked to you and request that they remove them.  You can use the Disavow Links tool to disavow any that you weren’t able to get deleted.
  • From Your Site: You need to remove all of the poor quality links or change them so that they no longer pass PageRank and make use of the rel= “nofollow” attribute in your anchor text.

After you’ve fixed the things mentioned above, you must submit a reconsideration from the Google webmaster. Revoking the penalty issued by Google is a process and can take some time. Have patience and make sure you follow the rules next time.

How To Read The Report

Business woman walking towards sunset with overlays of graphs and statistics

So, you’ve earned yourself a red flag and gotten a Google Manual Action that said you had unnatural links in your content. One of two actions will appear on the Manual Action page:

  • Site-Wide Matches: This section will list any issues such as unnatural links that affect the entire site. If you see that, it’s possible that it can demote your page rank.
  • Partial Matches: This section only lists problems that affect an individual URL or part of your website.

Each section includes the reason why Google took action against the link or issue and what kind of effect it will have per each manual operation.

Google Awareness

It’s important to be aware of the guidelines involving links to and from your web pages. If they find a site-wide match, then you could face a drop in your page rank. Boohiss, right? Link to your advantage and always have genuine intentions and sources. Essentially, just don’t have weird intentions and you should (mostly) be fine.

If you’re interested in growing your popularity and profits for your online business, that’s literally what we do. Contact us and let’s get this show on the road! 

More in Our Google Manual Actions Series

Unnatural Links to Your Site

Unnatural Links from Your Site

Cloaking and Sneaky Redirects

Hacked Site

Pure Spam

Spammy Structured Markup

User-generated Spam

Spammy Freehosts

Hidden Text and/or Keyword Stuffing

And more coming soon!

About the Author

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

Sam Romain

Sam Romain

Digital marketing expert, data interpreter, and adventurous entrepreneur empowering businesses while fearlessly embracing the wild frontiers of fatherhood and community engagement.

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