If you haven’t already read the Google Webmaster Guidelines, do so. Your business may be depending on it. These Guidelines are the rules set out by the Google overlords describing the limitations and restrictions in use of Google and its services. Of particular interest is that it includes their SEO. That’s right the very fact that your content is searchable through Google implies that you must abide by Google’s terms and conditions.
If you’ve ever clicked on a link while reading some content and were whisked away to another page, then you just clicked on an outbound link. Outbound links are usually tallied for a particular site and is used by Google as a factor when determining a pages’ search result ranking. In essence, the more outbound links connect to your site and connect, then the higher your SEO rank will be.
In the past two weeks Google has been on a bit of a warpath issuing hefty penalties specifically to outbound link offenders. It seems that marketers have been a bit naughty and started to create outbound links to sites and content that Google deemed were unnatural or irrelevant to their own site. An example would be an underwear apparel brand having a high number of outbound links to a car company. Now, it may very well be possible that the underwear company has a connection with the car company, but the Google webmasters have done their homework and have deemed this an inappropriate use of outbound links. As a result, the link is discounted and the rank of the website falls accordingly.
But Google gives you a chance to earn some reprieve. Once your outbound links have been flagged you will receive a notice from Google. They give you the following options:
- Identify unnatural links – these are links where you were compensated in some form not approved by Google.
- Remove unnatural links or use <NoFollow> links – which means that Google will not count that link in any ranking analyses.
- Submit a reconsideration request – if you believe that Google is wrong, you’ll have to explain to them why the outbound link is a legitimate one.
But why? Why is Google trying to make things so hard? Why would they do this? These are usually the questions of the guilty. Let’s face it, if you’ve taken your marketing magic so far as to have Google manually apply spam action on your site then you really can’t complain. It turns out that Google is just trying to curb unethical and artificial rank boosting. They have the best interests of their users and customers in mind when they do this. They want to make sure that the playing field is as even for everyone as possible. After all, ranking should be organic, they should be real and a reflection of what the masses are really after.